Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Family Dynamics (2 of 2)

My sisters are a different story. How can I describe the dynamic between the Baldwin sisters? We were raised by parents who were very emotionally reserved. Actually, I found out as an adult that my Dad had all the reserve, and my mother adopted it (or tried to) because…well, I don’t know why. I think it was because she admired it in my dad. But if there ever was a human being who operates on a purely emotional level, it’s my mother. Maybe that’s why she started to drink when she hit middle age. But that’s a story for another day…

We grew up with a standard set by Dad. He was reserved, intelligent, and fiercely independent, in a quiet and determined sort of way. And a cardinal rule of his was that anything that happened inside the family, STAYED inside the family. One did not air one’s dirty laundry in public. He kept his own "dirty laundry" to himself, and the family’s stayed neatly contained inside the four walls of our home (where it sometimes got REALLY ripe.) For good or ill, each of us has adopted most, if not all, of my father’s rules for adulthood. My dad was a MAN (obviously), and of a different era, and the five of us WOMEN have not always had it easy trying to make our way through our contemporary lives under his rules. But they’re so deeply ingrained, we can’t shed them.

So, does it really surprise me that my sisters won’t read my journal? I suppose not. We just don’t relate to each other on that sort of emotional level. There are times that we know we should, and we try…but we generally fail miserably. This is probably why things were so god-awful between us after Dad died. We NEEDED to share our emotional upheaval with each other, and we didn’t know how to do it in a constructive way. I love my sisters. We hang out, we do holidays…people on the outside call us "close." And we ARE, in that there is the unbreakable steel strap of family love that binds us together. But on an emotional level, we just can’t connect. I, for one, really wish we could.


  1. Lisa, alot of this story sounds familiar to me. I think you are courageous to have invited them to read your words. Are you quite sure they don't come by and maybe just do not comment? You have proven your determination not to follow down that "quiet" path. Maybe in time, your sisters will too.

  2. Oh, I'm sorry, Lisa. I know it must be hurtful. Heck, I'm hurt that some of my friends don't read my journal, (at least I don't think they do), so I can imagine how it'd be with family. :-(

    I haven't invited much of my family to read, though. Only my sister reads, and that's just when she gets time. I'm not sure why, but it doesn't feel all right...

    I hope your relationship with your sisters becomes more of what you want.

  3. The reason, maybe, that they stay away, is that they are honoring your privacy; just imagine your journal as your 'four walls' and they do not want to intrude on what you keep inside of them. I really regret letting my family in mine, I am actually thinking of doing the private journal, and sending out invites with the link because I have felt very inhibited lately. Kristi

  4. Like Karen, I think there is a possibility that they may be reading without commenting. It sounds like you're in very different places right now in terms of your emotional availability, but that doesn't mean that it has to be that way forever. The fact that you do hang out together, & acknowledge the love that binds you means that the door to greater closeness remains always open. You're available. That's all you can do. When & if they're ready, they'll come through. We hope... :)