Frozen Hearts

I’m on a heart theme lately so just go with it okay?

I FINALLY saw Frozen for the first time on Friday evening.  It was a beautiful movie, clearly made for a stage production, with strong female characters.  What’s not to love?

I cried almost through the whole damn thing.

I know that a lot of people cried while watching Frozen but I don’t think I was crying for the same reasons.  See, I was crying because I’m estranged from my only sister and will likely be for the rest of her (my?) days.  Watching two sisters grow distant and then come together was tough for me.  Then there’s THAT SONG…but that’s another post entirely.

My sister was born 49 years ago today.  I was four when she came into the world.  She was conceived in an ill-fated attempt to save my parents marriage after my mother figured out that she didn’t love my father and my father found out he was going blind and he started drinking and she started gambling and running around.  A real “happily ever after” if there ever was one.  I know this because I knew all the intimate details of my parents marriage…doesn’t everyone?

From the moment she screamed her first breath she was a challenge.  She was always getting into something.  When she was about two my mother awoke one morning to find my sister at her feet with her purse contents all over the floor and my sister eating her “diet” pills (amphetamines…it was the 60’s after all) like they were candy.  I remember it clearly because she yelled at me and told me it was my fault.

I was six.

That was just the beginning.  I won’t go into detail because her story belongs to her; but suffice to say, she has been in active addiction to anything and everything since she was about 13 years old.  She is the worst kind of addict.  A narcissist who believes all of her problems are someone else’s fault (usually mine or my parents…but mostly me) and that she never gets a break.  She’s been through countless rehab’s, spent tens of thousands of dollars (most of which were not hers), has never worked a day in her life, and tried her best to ruin the lives of her children.

I cut off all ties with her after my mother died in 2006.  Her children we pretty much grown thanks to the hubs and me so I didn’t have to worry about court battles and lawyer fees any longer.  I had only tolerated her to that point because my mother continued to try to help her and stay in contact in spite of some very bizarre and hateful things. (She called the police once from where she lived, 1200 miles away, to report that I had my mother tied up in the basement and I was abusing her.  We didn’t have a basement.  The poor police had to come out, wait for my mother to get home from bingo, and make sure she was okay before they could leave.  That was an example of the bizarre…the hateful I’ll leave to your imagination.)  Even before I got sober I knew that her dysfunction was something that I no longer wanted in my life.

If she had just been an addict I can say without question that I would have had more compassion and would likely still be in touch.  But the ugliness that she brought upon her children and my parents is something I can’t forget.  I’d like to think that if she suddenly got sober and clean I would relent and greet her with open arms…but I don’t really know if I could.  I’m still working on healing wounds she inflicted in her children…the kind you can’t see.  I’m not sure there’s any hope for my niece…but I keep trying.

The thing that made me cry though was the fact that, like the sisters in the movie, we were so close when we were little. Of course we fought, but we played together when things were good and comforted each other when things were bad.  We were a unit and I loved her so much.  Like the movie, I think she was born with her demon and it wasn’t long before it became apparent to everyone around her that there was a problem.  Teachers, clergy, psychologists, relatives, doctors all tried to help…only to give up when it had no impact.

I kept trying though.  I kept trying to be there for her.  To help her when she needed it and even when she didn’t.  I stuck around for a very long time until I couldn’t any longer.  I had to save myself, my children and her children.  For lack of a better term…I froze my heart where she was concerned.

It’s still very sad.  I don’t really miss her because she’s been gone from my life for a very long time.  I certainly don’t miss the chaos and dysfunction she brought.  I think what I miss is the idea of a sister.  Not in a “happily ever after” kind of way but in a “no matter what we have each other kind of way”.  I have that with a number of other people, my best friend of 35 years, my daughter, my husband…so I’m not lacking for anything. 

But still…



23 thoughts on “Frozen Hearts

  1. I can relate so much to this post! I have siblings that I have had to “let go” of for many reasons and I don’t really miss them but I do miss the camaraderie that I see in other people with their families. I pray that my children will be able to be there for each other as they move through life. Thanks for writing!

  2. 1. I can never watch Frozen again because I just cry and cry and cry
    2. I cannot imagine how you must feel having to let go of your sister. My sister is so very important to me, so my heart goes out to you.

  3. I an estranged from one of my siblings as well. I have attempted to reconcile but when calls and emails are responded to it makes it hard. I feel for ya. Just as you wrote, I am not lacking either….but it would be nice to at least talk to him.

  4. I have complicated relationships with my 6 half-siblings (4 older and 2 younger). There was always so much in the way for us to have a “normal” relationship and I envy people who are close to their siblings. My husband is close to his brother and he attributes a lot of it to the way his mom encouraged their relationship. We’re doing that with our little ones and I hope they’ll have the closeness that I never had. I feel your pain, Sherry.

    1. We did the same thing with our kids. We didn’t force them to be friends but we encouraged love and above all respect. Now that they are all mostly grown, I see a closeness in them that, I’ll admit, sometimes I envy. I am also very proud of the human beings they are and the relationships they’ve forged.

      Thanks for the comment Karen.


  5. When I was a teenager people were sometimes somewhat amazed to find out my brother and I were brothers. For a start we don’t look madly like each other – you can see my Mum’s family in him where as I’m much more like my Dad’s side. Also he has blonde hair and when younger it was very blonde where as I have nondescript brown. Anyway as teenagers he looked about 14 when he was 18 and couldn’t get served alcohol I was 16 and looked 20 – at least! I’ve always looked a lot older than I am.

    Anyway the other reason was because we acted much more like best mates – going to gigs together, parties, football matches etc. People just assumed we were close friends on meeting us and only when family talk came up did they realise.

    Somewhere in our twenties though the drift apart started. I don’t know what really but I’m sure my drinking was part of it. By the time he got married to his first wife I didn’t even get an invite to his wedding. We saw each other now and then when the kids were younger trying to rekindle that best pals act in our kids – which happened a little bit but by the time I ended my drinking we were down to two line emails at Christmas / birthdays wishing each other well.

    Then my Mum died. I did most of the work around that as I was closer to her and she’d really left it all ready for me to do. Arranged the funeral, sold her place etc. He did talk more to me then than he’d done for years… then in one of those calls he breaks down and tells me he is living in the back room and soon moving out as his marriage had fallen apart. Suddenly we were back as close as before. We went away and I explained about AA and Step 9 – I started to make amends and all the resentments just fell away. He divorced and met another lady – when he remarried I was his best man! We’re going on holiday together in the summer. I was really lucky that it turned around.

    Sorry for going on so much but this was really just to say – Never say never on a relationship with a sibling I suppose

    1. Graham –

      The first time I read this comment I was in line waiting and I read it on my phone. As tears streamed down my face and people were looking at me I grabbed a tissue from my purse, blew my nose and said, “Sorry. Allergies.”

      I love this comment so much and while I don’t think it will ever happen to me, never say never.

      Thanks my friend,

  6. Oh Sherry, I can relate. I am not close to any of my siblings. We had different dads, I think my conception was an embarrassment to them….they were teens, their mom was an alcoholic who wasn’t married, just so many issues there. It is sad. After our mom died I stopped hearing from everyone for the most part. I always find myself wanting to say, “Wait. I’m really nice. A lot of other people like me! You will too if you can just separate how you met me!” lol

    But still…..I hear you.

    1. It would be nice but I honestly think it’s too late. Besides, getting clean won’t address the character flaws and mental illness that keep her in active addiction.

      It’s just so damn sad.

      Thanks for your kind words.


  7. My heart goes out to you. I wish things were different for you and your sister. I have a sister who is 3 years younger. Nothing like addiction or family woes keeps us apart. What keeps us from growing close is her. She just – despite my pleas – has no interest in being close to me the way sisters “should” be. So I know the feeling of longing for that sister bond that is so very obviously missing.

    Btw – I haven’t watched Frozen. But I’d love to now. Because who doesn’t like sobbing while watching a children’s film?! 😉

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I know all too well this pain of being estranged from my only sister. We talk but it’s fake, we are so different and just can’t find the ability to really get each other which makes us both feel frustrated, alone and probably bitter (speaking for myself). I’m always actively working on accepting her limitations, she’s one of my incapables…

  9. Oooohhh this is sad to read.. all that pain.. where does it go? That knot of emotional angst that sits in our belly. We have to find a place to put it so it doesn’t eat us up. I’m working on this (as you know) and Tara Brach does help (she’s got an amazing talk on forgiveness which is all about turning your kindness on yourself first – she’s amazing). Lovely post my friend and thanks for sharing with us all xxx

  10. I always felt like I was supposed to have a sister- that somehow having another woman who grew up with my growing up would help me understand my place in the world. My brother is a wonderful man and we have a bond that sort of picks up when we’re around each other and then fades into the background of busy life when we aren’t, but. I always envy people who have close sisters, although I don’t know many who do. You and me? We are sisters- sober sisters. We come from the places that make us able to understand each other. That can be what a sister is all about. xoxoxo

    1. Yep…and that’s why I don’t feel like I’m really missing anything. I’ve gained more than I’ve ever lost. It’s just so damned sad you know?

      I love having my sober family…thanks for being there.


  11. Sherry, this is breath-taking, I am so sorry for this emotional angst. I can relate, though not nearly as dramatically, to the fractured sister relationship, and I completely get the idea of missing the idea of a sister, the idealized relationship. Serenity to accept the things we cannot change… it is not always an easy task, is it?

    Thanks for taking the time to write out this pain, I hope it helped you, I know it helped me!

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