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Monday, November 22, 2010

A Heart Of Gold

Once again, I'm humbled by and grateful for the blogging world and appreciate all of the comments to my Ebony & Ivory post discussing my relationship with my younger sister, Leah. I especially appreciate those siding with her. It's always good to get a new perspective.

Besides my parents, I have never known anyone else that had much younger sibling(s) or felt the burden and responsibility for them the way I have. Anyone that knows me well, knows that my relationship with my sister has always been a difficult one for me.

I believe that I worry about Leah more than sisters that are closer in age do because we are parent-less and that pressure and responsibility has only grown greater over the last three years. I am in NO WAY trying to be a replacement for our mother and father, but I feel as though it is my job to support, protect and advise her more than ever. What is annoying is when she doesn't take my advice or has to hear it from someone else or dismisses me entirely by essentially saying that it's her life and she can do whatever she wants.

She's 100% right.

She's 26. It is her life, but it's still hard to witness. As her older sister, much like a mother would, I want to prevent her from hurting herself and it's hard to stand by and let her grow up without trying to remove all the things that could cause her any harm.

I do not regret the post, but I wish that I had included a few very positive things about my sister; Leah has a heart of gold. She always has. She is warm and funny and does a lot of good. She is an excellent aunt to my son and a loyal friend to many. She is comfortable around strangers and can to talk to anyone about just about anything. She is struggling to find a job in a difficult industry and making ends meet in the process.

All I was trying to convey is MY need to rid myself of the self-induced pressure, stress and anxiety I feel as her older sister.

I have so many different roles right now and this is one that begs to be reexamined. For me and for Leah.

As you can imagine, shortly after I published the post, the proverbial shit hit the fan and even though I sent Leah the piece hours beforehand, she elected to wait until it was up on the site before commenting.

You can see that I immediately removed her response (the first time I have ever deleted a comment), but would like to share it with you now for what it's worth:

As her sister, I feel it's necessary for me to address this personally. I know that a lot of Tonya's followers don't know me so I think it's important for me to speak up.

First of all, thanks Tonya for airing our dirty laundry. But I guess, free speech on this blog is more important than family and having a private talk with me.

Secondly, I'm sorry I've made you feel burnt out-this is exactly what a sister wants to hear from her big sister. I've never asked you to take on a parent role. But then again, isn't that what sisters do for each other? They protect, they love, they defend, they care for, they advise, they do whatever is needed. This is sisterhood. I'm there for you and never ever would tell you that I was burnt out from it all. Yes, we are two very different people but I wouldn't want it any other way. You are you and I am me. I think our gap in ages make us who we are. I see it differently than you. I don't see our age differences as "detrimental" as you say.

I promise you that mom and dad would have never wanted you to take their place as my parents. I had two amazing parents that believe it or not, are still parenting from wherever they are now. I don't need a third parent.

As for who I am and what you are portraying me on here, you make me sound a like a drug dealing, promiscuous partier who you need to save on a daily basis. Well, that's just not me at all. I'm a 26 year old trying to find my place in the music industry in Los Angeles. It's proving to be extremely difficult and I certainly could use all the support and encouragement I can get. But this is what I want and I don't regret pursuing this.

I am a college graduate who happened to move in with a Pin-Up who needed help with her non-profit that helps hospitalized Veterans around the country. I fell in love with this project so I help her. Is this so bad?

I ran a half-marathon for AIDS, I've walked for breast cancer. Is this so bad? I went on three job interviews last week. Is this so bad? I watch my spending and even keep a detailed budget. I babysit/nanny 3-4 times a week to make some money and help families in need. Is this so bad? I have good people around me that also don't do drugs or drink excessively. They are responsible, college educated, professionals. What about my life do you find so upsetting? What is there to be burnt out about?

I know you worry as my big sister. I get it. But you have to stop worrying so much. I don't call you at 2 am, I think that was twice in college. Aren't sisters supposed to text to say they landed safely, reply to numerous questions about growing up and other life lessons. What is wrong with all of this? I don't get it. Is talking about all this with me really all that bad? If so, please let me know and we can talk about movies and the weather.

I don't know... clearly I don't get it. Honestly, I never actually thought we were all that different in the first place-not in the major ways anyway.

Since the post, Leah and I have had what I am sure will be the first of a series of conversations about improving our relationship. We are both hopeful. I have also promised her that I will never write about our relationship here again.

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Blogger singedwingangel said...

Hun as a sister in Leah's shoes I hear her loud and clear. Having 3 sisters in your shoes I can guarantee they hear you loud and clear as do I. The only difference is our mom is still alive, although not well.
I don't think you quite portrayed her as a partying promiscuous as she thought, however I can totally get how she feels that is what you felt like. Praying for you and her to find a balance that works for you both. Praying that you stop feeling as if you have to mother hen her and stop her from making mistakes. We all have to make our own mistakes hun. Think about how much stuff your mom and dad said to you personally 'DONT' and yet you did. It's called life and maturing.

November 22, 2010 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I think trying to watch out for our younger siblings is just what we do. I'm sure it has been exacerbated by losing your parents, but I'm also sure you would have still been worried about her regardless of the situation.
It's difficult to sit back and watch someone we love make choices we don't always agree with or to travel down a path we know will be hard for them. But isn't that what growing up is? Falling down & learning to get right back up.
After reading her response, ya'll are both lucky women to have each other in your lives.

November 22, 2010 at 5:39 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

clearly, i need to go back and read the original post. Eek!

November 22, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

I'm glad you two are talking about it. It's a good idea for both of you to be open about the roles you feel you have.

I personally didn't think you portrayed your sister in a bad light. You made her sound like a younger version of yourself. That's why you want to help her avoid the mistakes. You already know the outcome.

The two of you have a good journey renewing your relationship. Take time for fun, too.

November 22, 2010 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger KLZ said...

Man, sisters can really know how to hit you. That's always the most surprising thing to me. My sister and I hit each other worst when we're not expecting.

You'll get through it. Sisters do.

November 22, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Anonymous Hope said...

I try not to write anything about people I know personally on my blog - unless it's to say something really, really nice about them. Even then, it can backfire.

That's the hard thing about blogging... there are things that I want to share with my readers that I know could cause problems if I did. I tend to err on the side of holding back. And then I feel like I'm not giving people a complete picture. Plus, you lose that outlet.

For me, personally, it's still easier to hold things back.

November 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

I think it's awesome that you posted what you she had to say, Tonya. Sisters fight. I've got 2 so I know. But the position you are both in is new to both of you and you're both trying to figure it out. I'm glad you guys are working on it. xoxxoxo

November 22, 2010 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Suebug said...

You and Leah might enjoy this story on NPR:

Be patient with each other.

Wishing you both a great Shanksgiving! ;)


November 22, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

I appreciate you posting my comment. I also am glad that you aren't going to write about our relationship like this on your blog anymore. As I said in my blog a few days ago, some things are just not meant for the public eye.

November 22, 2010 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I am glad that it got you two to talk and maybe get a better understanding of each other. Hugs..

November 26, 2010 at 6:10 PM  

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