What would you do to connect?

Us with my dad

Us with my dad, Christmas 2012

“I’m everybody’s favorite,” my sister spunkily proclaimed to me.

I’m the oldest of 5, and my two younger sisters had driven back to my mom’s as a surprise for Easter. Aileen, the self-proclaimed favorite, enters herself into everyone’s phone as their favorite; she signs all of her cards “your favorite”; she enters “Aileen’s day” into people’s phones.

I responded, “I don’t have any favorites.”

“That’s not true, your favorite is… “ my sister proceeded to explain to me how everyone had favorites, and who their favorites were. The only one she didn’t “out” was herself. She said “Everyone is my favorite for different reasons.”

This got me to thinking. First, because she was right—she nailed my “favorite” sibling, if I were to ever admit one was my favorite. Why is that one my favorite?

Because it’s easy between us: I never feel like I have to explain or justify myself; we can just sit and hang out; at Christmastime when I cried, this sibling hugged me and rubbed my back while I cried (might not sound extreme, but it’s been maybe 20 years since I allowed one of my siblings to comfort me while I cried).

The next step to my thought-experiment was to examine how I interacted with the other siblings… Hmmm, funny thing. I felt conflicted: I often wanted to hang out with them, but it felt so stilted, or I was afraid of the quick snarky response to a risky vulnerable sharing, or I just didn’t know what to say to cross the chasm.

Second, I asked: how was it different with my friends? How did I show up differently with them? Aha! Here was the key—I celebrated with them; I wrote letters; I mailed cards; I listened and I accepted them where they were at. In fact, I deliberately try to integrate those actions into my life—because that is where connection happens. That is where being seen happens. People value being seen and feeling connected.  And I had forgotten to do it with my siblings because I was so tangled up in wanting them to accept me, to love me, to show up for me.

Today is National Sibling’s Day, and I wanted to write this to honor and acknowledge them. This week, I took some concrete actions to celebrate my siblings and their recent life events/achievements. The five of us have been through many insane years and adventures, and my life is richer for their presence in it.

 

Here are some of the more recent pictures of us, with a few old ones thrown in for good measure. 

I think we range from 2-12 in this one

I think we range from 2-12 in this one, circa 1995 or 1996

I have no idea when this pic is from, but I love how we're all together

I have no idea when this pic is from, but I love how we’re all together

All of us with my grandpa & my mom

All of us with my grandpa & my mom, Christmas 2009

Jonathan isn't with us, but everyone else is in this picture!

Jonathan isn’t with us, but everyone else is in this picture! (June 2012)

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