Here I am talking about my sister again. Actually, I don’t think I’ve talked about my sister on this blog at all yet, but I seem to be thinking of her almost all the time when I am struggling with my weight.

My sister is four years older than I am and for most of my life, at least all of my childhood, I looked up to her and saw in her the most beautiful girl I knew or could imagine. She was everything I wanted to be: thin, pretty, popular, always had a boyfriend.

Then one day, when I was out of college, I realized that my sister and I don’t actually like each other very much.

I don’t like her because I see her as being the embodiment of certain things I dislike. I think she is greedy, and petty, and superficial.

She doesn’t like me because I’ve always been given everything that she wanted and because I’ve had a charmed life without burden or feelings of inferiority the way she has.

Or so she tells me.

What she doesn’t say, but that I know from things I’ve heard through the grape vine is that she resents me because I am happily married and my husband and I are very much in love and “in like” with each other.

Her marriage is a mess of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and lacks even basic affection.

Yet she stays. Yet he stays. And she resents me.

Oddly enough, we get along well enough. We go through fazes of being very close and very distant.

Once, also when I was out of college, my mother dropped this on me in a casual conversation: “I always thought you let yourself be overweight because you knew you were smarter than your sister so you figured you would let her be the pretty one. Because if you weren’t overweight you’d be the pretty one too.”

Yeah.

Those two sentences took a lot of therapy to sort through.

My sister has alternated between being my staunchest supporter and actively trying to undermine me in my battles with my weight.

In the past few years we haven’t been close. We had the worst fight of our lives a couple of years ago and I think things were said that not only can’t be taken back but can’t be forgiven. Perhaps, even some, can never leave the room when we are together.

But despite everything, she’s always been the standard for me of what I wanted to be physically.

We’re the same height.

We’re not the same weight.

The last time I was able  to fit into her clothes was when I was in 8th grade and she was a senior in high school.

After I had lost 90 pounds 6 years ago she started giving me clothes of hers that were too big for her. It was supportive. I was encouraging to think I could fit into her clothes. Except she’d always find a subtle way of reminding me that she was giving them to me because she had lost weight too and now they were too big for her.

Message? I’ll never catch her.

I saw her last night for the first time since early June.

I’ve lost 30 pounds in the past 4 months and at least half of it since I saw her last.

She didn’t say anything to me.

Don’t ask me how or why I think this, but I know that her silence was intended to be an insult.

I try to avoid looking at her much when we’re together. In part because it’s painful. In part because it’s awkward. In part because I don’t want to see her thinness and start comparing myself to her again. In part because I don’t want to see what’s going on behind her eyes, but I suspect even if I looked it would be masked.

As I said, I saw her last night for the first time since early June.

I looked at her. She looked awful. To be fair, she’s been having some food allergy issues and her eyes have been swelling and she’s been getting hives regularly without knowing what she’s eating that’s causing it. I gave her the name of my allergist and she’s going in November. It was the most I could do to help.

But more than that, she looked, well, old. And tired. And skinny. Not thin. Skinny. Her eyes are wrinkled (probably from the swelling) and her hair is so long she’s starting to look like some sort of wicked witch. My husband said the she looked to skinny and that when she gets that way she starts to look strange. He wasn’t saying that to be nice to me. He wasn’t saying it to be mean to her. He was saying it simply because it’s true.

So, now, I’m worried about her. But not enough to melt this ice.

At least not yet.

So, now, why can’t I let go of the idea that she is what I should be aspiring to? That her body is perfect and I am a giant ogre compared to her? Why can’t I shake the feelings of inferiority that I will never, can never, be thin and have the body that she does? I live better as I am in every conceivable way when I don’t let her weight haunt me. Even when she is in this depleted state I still come away feeling bad about myself in comparison to her.

Overeaters Anonymous tells me “comparing leads to despairing”.

I despair. I despaired last night and came from from dinner at my parents’ house and ate more food I didn’t need. It was all diet approved food, but it was food I didn’t need none the less.

I could tell myself that I was just needing extra food because I got my period yesterday and it’s better that I eat some salad and some low fat cheese rather than digging into a bag of chocolate chips. But still, I know the truth. I ate because my sister is thinner than I am and always will be.

I’m not proud.

But I accept that this is where I am.

For today I’m trying not to let it get the best of me.

 

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