December 30, 2020 – Diabolical Debbie

As much as I had hoped I would be able to pull out of my slump, I have been unsuccessful. And since I’m feeling negative, what better person to write about than my sister ‘Diabolical Debbie’ (DD for short)? I have resisted writing about her because even thinking about her puts me in a funk, but I’m already in a funk, so what better time to write about someone negative? In our family, there are 9 siblings. DD is number 5, smack dab in the middle, and I am number 9, the ‘baby’ of the family. There are eight years between us and 3 brothers. Her role in the family? Troublemaker. If there is trouble to be made, she’ll find a way. My stepdad used to say she was born with ‘a chip on her shoulder’ and I think he may have been right about that. All her life, she has portrayed herself as a ‘victim’. She has never, not once, admitted responsibility for anything that has happened in her life. Why? Because she’s a victim. She has never once ’caused’ anything to happen, things always just ‘happen’ to her.

DD and I have never been exceptionally close. Not as children and not as adults. I think part of it has to do with the age gap and part has to do with our very different outlooks on life. Of all the girls, she was considered the ‘pretty’ one, the one that could have easily been a model. And I think she knew it because that was what she used to her advantage whenever she could, her looks. I think it gave her opportunities that were not necessarily available to the rest of us. DD was (and is) used to getting her way. When she was younger, it was just a matter of smiling and batting her eyelashes and doors would open for her. When she was in her prime, she had blond hair, green eyes, a 1,000 watt smile, and was tall, tan and slender. Before she got ‘old’, nearly every time she’d go to interview for a job, she got it. She put on the charm and 99% of the time, it did the trick. The problem was, she could never keep a job for any length of time. The thing about ‘beauty’ is that it’s only skin deep and if you’re ugly on the inside, it will eventually show through.

Have you ever met someone that has to create drama at every family event? That’s my sister. If she shows up, it doesn’t matter where or when, you can guarantee that things will not go smoothly. She always brings the ‘spoil’ factor wherever she goes. Imagine a beautiful, serene lake in a valley surrounded by mountains. There are herons resting in the water. Fish swim about and occasionally break the surface, leaving telltale circles. A doe and a fawn stand at its edge, gently lowering their heads and lapping up the water. An eagle circles overhead. And then suddenly, an enormous, jagged boulder breaks free from one of the mountains and comes barreling down, tumbling about and destroying everything in its path until it reaches the water, and then SPLASH! The herons cluck and squawk in surprise and fly helter-skelter, nearly colliding in mid-flight. A couple of the fish that were in the boulder’s path, that had been enjoying a nice, carefree swim, end up floating ‘belly up’. The doe and the fawn? They split, along with the eagle!

Can you guess who my sister is in this scenario? Yes, she’s the boulder. She can be really sweet and charming when she wants something but if she meets any resistance, watch out! A whole new personality will suddenly appear that is downright scary. She has no problem using everything in her arsenal to get her way, and if that means using bullying or intimidation tactics, so be it! I’ve never seen someone change right before my eyes like she can. It’s just like flipping a switch. How do people turn out this way? We are so incredibly different and yet we had the same parents and the same principles. We even grew up in the same house. I just don’t understand her. She thinks the world owes her a living. She’s been ‘wronged’ and for that reason, we all must pay. And when she has a demand, everyone is expected to ‘come to attention’ and await her instructions. DD is a ‘force’. And amazingly enough, though most people have finally been able to recognize the ‘rotten’ that is just below the surface, there are still a few ‘suckers’ that’ll do her bidding.

I used to be one of those ‘suckers’, but I finally got tired of being ordered around. She never ‘asks’ for help, she ‘demands’ it. I’ll give you an example. One of the last times I ever saw her or spoke to her, it was the last day of my vacation and I was supposed to be leaving (on a plane) that afternoon to return home. We were hanging out at my mom’s house, enjoying the afternoon before I had to head to the airport. Suddenly, she was standing in front of me, her face mere inches from mine. That’s one of her intimidation tactics, getting right up inside your bubble. “You HAVE to help me move,” she demanded. “DD!” I said as I laughed, certain she must be joking. “You OWE me. I need to move and you need to help me!” she continued. “What?! Are you kidding?” I said incredulously. “I’m supposed to leave in a little over 4 hours for the airport and I haven’t even packed yet. And you expect me to help you move?!” “YES!” she demanded yet again. “You need to help me move and you OWE me. You can at least make a trip over and help me with one carload.” Ugh.

Dumb me. I weakened. My sister has a way about her. “Alright, but just one trip and that’s it!” I insisted. I wasn’t happy, but I did it. I followed her over in my mom’s minivan, thinking that maybe it’d take 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops. Once we entered her apartment, I took a look around. Nothing was packed. Apparently, she had made the decision mere hours before and had done nothing to prepare. “What am I supposed to do?” I asked her. “Start putting stuff in bags,” she replied. I grabbed a bunch of paper bags and started loading them up with books and candles and what-nots. While I was doing this, she was flitting around, not really doing anything helpful. What I noticed, looking back, is that she is great at ‘delegating’, but when it comes time to get her own hands dirty, she always manages to conveniently find something else to do. And I’m pretty sure when I was loading up bags of stuff for her and working up a sweat, she was watering her houseplants.

I finally told her I had to go, I had a plane to catch. But first I had to make multiple trips to and from the minivan, going up and down a very steep, narrow staircase, lugging all of the bags I’d packed, along with a few boxes and several armloads of clothes from her closet. “I’m going!” I shouted at her through the driver’s side window, exasperated and angry, as I started the van and pulled away from the curb. It had taken much longer than I anticipated and now I was worried I wouldn’t make my flight. I was so mad I could nearly spit! How did I allow myself to get wrangled into that situation? Why didn’t I just say ‘NO’? What the Hell was wrong with me? You want to know why I didn’t say ‘no’? Because nobody says ‘no’ to diabolical Debbie. Nobody. You want to know what happens when you finally put your foot down and say ‘no’? Game over. You are cut off. You cease to exist. Radio silence. And how do I know this? I finally told her ‘no’ about 13 years ago. I told her ‘no’, ‘no’ to her excuses and ‘no’ to her behavior. I just wasn’t buying it anymore.

Guess what happened? We haven’t spoken since. I tried to extend the olive branch 3 times afterwards, only to get ‘sucker punched’. Each time I communicated, I either got no response or I got hate mail. I finally gave up. And at first it was really hard. I yearned to have a relationship with her, even though what we had before was severely flawed. But over time, I realized not having her in my life was a blessing. I still continue to communicate with many of my family members, including my mom, and anytime DD pulls one of her ‘stunts’, I hear about it. More than anyone, she is really good at working my mom over. Every time my sister throws out the line, my mom takes the bait. The bottom line is money. It is ALWAYS about money. When my sister calls my mother, the conversation starts out innocently enough but then it eventually swings around to the real reason my sister is calling, the almighty dollar. She needs it and she needs it yesterday. DD starts out ‘sweet and tender’ and then if my mom doesn’t come around and give her what she wants, out comes the arsenal.

The conversations often last hours. If you need to learn the art of manipulation, just reach out to my sister, she’s a pro at it. She can work my mother until my mother simply has nothing left and finally caves in, even if it takes 4 hours to achieve the intended result. Even if it takes 4 hours and using ‘every trick in the book’. These ‘tricks’ include hatred, spite and guilt and anytime she can use her daughter (the Mental Minion) to manipulate my mom, she does. And guess who used to help pick up the pieces after she ‘skewered’ my mother over (using profanities) about how terrible her childhood was and how nobody loved her and what a lousy job my mom did? Yep, it used to be me. My mom would always call afterward, sounding like she’d been run over by a truck, and relay what had taken place. When it would happen, I felt bad for my mom, but I also felt like she had some accountability, too.

She would always start out with, “Your sister had me on the phone for hours last night.” Sigh. “Mom,” I would respond. “You can hang up the phone. If someone starts verbally abusing you, you have every right to end the call. Nobody should put up with that!” She didn’t listen, she never listens. She always takes the call and she always pulls out her wallet and writes out a check. I finally got fed up having to ‘apply salve’ every single time my mom got ‘the treatment’ and told her that I think she actually gets something out of this ‘twisted dance’ that she has with my sister and until she finds a new dance partner, it will likely never end. I cannot tell you how many times my mom has said, “Never again. I’m not loaning your sister another dime.” And then it happens again and again and again. There are just some things you have no control over. And I reached a point when I no longer wanted to be part of that ‘dance’ either. All it ever did was drain me, physically and emotionally. And then I wasn’t of much use to my own family.

And dealing with my sister, whether directly or indirectly, always leaves me feeling that way. Nine times out of ten, when we did communicate (way back when), I ended up feeling drained. After a point, I had to ask myself some tough questions. Did I maintain the relationship out of a sense of obligation? Because she’s my sister, did that give her the right to treat me cruelly? Did the good outweigh the bad in our relationship? Was she a healthy person to have in my life? Yes, no, no, no! Guess what that means? It’s time to go! Just like I mentioned yesterday, when the bad outweighs the good, that’s a signal. A signal you should really pay attention to. And I’m glad I finally did. It took me long enough but I finally reached my limit. And the last 13 years (since the last time we spoke) have been so much better without her in my life. Not having that negative influence, that person making demands without an ounce of gratitude, that individual that made no bones about pulling out the ‘arsenal’ when she didn’t get her way. What I don’t understand is why didn’t I leave sooner?

Anyhow, oh my gosh…I have been at this for hours and it is l-a-t-e!!! I have got to get to bed. I wish you well and I hope if you have a sister, you ended up with a better one than I did. Have a really lovely day. And I’ll see you again tomorrow, the last day of the year (2020). Oh my gosh, aren’t you glad 2020 is nearly over? I sure am!!

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