My sister and I have never had a lot in common. For years I worked on our relationship, but with the help of therapy, I realized that our problems weren’t due to typical issues between siblings.
I don’t think my sister has supported herself for more than a few months at a time during her entire life. She’s relied on boyfriends, husbands, and, primarily, my parents, to pay for her lifestyle and children. My parents (mostly my mother) bought her cars, paid for her college education, funded specialized professional training over and over again, and purchased new work wardrobes for her because my sister had children to support and needed things like expensive highlights for her hair so she could get the best job possible. (I suspect, but have no proof, that some of the money they gave her for dental work paid for breast enhancements.) The jobs never materialized, and the items they gave my sister eventually disappeared, I don’t know where.
This still angers my husband on my (and our) behalf. He is angry they repeatedly shored up the weak link(s) in the family at the expense of the other children, including my disabled brother. I’m much more zen about it. I accepted years ago that I’ll never have the sister that I want, and that she’s incapable of doing anything but taking, taking, taking. I’ve also accepted that my mom is going to keep backing the wrong horse until one of them dies. I know that my sister will never accept that there is anything wrong with her, will never get help.
I kept a civil but distant relationship with her until I had children, but when I questioned her claim that her second husband was deliberately poisoning her and their son with black mold, she was livid and said horrible things. I was glad she made it so easy for me to cut ties. It was one thing to deal with her when it was just me, but I couldn’t have my kids around her.
I hear once in a while from my parents that she has fallen on hard(er) times. Her second husband has left her, and provides little support for their son. She gets jobs but says that the people who work there don’t like her and that the women there are bitches. The jobs don’t last. In her account, her life has been a series of dealing with bitches in authority who disliked her for no good reason: the daycare workers who asked her to bring diapers and a change of clothes for her son; the teachers who demanded that she bring her son to school on time; the health care authorities who forced her to vaccinate her children.
I am Facebook friends with her adult son. On his birthday a few years ago, I took a moment to look at his Facebook page to see what was going on in his life. I didn’t get anything from his profile, but I saw that his mother (my sister) was a Facebook friend of his, so despite my better instincts, I looked at her profile, which was not private. It revealed that she had abandoned her last name and was using her middle name instead. She had written a book about magnets and how they could help people recover from C-sections. The book was unpublished, but there were excerpts of it on her website. I read as much as I could, but finally was overwhelmed by the illogic of it and stopped looking.
About a year ago, I went back to her page. She was listed as being married to someone I had never heard of. She also had updated her website. There was now a section of her page on how she had been diagnosed with cancer and had cured herself with magnets and vitamins. I read further and learned that she had gone into the doctor for a preliminary visit and the doctor had told her that what she had wrong with her was probably cancer caused by the black mold and that there was nothing they could do for it (because, of course, that is how responsible doctors do things at initial visits). I don’t doubt she believes that is what transpired.
I went back for the last time a few months back. The “husband” was gone. The tone of her page had changed: she had posted conspiracy theories from a man who believes that most of the U.S.’s major tragedies were actually staged by the government. At the top of the page was a link from this man: it showed pictures of three weeping young women with long dark hair mourning three separate school shootings, including Sandy Hook. The link claimed that it was the same woman — an actress — in each picture. There were dozens more pictures of “actors” playing the roles of politicians, and other influential people.
I had seen enough. I blocked her Facebook profile.
I didn’t tell my parents. They have been in ill health for the past few years, and I could see no good coming of it. They already knew what she was, to the degree that they could allow themselves to believe it. Her continued mental decline is my secret now. I know now without a doubt how my sister’s story will end — my parents’ worst fears realized, hopefully long after they are dead.
When people wonder how on earth someone could believe Sandy Hook was a hoax, or what kind of monster would claim to be able to cure cancer without modern medicine, the conclusion they come to is often that it is a decision these people make — to espouse a theory that allows them to keep their guns, or sell their books. I, on the other hand, wonder how many of them are like my sister, slowly drowning, grasping at straws while they do.