This I Believe

Melissa - Bedford Corners, New York
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, setbacks
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I believe in speaking one’s mind. A person’s capacity to show forthrightness in the face of difficulty is the ultimate strength. Life is complicated, and can be considered as good, bad and anything in between. Peace, therefore, can never be achieved through ignorance. My family has always applied a certain “brush it under the rug” approach to everything. No matter what the issue is, we consistently melt down in the face of confrontation. Certainly this leads to a peaceful exterior, but for me, it has only managed to create the opposite, chaos.

When I was born, I replaced my sister Danielle as the youngest and therefore most-spoiled child in the family; to this day, she still hasn’t forgiven me, and the two of us never fully hit it off. We are complete opposites: with different views, interests, and abilities. One Thanksgiving dinner, as I discussed my opinion on politics, I happened to offend my older sister. My attitude was in stark contrast to Danielle’s beliefs, and, in the middle of a “peaceful family dinner” we broke out into one of our typical scuffles. Like any sister, Danielle knows precisely which buttons of mine to push that will hurt the most. Consequently, after our argument, more than just my ego was bruised. As I left my family’s Thanksgiving dinner early, I watched my mother whisper to my father to “let me go” and I noticed him advise everyone else at the table that my departure was normal and they should quickly “carry on.” The dinner proceeded on, minus one, and I was mortified that my pain was simply swept under the rug. I was so embarrassed that, all alone, with swollen eyes and many tears, I swore off my sister forever, vowing to never talk or argue with her again.

Forgiveness is a virtue useful in many families with a predisposition for vicious, heart wrenching fights. However, forgiveness has only taken me so far. Time can be considered a cure-all, yet, if left overlooked, time can also allow for a sore to fester and swell. The fights that Danielle and I have endured have left permanent scars. My relationship with her is forever tarnished because my family chose to ignore most of our conflicts, rather then help us to confront and forgive them.

My potential for a good-relationship with my sister came to a halt because of a dumb political disagreement. When my family swept our argument under the rug, any remaining aspect of my devotion to their “ignore the problem” mentality followed. In the future, when it comes to personal relationships with others, my trauma with Danielle has taught me to be more diplomatic. Rather than avoid confrontation, like I did with Danielle, I choose to face life head on, as well as any of my differences with others. Never again will I leave an argument overlooked. However, only time will tell if this belief can ever extend to Danielle, and improve my tainted bond with her.