Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

November 20, 2006

my crazy blonde sister

Renee first realized her big sister was mentally ill when a neighbor came to her school one day and demanded she come home and help her mother because Odette had supposedly committed suicide.

"I was fourteen and I remember being more embarrassed by that neighbor turning up at my school than anything else," confesses Renee.

"For one thing, Odette had only attempted to commit suicide and for another my mother didn't need me at all," says Renee. "That neighbor was a bigger drama queen than my sister and mother and I nearly died with embarrassment that the whole school now knew about my weird family."

"Sure, I knew that my mother and big sister were different from dad and I," says Renee, "but they were blue eyed blondes and dad and I were brown eyed brunettes and I always thought that this difference explained their drama queen behavior."

"Anyone with blue eyes and blonde hair - to me - was liable to act crazily and I just grew up believing that that sort of behavior was normal for them and cool calm collected behavior was normal for brown eyed brunettes."

"The neighbor who came to my school had red hair," laughs Renee, "and that was even worse than blonde hair. She was stark raving mad as far as I was concerned."

"On my way back home with that red-haired neighbor she told me that Odette had been rushed to hospital and that my mom was there with her."

"I didn't understand then why she needed to involve me and when I got home I understood her behavior even less."

"She just left me alone at my house and I had nothing to do but wait until my mother came back from the hospital."

"It was a four hour wait and during that time I imagined what life would be like if Odette died," says Renee.

"I didn't feel sad at all," confesses Renee. "In fact I also imagined what life would be like if my mom died, too, and that didn't make me sad either."

"I missed my dad - who was a long distance truck driver - and I had no idea whether he had been informed of Odette's demise."

"When mom came home she was crying uncontrollably and said that she's spoken to dad and he couldn't come home - or refused to come home - and she raved on about how hopeless he was and how she was going to divorce him and how beautiful Odette was and how ugly I was."

"I'd heard all this stuff before and it went in one ear and out the other," laughs Renee.

"Odette came home from hospital a week later and I was shocked by the change in her appearance and behavior," says Renee.

"She was very pale and withdrawn and it took a long time for me to discover why she had attempted to take her life."

"Odette was 17, three years older than me, and apparently some guy had dumped her and she couldn't take it," says Renee.

"That was to be the pattern of Odette's life from then onwards," sighs Renee.

"Whenever Odette suffered a setback she would pretend to slash her wrists or take an overdose of pills and upset everybody's life."

"I left home at 16 because I couldn't bear being around Odette and my mother and the crazy red-headed neighbor,"
confesses Renee.

"Odette still lives at home - heavily sedated on medication - and I feel very sorry for my father but I guess his job keeps him sane - he is rarely home for more than a few days."

"Mom always telephones me in histrionics every time Odette goes crazy but I don't listen to her," confesses Renee. "I just tell her that I am busy and put the phone down."

"I refused to tell mom and Odette where I work - only dad knows my work number -because I know they would embarrass me by telephoning me at work," says Renee, "but they still remain determined to embarrass me in any way they can."

"I had to move from my last apartment when mom and Odette visited without warning one day and finding me out they knocked on all of my neighbor's doors to find out where I was - telling them that it was an emergency, dad was sick, and I had to come home."

"I didn't even know my neighbors very well and I was so embarrassed when one by one they stopped me on the steps or outside the building to tell me to call my mom," relates Renee, "but when I called home dad was fine as I knew he would be."

"Worse still," sighs Renee, "one day my mom actually telephoned the police and told them that she couldn't reach me at home - which was a lie, she knew my home number - and two policemen arrived at my apartment telling me that I was needed urgently at home because Odette had overdosed."

"With great embarrassment I told them the truth - and they promised not to bother me again if my mother or Odette tried that trick again."

"Today," sighs Renee, "I was listening to the radio and I heard a call from a woman wanting her long-lost sister to contact her urgently because her father was dying - and I froze because I recognized the nature of the call.".

"No," laughs Renee, "the call had nothing to do with me but I felt awfully sorry for that long-lost sister because she had obviously become long-lost for a very good reason and it would have embarrassed her awfully to know that her name was being broadcast over the radio by a crazy sister like Odette."

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