Recently, I reconnected with my long-lost sister after almost three decades of not knowing her.
Most of you probably couldn’t fathom the feeling of awkwardness when meeting your siblings. Then again, most people didn’t have to grow up separated from their siblings as well.
Here’s a little background story of why we’re separated. Our parents were divorced when we were young – I was four at the time.
Two years after the divorce, my dad passed due to illness and my mom remarried, taking my sister with her. I was told that I chose to stay with my dad before he passed. So naturally, I stayed on with my father’s side of the family after that.
As I was growing up, it was ingrained in me that my mother left me with my father’s family, and that she never attempted to reconnect with me.
I grew up having this prejudice against my mom — I thought that I never needed a mom like that anyway. At the same time, I wished I had a better relationship with my sister growing up.
I Was Woken Up By A Text From My Sister
It happened one evening when I was napping. I woke up to find a text from someone I didn’t expect, but recognised almost immediately.
With blurry vision, I clicked into the Facebook Messenger profile picture and it took a few seconds for me to confirm who it was— my long-lost sister!
I instinctively knew who it was, as we had very similar, almost identical facial features.
The text from her went like this, “Hey, do you remember who I am?”
The only reasonable reply at that moment I could think of was, “Sis?”
We Began to Reconnect Over Text Messages
So we started texting each other every day. She told me she just felt like reconnecting with her big brother one day, and that’s how she contacted me.
Initially, it was weird – I’m talking to a girl I know is my sister, but we have not had any sibling intimacy developed over the years.
We never had any recollections of playing together or getting in trouble together.
Throughout our text conversations, I found out we had very different childhoods. I went to English school, while she went to Chinese school.
I was sent for tuition classes every other day (and growing up as a single child) while she had to take care of our stepbrothers – yeap, I just realised I also had step-brothers!
She felt that I was always the academically talented one, while she struggled in school. But we were both troublemakers growing up!
We Decided to Actually Meet Up
It wasn’t long after that we decided to meet for dinner.
It was a little awkward in the beginning. My mind was racing with questions like, “Do I hug her when I see her? Do I call her by name? What if it starts getting weird and awkward?”
She offered to pick me up from the nearest station before going for dinner. The first thing she said was, “Well, aren’t you lucky, having your little sister pick you up.”
As we sat down for dinner, we took a closer look at each other. We noticed we have almost identical facial features and habits – similar laughter and smile, our speaking nuances, our build and stature.
Anyone seeing us would have easily guessed we were siblings. We’re both tall and look similar – we could even pass as twins!
I Was Surprised At The Things We Had In Common
Regardless of these differences, we do share some similarities – We both dislike eating brinjal. We hate being compared to others. We are not afraid to tell people we love them, and we love to be jokingly cynical or sarcastic to each other (haha!).
Our differences were learned rather than innate. I’m more soft-spoken and prefer laying it down easy on people, while she’s louder and more direct.
My Family History Was More Complicated Than I Thought
As we were speaking, I was surprised to find we had different versions of why and how our parents separated, why we were never in contact, and so on.
My side of the story was: I was abandoned by my mom, and she never attempted to reconnect with me. I was told she cheated on my dad when he’s on his cancer treatment, and ultimately, got married to the other guy after the divorce and after my father’s passing.
My sister refuted everything I said. She mentioned (and I remembered) that they came to visit once when I was little, and my mom had tried to speak to me over the phone a few times.
All this made me wonder if I had been lied to, or at least wasn’t told the whole truth when I was young. I remember how it was ingrained in me that my mom is selfish and that she abandoned me.
I was conditioned to hate her since young – which I feel may be a little extreme and too much negative energy for any young child to handle.
I’m not saying all this with an ungrateful mindset for my family. They did a tremendous job bringing me up and making me who I am today.
However, maybe certain things I was told in the past may not be the whole truth.
Which story should I believe? What if I was lied to as a child? What if both sides are just telling me things I want to hear? Sigh!
Either way, I’m keeping an open mind and listening to both sides of the stories. But it‘s confusing all the same.
What I Learnt from Reconnecting with my Sister
Reconnecting with my sister changed my perspective on having a sibling. I was always the role model to my younger cousins, but having a sibling is just different. Entirely.
I feel blessed that I finally have someone around my age who I can really speak to and gossip to!
I also realised that things don’t always appear what they seem to be, and the past doesn’t hold much importance compared to what’s in front of me.
With that, I hope I would be able to fulfill one part of my father’s duties to her as I know she feels she didn’t have that growing up.
Past Feuds Should Not Decide My Feelings Towards My Estranged Family
As of now, my only priority is to reconnect with my mom and let bygones be bygones. I do not want to care who wronged whom or who did what.
The past generation’s feuds and squabbles should not be a deciding factor for me to reconnect with my mom and sister.
It was tough enough to grow up without both parents – Maybe I’ll be able to get a taste of having mom nagging me once in a while!
Most importantly, we both love each other despite the distance between us.
In her exact words, “We may not have any memories of each other growing up, playing together and such.”
“We may be perfect strangers with a sense of familiarity with each other. But I’m glad we didn’t have to wait till we are both parents before reconnecting.”
Do you have any experiences with long-lost family? Tell us in the comments!
For more stories about family relationships, read I Was Disowned by My Own Brothers for My Choice of a Life Partner. Here’s My Ordeal and 4 Things Every Eldest Child Can Relate To.