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Part 5: Sister #2


Today we're going to discuss Claire.

Sister #2 is 50 years old and single, never been married. It's important to her to tell everyone within a three-state radius that she is a virgin, because she is a good Catholic girl. Strangely enough, I almost believe her, even though I'm pretty sure it's not true.

I can go so far as to say, if I somehow got video of her having sex I still would question it. Even if she stopped in the middle and gave her full name and social security number, I would still not be certain. That is how adamant her claim to chastity is.

Never mind the fact that she has a 52-year-old male "companion" who I *think* lives with her.

So Claire is one year and five days younger than Caroline. It was pure distaste from the day they met. Who knows why they don't get along, but my mom told me that Caroline stopped drinking from a bottle the day Claire came home. Caroline ignored my mom for a full week after they got home from the hospital. And Caroline never really accepted Claire as a full-fledged member of the family.

I'm no psychiatrist, but that sounds fucked up to me.

So they have always fought and they have always been like oil and water, cats and dogs -- you pick the "opposites" analogy that you like best.

I'm speculating here, but I think my parents (my dad in particular) compensated for Claire's "least liked" status in the family and actually made it worse. Growing up there were no consequences for Claire.

I can't tell you how many times my dad told me to suck it up and apologize to Claire, even though we (my dad and I) know she's the one at fault. He always started his speech to me with this disclaimer: You're the bigger person and you are the one who can handle being wrong in this situation.

Again, I don't have a Ph.D. hanging on the wall, but that sounds like fucked up parenting to me. Yes, I have my own issues. But we're talking about Claire right now.

So Claire is 12 years older than me and I always remember her being at home. I mean, I know she lived away at college when I was six years old and moved back when I was 11. But from 11 years old until I moved out of the house at 22 years old, Claire lived at my parent's house.

She did move out of my parent's house when she was 43. That's a story that I'll get to in a minute.

I have many, many memories of Claire being a drama queen and threatening to kill herself. I think I was 16 when I finally said to her, if you're going to kill yourself just do it, but don't keep talking about it. In retrospect that seems harsh, but it gives you an idea of how often she threatened to end it all. My dad and mom always fell for it and freaked out over it, but nothing ever happened. She's still alive today.

She did throw out once that her preferred method of suicide would be to cross over the median and hit another driver head on. That has always sounded selfish to me, since that's either going to kill another person or really mess them up physically as well as mentally. I guess even in suicide, she wants an audience.

Anyway, roughly once a year for the last 25 years she has had a major blow up where she is on the rampage and raging at some of our family members. Usually she is mad at 3 or 4 people at once. Usually one or both of my parents are in the mix and usually 2 or 3 of my siblings. Once in a while she's pissed at the entire family.

But instead of writing us all off and leaving us alone, she will call repeatedly and bitch us out. Then she would say "you're DEAD to me. I will never speak to you again." I was always secretly happy when she said that, but it never lasted. She always ended up calling sooner than later to bitch me out some more. It was worse for my parents because they lived with her.

In the past, Claire was really into matching her clothes and make up. She even did that Color Me Beautiful stuff. That was annoying, because she always wanted to do it to everyone else.

I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to be a Spring. All I really remember is that under no circumstances am I supposed to wear black. My "black" is supposed to be navy blue. After learning that I would wear black around Claire, just to irritate her.

Anyway, she was never super petite, but at 5 foot 2 inches tall she wasn't a grande, either. So back in the day, when she was thin and matching she was really picky about guys she dated. Basically she inserted the stick in her ass prior to a date and then announced in the first 20 minutes that she was a virgin and intended to stay that way.

That said, she did end up getting crabs when I was about 18 years old, so she must have been 30. She told my parents she got it from wearing a bathing suit next to a guy who was also wearing a bathing suit. I was naive, so I didn't give it much thought at the time. Apparently my parents didn't give it much thought, either.

About seven years ago Claire was bitching up a blue streak at my parents. They were retired and she was 43. She worked really wild hours at the airport, like 5 am until 1 pm, but she would get up at 2:30 in the morning to get ready for work. So she went to bed around 5 pm.

It was like she was the parent and they (my mom and dad) were the children. She would come storming out of her room screaming at them because the TV was too loud. She'd scream at them for leaving food out, etc. She never cleaned the house. It was crazy. Anyway, my mom finally snapped and told her to "Get the hell out of my house!"

So Claire was traumatized and went to a hotel for a couple of days. Then, like a fool, I invited her to stay with me and Bill. She only stayed for six weeks but it felt like six years. Things were a bit tense, to say the least.

The main problem was that if she worked that day she felt that was all she could do. As in: it's too bad we need groceries today, but I did work so I'll have to wait to buy milk until my day off. Or, I was going to look for an apartment today on my day off, but it snowed. Grrr.

Bill and I got really frustrated. Finally, I went to a place called Apartment Search with her and she found an apartment. I was really happy when she got her stuff moved into her own place.

But before she moved into her apartment she went on a trip to New Zealand. While she was there, she had a tooth go bad and she needed a root canal. Turns out she never paid her credit cards on time, so there was a hold on her card. Because of that the New Zealand dentist wouldn't do any work on her.

So what did she do? She called my dad and he wired the money to the credit card company. I was amazed that he paid off her credit card. It's always a drama with her.

I was so ecstatic when the last of her stuff left my house.

Currently she works for Delta Airlines. I think she's been there for about 25 years. For the last three years, she has been out of work and embattled in a lawsuit with them because she says her back was injured on the job lifting a passenger's bag. Part of her job description says she is supposed to be able to lift 70 lbs.

She says she's disabled now and walks with a cane. I don't understand the whole thing, but I think she initially did hurt her back. Then I think she wanted an early retirement and thought she could get them to buy her out.

But instead, they have been fighting with her and now she is back to work, even though the case isn't settled. I can't imagine suing my employer for three years, being in limbo with the case and then going back to work for them. Awkward? Uh, yeah.

How she has not lost her condo to foreclosure, I have no idea. That's where I think maybe her male companion is paying the bills. But I don't know for sure.

I only half listen to her story, because:

1. I think it's crazy,
2. I'm not really interested, and
3. I think she's a drama queen who enjoys playing the role of the victim.

Also, she tends to repeat herself crazily, so I have learned to tune her out. I haven't talked to her in a while because she requires a ton of energy.

Paula, my therapist, said based on what I told her Claire sounds like a Borderline Personality. Borderlines can be described as black sucking holes. They crave intimacy but push it away when it starts to happen. They're constantly in chaos. They always test those around them and they are extreme black and white thinkers. Either you are a devil or a saint.

That's pretty accurate when it comes to Claire.

At times I feel like I should be able to push my frustrations aside and be a better sister to her. But I haven't been very successful with that. It's an on-going discussion between me and God.

Her label in the family is Personality Plus. She talks like crazy -- she could talk to buttons on the wall. And she's super uptight. She is also a hypochondriac. Sometimes I think she wishes she had a disease with no cure.

She has always talked about starting a business but has never followed through. She acts like she's the only one in the world who has annoying things happen to her. She's a professional victim and she's classically depressed. She has gained about 50 pounds in the last three years or so.

She walks with a cane (I think it's a prop for the lawsuit) and has really let herself go (considering she used to carry a swatch of "colors" in her purse that were correct for her Color Me Beautiful profile).

If you saw a before and after picture of her, you would be really surprised it was the same person.

That's all you need to know about her for now.


2006-11-13 at 7:58 p.m.

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