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Part 6: Sister #3


So now it's time to discuss Sister #3, and that would be Kim. (Are you detecting a theme with the names? As in, each one starts with either C or K. Yeah, that's real cute, isn't it? Not.)

Kim is my favorite sister. She is ten years older than me, which makes her 48, but we are really in tune with each other. We frequently say we share one brain. There are differences, but they are few and far between.

Of course, Kim lives about 750 miles away from me, but thanks to MCI's The Neighborhood, I can talk to her as many times per day as I want, for as long as I want for a mere $75 per month. My husband keeps thinking MCI is going to yank our service since I put it to the test every day of every month. But, they keep coming back for more.

Okay, so Kim is a classic middle child. She was the kid who was acting out trying to get noticed in the midst of all the other children. I have to say I admire her moxie and courage when it came to standing up to my parents�I guess it was mostly my dad, as he was the main player when it comes to the parents.

When Kim was about 20, I think, she was planning on having her boyfriend (at the time) come home to visit with her. She asked my mom if that was okay and she said yes, but don't tell your father. I'll work on him. So Kim spent a bunch of time cleaning the house, which was *always* a pig sty, since she thought she was having a house guest for the weekend.

When it finally came time to tell my dad, all hell broke loose. He said absolutely not, no guy was going to "shack up" in his house and since it was his house they were his rules. If you don't like the rules, you can leave.

So Kim grabbed a couple of black bags�the Samsonite luggage of the middle class�packed some clothes, and called Caroline to come pick her up. It was then that Kim broke ties with my parents for a while. My dad was stubborn and Kim didn't want to be under his control. I can understand where Kim was coming from, but I never had the courage to do anything like stand up to my father.

This is one of the main differences between me and Kim.
Eventually, the bridges were rebuilt between Kim and my parents. I'm not sure of the timeline, but when she was 24 she married Todd. So during those four years she finished her bachelor's degree, met her future husband and smoothed things over with my parents.

Over the next 24 years she and Todd lived in California, moved to the east coast, had two daughters (two years apart to the exact day) and bought and sold a lot of different houses. I do believe she moved so far away from home (she's the only sibling who does not live within a 45-mile radius of my parent's house) to untangle herself from our family physically and emotionally. She will readily admit that today, but I always wondered if it was a conscious thought when she and Todd first left Michigan.

Beyond that things were pretty uneventful until last year.

Both Kim and Todd had been unhappy in their marriage for quite a while. But they both chalked it up to rough patches that would eventually smooth themselves out. Over the years they did throw out the idea of divorce, but always decided to stay together for the sake of their girls.

I suppose any marriage has 50/50 odds since there are two people involved. I always assumed that they would stay together, though. Kim is very outgoing, fun and thoughtful. Considering the childhood we came from, she has emerged with a pretty nifty set of functional tools included in all the baggage we've inherited. Todd, on the other hand, is quiet and introspective. But they say opposites attract.

In fact, Kim told me recently that she was initially attracted to Todd because he was so quiet. During their first argument she was pleased to find out that Todd never once yelled or even raised his voice. He was very calm and low-key. This was the exact opposite of our father, and for Kim it made Todd's package very appealing.

As much as I love Kim and like to think she is almost perfect, I know that's not true. She is prone to moodiness�perhaps it's low-grade depression. It is during these times that she prefers to retreat into herself, the cave if you will. And when she's hibernating in that cave, it's best not to poke the beast.

During those hibernation periods I am the one family member she will talk to on the phone and occasionally even I'm a bit nervous to talk to her. But when we talk, I can bring her out of the mood and we can laugh and have a good time. When we hang up, though, she goes right back into the cave.

I know *exactly* how she feels, because the same is true of me. However, I wouldn't exactly call my moods depression. I think of them as episodes of controlled rage. I feel overwhelmed with rage, so instead of acting on it I hole up in my compound (I mean my bedroom). Why share the rage when I can hoard it all to myself?

So I usually take the phone with me, have some hysterical laughs with Kim, hang up and continue to act like a feral cat until the mood passes. I know that's messed up, but Kim came from the same place I did. We both feel like we have an if-then chart in our heads when it comes to behavior.

And it feels like most of the arrows point to two options�either rage or beat the shit out of your children.
If your kid talks back to you, then you beat the shit out of them.

If your husband argues with you, then you rage at him.
Not a very good model of behavior to give a small child, but that's the only map we got. Strangely enough, we all ended up at different destinations, even though our maps were basically the same.

So in the last couple of years, Kim has told me she really felt like the marriage was not working out. She spent a lot of time trying to figure out if it was worth leaving or worth staying. She came really close to having a fling, but didn't. Among a lot of other things, that final piece helped her to determine it was time to end the marriage.

Not surprisingly, Todd didn't contest the divorce. In my opinion he was like a limp fish. Whatever she wanted was fine with him. If she wanted to stay in a lifeless marriage he was fine with that. If she wanted to divorce him and move on, he was fine with that, too.

While both Kim and I thought there was a chance he might fight to save the marriage, we both knew he wouldn't. He pretty much responded in the low-key way that he usually responds. He was true to his character in that he went along with what she wanted.

So the divorce was finalized last May and both Kim and Todd have had some interesting dating experiences since.


2006-11-15 at 9:20 p.m.

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