Friday, December 2, 2022

Sisterly love is all about power

April 26, 2001

Power is a funny thing. Few of us ever have as much as we would like and we frequently have problems with those we think have too much of it.


Power is so desirable because it renders us out of control of our situation if we don’t have it. Many seek power any way they can – so they have some control over their lives. And because many of us don’t have much control “on the outside,” we yield power in the only place we can – the home.


My sister, Marcie, is no different. And unfortunately, she seems to think her power is over me.


In my family, few people are known by their given names: Each person has a collection of nicknames. My sister’s most enduring nickname is “Princess.”


This is not an endearing nickname given to her at a young age by doting parents; from what I can remember, it is only a few years old and I think I was its originator. It was meant to be derogatory and demeaning, and for some strange reason she loves it.


Maybe it is because she believes she is a princess – she always has. From the day I was brought home from the hospital, Marcie, five years my senior, believed she was my second mother and had the right, if not the obligation, to boss me around, nitpick my every action and make my life a living hell.


Much of Marcie’s bad behavior stems from her dire need for attention. When I was barely out of the womb, she bit my fingers with the intention of biting them off. The action was out of pure jealousy because I had stolen the spotlight once reserved only for her to tap dance on the fireplace in Wonder Woman UnderRoos or sing endless, meaningless songs she made up as she went along.


I don’t think it can be denied that I didn’t do anything to bring this on. But it didn’t stop there. Even after I moved past the defenseless stage, she made it nearly impossible to combat her constant attacks on my sanity.


As we were growing up, my parents frequently left Marcie in charge of the house and of me. These could have been great times; we could have banded together to enjoy our freedom from parents. Instead, she turned these times into a hell of indentured servitude. I was commanded to wash the dishes, vacuum the carpet or do other such chores Mom left mostly with the intention of Marcie completing. Marcie threatened to “tell” if I didn’t do what she bade.


Despite her horrible treatment of me, I worshiped my sister. I always thought what she said was cool, listened to the music she did and tried in vain to hang out with her and her friends.


In eighth grade, I had to write a “benchmark paper” that would be used to determine which level of high school English I would be placed in. It had to be about the person who influenced me the most – I chose my sister. The gesture was repaid with a sentiment along the lines of “oh please.”


The Princess’ reign of terror continues. She commonly refers to my boyfriend as an, um, illegitimate child, and when I go home for a weekend, I am usually greeted with some insult or complaint from the second I walk in the door.


On a side note, this would be the perfect time to mention that although Marcie has a degree in molecular genetics and has a full-time job in a business consulting firm, she still lives with my parents – rent-free, I might add. I might also mention that she demanded we add HBO to our cable lineup before she moved in and has a list of food items my mother is required to purchase on each trip to the grocery store.


Last time I went home, my mother passed on a message from Marcie as we drove from Lansing to Battle Creek. I was given strict instructions to keep the bathroom clean while I was home because Marcie was now in charge of cleaning it. This was coming from the girl who has to sleep on only one half of her bed because the other half is piled with things she hasn’t taken the time to put away.


The interesting thing is, now that we have grown older, we get along fine when no one is looking. Yet every time Marcie is near me and at least one other person, she turns into the sister from hell. If the environment is right, she must take the opportunity and run with it.


For the most part, I have learned to live with Marcie’s antics. There have been times I’ve vowed to completely ignore her, but mostly I’ve just adapted to her ways. I realize she will be the biggest brat there is as long as we are both alive and she has an audience.


And yet, there’s a bit of unfinished business in all of this.


During her high school years, my sister served as her high school paper’s editor in chief. With this position came the privilege of a column in each issue.


I envied her for this and enjoyed reading it – until one day. I opened the Jackson High School Reflector News to find a column all about me. This would have been extremely flattering except that the column went on about how wonderful Marcie was, especially for having to put up with a brat sister such as myself. She couldn’t imagine how we came from the same gene pool, she said.


Her principal told me at the time that he fully expected me to pen a response to this gross injustice to my character. Well, Mr. D., it took me a while, but here it is.


Who’s got the power now, Princess?


Michonne L. Omo, outgoing State News opinion writer, can’t wait until her sister reads this. E-mail her your sibling horror stories at omomicho@msu.edu.

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