The Queen of My Self

By Judyth Hill


How my sister taught me everything I was afraid to ask.

When she was good

she was very very good

and when she was bad

All I know is Mother Goose must have been talking about me, when I am around my sister.

With no one else, ever, do I see red, go ballistic and start swinging a barbed cudgel of words and recriminations, including bringing up an arsenal of 30 year old grievances as fresh as if they happened that morning, all the while weeping bitterly as if she were doing it to me.

I go from calm to Caligula, from Namaste to Miss Nasty in a nanosecond. Of course, it is all her fault. It must be — she is my sister.

Does this make a single iota of sense to you? If not, your years of therapy and kergillion sessions have paid off. If, however, your behavior can zoom into the certifiable over one innocuous (to the uninitiated) remark about your weight, your shade of eyeliner, or, oh no, not this, your children, or even a real live just plain innocent comment (which don’t actually exist between sisters), then you too are one of the million suffers of the Heartbreak of Sisterness.

What is it with us and our family members, anyway? We should be careful and tender with the ones that love us, instead, it’s the no-holds-barred, all-bets-off version of love. We are kinder to perfect strangers, and even better to people that hate us.

Okay, here’s the story.

I went back (as we say) East. And back it is, emotionally atavistic more like; I’m amazed I didn’t end up grunting and pointing, dragging my knuckles on the ground, and craving huge gobbets of wooly mammoth tartar, or more to the point, a diary with a key, Clearasil and a subscription to Seventeen.

Have you been back in the Other America lately? No need to really go; just call there. Everyone is on the phone. Every minute. I was shocked at what looked like hundreds of outpatients muttering and gesturing, until I realized they were all plugged ear and mouth-wise, into their Black…Berry. Jam, anyone?

Go out for dinner with friends, and everyone at the table, phone set on Vibrate, is text messaging other people they would probably prefer to be with, but because they are with you, they must settle for E-contact with everyone else in their otherwise more compelling circle.

It’s as if every moment of the present must be charged with the exciting potential for a brighter future, or at least, a better date. This makes for intriguingly weird dinner atmosphere and sort of partially scintillating conversations that are not actually occurring with you.

This revision of every rule of pre-existing mealtime etiquette would have Miss Post spinning – though her great granddaughter, Miss Manners, might prescribe leaving the table to “Take Your Calls”- in which case restaurants would have to set up tables for the sole purpose of enabling you to not be at yours.

What did I just say? Who knows? But I swear it’s true.

Being really good friends with someone, or coincidentally, related by blood, means that an at-home evening hanging out together includes emailing, IMing, Skyping, Facebooking, Tweeting, Stumbling Upon, etc, taking calls on cell and landlines, and checking messages on both, with the dispassionate fervor of diabetics monitoring blood sugar. If you can understand all the communicajargon in that sentence, you probably have either been there or done that.

So I’ll shut up right now, which is what I should have done then.

So the mortifying truth is, besides my sister having the audacity to continue to live her own life while I was there, I didn’t get my way.

…to be continued. Stay tuned for Part 2, posting this Wednesday.


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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to

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