Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 14, 2011

  Jesse,, is the middle of three sisters. Elaine is two years older and Janal is two years younger. “I have struggled with being invisible my whole life,” Jesse tells me with both resignation and sorrow. ” “Has anything made you feel that way recently?” I ask, trying to understand why she is talking about this now. “Well, yes. My nephew had a birthday party and I saw my sister Elaine. Elaine introduced me to her friends as ‘one of my sisters,’ even though Janal was not there. I know this is no big deal, but I felt hurt that she did not say that I was her sister. I had to be ‘one of her’ sisters. My whole life I was a ‘one of’ and so I have never felt that I was treasured for my uniqueness. I was part of a herd, but not a particularly nice or warm herd. I know it sounds like I am whining, and I know it was just an off-handed comment, but I was reminded of my life in this pack of girls, never feeling particularly loved or special.” Jesse tells me as if she fears that I am sitting with her in criticism. “What do you think was going on in your family that caused this impersonal feeling?” I ask, wondering if Jesse has a narrative, since she usually does. “I think we were all struggling to survive in an environment in which there was very little love to go around, so we were all fighting for the morsel.” Jesse says, describing this desperate childhood seeking love, with occasional success. “I guess you are saying that if there was little love in the first place and then there were three lives depending on it, the environment was a struggle, so it was hard to nurture one another. That is interesting,” I say, thinking about Jesse’s narrative. “I suppose you are also saying that those childhood years of needing love, receiving a bit of it, but still feeling like you need to fight for it, persists, even though your parents are deceased,” I say, re-stating Jesse’s point. “Yes,” Jesse says, “I doubt we will ever stop fighting for something we will never get.” Jesse says with known irony and pain.

2 Responses to “Sisters”

  1. Shelly said

    If Jesse’s parents are deceased, does this mean that she is still seeking the love from her sisters and is not getting it? Receiving love from one’s parents is not the same as receiving love from siblings. It is a different sort of love, isn’t it? Why can’t Jesse ask for it from them? Or is the relationship too competitive for that? Because couldn’t this be a common bond between them all, this seeking parental approval and love?

    • Jesse’s deceased parents, “live on” in her mind and the minds of her siblings. As such, they treat each other as they have for years, as if they are competing for tiny pieces of love and so the fight is intense. The past is interfering with the present.

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