Why do siblings who grew up in the same family have such different memories of their childhood? This might not sound like a spiritual question, but my sister and I, who are very close in age, have very different memories of our childhood, and this has really shaped us spiritually. She is a complete atheist, and this is connected to what she views as abuse from our parents. We definitely went through some hard times as kids, but she characterizes as abuse, I don’t see in quite that way. I’m talking about events where we were both present. Do you have any insight about this?
Isn’t that such a strange (and cool) thing?! I love it when we have experienced something together with someone else, and then hear their very different version of the story. I have had this happen many times. And it is a totally spiritual thing. Or psychological at the least.
Here’s the thing. We are each the centers of our own universe. Think about it. Everything you perceive is comprehended through your senses and filtered through your beliefs. You see someone do something, and your tell a story in your head of what they’re doing, and maybe even why they’re doing it. But the stories you make up are based your concepts about life, the other person, and your relationship to them and the world.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say Z and I are walking down the street. We see a couple walking toward us. As they’re walking by, one of them scowls at us.
I might assume that they are trying to place us. Perhaps they’ve seen us on stage somewhere but don’t make the connection and we just seem familiar.
But Z has a history of people scowling at her when they were reacting to her androgynous appearance. She might assume that they are homophobic and are having a reaction to seeing someone so androgynous in their presentation.
When Z and I first got together, I didn’t see people doing this. But after she explained her experience to me, I started to notice it all the time. Actually, now I hardly take notice, but I assume it still happens. And sometimes I notice.
Anyway, we have completely different histories. So our assumptions about the persons’ scowl wouldn’t be shocking.
In this regard, your sister did have a different childhood. I have often joked that my older sister had a different mom than me. When my sister was born, she was the only child in the household. This lasted for her first three years. My brother came next, and it was the two of them for the next two years. But when I came along, my mom had a completely different experience of life, including managing all the household stuff that came with three young children.
When they say “we all have our own experience, and our own path to walk,” it’s completely true. No one else will ever experience exactly what you do. Each person is experiencing life through the filters in their mind that have come from their life experience.
We truly are completely unique individuals! How fabulous! This is something to celebrate. It can also make things challenging sometimes. In my experience, compassion is the best medicine for such situations. Interview your sister about her experience. Put yourself in her (baby) shoes. See if this helps to soften the edges of those seeming differences.
Blessings and Love to you in all you do!
What is your experience with siblings? Share your comments below!
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