Let’s talk relationship : How Did Working Abroad Affects our Sister Relationship

It is said that it is more difficult for those who are left behind than for those who left.  My mind didn’t really go in this direction until recently, when it started to dawn on me and my family that I’ll be leaving the country again in the next couple of weeks. Everyone seems really excited with my opportunity, but there is one thing my sister told me while she’s making lambing that hit the feels. She said she’s sad I’m leaving because wala nang makikipagkulitan sa kanya.

Often, we hear the sides of OFWs on how they feel when they leave abroad, but it is seldom that we hear the view of the people they left behind. It took me a while to convince my hermit sister (her words, not mine) to open up and share her point of view on our sister relationship. Like any relationship, we have high and low moments. We laugh, we fight, we reconcile and do it all over again.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-O3ij4lyqV/

My sister was 15 years old when I started working abroad. She was a 3rd year student then and was about to enter adulthood. I honestly thought we were ok, until we had a serious misunderstanding that led our relationship to drift apart. It was actually just recently, after I lost my job abroad, that we bonded and sorted out our differences. I can say that our relationship has come to a full circle after I got back and spent some time home.

To be honest, I kind of regret missing important aspects of her life like when she was Corp Commander in her Citizen Army Training (CAT) batch, her JS prom and when she was taking her college entrance exams. Both of us understood how we felt, but haven’t vocalized them. 

We really didn’t put our mind into it until now. In this blog post, we will see how working abroad affects sisters’ relationship. Without further ado, this is my sister’s point of view.

How was our relationship before I left for abroad ?

I think our relationship before you left was very typical of a sister relationship. Sometimes we fight over trivial things but at the end of the day, we still get along just fine.

What is your evaluation of our sister relationship when I was still working abroad? 

Video call screenshot

I think it was ok and not ok at the same time. Your absence became normal to me quickly because you left to study abroad before for a few months. Also, Papa does the same thing, he works abroad. So things are not too different. However, there were times that I feel a hint of sadness. There’s some feeling I cannot explain. I felt like the longer the duration that we are apart, the deeper the disconnect.

What do you think happened? Why did our relationship do or didn’t work out?

I thought our relationship was just fine but overtime I realized, it didn’t work out because the more we see less of each other, the more our personal connection fades . And I think it didn’t help that you came home every once in a while and those vacations lasted for 2 weeks to a month. 

How did you feel when you learned that I will be working abroad and I will be gone for sometime?

Of course, I was sad at first but, just like I said, it became normal to me. Having an OFW family member is normal to me because Papa became one when I was around 1 year old. Honestly, my furthest memory is when I was 3. I remember when I was little our father was basically a stranger to me and when I finally got to warm up to him, that’s when he had to leave again.

For me, whenever one of my family members leaves to another country or to another place, I feel like there’s a disconnect but overtime the feeling of disconnect slowly becomes a norm to me.

… whenever one of my family members leaves to another country or to another place, I feel like there’s a disconnect …

Aletha, Sister of an OFW

Do you have any hard feelings or any issues with me leaving? Would you be alright discussing it/them?

I don’t have any hard feelings towards it because it’s normal to me. But I feel like every time you come home from abroad, it feels like you become more and more like a stranger to me. I feel like it’s the same for you too.

Sure, we can agree and disagree on things but for me, there’s always going to be things that we can never fully know unlike before you started being an OFW.

What do you think I should have done better so that our sister relationship remains healthy? 

I think we should have tried to connect with each other. Not just assume things that “I know this person already so it should be fine to say/do this.” The thing is, we don’t know what kind of life we were living during your time as an OFW. That is why it is very important to reconnect and relearn the lifestyles and quirks of one another simply because we don’t see each other as much as we used to.

Keeping in touch and being sensitive is the key in having a healthy relationship not just between sisters but to every relationship between an OFW and to the people they left behind here in the Philippines.

Keeping in touch and being sensitive is the key in having a healthy relationship

Aletha, Sister of an OFW

How do you find our current relationship?

Sisters portrait: Aletha on the left, Eartha on the right

I find our current relationship to be stronger than before. This is more thanks to the fact that we have more time to spend it together! It’s not that easy to open up to you since we have had that years worth of disconnect but with an open mind, I think we manage to overcome that hurdle.

Plus, I think we’ve created more ways to reconnect with each other like collaborating on this blog and learning a social media outlet like Pinterest!

What do you think we can do to ensure that our sister relationship thrives despite being separated? 

Based on my experiences, don’t just wait for your family to “come home”. You HAVE to make an effort to communicate and reconnect with your family outside of the country.

If you’re a self-proclaimed hermit just like me, you need to exert extra effort to reach them. Sure you may live in different time zones but don’t let that hinder you from re-knowing them again. It also goes both ways! That way, you can never feel like being strangers to each other.

… don’t just wait for your family to “come home”. You HAVE to make an effort to communicate and reconnect with your family outside of the country.

Aletha, Sister of an OFW

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Thanks for reading!

Hope you’ve gain insights with this interview. Please show some support by liking and sharing this post. Also, I would love to hear what you think! Comment down below or send me a mail at hellomillennialofw@gmail.com.

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