Sister

Dismal and low. Why so dismal? I do kind of bob up into a better state between posts you know. And then I fall back into a dismal dark hole. Why didn’t I post when I was more normal? Who knows, who knows.

Today I worked at home, and again there’s not a lot to do. That should be a good thing. I can’t seem to make good things good somehow.

In the afternoon I went to the hospital to see my mother. My sister was there, unexpectedly. My mother’s doing better and today went for a walk around the corridors. She still drifts in and out quite a bit when she’s lying down. The body gives out, parts wear out, one feels helpless.

My mother was the first person I ever saw, most likely. She’s always been a remote, ironic sort of person. I don’t remember ever confiding in her about anything. It seemed best to keep everything to myself, that way I wouldn’t be rejected for being too much. She is being very brave and uncomplaining in this illness. Following instructions, trying hard. She’s always tried very hard.

My sister is a person whom I struggle with, though silently. Of all my family, she will not talk to me at all. It’s always as if we’d just met a few minutes ago, and chat about the surroundings must be found to ease the social situation. As young children, we grew up like twins. At one point, when my sister was learning to talk, my mother said, I was the only one who could understand what my sister was saying, so I would translate for everyone else. We played together all the time, as we are almost the same age. We were in the same play fantasy world, being fine ladies drinking tea, nurses, saving people.

She runs an informal gardening business for friends and neighbours, and was on her way home from a new gardening job. She was carrying a backpack of tools, and had on her gardening boots.

I think she only talks to people who are intellectuals. You have to have a certain tone, the right kind of jokes, and be passionate about some intellectual topic, in order for her to talk to you. Or something. Or she just doesn’t like me. If I think of my friends, they will all talk in an ordinary way. They will say what’s on their minds. If they have a difficulty, they tend to launch into it without much prompting. I value that, when people will talk to me.

My sister will never do that. She will talk on topics, or make ‘in’ jokes. She will not trust people with her true feelings or problems. Maybe she talks to her boyfriend, who knows. Or to people she respects. Not me.

Seeing her, I’m always trying not to be rejected. I stay calm and unemotional at all costs. Don’t say anything threatening. Don’t refer to making a living. It hurts to be so cautious. And it doesn’t really pay off. We just make polite conversation, and I still feel that I’m too much, too apt to be emotional, rough, common, saying stupid things. She won’t talk to me. If I’m ever impatient, she will withdraw completely.

Kind of like my mother I suppose, but my mother doesn’t reject me in the same blanket way. My mother will tell me a few things, news, how relatives are doing. It’s my mother’s personality to be that way. With my sister, it feels more personal, more that it’s directed at me. And I’m not sure what I’ve actually done.

We leave after an hour with my mother, as she’s fallen asleep. Off to the subway, me still trying hard to be an acceptable person for my sister.

At home I’m a little dissociated I guess. I wanted to have supper and go down for a walk in the park, but instead I lie down. I read, then I fall asleep. When I wake up, I’m lower than low. That’s my pattern. Dissociate, need to lie down, when I wake up I feel so bad, then hours struggling to get back.

I was thinking this is my chance to work out what happens when I see my family, to notice how I feel. I get anxious for sure. But seeing my sister just does me in. We were so close as kids, and now, she’s worse than a stranger, almost an enemy. It’s sad.

Art:  Fractal Bargain Bin, Chrome Dragon

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6 comments
  1. Ellen,What happened that made your sister such an alien to you? She seems disconnected. You, on the contrary, are in touch with who you are and how you feel.When you talk about your family, I want to go around and plug them into the humanity socket. I'm sorry it hurts when you reach for connection and they stoically turn away. You deserve better. You are the alive one, even if it is only the pain that tells you that you are living. Take care.Flannery

  2. Ellen dear you come off so very real. I can so relate to you. Dear one I am sorry for the emotional pain you continue to go through. Always listening. Safe hugs.

  3. Ellen said:

    @ Flannery – She does seem like an alien to me. Maybe she thinks I don't visit the family enough. It's hard to say when she won't talk. The human socket – that's good! 🙂 Thanks for being on my side. @ JBR – Thank you JBR. Glad I seem real to you, as you do to me. Appreciate your kind support.

  4. gniz said:

    Hi Ellen, Remember that your sister grew up in the same dysfunctional family as you. Growing up in a toxic family, we are accustomed to that environment and so is everyone else in it, including parents. Everyone will insist that it's all totally normal.Well, clearly it was a horribly unhealthy environment and you were not and could not be the only one affected by it. I reckon the others may be and appear to be–from your description–worse off than yourself.People shut down under tremendous amounts of stress when they don't have the capability to process and release it. Your family has some similarities to my own, although to be frank, yours sounds quite a bit more difficult. But the similarities remind me that I've always felt like the black sheep because I'm emotional and talk about feelings where my family mostly bristled and grew angry at that stuff. I was and am still made to feel strange for how I talk about things and want to work things out. But it's made me a much healthier happier person. My brother was the poster boy of the family, stoic, intelligent, capable–but he was like a robot.Now in the last year or two I came to realize that underneath his cool and calm facade was a very disturbed, unhealthy, and unhappy man. He has nearly destroyed my family with his behavior, his life is falling apart, his kids live in a terrible environment with a mentally ill and mentally abusive mother and a father who is like a robot that does not protect anyone. He lies, he protects the sickness in his family and as a result I have nothing to do with him anymore.It has been a wake up call for me because I had such a different perspective on him–he's my older brother and I always looked up to him and thought he had it so together and that I was kind of a fuckup.Yet that's not actually reality. And the reality for you, Ellen, is that you are getting healthy, willing yourself to work through all of this mess–which makes you much stronger than you even realize. Weak people shut down and go into survival mode. You THINK that's what you have done, and you don't yet understand that actually you are the example of an incredibly strong and healthy soul who has found a way to protect that little fire of goodness and light and now it is coming back to life after all these years.Keep doing the work. I can't promise you that it won't make you sad, but I can promise that you will continue to heal.Best of luck with it all.Aaron

  5. Ellen said:

    Aaron, I was so touched by your comment and your story. We do have similar families I think. I also always thought I was the black sheep. And they are kind of behind a facade…a fake front if you will. I don't actually try to talk to my family anymore, but maybe I will again, I don't know. They turn away so fast and pretend I don't exist if I say anything that makes them uncomfortable. And you're right -they think this is perfectly normal. Sigh. I get confused when I try to figure out what is making me feel bad, but that's one thing for sure.Thanks for saying I have goodness and light…you could be right about that 🙂 and I appreciate it. I love hearing your stories, thank you. take care

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