I had such a strong need to speak to my sister this morning. I knew she had not been feeling physically well with headaches and nausea. My mind wondered if it was emotional or due to her liver but of course it is not my job to know and yet there there was that longing for a familial connection that runs so deep and doesnt have a lot of places to go now that my Mum is dead and my older sister too. I found myself remembering painful times in our past and seeing also how I was not seen in the way I needed to be at a critical time. I could not ever seem to find a soft place of comfort and support when I needed it, despite the fact my sister did reach out to me after my marriage ended and wanted me to spend the first Christmas with her. I could not do it so I had the Christmas with my Mum and my older sister who was not in a very kind or empathic place. We ended up having conflict which then upset my Mum and it was all around my own emotional wound which I really started to feel when sharing this morning with my sister about times of emotional neglect in the past especially around my family’s overconsumption of alcohol.
I was triggered by watching a comedy last night in which a drunk person threw up. It was a show about other people watching the comedy on television being filmed themselves, some of the laughed a lot and one person said “that is just not funny, its awful” which was my feeling as I know how horrible it feels to be throwing up from drinking too much and it’s something that happened following this sister’s 21st when I was only 13 which was held at a fancy hotel when the waiters kept giving me alcohol and no one was watching. Of course my family felt it was a great joke and I know there is a funny side, but for me it was not funny at the time and now just strikes me as sad.
Anyway, my sister does listen and doesn’t dismiss things now. “You have such a good memory,” she said to me, “mine is awful”. Well if you have had shock treatment and suicide attempt after copious prescriptions of a cocktail of over 10 different medications on the back of a hysterectomy and abandonment by your husband that kind of thing is going to affect you, but it means when it comes to emotions there is not a lot of insight and ability to share from that level from her side which means I do a lot of the work and its a long conversation with many gaps I am always feeling my way through.
I am glad we had the chat, and found myself crying at times in some of the longer silences, and as I listened deep within to the pain of my wound I realised how it came out of a longing for her to see me and for my father and mother to see me, to see how alone I felt when young, how I struggled and how it hurt not to have the things I loved recognised. That was when I became aware of what I was longing for from my sister which she cannot give to me and that is sad and its also sad how I keep on trying and trying? She has her own wounds too and I am very very aware of that.
This is our first Easter without my Mum. My sister doesn’t seem to be keen to ever meet up, the exception was my birthday so I feel that the distance between us is really meant to be. I do need to accept it. After getting off the phone I hoped I had not talked too much about everything as we spoke for over an hour about different subjects. But the lovely thing was that during the call my sister did acknowledge things in me. And I was able to acknowledge in her some good things she often does not see due to her tendency as another trauma survivor to blame herself or be confused at times.
I am looking for the gifts inside my wound and pain today. My Chiron in Pisces lies in the seventh house a few degrees off my sister’s Sun and Venus there which is squared by a fiery Mars at 5 degrees Sagittarius which she shared with my Dad. At times I have been wounded by her blunt approach in her less sensitive and aware days, just as Dad could be blunt even though he had a soft side. I don’t always want to keep a distance from my sister but such contact is often bittersweet. My older sister Judith alway expressed her love for me and used to look on me so lovingingly. Today I remembered being called to her bedside several times when she was highly dissociated in her later illness and over medication. I would sit and hold her hand and she would come back to me. I may move around her little room in the care home for people with acquired brain injury she shared with four others tidying and often we would listen to music or sing along to songs we loved on the radio. I know reading this back it was my inner child who was bonding with hers then and I remember the times she was emotionally dismissive and very cutting and hard on me too, as our mother could be in younger years.
It’s an easier life, to be honest now that my older sister has gone. It was always painful visiting her but also lovely in another way when we just sat and held hands and connected. The love I have for my living sister is different. She was my boss for a while between the ages of 13 and 17 and was often trying to pull me into line from being too casual with other workers or customers at the clothing boutiques she owned along with my mother and brother in law. When I asked to be included in the family business in my later 20s I was told “NO”. I eventually went away to Sydney after my father died and from time to time she would visit with her husband and ask me out for a meal but this was during the later days when my addiction was worsening and one day after I had been out to dinner with her I got a call from her telling me how ashamed she was of me. I had gone out to a pub afterwards and was sitting on the side of the road with a group of people in the early hours of Saturday morning and she had driven past and seen me. “What the hell are you doing down there,” she screamed at me. “living some kind of double life?” I felt so ashamed and alone that I just hung up the phone and later when things got worse with my addicition I did not feel I could turn to her.
Anyway sobriety came for me a few years later and I met my husband and we married and there were some happy years. My relationship with my sister was always distant and when it broke apart (my marriage that is) I did not feel I could turn to her. Now it is just us two family members here in our home town apart from my brother’s son and his family who are very formal and never keep in touch. I am aware this wound is here and I treat it tenderly and possibly my sister has also felt wounded by me. Eight years difference is not an easy one, as I shared in an earlier post as children she said she found me a ‘pest’ and its how I felt. I was ‘the tissue queen’ because I was sensitive and cried when she got married and left home, I needed to ‘pull myself together’ when I got emotional at my God father’s funeral and hugged his grandkids ‘inappropriately’ I was a show off when I danced to a favourite song at mutual friend’s New Year Eve party.
These things stay with me and make me feel anxious (and probably unconsciously angry although on an ironical level it’s kind of funny). I wish I had a sister who just didn’t think I was too much but then I think I need to be an adult and just accept its okay to be me regardless of these kind of things. I can write about it here so I externalise rather than internalise all of this and I can acknowledge that this wound hurts but is not the whole of me, it just tends to ache around those times I am reminded of other losses and defeats.