Where Did it All Go Wrong? Dear Sister, Part 1.

Dear Sister,

Where did it all go wrong? I cannot remember most of my early childhood nor can I find any early memories of the two of us. Photographs show a forgotten love. I cannot say that we were ever close. I cannot even say that I have ever felt a natural bond with you. How sad, for both of us. Perhaps our parents were to blame. Any time I wanted to talk to you, communicate with you, I was stopped. They intervened.

“Don’t upset your sister,” they would say.

What could a seven year old have ever said to upset you? I was a child who did not understand depression. No one sat me down and explained it. I was just left to second guess every action and every word I spoke. That is cruel. In the past, when I mentioned it to the two of them, both have become defensive. Both have denied any wrong doing and I berate them for that. As a parent to be and a parent yourself. surely one is able to admit that they are not perfect. There are and will be times we will fail. It is what makes us human.

My only childhood memory of you that stands out is a sweet moment of sibling protection.

I have made it clear in this blog that there was a time where my mother was not the person she is now. Looking back, she was a very frightening woman. In a flash of rage and disappointment (for reasons I cannot remember) our mother launched at me one day. It was not the first time she had been violent. Smacking happens all around the world and I understand that in certain circumstances it may be necessary but I cannot advocate slapping a five year old child on any part of their body. At that age, a time out should be used or at very least your words. I remember running from her and finding you on the sofa. I jumped on you in tears, scared to the bone, calling your name. She was storming towards us as I huddled and cuddled myself into you. She was on one mission only, for me to learn my lesson. Her flat palm took a large swing and her aim for my bare thigh was on target. With force she let go. I screamed anticipating the pain but before I knew it, you had shielded the beast with a cushion. There was no pain. My tears were staining your shirt, I closed my eyes knowing that she would not be happy. She yelled at you but you just yelled back. She wouldn’t fight you. She never has. You won. I won. You saved me.

I never felt that love again.

What went wrong? At what point did you stop loving me? I never stopped. I looked up to my older sister but I was an embarrassment to you. You only sought my mother’s approval and when you achieved it, I was of little point. As a teenager you distanced yourself. Academics and grades were more important and the small glimpses of fun you did enjoy were not shared with me. Yes, as an older sister, I do understand that having a nagging eight year old wanting your constant attention would be off-putting but I wasn’t a stranger off the street, I was your only sister!

I was no doubt confused the time you requested I stay with you for a weekend at University. To me, it made no sense but my happiness that my sister finally wanted to spend time with me was too much to question your reasons. I cannot remember that weekend. For a while, I thought I had imagined it. Only recently did my mother confirm it really took place.

After that, well nothing.

I felt completely apart from you. The only information I got was from my mother and she was not forthcoming with positive news. I was only to hear negative. It only created a further barrier between us.

How could the two of you ever ask or expect me to live with you instead of my father? You were not the better choice. Neither of you made me feel a part of YOUR family. I wasn’t. I was an outsider in the private, secretive world you had created. You were both so confusing, frightening. Your emotions and anger were raw and your hate for my father was so magnified. I couldn’t live with that. I loved him.

I loved you too. Both of you.

But love was used as a bargaining tool, how many times was I subjected to,

“Well, if you really loved us then……..”

Is that fair? As a parent and a sister tell me, is it?

Is this the point it went wrong for us?

If it is and you cannot forgive me then why on earth did you forgive him?! I have seen and heard of what he did to you. Yet, in his final years, you put that behind you. You forgave him for his torturous behaviour and allowed him into your life.

Explain yourself!*

 

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

*Part 2 to follow.

Self-help hater.

I confess it. I am a self-help hater. I have never been a fan of being given “advice” on how to be a better me. I prefer to analyse myself and be the one who gives the guidance. It stems from my father’s love of self-help books (a point I have blogged about previously). He needed instruction on how to live his life, without these books’ direction, he would not have been able to make decisions or create values. They were fundamental to who he was and detrimental to the power he possessed. It was a source of control. He used the messages in these books to dictate and order me around, to degrade my life choices and look down his nose at me. He would see it as “knowledge”. I can’t tell you how many clich├ęs he threw at me. His favourite was “knowledge is power”. I read. Just not enough and I certainly did not read the books he was recommending. I did not want to “improve” myself. As a young adult, I was only discovering who I was. He hated that and attempted to crush and contain any self-exploration that I tried to seek.

It’s not that I am unwilling to look deeper into the depths of my character; I am. I just want to do it on my terms. I have sought out help before but through a legitimate path by seeing a counsellor. She gave me questions and ideas to think about so that I could journey through the past and present consciously to improve and develop my future.

Self-help books and ideas aid many people. I can understand that. However, I choose not to follow my life by what someone else is telling me to do.

Today, I was subjected to a little self-help. In a discussion, comments were made about regret. Someone noted a quote that spoke of how we tend to regret the things we haven’t done and not the things we have. True. Sometimes. This is a very general and broad statement. One that many people seemed to agree with. I can’t.

I don’t totally disagree of course, but life isn’t that black and white. Some of my biggest regrets in life are the big choices I have made. The biggest regret being my foolish decision to live with my father aged sixteen. The choice that upturned and capsized my life. The choice that handed my abusive parent the reins to control and mentally torture me. I regret staying with him for so long. Twelve years! I regret not fighting sooner and accepting my pathetic life. I regret so much that I chose to do.

I am not a risk taker.

I can’t imagine doing some of the things I long to do. I believe in responsibilities. I am not frivolous. Perhaps that is a bad thing. Perhaps I should be more spontaneous. Except I hate surprises. In twenty years time, I am certain I will have regrets. Not huge, life-changing ones but ones where I should have taken that holiday to the Caribbean or treated myself to that expensive bag I had been lusting after. I do not mind those regrets, they are the regrets that keep us human.

Life cannot be so straightforward nor can it be peaceful and effortless at all times. I am not saying I want a depressing and bumpy journey! I just understand that shit happens and we need to be ready to face it when it comes our way.

I have many regrets, and I’m sure everyone does. The stupid things you do, you regret… if you have any sense, and if you don’t regret them, maybe you’re stupid.
Katharine Hepburn

Too right! How anyone can say they do not regret a choice they have made is beyond me. How an earth can you ever repent, learn or forgive?