Sunday, November 15, 2009


My little sister (A) broke down in tears tonight. And as the tears welled up in her eyes she began telling me her story. It was a familiar story. The story of our mother, our aunt, our grandmother. She met her partner when she was quite young. 17, in fact. They've been together 6 years. She tried to break up with him last year by moving to my town to live with me. But after not so long, he moved down too and she took him back. She stayed with him because it was all she knew, she stayed with him because she didn't want to hurt him, she stayed with him because she was scared she wouldn't find someone else to love her, she stayed with him because she didn't want to be alone. But she told me tonight, as the tears began flowing, she has never felt as alone as she does now, with him. It's a generational thing in our family, the willingness to settle for unhappiness in a relationship rather than alone. That's what kept my mother with my abusive stepfather for so long. I have, in many respects, been rather the black sheep of the family in this respect. I would rather be alone, than be in a relationship I wasn't happy in. My willingness to stay single (although the roots of this willlingness are far too complex to delve into in this post) have always been somewhat of an bewildering concept for my family members. But, back to (A). Her partner isn't abusive, he can be somewhat emotionally manipulative but then she can be quite cold and incisive. She just feels as though it isnt working. As she told me that she was at the point where she was beginning to no longer see the purpose of life anymore, get up, go to work, home to a broken relationship, sleep and then do the same thing over and over again, ad infinitum, I began to hear another familiar story. My story. That point at the beginning swell of a wave of depression, where life just seems to lose its sense of importance and purpose. And it shook me. Its an over reaction. She is not suicdal, nor probably even clinically depressed. She is experiencing a situational depression, probably somewhat exacerbated by her inability to communicate her feelings very well ( her legacy from the house of horrors we called our childhood) But nonetheless it shook me. Because she is my baby sister, I would and have given my life and soul to protect her. I don't want this black demon on her back too. It has made me so proud to watch her grow from the turmoil of our past to turn herself into a driven, level headed and successful individual. I have often joked that I want to be like her when I grow up. But, now was the time she needed for me to be her big sister. I had to put my own irrational fears aside. I had to tell myself that she was ok, that this was an understandable period of unhappiness and then I had to do what she needed me to do. Listen. Simply listen. Not wrap her up in my arms and protect her, not solve the problem. Just listen. So I did. I asked how long she had felt like this, I asked what I could do. She has decided (to my suprise given her character) to see a counsellor, just to try and sort out what her feelings are, gain some perspective, and maybe (hopefully) deal with some of the issue she has from her childhood. She wants me to get a referral from my therapist to somebody she thinks would be good. And I can do this. I can in someways protect her again. And I'm glad. But still, worried, always worried, after all she is my baby sister and thats what big sisters are for.

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