My sister just told me to get off out of her life. To "leave her alone" to basically just f*ck off.
I'm actually still digesting this, and being as she has asked me not to contact her I'm respecting her wishes. But I also feel the need to express myself.
So, here's how it went. I sent my sister an email asking how she was. I mentioned how the last few times we've communicated she hasn't seemed to want to engage with me. To be fair, we are hardly close: she's my sister but we are about as similar as an iPad and a shoe.
She's been unwell for some time and my intuition was nudging me to ask if she was OK. Her answer? She's fine. Great! But I have to say, the remainder of the email made me question if that was really the truth, because she followed up by saying how she can't stand my "self-help speak" and if I'm going to talk about wanting to "engage" with her then she's not interested.
Call me psychic but I'm guessing "fine" might not be the whole story.
I'm not going to write about a lifetime's communication (or lack of) with my sister, but suffice to say I am amazed that someone would react to a caring email from a sibling by saying "please leave me alone".
Actually, I'm not amazed at all. I'm not even surprised.
I could write fifty million blogs about my family and how screwed up I think we all are, but what would that achieve? It would only serve as a way for me to get a whole bunch of sh*t off my chest and I'd have to name and shame in the process. Even if I didn't, it wouldn't take much to work out who I'm talking about, right? And there's always three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth.
So what else can I do in this situation?
Well, I'm sticking with my latest theme which is Shifting Perspective. Previously, I would have responded to my sister's behaviour with anger, venom and a Supersized "F*ck You" right back. I would have released my inner dragon from its cave and sent it charging at her with forked tongue and fire. I actually used to be proud of the fact that I was the queen of F*ck You. I had the ability to take a man down with one look, and would practically behead people if they were foolish enough to cross me.
But that's not the case any more. And in fact, I'm not even having to curb those feelings right now because they're just not there.
Now that's amazing.
But this isn't about me sitting on a sanctimonious ivory tower, this is about recognising that someone is struggling to feel good and that deserves compassion. Even if they are saying they'd rather pretend I didn't exist.
We all have our demons and some people's are bigger than others. I'm lucky in the sense that I don't have a predominance for depression. Sure, I feel sad and blue, and struggle at times but even when life sucks I usually manage to see flickers of light. It's a gift that I am very grateful to have. The only down side to this is when I'm in communication with someone who is feeling depressed or glum, because they tend to see me as the most irritating human being on planet Earth.
It's not great seeing someone smiling when you feel like throwing yourself off the Harbour Bridge. And there is nothing worse than someone shining a light of happiness on your world when you're in a funk and believe that the world is sh*t and you just want to be left alone.
Depression is a very real thing that affects a lot of people. And when you're depressed, you're depressed. Nothing's gonna fix it, and that's a fact, right?
But what if that's not the whole truth? What if within the layers of depression there is a spiritual veil that masks our ability to see the truth? What if hiding our sadness is part of the problem? If being depressed wasn't seen as "imperfect" then would it be as debilitating?
I don't know the answer to that.
But what I do know is that last year when I went into therapy for the first time in my life (not a moment too soon), I experienced a black, sludgy cloak that soaked through to my bones and practically prevented me from getting out of bed for almost 4 months. My usual squeaky clean optimism was muddy and heavy. I struggled to work. In fact I made so many mistakes at work during that time that I was left almost jobless and I'm still recovering from that a year later.
When I was in the thick of it I could feel my optimistic self wanting to clamp down over the problem and take me off to the beach for a walk: It'll make you happy it said.
But I didn't go for a walk.
I sat in my bed, still and quiet. I allowed the feelings I'd obviously been suppressing my entire life to be felt. Feelings of rejection from men, feelings of abandonment and lack of support from my parents, feelings of pain from sexual abuse as a child, feelings of rage from a horrific car crash that left my friend dead and my boyfriend in a coma, feelings of f*cking up my last relationship, of hating myself for always running away, feeling the guilt of leaving my beautiful dog behind for a life of freedom. Feelings of being worthless and hopeless.
I felt them all.
I sat in their gloom, their self-pity and their filth and I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I had no idea how long they would last but I knew I had never allowed them to be really felt before. So I gave them a chance to be expressed, to come out of their dark corners and into the light. I was terrified that I would feel like this for the rest of my life.
As it happens, for me, the blackness only lasted 24 hours before the fog started to lift. I wouldn't say I sprang out of bed the next day, (in fact it has taken around 12 months for the healing to come full circle), but that sick and disgusting feeling dissolved after a full day of Allowing It To Be.
I came to understand that for years I had stuffed those ugly feelings down into the pit of my Being because I didn't think it was OK to feel like that. Having finally allowed them to be felt is now giving me the ability to have compassion for my sister where I wouldn't have had it before.
By allowing myself to express the "negative" and shadow parts of myself, I have found a brand new space that allows me to hear my sister shut me out, and know that there is still hope. And love. Interestingly, it is through experiencing my own pain that I am able to have more love for someone, who from what I can gather isn't able to love herself right now. And who would rather not have me in her life.
I have come to understand that it's OK to feel like sh*t. In fact, it's part of being human. And if my sister wants to tell me to get lost, then instead of throwing mud back at her, I will shine love on her instead. I'll respect her wish for distance and will use the power of positive thought to help us mend the fence between us.
I don't know if all my angry birds have gone just because I wallowed in my own crap for a year, but I do know that loving other people when they cannot love themself (or you) is a gift. And so I shall continue sending loving thoughts to my sister and maybe one day we'll both be free to tell each other "I love you" and really mean it.
And if not, then at least I have learnt to love myself enough to allow my fears and hurt to be accepted and felt by Me.
It would be the icing on the cake if my sister got the chance to experience that too.