Dear Sister

by me

I love you. You probably wouldn’t believe me. I admit, I have mistreated you, I have been cruel. I learned my skills from a professional, our dad. I know your weakness, your soft spots, and I have struck there intentionally. You have done the same to me, but for whatever reason I am more resilient. My anger burns hot, like a branding iron. But once I have dealt the blow, the heat goes out immediately. The cycle has run its course, the program is complete, I go back to normal. But not you. You wail and moan and gnash your teeth and cry to the heavens and curse and vow to never forget and never let go and never trust me again! I thought you operated like me. Until one day when I was in a junior in high school. We flew out of state to visit some cousins. We had a huge angry, violent fight in the bathroom. You got in the shower to have the last word, but I came in after you. How violating that must have felt. Then I was done. I went next door to the bedroom to calmly fold some clothes. That’s when I heard it. Your sobbing. I sat there listening to your sobbing and it broke my heart. And that’s when I realized you and I were not the same. And in my mind I started cataloging years and years of fights and imagining you sobbing like this after each one. I felt so much guilt and shame. It was a turning point for me. I could finally understand the depths of your anger – you weren’t done when it was over, the way I was. You carried it with you all the time, tucked it into you bed each night, took it out on the town with you. While I locked mine back in its box and continued my life. I started letting you punish me. I accepted it, I was doing penance, in the hope that one day we could walk forward together without that past. This went on and on and on, years and years. And I started to get annoyed. How much is enough? And that’s when I realized, there is no “enough” for you. You didn’t relinquish any anger towards me, not a drop! You hoarded your bitterness, it gave you power, fed you. So then one day we had the conversation. I told you I loved you but that I realized you would never be satisfied with any amount of punishing me, and so I reject any more. “You’re so mean!” you said. “I love you, Sister, but I’m done being punished. I’m not that person anymore. I don’t deserve to suffer. I love you, but your anger is yours, not mine.” It was one of the few times we were talking, in our long history of off again on again. Years later we’re in an off period. It’s been almost 4 years. I don’t think about her that much, life is too busy. But sometimes I do, like today, and I wish things were different. I wish I hadn’t done all the things I’ve done. I wish she wasn’t the type to hold onto grudges and hatred and anger forever. But wishes don’t mean much here. If she doesn’t want to be healthy, there’s nothing I can do. If she isn’t ready to be close, I can’t make her. Wishes many not do much, but hope can. And I have hope that one day she’ll take off that heavy mantle of anger and hatred, realize how freeing it is, and think about me in a better light. And if it never happens, that’s okay too. I will always think of you with love in my heart.