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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Pain of Sharing

Last night, I typed out a long, long, L-O-N-G email to my sister. I'd been mulling it over in my mind for a couple of days as to what to say, how much to share, what personal darkness to let her into. It was exhausting, but necessary.

I know that if I just 'say' things to her, she'll think I'm only trying to find ways to put her down, as that's how she tends to interpret my conversations with her. But I do always tell her that I'm proud of her and I believe in her. Sometimes my attempts to communicate with her come over in a harsh, standoffish way, but I've found that sympathising and rolling myself up into her problems with her, only makes her lean on me more. And giving her a crutch isn't going to help. Excusing someone else's bad behaviour isn't going to help either.

So, last night, I bared it all, well almost all, there's one thing I may never share with her, and if I do it will be after my mother passes because I know my sister, she'll not be able to keep that secret in. And it wouldn't be fair to tell her something like that and demand that she tells noone. She maybe has already guessed anyway.

The guy she's infatuated with, shows so many of the signs I've seen before, in a man I was involved with. A man I finally found the strength to walk away from. Well, a combination of my strength and the help of the most wonderful woman in the world, my best friend Anuja, who never gave up on me. A man who would have destroyed me, had I stayed with him. A man who had once tried to kill me. And I had seen that same look in my sister's boyfriend's eyes. That glint of evil. It was just a flash, but I saw it and he knew I'd seen it. Thing is, you have to know what to look for and if you've never seen it before, you'd not know what to look for. My sister, for all her hardships with the men in her life, has not been with someone this dangerous before.

I shared with her, in my email, all my experiences, all my hopes, all my disappointments. I shared with her for the first time, what he had done to me. Until now, I've just said to her "I know what a man like that can do to a woman." I hope this can open her eyes a little more and at least put her on alert if they do end up back together again. She says he'd never be violent. I thought that too, about the man I was with. Until he snapped. And that only happened after he had alienated me from everyone, after he had worn me down, after he had made me doubt myself.

My sister often tells me I don't know what depression is like. But I do. I know what it's like to doubt my very existence, to not know how to put one foot in front of the other, and yet to do it. I know what it's like to think so little of myself that I stopped bathing for a month. I know what it's like to shrink into the background and live there day after day. I know what it's like to hand over my life to someone who didn't care if I was there or not. I know. And last night I told her all this. She's been silent since, I hope she's turning it all over in her mind. I hope she will benefit from my experiences and not have to go through the same herself. I hope and hope and hope.

But I can't live her life for her, I can't make her do anything, nor should I. She has to find her way, on her own. I just don't want to see her go through what I have. Although, my journey up to today has been what it was meant to be, for me. For my lessons, for my own path. And it has led me to someone who loves me for me, and sometimes despite me. Who can see into me and understand. Who sees the real me, who helps me be the real me. Who can and does love the imperfect me. It hasn't been a wasted journey.

Maybe she's still on the path she's meant to travel. Maybe I just need to accept that.


George said...

Fiona ... you said in one simple paragraph what it took me dozens of post to say on my own blog. I started my blog to help myself recover from a server major depression and it worked. Well, at least it helped along with medications, exercise and a positive attitude. The way you describled depression was magical. Thank you for sharing those words.

I do hope your sister listens and thinks about what you said, it is important that she steps back and has an in depth look at her life, where she is going, what type of seat she wants on the ride of life (cargo, economy or first class). I think you have given us a good synposis of what you have said to her.

I have posted a response to your comment on my blog. I am sorry you had to go through what you did. If I could, I would take those memories away from all who have been abused, even if it leaves a blank spot in the memories.

be well.

mist1 said...

That's a hard lesson. For both of you.

Jonas said...

I hope and pray your sister is listening!

Fiona said...

George - it's such a hard thing to describe and there is so much more I could have said. For one who has been there, your words mean a lot to me. Thank you.

Mist - hard lessons have their own rewards, the important thing is to never waste what is learned from any experience, even the bad ones :)

Jonas - thank you, I do too.

Anonymous said...

Depression is just horrible. Been there myself. And you feel like you are stuck at the bottom of a dark well and there is no rescue in sight.

Maybe your sister will take those steps back and see herself in a place she needs to get away from.

Jamie/foundme said...

I always have such a bright exterior that people have often said to me, "You don't know what depression is like."

But I do. It took me a lot of years to be able to show something OTHER than a bright exterior to my friends. To let them in. To STOP making light of my problems, and playing them down.

But your also right in that sometimes, someone just has to experience something to learn from it. We have all been told by our parents things we had to go out and DO before we truly learned about it.

I hope everything works out.

Princess of the Universe said...

Depression is such a difficult and private thing. Somtimes it's hard to believe that anyone can possibly understand what you're going through.

Your sister is so amazingly lucky to have you. I hope that she appreciates how hard it must have been for you to bare your soul like that.

Best of luck to both of you!

Anonymous said...

I hope she hears what you have to say to her, really hears it. It's awful watching others do things like that, knowing that they'll get hurt, but unable to stop it. It's like watching an accident unfold, you can see it happening but can't stop it.

Take care.

Fiona said...

Oblivion - I'm sorry to hear of your journey through it too, I'm thankful I have come out the other side, there were times I thought I wouldn't. Until my sister can step away from herself and look back, I'm not sure she'll ever be able to be the woman she can be.

Jamie - I also was one of those 'happy face' people until the demon overpowered me and dragged me down. You're right, never assume that a happy face means a happy person. Sometimes the really happy faces are the fascade of a really unhappy person.

Princess - I think unless you have felt it, lived it, that it's hard to appreciate the feelings, the inner turmoil, the angst. I do know how she's feeling, I do understand betrayal, rejection, thinking there's no point to anything. What I need her to try to understand is that it can be better, it can be good, there are some wonderful things in life to look forward to.

Deb - It is. And sometimes there's so little you can do. I sometimes wonder if I'm making it worse for her, rather than better. If I'm contributing to her feelings of inadequacy. I just don't know.

Sally-Sal said...

Depression is one of the worst things a person can live through. The wonderful thing is that people *do* live through it.

I've been "your sister".

Luckily, one day I found a doctor who cared enough about me to try to help me deal, to make me realize that I did, in fact, have a problem. That medication was the only way I could ever function as a person.

On top of that, I had a wonderful brother (much the way you are with your sister, Fi). He told me "I know you can't help the way you are. You will always have a place with me, no matter what."

He accepted me the way I am, faults, mental illness and all. He accepted me even when my own mother couldn't.

I realize every day of my life that my brother gave me a second chance. He made it possible for me to have the life I have now. The life that is stable.
He never gave up on me, not for an instant the way that everyone else had.
He gave me a chance to start over, he would tell me "Sal, I know you have something wonderful that you will share with the rest of the world one day."

It took his belief in the person that I am, my willingness to admit that I do, in fact, have a problem, and lots of effort on my part.

Because mental illness/depression is something that feels like isolation, like you have the plague, I think it's simply wonderful that you're there for your sister the way that you are.
You're doing exactly the right thing by being there for her, Fi.

I'll keep her in my thoughts, because one day everything will just click for her. She'll realize that the way her life is right now isn't right. She'll realize what a wonderful, loving sister she has.

She'll realize that she has more to live for.

Please don't give up on her, Fi. I know it's rough, I know it's taxing on your heart, but you are the one person who truly has her best interests at heart.

She's lucky to have you. One day she will realize that.

Love you.


Fiona said...

Oh Sally, I'm so glad you came through the other side of your darkness. So so so so glad.

Thing is with her, she's had it all - the drugs, the therapists, the support. It's hard getting her past the 'whole world is against me' way of thinking. There is a fragility of spirit in my sister, a lack of fight. She can't let go of things and move on. I'll always be here for her, as she said, I'm the only family she has. But she has to meet me part way, she has to show me she WANTS something more.

I do believe in her, I have seen her be that wonderful woman she is. But then too easily get beaten down by something because she can't just say...ok that happened, now let me move on. She needs to finally be at that place, where she tells herself she CAN do it. She almost gets there sometimes but then falls in with some other guy who has spotted her weakness, and off she goes again. One of these days, I hope with all my heart, she'll have the courage to jump off the merry-go-round.

Thank you so much for sharing such a personal thing here Sally. You are an incredible woman! Loving hugs.

anna said...

I hope she's listening to you. You never know when something you say will finally trigger that light inside of her. I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

You're right - she's on her own journey, but maybe part of your journey is to help her with hers. You seem stronger than she is, more logical, more grounded. She needs that kind of presence in her life.


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