Some of you know that I have written about my sister before. I have 3 sisters and a mother still living and all of them have serious mental illnesses and are all untreated, I don’t associate with the 2 younger half sisters or my mother because they are so detrimental to my health and well being and that of my sz son who is and has been doing very well.
My one sister that is 2 years younger than me I love very dearly no matter what her condition and I still have a very strong bond with her even if she cuts me off sometimes for years at a time, she always eventually gravitates back again. She has been diagnosed with schizo affective disorder and she at one time was addicted to crack. Thankfully she has been clean and sober most of a decade now. She lives in a tiny efficiency apartment on the other side of town and she manages minimally to do what has to be done to survive day to day.
She is so isolated by choice. (no surprise) She stopped going to any doctors 2 years ago. She has no real friends but will walk up to any unknown neighbor knock on the door and start up a conversation and if she isn’t told immediately to go away then she assumes that this person is now her new friend. The neighbor may just be surprised and maybe sees that she is not very typical and her challenges are pretty visible to anyone with eyes. I think mostly they tolerate her impromptu visits. And admittedly she can be charming regardless of her challenges.
I’m just venting for many reasons. On the one hand I mourn all of life she will never get to experience because of her insurmountable fear and trepidation of so many things you and I take for granted. I “thank” my violent, neglectful and horrifying parents for how she turned out. She wasn’t quite as feisty and resilient as I was. Maybe that is one reason I love her so dearly I feel like she is like a “daughter” but really my sister…I worried and cared for her even when I was just a little kindergarten student. I saw as a small child no one cared for her and cared even less for her than the rest of us was cared for which was minimal.
Since then I have read about scapegoating in families and realized that was what my sister was. I wish I could erase her pain, her unending fear of life itself. I’m kind of ruminating and just mulling over so many mixed feelings but above all I feel a sense of gratitude this week in particular.
This week my sister has engaged with me all on her own, called and chatted and asked questions and shared something of her days with me. She called my son and chatted with him. This is so SO good. I am so glad she has done this. This is not her usual way-not at all. This is her fighting to be better. This is her trying so hard to connect and to be a part of a loving relationship. I think on some level she has always known I love her and my son loves her without condition. Now it seems she is trying to really be a part of the relationship. I know maybe I could be wrong, her mental status can be very glitchy and often unreliable. I just want to believe it is a breakthrough and that maybe it will last.
She still has a few standing delusions or “fixed false beliefs” she still is filled with so much stress that her body is in constant pain. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night with terrible muscle spasms and says she has to exercise for a long while to get them to go away. I feel bad for her but I know how imperative it is that she go back and see her doctor, at least her family doctor. I keep gently reminding her and encouraging her to go. She keep saying it will happen when she is ready. I understand. I don’t force my will on her. She is 58. She is a survivor. I wish her life was easier and more rewarding but that would have to come because of her own actions not mine.
All I can be is a soft place to fall (so to speak) When she calls I rejoice and I try my best to make her laugh at least once. I tell her my door is always always open to her. I visit her once or twice a month with her permission (as it has to be) and when I come I always bring her her favorite soup. I think all I can do is provide little moments for her, little connections between us that maybe make her realize that not every corner of the world is bad and scary and something to be avoided at all costs.
I hope eventually she will go back to a psychiatrist or a social worker and get more assistance to accomplish things she has talked about wanting to do for years. She often seems to admire me and so I try to re-enforce that I get therapy myself and see my own family doctor regularly and it has helped me tremendously to feel better and it’s something positive and part of learning to self care and self love. I never lose my hope for her.
For now I am so happy she has called me 3 times this week and is talking about meeting me at the laundromat in a couple of weeks so we can do laundry together. It sounds mundane to most but to me it is like winning the lottery. I don’t take for granted that it could all be gone tomorrow and she could be silent and unresponsive for another 2 or 3 years once again. I hope that does not reoccur (again) as it has so often through out our lives but I am realistic. For now though, I am grateful and happy and as always, very hopeful. Thanks for letting me vent and share my thoughts. I hope you are all well or heading that way. xx ~Catherine