Forgive me, my sister – Forgive myself
Now that my Inner Kid isn’t sedated with sugar…long-buried emotions are coming up for clearing. I am feeling sister love and sister loss. I’m more than three months into my journey off sugar and the emotional underpinnings of my relationship to sugar – and my sister – are becoming exposed. Painful emotions are surfacing – specifically painful dynamics with my sister that have been buried. What’s happening feels profound and I’m curious about where the opening will lead.
I’ve been feeling a mixture of guilt, sadness, and a deep longing to connect with my older sister, whom I love and admire deeply. I think these feelings are surfacing because they’re not being sublimated by sugar anymore. I picture my wounded inner kid with sugar-sticky lips and hands. She’s a little dazed now that her emotions aren’t being bought-off with sugar.
There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to face the guilt of my arrogance or the possibility that my sister may never allow me close to her. That part used to have me reach for chocolate or cake to drown the hurt feelings in sugar-coated oblivion. Now, I’m feeling and processing.
Many people may have a similar, pain-filled dynamic with a family member or other loved-one and use sugar, caffeine, or other addictions to muffle the pain.
What do you do when you know you’ve behaved badly in a relationship and you want to repair the damage?
The first step to repair and healing is to take responsibility for your part of the rift. It helps to shine the bright light of love and acceptance on the whole thing, realizing that you were both younger, less aware, and imperfect. You don’t have to relive each painful episode or beat either of you up about every little thing, but you want to get a sense of the general shape of the dynamic and realize you both contributed to it.
Our siblings often re-sound the messages of unworthiness we get from parents, teachers and peers and my sister and I did that with (or for) each other. Whether or not she actually meant it, I “heard” from my sister, “you are not worth including.” And even though I didn’t mean it, she “heard” from me, “you are not as good as …, or as smart as….” Both of those messages were mistaken.
So I started to write a letter to my sister. My longing for understanding and closeness with her had resurfaced along with the deep longing for her acceptance and inclusion. In the letter, I apologized for being a competitive brat, always trying to best her and beat my way into her circle of older friends. I used to shoot her disapproving looks and say sharp, mean things in an attempt to even the playing field when I couldn’t beat her physically or keep up with her and her friends. (She’s 5 years older and still 6 inches taller than I am.) I was ruthless in my drive not to be left behind, ignored or disregarded. I hurt her feelings, often.
Our mother’s dynamic shaped the way we related to each other
Our mother (herself an only-child) wanted to prevent competition between us so she tried to carve out niches for us. She declared that my sister was the “social” one and I was the “intelligent” one. We were so channeled not to compete in the other’s “realm” that my sister grew up thinking she was stupid, and I grew up thinking I had no social skills. We were fully adults when we each realized that our mom’s artificial delineation was more about her trying to control the dynamic between us than any lack or abundance of skill.
As with most family dynamics, my relationship with my sister is complicated and layered. Below the layers, I love and appreciate my sister and want to repair the wounds in our relationship. After sitting with the idea of sending the letter, I realized I don’t think my sister would want to read/hear it, at least not now. I’m the one experiencing an opening (not eating sugar) and asking for closeness; she hasn’t invited any such intimacy.
I had to look deeper…
I felt sad and helpless all over again. So I looked closer at the unmet need(s) that inspired my letter in the first place: wanting closeness, validation, and acceptance. I wanted my sister to see that I get it now and to hear how much I love her. I want to shift the dynamic. But I can’t pull my sister close if she won’t allow it. I can only hold her close in my heart and let that be enough. No matter how much I want her validation, I can only give my own, to both of us.
I can recognize and accept my own inner Little Me, who used every trick she knew not be left out (abandoned); who was strong and clever and moved beyond defensiveness into love and kindness. She can learn even better ways to behave and love. Instead of putting on her protective armor (judgment) and looking for external validation (or eating sugar) she can share the immense, loving bounty she has discovered within.
Big Me can accept my sister and accept myself. I can appreciate our similarities and our differences. I can accept the distance my sister needs to have between us and love her across it.
So I sat… in appreciation of her strength, sense of humor, and her willingness to do what’s right. My sister is the best joke teller. She’s kind and generous and smart; she has a HUGE heart and lives a life of service and good works. She’s organized and brave and could lead an army if she wanted to. She’s so dear to me! And no one else shares our early family memories. I’m proud to be her sister.
Now, focusing on how much I love her feels much better! As I bask in appreciation and love, I feel much closer to my sister and to my own essence. My heart is full of love for myself, for her – and I wouldn’t be surprised if she feels it, too. If not, I do my best not to impose my need on her and I create an opening if she ever wants one. That feels like healing and I can deepen that groove!
Here’s to my sister and to sisters and brothers, everywhere. We are each others’ touchstones and healers.
Here are some poems about sisters and siblings.
#sisters #cuttingoutsugar #emotions #familydynamics #siblings #sisterlove