sister stories that continue

Good morning — it’s dark out there, and I can hear the helicopters. Or maybe that’s just my old refrigerator readying for takeoff.  I’m not awake enough to say for sure.

Not enough sleep last night and here I am awake this morning into the blog instead of the notebook, wanting to talk about sistering and change. This weekend I heard a story about a long waiting, about barrenness and believing for a long time that there will only be barrenness, that nothing (after trauma) can bear fruit — and finding, after a long waiting, that there is a flower where before there were only bare branches; finding an orchard of beauty to feed you where for years before you had found only wishes and loss.

This will be short this morning, as there’s a lot to do today, beginning with some rest and replenishment time. This weekend my sister came to see me and we were safe together. We held space with and for one another. After years of being afraid that we would never be healed enough to be close again, I felt comfort and ease in her presence (and in my body when we were together). This is so deep and new that I can’t quite find words for it yet — what’s new is the part inside me understanding that we are ok. Not that we will be ok — that we are.

I can tell you about years of being disconnected from her, my first external heart, my childhood companion, the little sister I was meant to keep safe but couldn’t. I can write about despairing of ever being able to open my heart to her, believing that always I would feel wildly uncomfortable and triggered in her presence. I feared that we would always be too cautious and maskedly happy with each other, terrified that if we showed any real feeling, the other would bolt. We have been tender and careful with each other, and we never truly (I find) released the hope that we could heal beyond what was done to us, that we could be sisters again: sisters first, before incest, before trauma, before anguish.

And we are.

This is overly explanatory writing, I know. But what I want to hold this morning is the amazement that arises when I become aware that some deep healing has manifested an ordinary experience: I get to be at a celebration with my sister and we are safe in one another’s presence. That’s supposed to be a given for siblings (though I know for so many of us it’s not the case). This weekend, my sister and I could be proud of each other — she could meet and revel in the friendship and chosen-family communities that I’ve built over the last ten years, and I could feel safe enough to let her in.

What I’m holding after this weekend is the fact that healing continues. I’m holding the fruit of love that my sister and I have cradled and protected even when it seemed sure to die. I’m holding what love risk can make. I’m holding the gift we have given ourselves and each other — we survived, and even when things between us seemed the thinnest and the most disconnected, it turns out that we never actually did let go of the others’ hand.

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Write as you’re drawn to write this morning. Give yourself ten minutes at least and drop onto the page into whatever story was up for you when you awoke this morning, or yesterday on the bus, or look at that picture up top of that flower emerging through concrete and see what comes for you.

I’m grateful this morning for your tenacity and your deep love and your words.

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