The Gift of my Sister

It is my great fortune to have an older sister who I love with all my heart, and her two daughters my wonderful nieces whom I have so many opportunities to spend time with.  My nieces are both still younger than 10 and are smart, beautiful, heartfelt girls.  However they are sisters, and learning to navigate the closeness of the relationship of sisterhood can create great strife between them.   Though their mother and I have two decades more experience in the dynamic relationship of sisterhood, we too also find ourselves bound in patterns of discomfort and hurt that we have been playing out since childhood. 

I am so grateful to have an older sister who I am close to.  She has been, my friend, my guardian, my guide, and my most honest reflection.  Our relationship has given me all the opportunities to know the most beautiful and strong aspects of my character, as well as the more base and ugly ones that need attention.  The fundamental truth of our relationship is that we love each other deeply and know that we are bound to one another for life.  And though there is a foundation of love, and an awareness of the value of the relationship, we too are still learning to navigate the territory of anger and hurt feelings. 

This week I inappropriately yelled at my sister in front of her children.  I was angry and despite all my previous experience, my awareness of my feelings and my choices around them, my awareness of my sister and our love for each other, I yelled at her in her home, in front of her children.  My reasoning was the need to resolve the discomfort between us, but impatience, emotions and my ego got the best of me.  This was not the first time this has happened. 

Often as children we are told this is good or this is bad and we build a life on beliefs that may or may not be accurate or true.  I was told that yelling was bad.  I experienced that yelling, and saying cruel things was a powerful way to be heard.  I knew in my heart that the words used in anger were not true or kind, however for the entirety of my life I have found myself in the position of using that dominating power when I want my feelings to be heard. 

Despite what we are told as children, it is the evidence of experience that we base our beliefs and our actions on.  I was told that yelling was bad, but I experienced that its immediate effects were good.  No one ever talked to me about the long term consequences that reverberate feelings of poor self esteem on the side of the yelled at, or a megalomaniacal egomania that comes from the user of the forceful power.  In its essence the behavior of yelling goes against the laws of nature, love and all that coexists in the universe, yelling and saying hurtful things to have your feelings heard is forceful and dominating, and leaves no room for mindful acceptance and wise accommodation which are fundamental to honor and respect.

No matter how many reasons I may have to base the formation of this behavior pattern on, none of the reasoning would bring about a resolution to the behavior.  Only I can do that.

In the end we worked it out, by trying something new.   With the help of our mother who mediated between us, we could have room to speak our feelings and hear each other out.  The hardest part of working it out between my sister and myself is that we are both so strong, and smart, and completely incapable of listening to the other when we want ourselves to be heard.  This is a bigger reflection of my other relationships as well, with my parents and my husband, and close friends, and sometimes strangers, and the behaviors that I have allowed myself to continue in these relationships aware or unaware.  Our mothers presence gave us an opportunity to do something new, to try something different, and in that kind of creative space we found more space to be kind, despite our discomforts.

At this time last year my husband and I attended the Burning Man Festival together for the fifth time, and I was angry at him the whole time.  Why?  Because I had wraped my mind around stories I had written in the past and wanted him to play a roll in.  Stories of insecurity and hurt, much like the roll I put my sister in.  Fortunately for me I chose well when I married my husband, and he is an emotionally intelligent, patient, and loving human being.  Rather than letting me be right, he held the mirror up to the discomfort I cause him and everyone else in my company when I am angry.  "Like splattering ones shit all over everyone else."   The Burning Man Festival starts tonight at midnight, and this year has been a like a magnifying glass on my anger and the roll my ego plays in it.  I have had a few very good opportunities to catch myself, and I am seeing my behavior patterns begin to transform.  I know that essentially we are all perfect, complete and whole.  Essentially we are all here to feel and then express our response to that feeling.  Essentially we all want to feel good and therefore we are responsible to one another to not cause any harm.

In the end my sister and I know that neither of us wants to cause the other harm. 

Yesterday when my nieces had their altercation, I offered them an opportunity to be more mindful of each others feelings.  As a sister, or in any relationship, no matter how angry we get and no matter how right we may be or feel in that anger we have to do our best to express our feelings without hurting one another.  It seems to me that the most important thing to remember as any of us works with feeling and expressing our emotions in a mindful manner, that whom ever we are communicating with may not have this awareness of responsibility to the other and may not respond in kind, or even understand.  The thing that will work is striving to be our best.  In striving, when we miss the mark, rather than beating ourselves up, we acknowledge what worked and what didn't, and make amendments to move forward, creatively and persistently.

My nieces are young and watching them grow up is a privilege and an education in itself.  I hope that like them I continue to grow up to be a good person, to adapt to new knowledge with ease and plasticity, and remember to face life with curious and voracious eyes and heart.

The gift of having an older sister who loves you as much as mine does, is a life time of building strong character with honor and integrity, holding good boundaries with kindness and love, and know the support unconditional love.

I write this in honor of my older sister Angelica, who is my rock to lean on and my lighthouse in the dark, for her I am eternally grateful.

To all of the relationships in our lives, the familial and the estranged and all relationships between, may we strive to be our best.  May we strive to treat one another with honor, respect, love, and kindness.  May we find new and creative ways to communicate our hurts, and reconcile our wrongs so we may enjoy one another in peace for the very short time we get to call Life

Blessings and Love to All,

Genevieve