I’ve been a bit of a hypocrite. How could I have thought that the best response to my sister’s reaction to my suicide attempt, was to shut her out? How can I ask for her forgiveness, if I’m unwilling to forgive her?I’m beginning to learn that fighting fire with fire leaves a smouldering mound, where a luscious green landscape once lived. Love is borne from love.
I was given a new perspective on my sister’s reaction, by my counsellor; Lovely Linda. I spoke to Linda about the situation with my sister and explained my original plan of action. She took a deep breath in, as she allowed what I’d said to ruminate in her mind. She said that she understood my point of view, and how hurt I must’ve been. However, had I considered that maybe my sister was frightened, and that was her way of dealing with it? I asked her to explain what she meant in further depth.
She described a situation, whereby two best friends have their friendship compromised by bereavement. One of the friends had lost their husband, rather suddenly. Instead of being there for her friend, the other best friend now avoided the other – even going as far as crossing the street to avoid having to speak to her.
Although this may seem callous of the avoidant friend, Linda explained that there was a much more upsetting reason for the friend’s behaviour. The avoidant friend was frightened. What of? The answer is, she was frightened of her best friend’s grief. She knew she couldn’t make her friend’s pain go away, and she didn’t feel strong enough to witness someone she loved in so much pain. In short, it was a method of self preservation on the avoidant friend’s part.
So my sister’s reaction was the result of her fear. She didn’t feel emotionally equipped to watch my mental illness kicking seven shades of shit out of me. Either that, or she simply didn’t know what to say to me. Maybe my tone of voice during our last conversation, gave my anger away. Well, there was only one way to find out.
I waited until my sister had a day off work and called her. Expecting my call to go to voice mail, I was surprised when she answered. We engaged in some small talk and I cracked a couple of my crap jokes, before my sister steered the conversation towards my mental health. I gave her the lowdown on my treatment and progress, before relaying Lovely Linda’s story about the two friends.
There was a stunned silence, on the other end of the line. I’d hit the nail on the head. My sister was frightened. We talked for over an hour, about everything. The weight began to lift from my shoulders. We’d made a breakthrough. I noticed my sister’s voice changing, the more we talked. Her burden was lifting too. Either that, or we were now sharing it.
I mentioned my new year’s resolution to take up photography as a hobby. I was shopping around for a second hand camera, and hoped to get one within the month. “I have a camera, you can have.” She said. A part of me hoped she wasn’t doing the age old thing of giving me the material things I want, in the hope of somehow eradicating my depression. I didn’t and I still don’t want that. I don’t want to be pandered to and pussy-footed around. I’d much rather be shouted at, or avoided; than mollycoddled and pitied.
To my relief, she wasn’t trying to play fairy godmother to me. The camera was a gift her ex had bought for her and since their split, four years ago, she hadn’t used it. It was gathering dust in a drawer and needed some adventure. I offered her some money for it, but she refused. I offered to at least pay the postage costs, but she assured me that I was doing her a favour, by taking it off her hands. So that was that. She’d send me the camera and I’d capture some happy memories on it.
I now have the camera. In a strange kind of way, it’s symbolic. Lovely Linda helped me to look at another perspective, which in turn allowed my sister to help me focus.
Photo by Sunny Au8ust, courtesy of Unsplash