Dear Sister

Mom told me I should talk to you, but I think we both know how awkward that would be. How two little girls who shared a bedroom and a toybox full of Barbies turned into women who haven’t talked at all in three years, I’m not sure. I think you started slipping away when we were in our late teens. You thought the stringent religious ideals that I’d latched onto were oppressive in some way, or unattainable for you. That I continued to insist on them anyway, for myself and for everyone else, made me somewhat of an incarnation, and you realized it was impossible that you should ever become like me. So to get out from under that shadow, you set about defining your own values by which to decide your own worth.

But you’re the baby sister, it was me and you since you learned how to walk, and you were destined to always have a me-surrogate by your side, helping you define yourself. You chose Dia first, for all the ways in which she was simultaneously like you and unlike myself, trying to escape our 50% similarity, almost out of spite. You had moments under her care when you touched the authentic Amanda, but I think she kept you crushed with your indebted feelings and the demands she made on your time. I think you followed her footsteps too closely and if you look back, you’ll realize that trying so hard to escape me may have backfired. The half of you that you buried had a lot of good in it.

It hurt me a lot when you stopped coming into my room to talk or play with make-up or sneak beer from the fridge downstairs and sing drunk-karaoke to every single song we know. It hurt me that you never called when I moved out and never came over to any of my apartments, except once when I turned 21. I could feel that you just didn’t want to be around me and I watched you invest our bond into someone else, and it hurt. But I figured you no longer felt served by our closeness and that you felt you had more in common with other people and I thought you deserved to be in fulfilling friendships, even if they weren’t with me. So I let you go and have kept my fingers crossed that you’d fly back someday.

But when Dia did what she did, the next person you attached to was Mom, and she and I weren’t speaking. I’m sure you took her side on everything, and I didn’t see a reason to make additional conflict with you, so we just haven’t talked. I messaged you once on Facebook like a year ago, but I was terrified to read your reply, don’t ask me why, and I never did. I couldn’t. These assholes have put me through it too, girl, and sometimes it’s just too hard to face the world. I don’t call it Agoraphobia, but we have crippling anxiety in common,

It appears that we also share a taste for bad men. Here, I blame our parents, though I no longer presume to know who’s at fault for what of the mess that transpired between them. Just that we have had emotional abuse, sometimes physical aggression, and toxic forgiveness modelled for us from the womb. We’re suckers for, “I love you” and a sincere apology and were too tolerant of the red flags, believing wrongly that they are signs of honesty rather than dysfunction, Both you and I are excellent at being alone, but Mom and Dad have never been single for more than a few months, I’m not sure they have identities outside of the ones derived from other people, and both you and I feel this compulsion to have someone beside us too. All of my heartache has me hoping just one thing, though I’m not quite versed enough in my aloneness to know whether it’s true: Perhaps the two of them are pathologically codependent and we don’t have to follow suit. Maybe we don’t need another half, because maybe we are already whole.

I know that’s not what you want to hear right now. I’m not sure what Jeff did, but I can assure you that I know what it’s like to be completely blindsided by loss. Girl, I cried all day every day for weeks. Not little cries, either, full blown, body shaking sobs, everywhere I’d go, I couldn’t stop, It hurt so bad I couldn’t leave, even once I was pretty sure the cheating thing was true. Just let him get away with murder. Imagine that from me. Hah. I’ve willed myself to fall out of love with him every day for these three months, my friends put sanctions on the relationship, refusing to hang out or help if he’s around, and just now, finally, has my affection waned enough that I can leave.

I’m not through it yet, so I don’t have any wisdom to give from the other side. But I’ve lost a lot in my short life, like for example, everything, repeatedly, and everyone as well. So I can promise that whatever it is, you don’t need it. All you need is you.

I’ve got a little advice about how to survive it if you want it. No obligation, of course, you don’t have to take it. First of all: You are not responsible for the moral shortcomings of other people. No, karma isn’t real and there will never be a day of reckoning, but you get to be better than them if you want to. I’m a big fan of the high horse for healing. Equine therapy.

But practically, what you can do: Explore the world. Go out more, read more books, find new interest based websites, try new hobbies, pour yourself into all your current ones. Do things that you love, you’re gonna need the dopamine, and push your boundaries, surprise yourself by becoming a little different than who you thought yourself to be.

Reappraise. This means to rewrite the narrative you tell yourself concerning the other person. I’m a lover, I see people through rose colored glasses and that shit will keep you stuck. I know you’re the same way, and I’m not saying you have to learn to hate the mother fucker, though that’d help. I simply stopped telling myself that I missed him. What do you actually miss? The way he made you feel? The person you thought he was? The relationship that apparently never existed quite how you remember? Things that are not him, things you can find somewhere else, even sometimes by yourself. Find them, then. Whatever way you’d like.

Take it as a lesson. You’re gonna ruminate anyway, so go back and revisit all the red flags you ignored. Pick em up, turn em over, find out why you were so ready to ignore them, or perhaps why you missed them completely. Next time you’ll be ready, without becoming paranoid or bitter. If you were healthy in the relationship, affectionate, trusting, etc, that’s good. Identify the specific ways in which he was not so you don’t risk projecting your pain onto someone better come the future, and so you don’t wind up in a rerun of the past.

That’s all I’ve got. If you’re still writing and you wanna do like a daily writing challenge with me, it might help get your mind off things. I’m following your lead and finally writing my own book. It’d be cool to do something together. Send me a message on Facebook, or text me if you want, it’s 979 366 6978, we don’t have to talk about anything else if you don’t want to. Just the writing. Maybe you can tell me what happened with Jeff. Either way, I love you, and this too shall pass.

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