I was nodding my head even though she couldn’t see me. It had been two hours since she had begun talking. The throbbing pain on my cheek from holding the phone so long was a painful reminder of the guilt I was feeling. I didn’t want to talk to her anymore.
This was the person that had never failed to dictate my emotions. If she didn’t pick up my phone call, I would feel a tsunami of sadness take over me. Five minutes of her day would give me unexplained happiness. Even if I knew I was going to stay up all night finishing my work, if she wanted to talk that day, I made the time. I adjusted my schedule, my wants, and needs based on what I thought she wanted of me. And this person was my sister.
It wasn’t her fault, as I began to see. Yes, she was headstrong and that often lead to people resenting her…including me. But it was my fault as well for giving her such a twisted value in my life. Considering and treating her as an important person in my life is one thing. However, I allowed her to take the reins and make me do things that later won’t be remembered with the feelings of affection I did them out of. But rather will only be remembered with the bitter aftertaste that is left.
I was too malleable, allowing people to shape me which way or what ever way they chose to. Being adaptable was good, but I was like an untouched box of Plato that was just waiting to be played with, because people just love playing with Plato.
So, when I didn’t want to talk to her, it wasn’t out of anger but rather just a result of pure exhaustion. I was tired and literally just didn’t want to talk anymore. It was simple and should have been an okay reason. However my mother who was like me, a people’s pleaser, gave me a pleading look to continue talking. “She doesn’t talk often,” she whispered. “She wants to talk to you now so keep talking.”
What did I do? I listened.
I told myself I had to be the one to understand. I had a mother who I could speak with about certain things, that other’s didn’t have the luxury of. I had my therapist I could meet weekly to vent and rant about every emotional thought I had. And I knew I had to understand. Because my sister was alone at college and even though she had best friends there, she needed someone to talk to. So, I had to listen.
Not that I wasn’t glad that recently my sister would seek me out whenever she didn’t feel right. We were always close but suddenly I had become the voice of reason in her life. (It would suck if she denies this. Awkwardly giving myself some importance.)
However, whenever she reached out to me to be consoled I spouted all types of advice, encouragement, and reasoning that were possible. I talked a lot, while she listened. However, I gave her what she wanted. A reaction. Support. Even though when she wasn’t talking about her problems, I was speaking about her.
No, I don’t need a cartoon character that gasps, laughs, and gets shocked every time I say anything. I don’t need big reactions. Not even that nod in the head or repetitive “yeah” to tell the other person you’re listening. But when it’s my turn to speak there is just silence at the other end of the phone line. A repetitive habit even when we speak in person, however, I can’t physically nag her to listen over the phone. And that silence eats me away as if I’m talking to a wall about complete nonsense. I feel as if what I’m saying has no importance. Yes, I have a therapist. Yes, I have our mom who is physically with me and not with her but neither can fill the gap as a sister. I always try my best to not be repetitive and tell each of them about the same problem. But she has to understand, that the one problem I chose to speak to her about is because I wanted to speak to her about it. Exactly like how she can’t speak to her best friend about certain things. Because she can’t fill that gap. I can fill that gap.
However, it doesn’t matter because she interrupts that silence and responds to my monologue with “go to my Instagram.”Even though she jokingly says she doesn’t care when I ask her laughingly why she ignored everything I said, I don’t know how many times I have to remind her.
I don’t owe her anything to always read between the lines and remind myself by saying “no she’s a good person” when her words hurt me. Communication is everything. I can’t read her mind and my fault lies in the fact that I always do. I console myself thinking that I am and can do it.
Thoughts matter for personal growth. But words matter for lasting relationships.
And I want to hear that she loves me to know that she loves me. No, I need to hear it to believe it no matter how I much I tell myself I just know. I do not just know.
I’ve found the root of the resentment that’s been running deep like poison aimed at my sister. I had always thought it would be okay because I loved her more than that sick rotting puss in our relationship.
Her words hurt. They’ve always hurt. No matter how sensitive I am or conditioning she thought I required to be thick skinned. She is a good person. But to maintain this relationship…to make it even better I need to take the reins from her. And even though I want to say she needs to work on the way she speaks to the people she cares about, I won’t. Because I can’t change her. I can only change myself.
So, I’m going to make this about me. And I will make sure that everyday I will use words to let people know what they may have an inkling of. I love them. They mean a lot to me. And I can’t live without them.