Not Mine to Fix, But Mine to Love

by Chelsey Johnson  Dec 7, 2015
Not Mine to Fix, But Mine to Love

My sister is in the hospital again.

I'm the oldest of three. She came just before my third birthday - close enough to be my playmate, far enough away to be my charge. After the divorce, my little five year old shoulders loaded up the weight - the ideas about being a role model. Responsibility. Unspoken expectation.

Mine to care for. Mine to mess up.

My teenage years were... colorful. It was a fast jump from my first kiss to sex, and still too slow for my appetite. I responded to my rollercoaster lows with cutting. I got a job, dropped out of school, and moved out at 16. I made mistakes, dated older men, broke my own heart, smoked cigarettes, and learned to party like a professional. I worked three jobs and pulled highest honors at community college through my graduation at a university. I was simultaneously untamed and extremely self-controlled.

Growing up in my wake, my sister was the quiet perfectionist with a glint of something mischievous and unfathomable. The good one.

Until. Until, I don't know. I noticed when she got sick. Toxemia. Her legs, swollen and mottled, her system unable to flush the toxins from her body, it pushed them down and away from her organs. She was bulimic, drinking, and bipolar. In my rush to solve things I told my parents they had to do something. Get her treatment now, before it's too late.

This was the first of endless unheeded solutions I offered.

In the years following, things got scarier and more complicated. Her diagnoses multiplied. The midnight phone calls had worse news. I became more guilty and straight laced. She went further and further out of control.

I've realized two things. I can't fix her. And I'd rather be connected than be right.

Sometimes there's this feeling between us, like I am laying in a nest judging my stroker. She isn't "doing it right." Every adjustment I give is filled with my tightly reigned emotions, words that are objectively accurate but laden with all the discord in my body. I blast her with the tension I've accumulated, gripping to what isn't happening. She shuts down, shuts me out. I'm telling her on every level that she is wrong.

The trouble with that is she is perfect. We are perfect. We are doing our best, all of us. The only thing available is what IS. And I don't get to feel it if I make it wrong.

As I've become more practiced in OM, I have more responses than the fast reaction of judgment. When I surrender, beneath my judgment is always a desire. Desire to connect, obscured by the scared thought that I can't have it. My fear is the very thing that halts it, shared desire is the material that connection is made of.

So I let my desire to connect come through. I feel my voice wobble when I tell my sister I miss her. I offer the truth of what I see without the pretense that I know what to do. I tell her, a reminder for us both, that she has never done anything wrong, she has always been doing her best. I tell her she has all the power she needs, and I believe it. I sit in the feelings between us, uncomfortably sharp aching and the nostalgia for something we never had.

Because I don't want to see her as mine to fix. I just want her to be mine to love.

(Photo Credit: Steven Kowalski)