My sister and her Conservative, religious, homophobic, intolerant, and selfish husband recently decided that neither me or my mother are allowed to see my niece Zora. Because we are toxic individuals who are going to negatively impact the young life of their child. Because I am emotionally abusive and have said “hurtful” things about their marriage like the fact that my sister is an actual hostage in her own “home”. Because I have a mental illness they don’t feel comfortable leaving me alone with their precious little human.
It’s a lot to process and even after you process it, none of it makes sense.
My mom continuously wants to talk about it. She wants to understand where and how my sister became this stranger that stands before us all. And I admit that, I too, would like to understand. But I have also come to accept that I don’t need to understand.
I lived with my sister for nearly eighteen years. She has known me since the day I was born and she has seen the highs and the lows and we were both raised by two of the most amazing humans to ever grace this planet.
And yet here we are, my father is dead and my mom is a widow who is just trying to make it from day to day without collapsing under the weight of her grief.
And yet here we are, my sister’s husband has decided and she has agreed that the people who merely want to love and care for her child are horrible people.
Goddess, I wish I could lie to myself so soundly that I begin to believe it so wholeheartedly.
I am not perfect. I accepted long ago that perfection is impossible and my mom is no exception to that rule. But we are good, if not exceptional, people. We want nothing from either my sister or her husband except to help them and love them and their young family.
But apparently speaking the truth and living honestly is too much for good Christians. Apparently that’s one of the commandments they glossed over.
Thou shalt not lie.
Thou shalt not lie.
Thou. Shalt. Not. Lie.
Richard Yates once wrote, “No one forgets the truth; they just get better at lying.”
I don’t know what truth my sister is living, or her husband, or what truth they plan to share with my niece but it breaks my heart to know that whatever truth they share it won’t be one that helps Zora grow or learn or become the human our ancestors hoped we’d become.
I would never ask my sister to live for anyone else or to allow anyone else to tell her the way she should live her life but my parents sacrificed and did so, so much in order for her to be free to choose and I just hope that at some point she chooses the side of love and kindness.
I don’t even care if I never see her again. She made very clear that I am not welcome in her life or her home as a result of my mental illness and various other life choices. But it kills me to see her cut my mom out of her life. It kills me to see her keep a child away from a woman who has done nothing but love and care for everyone around her.
I was conflicted as to how I wanted this essay to unfold but I am pleased with the end result and I stand behind everything I have shared. My sister is off somewhere in the universe telling people I’m crazy or that I don’t respect her marriage (hostage situation) but I genuinely don’t care what she says about me because the people who need to know the truth know and everyone is entitled to tell their side of the story.
I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.”
Well, this hurts. It hurts more than losing my father because my niece and my sister are alive and well, but I am not welcome in their life because of factors outside of my control.
I have done the self-care. I have seen the doctors. I have worked on myself for years now and as a mental health professional I find it astonishing that my sister has made this decision.
But like I said, there are a hundred different stories. I just needed to tell mine in the only way I know how. And regardless of the choices my sister and her husband make, I will always, always pick up the phone or book a flight to see my niece and support her no matter what.
So this is my truth.
And this is my story.