• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
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This is a “dealing with stuff” week I think. I got up this morning planning (well actually I planned to run a 5k this morning, but there is a torrential flood and I have a sore on my foot from running in the rain on Wed so that wasn’t gonna happen- dealing with that too) to journal about this situation…and as I started to do so, I decided that blogging my be more helpful. So this post will be a little journal-esque, and if that bothers you, you can stop reading now…I do have funner posts on other things I think.

So I am dealing with a lot of emotions regarding my older sister. You see, she apparently has brain cancer now. Which likely means that she doesn’t have very long to live for real. I say for real, because experience has taught me to take everything I hear about this sister with a grain of salt, because when dealing with her the line between reality and imaginary/lies/fabrications is often blurred to non-existent.

FYI: I haven’t had a relationship or really spoken to this sister in about 7 years. That may sound harsh, and I feel I receive a lot of judgment from various persons about my decision to sever this relationship. In the beginning I did it for my sanity, because I didn’t know how not to continue to be hurt and betrayed in that relationship. I didn’t know how to set boundaries that would protect me. And as much as I hate to admit it, in the beginning I secretly hoped that severing our relationship would make her see how she had hurt me and others and that she would change her ways. Luckily, as I have moved along my recovery journey, that desire has fallen away. For the most part now, my reasons for not being in relationship with her are still out of a need to protect myself and also out of a desire not to be a part of the drama whirlwind that she wraps around herself like a protective blanket. I continue to see its destructive path affect others in my family and get a taste of its ferocity when those persons speak to me about her. The winds of chaos are strong – even from a distance, and I often feel its pull. This is one of the main reasons for my extreme distance; the difference now is that the reason I stay away is for me and is no longer really about her.

I went through a big process (that I won’t go into now) to find forgiveness for her and for myself. My resentments and anger toward her were like the cavernous maw of a black hole, destroying all light that crossed its path. I felt so much anger toward her that there was a time when literally I was afraid to see her for fear I would try to physically harm her. I won’t go into detail about the actions she took that caused me and others so much harm, about the destructions and pain she caused in my life and the lives of those I love, but know that it was great and felt unpardonable to me.

But then, I thought I found forgiveness. I primarily forgave myself for trusting her. My hatred slipped away. I still did not desire a relationship with her, but I no longer felt that consuming rage when I thought of her or someone else mentioned her.

Ah but the cooling waters of forgiveness were not complete. Deep in the ashes an ember still burned, not flaming but smoldering and continuing to burn. Like the firestones that our ancient ancestors carried to always have the ability to start a fire, I too have carried with me this ember. From time to time I have fanned its flames with news of her from father or sister. I have kept it tightly controlled, quickly suppressing the occassional flare. Often I have desired to release it, to just put it down…but I haven’t known how, haven’t seen the opportunity for healing.

It may well be that the time has come. She has brain cancer. I have heard that she was dying before, and I didn’t believe it. Rightly so I think. I thought then about how I would feel if she died, and did I feel like I needed to reconcile with her? My answer was always no; I no longer felt like I had any emotions for her – positive or negative (denial of the ember), and that she is so much not a part of my life that it wouldn’t really impact me.

Now I am faced with the harsher reality and it seems that this reality is fixed. And I started thinking that maybe reconciliation is what I need now. I started thinking that if I was dying and my sister hated me, I would want to hear forgiveness before I died, and that offering that to her is the right thing to do…..and not just for her but for me too. I also started thinking about the rest of my family – her children, my father and my other sister. I know that my decisions have not been easy for them and I know that they are struggling right now and have long desired some semblance of unity in our family….and right now I would like to set their minds at ease about this too.

So a few days ago I decided that I am going to go see her. I made the decision and then tucked all thoughts about it away to wait until this weekend (now) when I can have the space to think about it and how I want to accomplish it…and truly whether or not I want to carry that decision to fruition. To take the time to examine my motives and to look into my heart and see if I can do this thing with love and not to expect anything from her. I want not to rehash anything. I don’t want to tell her how she has hurt me…but I also want to be genuine and NOT to be a martyr about it…and I totally have the capacity for that.

I read this passage from one of the books I am reading (actually updated the sidebar and yes, I am reading all of those….little here and there from each) by Thich Nhat Han entitled “Anger”:

“According to the Buddha’s teachings, the most basic condition for happiness is freedom. Here we do not meana political freedom, but freedom from the mental formations of anger, despair, jealousy, and delusion. These mental formations are described by the Buddha as poisons. As long as these poisons are still in our heart, happiness cannot be possible.

In order to be free from anger, we have to practice…We cannot ask the Buddha, Jesus, God, or Mohammed to ake anger out of our hearts for us.”

I have been praying for years for healing, for forgiveness. Perhaps now this is the practice.


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