The front of my sister’s card to me is a picture in shades of what look to me angry defiant red. I have opened the card twice and each time my eyes avoid the picture. I know it is a picture of a woman dancing – hair flying, limbs in every direction. It’s supposed to be about freedom, I know. But in my mind is stamped only anger.
Anasuya wrote to say how horrified she is by the writing she foundof mine on the internet, how I am bad for having violated her most sacred privacy, that reading my work made her feel as if she were back in our quote unquote “toxic” family. She is sickened and infuriated by my words. And for what? she says. You’ve done all this, she says, for what? Accusing me with those two words of writing for absolutely no reason. She sees no reason for any of it. These words, according to her, should never have been written.
We’ve been at war since were little children and for the first time I feel like it’s out in the open. There’s no resolving it. I will not write back. I don’t want to see her. I am happy for her to go her way and I’ll go mine.
But her words are brutal and they linger in the air like pollen, or grey dandelion fluff. The only thing to do is to keep writing.
Anasuya, this sister, is here this weekend, visiting my mother, but she will not come to see me. Fine. tomorrow my mother comes to my house with her brother, my uncle Dick and Betty his wife. They are visiting from British Columbia, a trip billed as their last to the East. I guess they’re fixing to croak. I don’t know, but it’s in the air. As it is with most of my relatives, everyone has their eye on the big departure. I do too, I suppose, in a way, sometimes.
I kind of like that Anasuya isn’t coming. A spade being called a spade. I imagein myself being quite strong tomorrow, not the nice girl all the time, just a bit of bite to me. Yes, I’m a writer. Yes, I post my writing on the internet, Uncle Dick. That’s just what I do, and I like it, and nobody taught it to me, I created it myself and people who don’t like it do not interest me very much.
I do not want Anasuya’s barbs to stick in my skin like a tick that you don’t notice until days later when the damage has been done. That’s what I’m scare of – I am scared of the guilt that I feel. It just comes up unbidden out of nowhere and I have to make sure I notice it. I don’t know how to battle guilt.
I hate her card. I hate what she writes. And I have endured so much rejection from her for year and years.
I think of her and Diane. Diane was another woman in the ashram. An unattractive, troubled woman, but a very smart one. You couldn’t beat her for facts. I often had to work with Diane in the art department. When I first arrived, I actually had to supervise her – she was a part-time proofreader of the magazine and I coordinated all proofing. Diane battled me, undercut me and at the same time managed to pass herself off as my friend.
My sister Anasuya was also in the art department then. I had just moved into the ashram and was thinking that this huge move on my part would close the gap between us – how could she doubt me – I thought she doubted me, I thought she thought I was a wimp, a superficial person – but how could she doubt my earnestness and trustworthiness now that I was giving up everything to live in the ashram too? But nothing changed between me and Anasuya. She remained aloof. She and Diane were good friends. They went into the woods together, studying herbs and feminine tribal customs, witchcraft, plant craft, full-moon goddess stuff. Diane followed Anasuya around like a puppy dog and treated me usually with condescension. And together they shut me out. I pawed at that door for along time.
Anasuya mentions the toxic family atmosphere that I am dragging her back to as if I was at least partly responsible for it.
She talks about her woundings and healings. Much of her talk is clichéd, taken from self-help books and circles. I really must find a way to be free of all this. I am speaking in my writing more clearly and completely and truthfully than anyone in her world has ever spoken – certainly more than I have ever even come close to doing before – I was never ever able to say anything of importance within the family, while my sisters and mother chatted away. Now my words finally find their way out and Anasuya says they’re bad. She’s wrong.