I think about writing back to my sister Esther who wrote last week complaining about my blog, saying that she would not read it anymore. I hadn’t known she was reading it, but I wasn’t surprised. Responding to her letter seems like the right thing to do and I compose sentences in my head, constructed to keep the channels open without giving an inch. But I haven’t done it yet.
I was talking to Martin the shrink about Murray Bowen who created the Family Systems theory, something my last sort-of-shrink was very into in an unorthodox kind of way so my knowledge of it is spotty. “Well, remember,” said Martin, “that Bowen never suggested cutting off from the family completely. That actually makes the patterns more entrenched.” When he said that I thought: oh, well, I have to respond to her then.
I haven’t done it. Maybe Bowen is wrong, I think. Just because he said so doesn’t mean I have to do it. Though it would be easy to buy a card or some nice stationery and compose something and send it off – that is a familiar path to me: doing what I ought to do and doing it quite well, and making it appear – even to myself -- as something I want to do.
It’s scary, not to do it. I don’t want a freeze-out of contact with Esther though the kind of limited interaction we’ve had the last few years doesn’t add up to much. Our lives don’t really intersect whether we see each other once a year and stay on safe topics, or not.
My other sister, Anasuya, who I often picture as an Amazon, breathing fire, has put the freeze on – we made it through Christmas just fine, but if one sister was reading the blog in February you can bet the other was too, and I haven’t heard a peep out of her. I know she’s pissed. Anasuya is often pissed.
My knee-jerk immediate response to their damnation is to think they are right.
It was quite a surprise to me the other day when a new thought floated in out of nowhere – how come neither of them says anything about how great it is to see me happy, to see me writing which they know with every cell in their bodies I have spent my whole life wanting. Esther says in her letter how she wishes me “peace,” but, hey, how come it makes her furious that I’m walking in that direction?
I keep thinking back to when I came back from Europe in 1988. I’d been gone for four years. I’d been with Natvar, a sadistic brutal man who had me utterly enslaved. I managed to get away and returned to New York. During those years I hadn’t been in touch with my parents or sisters. Natvar had no use for other people’s families – or anyone -- unless they were useful or wealthy. My sisters – who had been my friends before the whole Natvar era, said they were cautious now. It might take them awhile, they said, before they could trust me again. Without questioning this at all, as if they were the only two people in the world whose friendship I needed, I set out to win them back.
I wish I had gone looking for people who wanted to know what had happened to me in Europe, tender people who could embrace me. I wouldn’t have found them. I didn’t know then that people could be that way with me or anyone.
Probably half the reason I leapt so completely into the ashram world almost as soon as I got back from Europe was to prove to my sisters that I was trustworthy. The ashram then was their territory. I thought it would erase all boundaries between us. I needed to be let in somewhere, having burned every bridge I had.
The boundary between me and Esther melted quickly back then. But not the one between me and Anasuya. She never let me back in. And I can trace it even further back to when she was 15 and I was 18 and she swallowed that bottle of pills. That got to me, on some deep non-verbal level. After that I always felt I owed her something I’d never be able to pay back.