Perhaps the Carrie trigger wasn't the Facebook page, or the pajama pants, but The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.
Call me a glutton for punishment, but I think I want to try contacting my sister again. The one from Wyoming. The one that said she didn't want to talk to me anymore because Jehovah didn't want her to. That was four or five years ago. My other sister and my mom say, "Don't bother. You'll just hurt yourself."
Call me a glutton for punishment.
Maybe it's because last night I wore the pajama pants that she gave me. Or maybe it was because I found myself on her public Facebook page, and saw the Friend Request Sent button from last year that she still hasn't answered. Or maybe it was the conversation I had with my best friend yesterday about unresolved family issues. But I dreamt of her last night -- my sister.
I was at a swimming hole with a big group of people. She was the only person I knew, so I gathered my resolve to speak to her, and she ignored me. To my face. Like she didn't even hear me. She blanked me. Even while I cried and pleaded with her, she avoided my gaze. A woman next to her saw me crying and checked in.
"What's wrong? Are you alright?"
"She won't talk to me. This is my sister, and she won't speak to me."
The woman looked at Carrie and only then did she feel pressured enough to converse.
The rest of the dream consisted of her telling me why she no longer wants communication, and me trying to re-phrase her words to make sense of her logic. I kept getting distracted, following her around, and I never did understand before I woke up. The only other part I remember with any clarity was a partial sentence.
"I barely have enough ... as it is ... own family ... things I need to do ..." -- insinuating that she just didn't have time to have a sister.
And then this reminds me -- now awake -- that when invited to family gatherings when the children were little, my dad would claim that same excuse for not attending. And now that he's retired, the children are less interested in hanging out with Grandpa when there is Minecraft to be played, or manga to be drawn. He's too late. And I grieve that.
I wonder if he does.
I don't suppose the children do. How can they miss something they never got used to? But then, how can I miss it? Is it really just a case of preconceived notions? Am I thinking only of how I want things to be? Why am I hung up on this? Why can't I be satisfied with the way things are?
My other sister and mother live in Minnesota and so are not available for Scrabble, or cleaning house together, or Sunday dinners. I miss them dreadfully, but at least they respond when I email or text them.
Maybe I'm being unreasonable. Obviously my family life is not going to be Little Women -- which, by the way, is the movie I compulsively watch when I miss my family (especially my sisters.)
Maybe my expectations are too high.
Maybe my idea of what family is, is warped.
Maybe I'm being unfair.
Maybe my family tries as much as I do to stay connected.
Maybe, in the spirit of diversity, my values around family are different than theirs -- so that wouldn't be wrong on their part, just different.
This puts the blame (self-correction: responsibility) back on me, where I'm comfortable with it, like a pair of shoes that don't hurt my feet, but still have holes in them. It's something I need to get over. They're doing nothing wrong. My pain is my own doing, and therefore something only I can take care of.
I must not be doing a very good job of it though, because this family abandonment/self-worth issue keeps coming up for me. I re-visit it once or twice a year.
And because I've been up since the wee hours of the morning writing, and thinking -- and even dreaming -- about this, somehow (in my mind) self-worth segues neatly into The Girl's Guide to Homelessness.
I found the book in the community library at Osa Mountain Village on the Costa Rican vacation I just got back from last week.
It's a memoir about a late-twenties, almost-well-adjusted woman that loved her full-time job, but got laid off, had nowhere to go, and became homeless. Coincidentally, she was raised Jehovah's Witness.
It was a highly triggering book for me because, for the first time, I could see what my old religion looked like from the outside.
It's one thing for me (an ex-JW) to witness Carrie's choices (who is still a JW) and make excuses for her, while not liking her actions. And it's another thing for people like my father, who tolerated his wife's religious choices because he loved her. But it's a whole new ballgame when the uninitiated observe JW idiosyncrasies, especially when they are written about in matter-of-fact journalistic fashion. Then you can see the raw cult-ish qualities frothing at the surface, and you worry about the riptides hiding underneath.
But this doesn't explain why I want to contact Carrie. To try again. One more time. To leave the door open. To reinforce the bridge. To let her know, that if she ever feels she wants to contact me, but can't, because:
"It's been so long, she'll hate me."
"It's been so long, I wouldn't know what to say."
"It's been so long, we probably have nothing in common anymore."
-- or whatever she might be thinking -- to contact me anyway. Except it does explain it. And if you ever read the book, you'll know why.
I'm willing to talk, to re-connect, to remember, and forget. I want to contact her again because I keep thinking that if I could only say it right, convince her -- she'd love me again. Enough to be my sister again. To accept me. To give me back my nieces and nephew. To give back my children's cousins.
A small voice even says, If I was only good enough, she'd want me.
So I keep trying.
Because if I give up on her, then I'm giving up on us, and maybe someone, somewhere, at some time, would give up on me.
And that I couldn't bear.
After all these years, why did I dream that dream?