How To Be Your Own Big Sister

How To Be Your Own Big Sister October 28, 2016

I just left my weekly therapy appointment.

It feels like someone has reached through my skin and twisted my insides. Sitting in my car, I take deep breaths and try to calm myself enough to drive, enough to go back to work.

I tell myself An hour of digging the scariest, darkest closets of my psyche should not ruin the rest of my day.

I tell myself Ugliness I didn’t know existed inside me coming up and out is no reason at all to feel like hell.

I tell myself Stop being such a baby and just GO, damn it.

I’m about to put the car in reverse when a glimpse of something in the rearview mirror: it is my little sister, the one who looks just like me. She looks so sad my heart automatically roars into Big Sister mode: I will protect this little one I love. I will take her in my arms and hold her tight.

Me and Mary
My little sister, Mary (left) flew in from Florida to take care of me during my book launch.

But I realize this sad girl is not my little sister. She is me.

And I know if my little sister looked like this–the very LAST thing I would do is tell her to get back to work.

No. If my sister showed up at my door in this state, I would hug her.

I would stroke her hair and tell her: Sweetheart, it is okay to cry.

I would tell her crying is the proof of deep soul work. I would tell her tears are perspiration of the heart.
I would tell her to welcome the tears instead of being ashamed.

Then I would place an arm around her, guide her to the couch, and ask the practical questions first–because that’s what Big Sisters do:

Did you take your medication on time? (No.) Have you eaten? (No.) Are you dehydrated? (Yes.)

I would get her medicine out of her purse and make her drink a huge glass of water. I would give her a blanket, and tell her to tell me everything while I prepared tea to steep away some of the sadness. I would microwave melty cheese tortillas for her. (This is the comforty-est of all comfort foods in our family.)

If my little sister tried to tell me she was being silly for feeling this way, I would tell her–“Honey baby, you are recovering from an entire year of intense Darkness.

If you got in a huge car wreck and were in the hospital for a year, would you expect so much of yourself? (No.) Would you cut yourself slack on the days you had to go to physical therapy and learn how to use all your muscles again in a new way? (Yes.)

THAT IS WHAT YOU’RE DOING IN THERAPY, Sweetie. You’re forgetting old patterns, remembering new ones. You’re stretching places that have never been stretched–of course it hurts.”

I would tell her: Do not worry. Big Sister is here to take care of you.

Me and Marcia
My little sister, Marcia, (left) taking care of me on my wedding day.

I would draw a bath and make her soak in it. I’d wrap her in a fluffy towel and hand her my softest pajamas.

I would take her to the guest room, tuck her in, and tell her to rest for as long as it takes.

And I realize that today it is NOT my job to get back to work, or to produce, or to be strong.

Today my only job is to be my own Big Sister.

So I tell myself: Do not to worry, I am here to take care of you.
I go directly home.I drink a huge glass of water.  I take my medications and vitamins. I make myself tea and cheesy tortillas.
I soak in a bath, put on my softest pajamas, tuck myself into bed, and rest. And I rest–without guilt!– for as long as it takes.

When I wake up, I know I have couraged very hard:

Because caring for yourself– being your own Big Sister– that takes a special kind of Brave.

For daily inspiration & ideas,  follow Reba Riley, author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: One Woman’s Desperate, Funny, Healing Journey To Explore 30 Religions By Her 30th Birthday on:

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