So, my baby sister turned 18 years old yesterday and I’m a bit of a stressed out worried mess right now.
I’m mortified for her. Why? Because she’s officially in charge of her life. Neither I or my mother can dictate to her now what time she’s to be home, what she can and can’t drink, that she can’t do drugs, that she can’t date x, y, and z, that she must go to school, that she must do anything good for herself.
This reality both deeply panics and relieves me. As an older sister, 9 years her senior, I have not been the most perfect elder sibling (in my opinion), but I have tried my best. Namely, I’ve always tried to protect her from harm and guide her towards safety, wholesomeness, and working for her dreams. Quite honestly, I didn’t do this in the healthiest way possible. While we were growing up, I didn’t really know any other ways so I scowled, screamed, guilted, grounded, and spanked.
Not all the time, of course, but when I felt “the fear” and therefore, that she “needed to be taught a lesson for her own good.” I don’t regret my intention, which was to protect her from the perils of the world or to teach her how to stay out of harm’s way, but I do regret many of the methods I used in doing so.
Over the past 2 years, however, I’ve become really conscious of the dysfunctional 1950s Dad-style discipline I was inflicting on the person I loved the most and its ramifications on our relationship. I sadly realized that a distance and distrust had developed on both our ends towards each other while I was “teaching her the right way and protecting her.”
She, like her older sister (me ), has turned out to be much of “A Wild Child.” The only difference between the two of us is that she started at age 12 and I started at age 18, and I knew how to hide it well. I was a straight-A student and career-driven workaholic. My motto was always, “Work Hard and Party Hard.” Also, there’s a saying in Cuba that goes “Si nadas desnuda, guarda la ropa,” which translates to “If you swim naked, hide your clothes.” I did just that.
My little sister, on the other hand, wears her “wild times” on her sleeve just like her big heart. A sweeter, more loving and loyal sister, I could never have asked for. She’s as endearingly transparent as a puppy who sees the front door wide-open. Therefore, I ALWAYS know — whether she tells me or not — what mayhem she’s getting into or about to embark upon.
Yet, over these past 2 years, through my own personal healing and self-discovery, I’ve learned that all I can do as a loving and supportive older sister to HELP HER is: A) Let her make her own mistakes B) Love her through them, without guilt trips or harsh judgments and C) Show up for her whenever she needs me, but not at the cost of my sanity.
This is fucking hard … and also, spiritually liberating.
I have to accept more and more each day there’s a limited amount of things I can really do for my baby sis’, at this point and for the rest of our lives, because, as of yesterday, she’s a grown woman. They go as follows:
1. Listen to her (without judgment)
2. Love her (without expectation)
3. Give her advice (without forcing her to take my advice)
4. Show up for her when she needs me (without enabling her misbehavior or sacrificing my sanity in the process)
5. Let her make her own mistakes (without worry and fear for her safety … as much as possible)
6. Breathe in & Breathe Out (without thought)
7. Pray for her (with complete faith)
8. Trust she has her own God (in complete surrender)
9. Trust that she’s going to be more than “just fine,” but in fact “Great”
10. Blog about it
11. Eat some dynamite cake.
CONNECT 4 CHAMPIONS: TIED AGAIN