There's a storm brewing... I can feel it in my bones. 32 years of erratic winds, tattered leaves and broken branches, all of which have worked together to create a picturesque barrier down the long and winding path, in an endless journey called "life." Ironic would be the only word that truly captures the timing of this so-called storm and, as I sit from my perch, looking deep into the forest (in the wake of my 44th birthday), I can't help but shake my head and wonder "why now?"
Several years’ back, I attended a transformational workshop in a desperate attempt to find inner peace and come to terms with my past. During the course, we were forced to "face our demons" and make peace with those who have haunted our souls. For me, that was my brother. I picked up the phone <hands shaking> and waited for him to answer. "Hello?" I wanted to hang up as soon as I heard his voice, but didn't, "Hey Wayne... this is gonna sound really weird, but I'm taking a class this weekend--just trying to get closure on some things--and I'm calling to tell you that I forgive you." <laughter> "Okay, Leese... I'll talk to ya later." A few days later, my "class sponsor" (for lack of better terms) confronted me on the call I had made to my brother. "You haven't forgiven him," he said. "Yes I have! What are you talking about?!" I defended. "No you didn't! You just said you did, but I can tell you didn't actually DO it!" he demanded. "Ya know what? Screw it... why the hell should I forgive him after what he did to me?" I cried. His response would change my life forever and, in an instant, I finally understood what it meant to forgive. He looked at me, smiled gently and said, "You've spent your whole life blaming your brother for what he did to you. I'm not saying he didn't do it. I'm not excusing what he did do, but YOU are the one suffering--and have been for a long time. HE is not suffering about this, YOU are! Now, do you want a relationship with your brother or do you want to be right? Being right is just keeping this alive and it seems to me, you're the only one suffering." I wiped my tears and picked up the phone. <ring> "Hello?" asked my brother. "Wayne? I know I called you the other day and said I forgave you, but I really didn't. But I do now, and I just wanted to call and tell you that I mean it this time." <deep breath> "That's great, thanks. Can I call you later? I'm in a business meeting right now." I'll be honest, I was tricked into taking the course by one of the local zombie's that drank entirely too much of their Kool-Aid, but I walked away from that weekend twenty pounds lighter, five years older and carrying a lot less baggage... or so I thought!
In a couple days, I will turn 44, which will mark a very poignant day in my life for many reasons. My estranged sister (who is now 27) recently reached out to me; and together, we've slowly begun to uncover all the lies, manipulation and secrets that have kept us apart for so many years. Like myself, my sister doesn't appreciate the secrecy that binds our family tree. We are brutally honest (to a fault), and believe that truth and honesty is key to any healthy relationship. Last Friday, after weeks of her groveling, I finally agreed to open up my birthday gift. She was so excited and she'd had such a bad day, I just felt like the time was right. Her card was beautifully written and went on to describe the thought behind her gift(s): "In this box are two items; one new and the other slightly used," she writes. "Both having meaning and represent our bond of sisterhood." I reached in the box and removed the longer gift, as outlined in her instructions. She was talking, but I couldn't hear her. I stood in my kitchen, dumbfounded. "Is this from Nana?" I asked (I had only spoken once to my Nana since my parents' divorce, and it was only because my father forced her to call). "You weren't supposed to open it yet!" she screamed, "You were supposed to keep reading!" <laughter> "In this box is an old doll. When our Nana died, I inherited two dolls that were hers throughout her life. To me, these two dolls represent sisterhood; therefore, I find it only right for my sister to have one. Secondly, in the tiny box is both of our hearts. Finding you again healed a hole in my heart that I've always carried with me. These two hearts are forever connected, nothing shall break them apart and this bond can never be broken."
We talked for a long time afterward, each of us crying over the loss of the other. The sadness of everything lost is a bit overwhelming at times, but the sheer joy of what we are now building is worth every miserable second. The past couple days have been an emotional roller coaster for me. I've learned a lot of things about my family that have caused me to reassess some relationships. Though I sit here; broken-hearted, over what I can't control, I now know the truth to (some of) the secrets I've struggled to uncover for so many years.
This morning, I made my usual Sunday call to my father. "Dad... Can I ask you a question?" I knew that HE knew I had talked to my sister, but I wanted to make him squirm. "Tell me your definition of a healthy relationship between two people." He thought for a minute, then replied, "Trust." "What else?" I asked. "Honesty." he said. "I'm glad you used those two words to describe it, Dad. Now... how do you expect Jamie and I to have a healthy relationship, when you advise her to keep things from me?"
There's a storm brewing... I can feel it in my bones, but I'll let you in on a little secret: If you're gonna talk about a writer behind their back, and they just so happen to (one day) find out about it... you'll have no one to blame but yourself for what's coming. It's comical to me how poetic this transaction has been. The one thing the keeper of the secrets fears most is being "revealed," and his daughter, just so happens, to be a (hopeful) writer in the making. There are no family secrets with me, nor will I encourage them with my daughter. What I've learned about secrets is how hurtful and damaging they can be, and I hope, for the sake of my little girl, that "the family" takes their heads out of their asses and start acting like people who love each other. You know who you are.