Sometimes, only time and distance can heal a relationship.
I discovered a kind of love I’ve never experienced after not talking to my sister for three years.
Finding Love in a Hopeless place
In 2012, I left Colombia swearing I would never talk to my sister again.
People always say that, to solve a problem, it is better to take some distance in order to see a different angle. I never thought this would apply to relationships too.
My sister suffered for years from anorexia nervosa and bulimia. While I lived in Colombia, my mother and I were her primary caregivers. I used to drive her to the appointments, make her breakfast and sit with her for at least 45 minutes so she wouldn’t go to the bathroom and throw up, and finally, mediate the discussions she used to have with my mom. But after years of weekly nutritional, psychological, and medical appointments without any positive results, we decided that my sister needed to live with me so I could take care of her 24 hours a day.
Living with her slowly became a nightmare. The arguments were increasing and the tone of the words and thoughts reached a dark place I never experienced before.
One night, during a fight, things got so bad I felt the urge to slap her in the face!
The situation reached a climax after an intervention-like reunion involving my mother. They both had decided, without asking me, that my sister needed to be alone to be well. Their solution: I was to move out of my own apartment for my sister’s comfort and go back to my mother’s house.
Four months later, I was moving to Brazil to do a Master's in Neuroscience and asked my mother to never mention any of my family-related issues over the phone again. I had decided to cut the cord from my family, that at the time was one of the main sources of distress in my life. I needed to heal, and I needed to do it far from them.
Three years passed not talking to my sister
In the meantime, while experiencing the welcoming and heartwarming vibes of Porto Alegre, I kept at the self-knowledge journey I had started in Colombia and healing the wounds of my past.
One night, I was watching "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" with my now ex-boyfriend. The main character had a traumatic episode that led him to suffer mental health problems. And who was there next to him? A sister who always took care of him unconditionally. All of the sudden, I started crying desperately. My boyfriend looked at me confused by the immensity of my reaction. But I couldn't stop sobbing:
"I haven't talked to my sister for 3 years!! I know nothing about her!!"
Grabbing my phone, tears still on my cheeks, I sent her a message:
"I want to talk with you".
It only took a few minutes until she wrote back. She was in a meditation session (what? now you meditate too?) and she was thinking about me that's why she was shocked when she noticed my message on her phone.
The following day we had a long conversation where we both put our arms and our pride down. We were not pointing fingers or focusing on that last incident. I didn't care about anything that happened in the past or who was more responsible for it. I just wanted to reconnect with her, and that's what we did.
My sister told me that after I left Colombia, she hit rock bottom and realized that she needed to take care of her life as for the first time, nobody else was there to do it for her. She got into natural native medicine and Zen meditation. And she got better. Meanwhile, I spent my downtime in Brazil working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist taking the more scientific-based path.
But, during those 3 years, our different paths towards healing had led us to the same place: Love
That day—that conversation—my sister and I became inseparable.
Despite the distance, we got closer every day
We helped each other in our healing processes and shared experiences and learnings from all those years. She introduced me to ayahuasca, “mambear” (an indigenous tradition of sitting in a circle to share their thoughts), essential oils, and Zen meditation, while I offered my new understanding of human emotions and their connection with our physical bodies, how to deal with them with through yoga and Thai massage. By understanding my own pain, now I was able to understand my sister’s suffering and we both shared our deepest secrets and wounds.
This way, my sister and I re-discovered a type of love we had never experienced before: an unconditional love that's not attached to the physical form, time, or space.
Looking back to those difficult times in Colombia, I wonder if, when everything seems to be falling apart, maybe life is simply offering us the message to take a time out. A step aside. Go away. Take the time and space to focus on your own life.
Now I get why spiritual gurus say "heal yourself and you'll heal the world".
It took me three years. Three years in a foreign land. Away from my sister and my mother and my family. I needed that time apart to be able to grow and heal. I needed to face the fear, the pain, and the rage contained in my heart in order to let it go and start being kinder to myself and to other’s people struggles. We both needed this, to be able to find a deeper love trespassing the surface of our circumstances, of that hopeless place we used to live in.
Today, after this time separated and reconnecting, we both know that as long as we keep resting in this unconditional love, we'll never be apart from each other or lonely ever again.