I am in frequent pain. It’s not sharp or constant, but it’s enough to make me feel old inside my mid 20’s body. Because of it, it take a LOT to make me laugh and smile.
But my health problems are nothing compared to my sister’s. I can at least taste my food and run without fear of breaking my leg. I don’t urinate blood or nearly faint from food allergies.
I’m getting better. She is not.
The difficulties are compounded because we have NEVER gotten along. We grew up in a cult, extremely isolated from society, and never learned mature coping skills. And our personality differences were and continue to be extreme.
I have exited the cult. She has not and is currently at anonymous-cult-university studying to be a nurse.
I am wondering how much of her brainwashing is killing her. Her extreme cult-asceticism keeps her focused on working long hours and keeping her grocery bill to a ridiculous minimum. She doesn’t eat properly and is intent on losing weight so she can be slim like the other anonymous-cult-university girls. She justifies her behavior by citing her nursing studies and reassuring me that she knows what she’s doing.
But I look at her pictures and see how exhausted and malnourished she looks.
I am terrified of her dying. I realized this after reading “A Summer to Die” by Lois Lowry, a coming-of-age story about a girl whose sister dies from leukemia. I cried for HOURS. (I never cry.) Since then I have avoided every story of sisters and disease, especially such tear-jerkers as “My Sister’s Keeper”.
It’s not just losing her that I’m afraid of. I’m afraid of never getting the chance to resolve our differences, never being able to determine why we’re so sick when our parents have none of our symptoms, and never getting enough maturity in our relationship where we can disagree without having verbal Christianese battles.
And I am wondering how much exiting the cult is healing me. I started yoga, read read zen books to help with pain management, and shared my personal problems online with people I’d never met who told me about the diet that’s healing me now. None of which would have happened while I was still in the cult.
If I hadn’t left, the brainwashing would still be killing me. Just like it’s killing her.