One of the most impactful realizations during The Basic almost 2 years ago had to do with improving my relationship with my sister and working on being the source of change. She is 3 years younger than me, but relative to our 2 older brothers, we had more of a shared experience growing up and were relatively close until I left for college. As we have grown up I have not been as sensitive and supportive to her as she probably needs. I sometimes assert a tough love/life advice role when all she needs is someone to listen and empathize and not provide the answers. Alas, some of it has been gender difference in communication, other times it has been me as an “analyzer” (trying to be right), and still other times it is just those familiar entrenched ways of pushing buttons that we tend to regress to even if I promise myself that I will not respond negatively. When I happened to call her on a whim last Sunday, it was something new when my sister gently asked me to come visit her in Chicago during a free weekend. It came at the end of a conversation talking about the arrival of our new nephews in the next few weeks, and me giving supportive thoughts about her upcoming medical school rotations. During The Basic I talked about wanting to create a space where my sister felt comfortable coming to me for advice and asking me for favors. In the last couple of year I have attempted things that have tried to create space, but often it was met with reminders of times when I have let her down, or pointing out things I have done with (or for) my other friends that I have not done for her. In ways, she would lay on the guilt, and I felt less than encouraged to make space.
I can not say I know that I have been source all of the time in the last 2 years for creating the space that allowed my sister to contact me and make a request, but I hope that the space came over time in my little ways of being. I then started to think about how easy it is to create separation in our relationships by things we do or don’t do and chasms can open up between people with even the smallest (in)action. Maintaining the status quo doesn’t take too much. But creating space for relationships–yourself included–requires consistent intentional effort to make and maintain “that space” and the prevent “the drift.” So even now that my sister has asked me to visit her, I am left with the anxiety of making time to do it rather than seeing it as an opportunity to help create and maintain the relationship that I want with her.
This situation reminds me of the perceived tedium/resistance of taking or making risks/steps/declarations is SOOOO important as these small steps create space to take action for all of the opportunities that are out there and that enter our lives on a daily basis. Space allows us to act and to be clear when that opportunity presents itself because we also see more clear how the opportunities do or don’t align with our vision. So by next Friday I will breakthrough my considerations (time, money, uncertain schedule) and follow-up with a plan to visit my sister so that I can continue to make that space for living that vision of our relationship.