Refuse to be Passive

Get Over Yourself

In Life in General on December 13, 2010 at 3:44 pm

I’ve been snapping at my sister for months now. She can make a comment or do something, and regardless of how innocent, I bristle and then retort. I’d resent her for whatever she’d said or done. This morning was no different. My car makes a high pitched whirring sound when it’s really cold out and the car is still warming up. I picked my sister up from her house, and she commented on the sound. I bristled automatically and struggled to respond in a civil manner. We drove to the pool in relative silence, got ready for our swim in relative silence, and got into the pool in relative silence.

The great thing about swimming is that it gives you lots of time for contemplation. The rhythm of the strokes, while tiring, draws your mind to thoughts of life.  At about 700 meters I had a revelation. I needed to get over myself. I took a few moments to step back and look at my behaviour the past few months and parse though it. Why was it my sister who set me off? Other people could say almost anything they wanted and I’d be fine with it, so what made her different? I mulled over this for a while and came to this conclusion: maybe if I kept having problems with my sister on such a wide scale as speech and action, it wasn’t actually her problem, but mine. In owning the problem, I realized that every time she made a comment, I construed it as criticism, even if it was never meant as such. From there, I put up defenses, and sadly they stung her. I would resent a comment and blast her for it.  In action, I would feel that her being late was a direct message of how much she valued me. She told me constantly that she loved me, but actions speak louder than words, and promptness is something I value. I’d resent her if she assumed that because I was her sister, I’d do certain things for her– I’ve since decided they are the types of things you should be able to assume out of your siblings.  And for all that I would harbour ill-will towards her.

I care too much what other people think. I want everyone to like me, and whenever I feel uncomfortable or out of place I get quiet, or I get defensive. The people I most want to impress are the members of my family– my parents, my sisters. I don’t want to let them down. Therefore, each time my sister made a comment I felt I’d failed. Then I’d lash out. I would then feel guilty for my failure and failing to handle it graciously. It was a vicious cycle.

After my swim, I apologized to my sister for the way I’d been treating her. She confessed that it was wearing, trying to pick and choose her words in order to not illicit a negative reaction. I knew that I’d been trying, but I hadn’t realized that it was that bad. My sister, being the absurdly generous person that she is, forgave me readily. I do feel better, but still feel the need to make amends. All the things I took for ill, she never meant as such. My sister is not a mean person and yet I projected that onto her.

My sister used to tell people that I was the most generous person she knew. Now,  it is my privilege to return that compliment. I can honestly say that my sister is the most generous person I know in her praise, patience and forgiveness. I am so incredibly blessed to have her in my life.



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