Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Truth About My Sister

Some blog posts are just so honest that it can be scary.  This is about to be one of those.  If that turns you off, sorry- this might be one you'd like to skip.  In real life, I am typically a pretty easy going person.  I think I have a pretty good grip on reality and I don't see my life as any better or worse than most.  However, this blog is a place where it feels safe to share what are sometimes not so pleasant aspects of my pretty normal life, so here goes...

Over the past couple of months, my nephew who I have written of many, many times before has been seeing a psychologist because of some behavioral issues that he has.  Over time it had become obvious that he is not quite up to the average for his age group in many ways.  Thankfully none of these ways involve a lack of IQ or mental capacity, but it is still quite important that he learn how to relate to the world in a relatively 'normal' way.  So on good recommendation from his teacher and councilor, off to the psychologist he went.

Now I will admit that I am a bit skeptical of the tendency to over diagnose.  It seems that almost everyone in this world is diagnosed with something these days.  Plus with the history that I have witnessed of way too many people in my family going to councilors and psyche doctors for years & years and never having improvement, you could say my expectations are never high for this kind of thing.  Still, I thought it would be worth a try.  And it turned out that right away I could tell that this psychologist was the real deal.  Once I got past her silly squeaky voice, I could tell that she meant well and wasn't there to just find a diagnosis.

My nephew did go through a bunch of testing and the psychologist met with several different family members several times before she gave us her opinion.  I have to admit I was very curious to see what she had to say and I have had a burning question in my mind about my nephew for the past few years so I was anxious to see what would come of this.

The question that I have never really faced is this:  Does my nephew have some sort of issue like ADHD, Aspergers, OCD- or is it purely an issue of the way that he was raised?

I think I know now why I never really wanted to face this question.

My nephew has been diagnosed with PTSD.  He is nine.  I am sad for him beyond words.

I am sad for the fact that he has been so traumatized that it has affected who he is and how he relates in everyday life.  I am sad that he is just another casualty in a family that just doesn't seem able to function at even a relatively normal level.  I am sad that the abuse that runs deep in my family couldn't have stopped with my sister and I.

How in the world does anybody have a crappy childhood and then turn around and do the same garbage to their own kids?  I know, I am one to talk.  I don't have any kids.

But I did have my sister- that I seriously pretty much raised from the time she was born when I was 8.  (I used to drop her off at daycare down the street on my way to 3rd grade.  My mother would call and wake me up and then I would get myself and my baby sister ready for the day.)  And at one time I thought that the love and values that I had shared with her would be enough to keep her from ever turning out like so many women in my family have.

There is my great grandmother who allowed a soldier who was staying in her home to rape her daughter, my grandmother.  My grandmother became a mother at 14 as a result of this.  And then went on to have 4 kids by the age of 19.  4 kids that she did absolutely horrendous things to.  Things like tying them to their bunk beds and whipping them with extension chords.  One of those kids was my mother, who once had a high heel shoe put through her skull.  My mother who ended up with Munchhausen by proxy and gained attention for having such 'sick' children.  One of those children, my sister, became a cutter and a drug addict and is also abusive. 

It seems that the women in my family are just truly sick and evil in so many ways.  Ways that petrified me growing up and made me wonder who and what I would turn out to be.  They were all addicts and abusers in turn.  Now my nephew is the latest in the line of victims.  Seeing him and how he is affected is very difficult.  It is like looking in a mirror in some ways.  In other ways, it is empowering.  I can see the results of this long line of abuse and I can see that there is a chance to change things.

While I am disgusted by the fact that this experience with my nephew seeing a psychologist has made me look at a hard truth about my sister and who she really is, I am grateful for the opportunity to grow and be a better person who is available to my nephew in a very special way.  I know that when the day comes that he just might share his deepest feelings with me, I will be there as a healthy and supportive person who can show him what life can be- no matter how it started out. 

I have a good friend who has told me that she is amazed at the transformation in me over the past couple of years.  She has declared that I am a whole new person.  She is religious and has declared me a person who has broken generational sin.  She tells me how inspiring this has been for her to see.  I have learned to take her compliments and use them for good instead of denying them.  I will use my experiences for the positive.  I will be someone that my nephew can always count on. 

a picture taken at the Newport, OR aquarium during one of my nephew and I's many wonderful adventures!
I will NOT allow my sadness that my sisters life is not what I had dreamed of for her to affect my nephews possibilities.  I am not 8 years old any more, trying to get a colicky baby to calm down while watching an after school special.  I did the best I could then and this life is not about the past.  Facing the truth doesn't have to be an exercise in futility.  I will always love my sister, though I doubt very much that I will ever fully understand her.  I may be sad that she will never really share the gift that she was meant to give of herself to the world.  But I promise to my nephew, Nathan, that I will not let my sadness take away from what I have to offer.  I will love him and comfort him and help him to grow, right where he's planted.  And one day I will tell him all about how I helped to transplant him to the spot where he's at.  I will share how much it meant to me to be a part of making his life a positive and how much helping him has absolutely changed my soul and allowed me to grow in ways I never could have imagined.


  1. (((hugs)))
    The best part about this post is you and hope. Your nephew will grow and slowly heal (as much as possible), with help from this counselor, you and his father.

    Having you to turn to, to support him and just being there will be an important part of his life.
    It is horrible that a 9 year old has PTSD, and why he has it is just wrong. But with you all and God he can heal and have a good life. Especially knowing you are there for him!

    You and your nephew will be in my prayers!

  2. "Facing the truth doesn't have to be an exercise in futility."

    This was such a heart-wrenching post, yet full of strength and hope! I truly believe that having you in Nathan's life will change his future. What a blessing that you found the "real deal" in that psychologist. Between that and your love and support, it looks like God is working mightily on Nathan's behalf.


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