She’s 14 and she cuts her arms. A lot. The journey with my sister has been a long and terrifying roller coaster. When it started, it took up 100% of my time and energy. Hospital trips. Medications. Suicidal threats. Sleepless nights. Hours and entire days on the phone trying to find someone who could help her.
Since then she has been in and out of emergency wards and has even been picked up by the cops. When I decided to start training for my marathon, I took a step back and decided to trust a lot of the health care professionals that were involved with her. She has not gotten better. She is getting worse. Cutting deeper. Losing her inhibitions.
To be honest I have never known an existence without some sort of life altering crisis playing in the background. I don’t usually show hints of these issues as I’m living them, but during my strength training session yesterday my trainer noticed that something was wrong. Until now I have been able to keep this out of my training.
I don’t really know what more to do for my sister. The truth is that all my sisters have had to find some way of coping with our family life. I found running. My sister found cutting.
She cuts regardless of all efforts we’ve made to help her. She knows I’m here for her but she doesn’t talk to me, and I’m the one in the family she’s closest to. If I try to talk to her, she runs away. If I write her an email, she doesn’t reply. But there are things I have to say to her. So I asked her permission to write this post and she said yes. I’m hoping it will get through to her.
Here’s my letter:
I love you so, so much. I think you know that but you don’t hear it enough from the people around you. When you were a baby I was very protective of you. Even today, if anyone ever tried to hurt you, I would f***ing break them. But what can I do when you hurt yourself?
I know you don’t always have the words to explain what you’re feeling. But I need you to know that you’re not alone. I remember 14. I grew up in the same family. Emma, you don’t have to become like our family. You can choose your own path. You can be what you want. Like I am.
I know that being 14 feels like nothing is right in the world and everything is crashing down all around you. I know you’re lonely. I know it feels like nobody understands what you’re going through. I’ve been lonely too Emma. I know it’s the only feeling in the world that can make you want to die. I’ve thought about it. But it’s better to be strong. It’s better to live.
I know that cutting gives you the attention that you should have gotten all your life. I’m so sorry that I couldn’t protect you from growing up the way you did. But we all went through the same things. We can hold each other up.
I don’t want you to die. You’re my baby sister, and the only sister I have that’s just like me. You’ll learn in time that not many women are built the way that we are. We can take crap that people don’t even imagine in their nightmares. We are unbreakable. We were built to survive.
This won’t last forever. Think about where you want to be when you’re my age. Your dream job. Where you want to live. Then reach for it with every fiber of your being. It will come.
In the meantime, you can bleed all over the place. You can scar yourself until nobody else wants to look. But I still will. As long as you’re alive I’m never going to give up on you. I don’t even know how.