The years passed by and got more and more mature, I turned 20, 21, 22…I moved to Havana with the help of my dear friend Debra. I started developing my career, traveling out of the country, learning from other cultures and then I got married, to a Psychologist. Yamel and I were not meant to be together forever but I have to say that he helped me a lot in different ways, he specially helped me understand a lot about the human mind. I read all his books and we used to have long conversations about my sister. I told him something that I never thought it was that important but for some reason it came to mind and I just told him and here I will tell you now:
One day when my sister and I were together waiting for the train she started crying, I didn’t know why so I asked her what was going on. She couldn’t stop crying and finally she was able to articulate some ideas. She said: I hate myself, I hate myself so much, you have no idea. You can’t even imagine how much I hurt you when you were very little. When Mom went to work at night and she left you with me you started crying and I just hated that so I hurt you but nobody knew anything and then I felt horrible but I couldn’t tell anybody. I just hugged her and said: come on Ileana! I was just a baby, I can’t even remember anything. Forget about that, I love you and I forgive you for whatever you did to me when you were a baby. Come one, stop crying, that’s silly.
But Yamel made me think in a competly different way when I told him this story. He thought that maybe that was the key to the door that was keeping my sister locked inside a world of guilt. He showed me a new way to look at why my sister had the tendency to reject me. He thought that I was just too perfect with my sister because I never got mad at her, I never did anything mean to her, I never said anything offensive to her so with every good action that I did for her, with every beautiful gesture, with every little bit of love I gave her she only felt more and more imperfect. This made lots of sense to me. I remember that around the time when these ideas came out my sister started calling me on the phone and saying offensive things to me. She desperately wanted me to be mad at her but as always, I just showed her love the way I had done since I was a little girl.
Then one day I realized that somehow, I was being selfish, because I just wanted to give my sister love no matter what. It made me happy to give her love but not for one second I thought about what that love was doing to her. I was hurting her. I was making her feel imperfect, guilty and miserable. A normal person would had felt differently in her situation of course, because it is hard not to enjoy it when people show you love, but in her particular mind the love equation was a different one. That’s when I had to think outside the box.
It took me about a year to process my new ideas, to observe how my love was hurting Ileana but also myself and to understand that I had to make a tough-love decision. After that year putting all my ideas together in a way that made sense to me one hundred percent I was ready for the most extreme thing that I ever did with one of my relatives, I had to stop talking to her, not for a month or a year but forever, for the rest of my life, that was going to be my way to set her free. And it worked. I wrote her a letter pretending that I was so mad at her for all those years, for all the things that she did to everybody and myself…She knew how much I loved her and I am sure that she thought: Elsita will be back. But I never did, even when I had doubts about my decision, I never did because I knew that my return was going to make her world collapse.
And today I am happy to say that somehow, that was the miracle that I always waited for. Who could imagine that the magic was going to come from myself and from my own decision to stop talking to my sister? She immediately changed, it was as if someone had taken a huge weigh away from her, she felt completely liberated. I can’t say that her mental illness went away but it is a fact that her crisis have stayed pretty much under control for all these years. The quality of her emotional life improved and the best thing is that our connection have stayed alive anyway but now through my Mom. I still help my sister through my Mom, I send her money once in a while. I know everything about her, how she is doing, how she is feeling. At the same time she talks with my Mom about me, she knows everything about my life and about Natalie and Diego and Bill and Miro.
The relationship between my sister and I has been one of the most amazing schools that I ever went through, I learned so much. And one of the most important things that I learned is that love is the most powerful thing ever and it sometimes manifests in the most unexpected ways. Human nature is a mystery and it is also something beautiful even in its darkest side. No matter how hard life is sometimes, no matter how much pain we have to carry with us, no matter how much we lose, in the end there is always one single thing that has the power to keep us going and creating and giving and that is LOVE. As long as we let love have a big space in our hearts and souls everything will always be OK.
I want to thank you so very much for letting me share this story with you, it means a lot to me. All my best for you and your loved ones!