Fifteen years ago I took a Japanese brush class with an authentic Japanese master, at Morikami Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida.  Not knowing what to draw, what came out of me was an unexpected surprise.   Is there anything unusual about having three sisters in one family?  Of course not. 

Is it far-fetched to have the oldest sister (me), 4 and 6 years apart from the two younger siblings?  Hardly.   What the ‘deal breaker’ is comes with the fact that, in a smaller, 1580 sq. ft., 3 bedroom split level house on Long Island, they shared a room and I got my own space.  Even though my ‘sanctuary’ measured about 9’ X 11’, with barely enough room to walk between the triple French Provincial dresser and twin bed, it was all mine, including the family laundry shoot.

The two younger sisters basically never had any privacy, sharing the second bedroom that wasn’t much bigger than mine (the two front windows were our rooms; mine on the left).  But we were all very young when we moved there:  I was in second grade.  You can figure out the others’ ages. 

After ten years there, we all moved to Whitestone, Queens, New York, into a 3/1 apartment, pretty much directly under the Throgs Neck Bridge, when it was built.  Do the math:  Five people, 4 of them female, and one bathroom.  I got the first bedroom that had a walk through to the back, third bedroom, where the other two sisters slept.  They had to open and close a high-riser every morning and night.  Once again, having no privacy from one another, and adding to the traffic through my room, afforded me almost no privacy either.

I left for college after my senior, outstanding year, at Bayside High School, with 1200 other seniors.  My room was made into a den, and the remaining siblings still shared the same space.  A love-hate relationship ensued between them and a total separation, from here to infinity and beyond, ensued between them and myself. 

This brief sis-tory lays the tracks for my claims to always being the Outsider, the stranger in a strange land when I came home for holidays and summer break… When I left for good, moving into my grandfather’s old apartment in Forest Hills, the estrangement from my sisters left an even deeper chasm.

Growing up, the members of my father’s family of aunts, uncles, and first cousins created a closeness lacking in my immediate family.  My aunts ‘got me’ when my mother never did.  As we all grew up, that ‘family’ closeness disintegrated.  But it instilled a deep sense of family for me, a longing that was never fulfilled. 

Some 46 years ago, I chose a dysfunctional marriage that reflected the split in my earthly family… a man who didn’t know how to love and was great at never showing affection (I married my mother)

The blame game started laying a path for me, as the victim.  Surely not an angel myself, he was controlling and tighter than a clams’ ass with money.   My sisters seemed to side with him when ever given the opportunity.  They being Capricorn squared to my Aries and the husband who was a Cancer passive aggressive, the Blame Game was a never ending, never win.  It stretched to Florida, where I moved after the divorce and the one three and a half year relationship I had failed:  With another Cancer, passive aggressive man.

Brene Brown would call it my ‘braving my own wilderness’, standing alone against the odds, against the blame, against ‘not belonging’.  It was here that I created the black and white Japanese brush artwork ‘Three Sisters’.  My longing erupted the morning of my class at Morikami Gardens.  It flowed, apparently defining my longing to belong, be included, be accepted, respected and honored by the two younger siblings.  That was 15 years ago, but dates back at least 46 years of turbulent sister accusations of me being insane, cruel, in need of therapy and anything else you may drag up in addition to that.

What I forgot to mention above, was that, over the years, the middle sister took in the younger sister and her kids, after her divorce.  Several times.  More love-hate, actually, the hate was winning with the younger not growing emotionally, without gratitude for the generosity of the middle sister, even though each one of us thought WE were the RIGHT ones in every argument… must have been in our DNA, inherited and passed along the family line.

Somewhere along this time line, I woke up to the truth about our global and national history.  There was no relationship with either sister, as they were symbiotically attached, disabling their ability to connect with me without ganging up in blame and ridicule.  Emails shot back and forth, enriching my sarcasm skills and their viciousness.  Even my minister thought I should take a leave of absence from the two of them.  The only time we talked was pertaining to a lawsuit we took on representing our father.  But even that shallow sense of relating fell apart.  The youngest one severed all ties, wishing the middle sister was dead.  Yes. We have it in writing.  Bless email!  She could not see herself clear of taking any responsibility for her actions;  blaming was more familiar and less troublesome.

The weird part is, the middle sister and I began to talk recently, including the discovery that our all-time favorite book was ATLAS SHRUGGED, but Ayn Rand, also a Waayseer.  This middle sister had become awake enough for us to have many ‘same page’ conversations.  When we disagreed, we would come back and resume alignment.  WE TALKED.  The main place we disagreed were spiritual matters, her being a hard core Christian, and me being Metaphysical.  However, she is more open and stopped condemning me for my beliefs, for the most part.  Don’t under estimate the grandeur of that progress.  She had a huge healing faith, survived ovarian cancer decades ago, with me always acknowledging to her that better part of who she was.

Catching up with time, into the 21st century, I designed a logo for a member of my spiritual community that I admire.  It was a business directed at women opening up to their greatest possibilities, called “The Dare Room”:  A safe place where we could go, in a small group.  “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk to blossom” (Anais Nin).

The DARE ROOM Logo

Since I designed The Dare Room logo, being in the inaugural session was imperative to me.  There were 8 women plus the creator participating in the first Dare Room workshop.  We all were led outside, into the forest surrounding the facilitator’s new, exquisite, modern designed house, where we were asked to find a tree that called to join us in connection and story.  As our seated circle dispersed in our tree quest, I began looking around me.  Straight ahead of me THERE IT WAS!   The SISTER TREE.

WHAT?!  I shouted at myself.  THAT?  AGAIN?  After all this TIME?!  As I gently walked over to this magnificent  creature of the woods, three trunks growing out of the same base, I saw that each trunk was consecutively larger than the one next to it.  Immediately I labeled the broadest one as me, the middle one as the middle sister, and the third as the youngest.  It’s ironic how the breath and width of each trunk is a metaphor for how ‘awakened’ each sister has become… Me being open, vulnerable and a Wayseer – who I have become; the second trunk reflects the opening acceptance of the middle sister toward me, a cosmic improvement… now aligning with issues she formerly called me a plethora of dehumanizing names for believing in, and lastly, the narrowest trunk, mirroring the unchanged, closed victim mentality of the youngest sister, who had unrequited , unrecognized pain directing her choices.

When I walked around the tree, there was another tiny trunk that remained undeveloped.  It instantly told me is was a fourth sister, actually the first child born before me. Ann was born to my parents, living only 8 hours. This tree became my SISTER TREE.  Emotion overcame me, that long forgotten desire to have functional siblings in relationship, acceptance, respect, honor, embracing unconditionally, was still alive in my soul.   The Japanese brush illustration of thin bamboo stalks grew into a fully developed tree, joined at the base, towering up to the sky, surrounded by brilliant green, sky, clouds and fuzzy lichen.  

Reluctant to participate in The Dare Room, fearing the unknown, having become almost a recluse in my 72nd year, driving there brought a smile on my face.  Happy that I experienced this woodly workshop, driving back down the new asphalt driveway I was filled with awe, appreciation and admiration:  A healing energy, joining the past and the future. The SISTER TREE offered me a Way of Seeing of unity, strength and connection that had never presented itself in the past.  The future is ours now to share, hearts knit together in Love.  Even if it still hasn’t completely manifested itself as One yet, or look as though it is healed, all the angst that still shows up is the Effect, NOT the Cause.  “Nothing to heal, only Truth to reveal.”  It lives on in true Heart Harmony, reaching up to the sky and beyond, eternally and forever.