She Ate My Life
Sitting in the living room, alone, very late at night, watching an old Bette Davis flick. Suddenly that wasn't television, that was my life.
I broke into a sweat, couldn't breathe. And everything became so clear. My sister hadn't jumped out of the window due to my 'abuse', no. She'd just fallen.
She'd fallen out of the window, but had made me believe she had jumped.
I tumbled back to myself, my pretty, happy nineteen year old self. The self who had everything going for her, the self who grabbed life with exuberance.
I recall that morning, and how we all believed she had fallen. She had told that to the hospital staff. She told that to the police. She even convinced the Psychiatrist.
When she came home, she was in wheelchair.
My mother would take her to physical therapy.
I went on with my life. My happy life.
I was engaged to be married.
Then my sister said she had something to tell me. Something important.
I remember sitting on her bed, for she liked to stay in bed, although they said she
should try to move around more.
That's when she said...
It was two weeks before my marriage when she told me, in a soft, almost forgiving
voice, that she hadn't fallen. She had jumped.
Jumped to escape my 'abuse'.
At the moment I recall how shocked I was.
I couldn't remember any abuse, but she seemed so sure and clear bringing up half recalled events of a decade gone..
I knew I was selfish, always interested in myself and what I was doing. I had lived in a world of happiness. She had always been periphery.
She was three years younger when three years was a great deal. She shared none of my interests. She had always been my little sister.
I sat on her bed, seeing someone whose life was virtually over, just as I was about to embark on my own wonderful future. I felt so guilty I couldn't breathe.
I couldn't breathe then, as I can't breathe now.
But for different reasons.
She spoiled my wedding.
But of course, I forgave her. I forgave her, but wallowed in guilt. I didn't deserve this wonderful man, this wonderful life. I was evil.
My marriage was destroyed by my guilt. By my need to be there for her.
My husband divorced me, and I became the major caregiver for my sister. I owed her.
I got a job, worked to give her everything she wanted. Although she could walk on crutches, preferred for me to push her in the wheelchair.
I couldn’t go anywhere.
If I had a date she would say something like;
“Enjoy yourself. I’ll sit here,”
I am not nineteen anymore. I'm an old looking hag though only forty eight.
I'm sitting in this dump looking at a television screen but seeing the window screen.
I am seeing the metal window screen, lying on the ground.
Who would jump out of a window and not open the screen?
"Georgia!" My sister calls from her room.
“What is it?” I say, hiding my anger.
“Nothing." She says, expecting me to get up and go to her.
I get up, but I don't go to her.
I go to my room, and pack my suitcase.
I know, in a place of such certainty, that she had seen me about to be married and to destroy my happiness, destroy my life, she invented her 'I jumped because of you.'
Let remember how happy I was, how popular, how many friends I had.
Let me remember those weeks just before my wedding...
And what she told me....
I had so little packing it took just a few minutes.
I went to the door.
I heard her call.
I didn’t answer.
I slammed that door behind me and went into the beginning day. I was unsure where I was going, but it would be away. Far away.