Lately, I’ve been stumbling forward like a zombie in an emotional daze. It’s just one big hit right after another.
My man and I recently had our hearts crushed due to a family member’s choices and actions. It felt like someone we love reached deep within our soul and ripped our hearts out with jagged claws – the very hearts we’d willingly sacrifice for this person’s life. What was once inconceivable became a harsh reality and it sent us spiraling into a dark pit of shock, anger and hurt.
But we experienced it together, both the swift descent into heartbreak as well as the gradual rise into healing. Together. We discovered what we already knew but is always a good reminder, that together, we can make it through anything. If we can cry together, we can laugh together again, once the crying season is over.
This year has felt like one long crying season. Good cries and painful ones. It’s a time of extremes, of cleansing and purification. A time to peel away the layers of illusion – what we once believed was real – and see, know and feel in a different, deeper way.
It’s our time to wake up.
But first, we must stumble our way through the sleepy darkness.
Before a new season of birth and renewed life, the old must wither away. And often, this dropping away of layers, this shedding of familiar but decaying ways, leaves us feeling emotionally raw, exposed and hyper-sensitive.
During difficult times, I turn to God. We work on my challenges together. Knowing that I’m never alone, no matter who’s in my life or not, I gently remind myself that I’m a soul living a human experience and while the human heart bleeds, the soul remains unharmed. The soul resides with God. And I begin my witnessing process, stepping back into the seat of the soul, observing all that unfolds before me.
I do my best to honor that which flows through me, including the painful emotions, and more so, I do my best to honor my greatest teachers, those whose human claws sink the deepest.
But despite my knowledge of the transcendent and awareness of the spiritual, sometimes the heaviness of my earth wounds gets the best of me and my egoic mind spins non-stop, reliving the painful experience, replaying its old stories, and making up new ones, none of which come from the center of love, presence or honor. And so, after a sleepless mind-chattering night and a morning that started with a desperate text to my two sisters pleading for one of them to call me (my sisters always provide a loving ear, truthful advice and emotional support), I asked God to please help me take my mind off the situation.
The Universe works in powerful ways.
That evening, I found out I have a long lost sister. The next morning, she reached out to me.
While my two older sisters and I are just now finding out we have another sister, our newly-found sister has been searching for her family for 40+ years.
Born in Vietnam in the early 70’s, when she was a few hours old, her Vietnamese mother knocked on a random house door and a woman answered. Neither of the women had met before. The young mother handed her baby over to the woman who took the baby and raised it as her own. She was told very little except that the father was white and she couldn’t take care of it.
Two days after our virtual sisters reunion, we were interviewed by ABC to tell our story. You can watch it below.
It turns out we share the same father and she’s younger than me, which means, I have a little sister! I’ve always been the little sister, but now I get to be a big sister!
It also means my father had a tryst with another woman while married to my mom and that woman had his baby.
With all the excitement also comes many questions. Did my mom know the extent of my dad’s transgressions? How will she handle this news? Did our dad know he had another child? And if so, how could he leave her behind?
That last question haunts me and I’ve been struggling with it all week. While my little sister has been struggling with this question her entire life, it’s a raw, fresh open wound for me and my two older sisters.
When the world is too much, find your place of together.
My two older sisters and I have been through a lot together in this life. There’s nothing we can’t talk about and we’ve seen each other at our best and worst. It’s in this together place that we’re stronger and better able to handle the world’s “too much-ness”, and it’s in these challenging times that we lean up against each other even more so, to keep one another up.
Glennon Doyle, NY Times Bestselling Author of Love Warrior and Untamed, introduced me to the term “Sistering”.
There is a term in carpentry called Sistering.
Sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes too weak. Maybe it was damaged by water or fire. Maybe it still has structural integrity but an addition is being constructed and the new load is going to be a lot heavier than before. Either way, now it is not as sturdy as it needs to be.
When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member right next to the original one and fastens the two together. Sometimes, two new joists are needed- one on either side.
Do you know what they call that?
A Sister Joist.
And builders use “Sister” as a verb, like, “We need to Sister the joists in the east bay about four feet.” Even better is the nonsensical: “Sistering” as in, “Are they finished Sistering the roof rafters?”
Here’s a beautiful video made by the SALT Project folks about “Sistering”:
My two sisters and I have leaned on, supported and held each other up for over 4 decades, sistering each other through our lives’ heavy loads. And now we’re one sister joist stronger. It’s this place of together that’s kept me lifted during challenging times, and this expanded place of together that will keep all four of us lifted during our future challenges.
As we move through life, creating new and deeper relationships, our place of together grows like an expanding circle, and when we find ourselves feeling heart-crushed and overwhelmed, we can rely on members within that circle to sister us, to be present and hold us up.
This idea of sistering doesn’t apply only to sisters, it branches out to anyone in our circle of togetherness.
Sometimes our partners step in and sister us while we simultaneously sister them, both of us leaning on each other for stability, as my man and I recently did together.
Sometimes we call on our brothers, friends, loved ones and family, by blood or by choice.
Sometimes we call in our spirit guides, guardian angels, healers, or past loved ones.
But ALL the time, God sisters us. We just don’t always know it. We think we’re alone when we’re not.
The Universe, Source, Divine, whatever you call it, is ALWAYS sistering us, always fastened to our side, strengthening us.
We are never alone.
Even if we had no one physically alive to sister us, we can always count on the Divine.
So when the world is too much, when we think we can’t take anymore, when we’ve lost all hope, we need only call out to God and know that we are supported.
In all ways.
If you’re interested in joining a private community of sensitive souls who “sister” and support one another through our spiritual journeys here on earth, and are deeply committed to self-reflective emotional work, healing and growth, click here. Membership is currently closed but we’ll send you more details once it opens.