“Sister” is triggering. It is like descending into a hole to think about. I think these things aren’t going to be that bad—and sometimes they aren’t that bad—but for a while they are.

Just now, it’s bad.

I was, for a while, splitting the sister stuff into two pieces. Now I’m getting both.

I should back up. I have only one biological sister. She is older than me. She’s wrapped up in the horror of my family. She brings it back to me. She is still involved in it, although how much she is involved now, I really don’t know. And she hurt me as a child. Sometimes when someone made her. Sometimes maybe when she didn’t. I don’t know.

Some part of me feels that sisters are people who hurt you.

Then there is the other one, who wasn’t biologically related to me, and I think didn’t hurt me, but maybe I saw her die. I don’t actually know. It’s too horrifying, and I approach the memory enough to feel overwhelmed and then retreat from it.

But I loved her. Profoundly. She felt like my responsibility, although I was just tiny myself.

C calls me “sis” now. Not at school, but when we are chatting. Maybe she will if we are alone. That hasn’t happened yet. It hurts. It’s comforting and it hurts at the same time. Overwhelmingly.

It is calling up both kinds of pain: the loss of Annousheh, the little sister, and all the grief and guilt involved in that. And the betrayal of my older sister, who did not try to protect me at all. Who probably could not, and did not have the strength of character to try.

I want to let her part in my pain go—entirely. And yet, I have never really allowed myself to feel it. My dad hurt me. I’ve given him a good shouting at. It felt good to do that. My mom hurt me. I gave her one too, and that felt good. My sister hurt me and I never said anything to her about it. I think she does not even remember what she did to me. She wouldn’t want to. I think she probably couldn’t live with herself if she did. It’s this unresolved thing in my head, and C recalls it vividly for me. I have to deal with both relationships a bit better—both of the old ones. It’s hard. It’s just so hard.