Love Lessons; For Bonnie (Redemption)

Happy Birthday Bonnie.

Today I am celebrating your life and your gift to this world, and to me.  Through these words I celebrate you with respect, dignity, love and admiration.  I want to share the gift of love you have given me and what you have taught me about what it means to love and be loved.  I would like to explain our relationship and attempt to make some sense of why it was as it was.  Most especially through this, I want to share why I believe our relationship is as it is now and where I believe we are going together in love.  I hope you receive these words as a gift and testament to you and your goodness.

I have a lot of guilt and have experienced a lot of suffering in my relationship with you. We had a challenging relationship with long periods of silences, deep bitterness and hurt.  As I reflect back on our relationship through the process of writing this, which has taken a few weeks,  I believe we were doomed for failure.

I believe you were chosen to be the black sheep of the family. You were ostracized and made a scapegoat. You had your friends, boy friends and activities outside the house, but inside, you seemed alone. I remember you spent time in your room a lot and you were always working towards something. I felt as if I was intruding on you when I came into your space.  There are 7 years between us and we didn’t share much of the same interests. I think I was a pain in the neck to you. I was a little kid when you were a teenager.

You got married when I was 13 and were on your own while I was young. Even though I didn’t have a clear picture of you when I was younger I always knew you were not ‘acceptable’ to Mom as you were. Mom was the one I desperately wanted to please, so whatever Mom felt, I felt it too. Sadly, and this I have worked very hard to right, I too made you the scapegoat for problems that were not your fault. I embodied these feelings and treated you horribly at times. I talked about you with Mom and Mary. I criticized you when I was with them and I never took the time to see who you really were. It was so unfair to you and I regret that so very much.

In spite of all this you created a beautiful life for your self.  In spite of being diminished and demoralized you became very successful in your career.  You were tireless in your devotion to your work, our family and most especially and remarkably, to Cindy Love.  You never let Cindy down.  You handled all of your responsibilities in your work and life and never, ever let Cindy down. No matter what, no matter how ripped apart you were by the hurts you endured through growing up, you loved Cindy, unconditionally.  I don’t know how you had the capacity and ability to love Cindy the way you did.  I didn’t realize so much pure love could be inside another person.  It was constant, consistent and pure.Your love for Cindy was, and probably will remain, the most sincere, delicate and true love I will ever witness.

Five years ago when I stopped drinking it was as if a huge veil lifted.  I was able, for the very first time, to see my life with clarity and truth. It was a difficult process to go through because I had to look at who I truly was.  The hardest part of that process was to forgive myself.

There was so much to forgive.

I spent most of my first year sober regretting all the time I lost drinking, all the bad decisions I made and all the thoughtless actions I took.  While I was in that process I began to see others in a different light.  I began to see you Bonnie for the first time as you truly are. I could see the depth of love you have, and are.  I could see your layers of wounds and protection. And I could see how desperately you wanted to love and be loved. I saw your beautiful vulnerability and tenderness and enormous strength.You are so strong. And for the first time I saw your beauty. My God Bonnie, you are beautiful.

You have the most giving heart of anyone I know.  You are tireless in your dedication to help and nothing is too big for you to do for another.  You think about other’s needs and wants, and are always aware of what to do to help another.  I used to look at that extraordinary quality in you and assumed you were trying to get people to like you.  I thought your giving came out of a dysfunctional need to be loved.  I now know your giving is out of a pure desire to love and to share your self with others. You simply want to give of your self, your time, your friendship and your expertise to help.  No strings attached.

You are also one of the funniest people I know.  You have a keen and intelligent wit and a piercing quickness.  You find joy in the most remarkable ways.  Beauty is essential to you. You seek beauty in the simplest of things, nature, music, friendship, delightful experiences. You look for these things and linger in the joy and satisfaction they give you and you share your excitement with others, generously. You can be completely present with another in the depths of their sorrow and comfort them and also share in another’s joy at their successes.  That is a remarkable quality.  You do not hoard things, experiences or your self. You give freely of your self no matter what.

I had no idea how I could much I could hurt another or be redeemed by another until you forgave me. The walls of protection and defense shattered in an instant when I showed up in front of you true.  You could see me, and you could trust me.  And you did.  You forgave and accepted me.  Somehow I think you knew it was not all my fault, that in this life we are all a victim of our circumstances and have the potential to develop the wisdom to see truth, and then change.

That is what happened for us.  We now see each other as we truly are and we love one another without condition.  I trust that.  I trust you.  I am deeply grateful for another chance to be in this relationship with you, my sister, and love in a way we were not shown how as children.  We now love each other for who we are simply because we are.

I want you in my life for the rest of my life Bonnie, and I never, ever want to hurt you again.  I want to learn how to love you more as the years move on and I want to see all of your beauty and help you be who you were meant to be in this life.

I love you, unconditionally.

I love that you are my big sister.  Thank God you are here in this life.

Thank you for teaching me how to love,





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