Thursday, 8 March 2018

To my sister on International Women's Day.

When people who don’t know us say we look alike, some have even said like twins, I laugh. I laugh because we could not be more different. 

Recently I screamed in your face, and you screamed in mine and we said we hated each other. We’ve done it before, and no doubt we’ll do it again, but that particular time was pretty bad and I am still ashamed of how I behaved.

You are the one person in the world who has said the most deeply hurtful things to me and meant it. I only know you meant it, and it only hurt so much, because what you said has always been a little bit true.

More recently than the day we screamed at each other and Mum had to apologise to our neighbour for the noise we had one of the most perfect days of my life. We got up early and I drove us to Stratford upon Avon and we queued to get cheap tickets to the theatre and we did things that you liked, and things that I liked, and I felt so blissful and so happy just to be spending such perfect time with you. 

This was exactly three days after I said, or rather shouted, the words “I don’t like anything about you”. I really, really, really didn’t mean that. 

Sometimes I worry because I see you growing up and becoming a woman and taking a different path to me. And I worry because I have no control over that path and I don’t know where it leads which is silly because I have no control over mine or where I’m going, really. 

Sometimes I worry because I watch you undervalue yourself over and over again and I don’t know how to stop that. I don’t know how I will stop you invalidating your worth with men who don’t know it. I don’t know how to teach you that even though you are brilliant you are going to have to work hard at absolutely everything. I don’t know how to tell you that if you want something you go and get it but that means hurting and that means fear and that means rejection. 

But I also know that you do know all these things, and even if you don’t yet you will learn them and you will learn them without me. 

I know that you have the ability to speak your mind and stand your corner as loudly and as clearly as I do. I know that you do not fear judgement and even when you do you look past it. You look past it better than I do sometimes.

To finish my open letter to you on International Women's Day 2018 I wish to say this. Your worth as a woman will be counted in many ways throughout your life and not all of them will be your choice. You will have to find the strength to undermine the ways in which society will try to determine your value. And you will have to find the strength to be angry - really angry - and to use that anger positively. You must use your strength to help other women at all times and you must use your strength to forgive. 

Finally, I want you to know that I love you and that I am proud of you and that you are one of the strongest, most brilliant women that I know.