Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sister's choice

Do you have someone in your life that you worry about a little too much?  That you want to grab by the shoulders and steer them in one direction when they are going in another?

That person in my life is my sister.

Last night she updated me on some major life changes.

The first thing was that she and her boyfriend of 2.5 years (whom she lives with) are breaking up.

She says they don't love each other anymore.   She's struggled with thinking this few times in the past.  She's always fallen for  bad boys, who don't treat her well, and this one didn't fit that mould.  It took her time to get used to all of his kind actions and thoughtfulness, so she stuck it out.

Sadly though, she says it's just not going to work.  I really liked him, and them together, but I believe her, and I support her.

What stuck me as odd, was when she told me, her affect was completely flat.  She said she's been down this road before.  That's she's disappointed, but that's it.   They are still going to live together for the foreseeable further.  That she's going to move into the spare bedroom, and because they work opposite shifts, they think they can live together and maintain their friendship.   She says things are friendly between them.  That neither of them can afford to move anywhere else for the time being.

She also told me that she was finally giving up on her career as a teacher.  She's been thinking of leaving teaching for a long time.  She's been trying for 10 years to get into a full time position without success, and is burnt out.  In the area we live, it is not uncommon for teachers to do years of supply work and/or short-term/long-term placements before finding their permanent spot.  There is an a saturation of teachers in the market,  and unfortunately, not much demand for them.

For her, this journey has been especially long, because in the middle of it, she had a massive stroke and spent three (+) years rehabilitating.

She told me that she's met with a college guidance counsellor and wants to go back to school for nursing instead.   She says she considered this as a career path out of high school, but chose teaching instead.  She likes the money prospects, and that there is demand for the job.  She says the job is a job, and that there are probably parts of every job that suck.   She knows it will be stressful, but so was teaching.

I am supportive of her leaving the teaching profession because she's lost her passion for it.   The prospects are not strong for her to get employment anytime soon.  She only wants to do the job the way she always did it (pre-stroke) and does not make accommodations to how she works to compensate for some of the disabilities she has because of her stroke.  She insisted on going back to teaching very soon after her stroke, and got in over her head,  leading to some difficulties.  I think her reputation in teaching has been tarnished because of this.

I am very supportive of her choice to change careers and I truly admire her tenacity.  Life has not handed her an easy path.   Doctors never thought she would use her arm again after her stroke, or probably drive a car, or do many of the things that she has accomplished.  She has defied them all.  She is one of the most determined people I've ever met.

I think a fresh start will be good for her.  I want her to have a work environment where her many gifts can shine.  Where she can be successful, and can earn a stable living.   She is one of the most caring and giving people that I have ever met.  She would truly give you the shirt off her back, even if she didn't have another one for herself.  She has a way of putting people at ease.  She has a great sense of humour and is really good at reading people.  Her stroke has given her insights into living with disabilities, and recovering from them.

However, I am very worried about her choosing nursing.  I feel mean saying this, but I honestly know that she would majorly struggle as a nurse.  I am scared that she could really hurt someone accidentally.

Her stroke affected a major part of her frontal lobe.  It has left her with impairments to her working memory and multitasking is very difficult for her.   Her visual processing is delayed.  She needs more sleep and regular sleep than the average person because of her brain injury.   She doesn't pay attention to details. Most people do not know about the impairments she has from her stroke.  They are not things that people would notice right away.

It worries me immensely to think about her going down this path.

Last night my MIL called, and we told her about all that had happened with my sister.  She said that we just have to support her.  That hopefully the education system will weed her out and she will not be successful.   Deep down, I know we should support her.  Which is why I didn't say anything negative to her, but just asked questions when she told me her news.   But I can't bring myself to be excited for her about this change - it feels like lying.

Watching her spend her life savings on another education, and face another failure gives me gut rot.   Seeing her in a nursing position would give me even more.  (Unless, maybe she was able to get a position in a public health setting or something of the sort.   Maybe that could work out, but as I've heard from my cousin in the field, those jobs are very hard to come by.  And... knowing my sister, she would go for the job with the highest pay, and not the one that necessarily matched her skills).

As we ended our phone call, she told me, "I just want to go back to school and do this the hard way.  I want to prove to everyone that I'm still the same person.  That I can do this".

It all breaks my heart.

What do you think I should do? Be supportive and shut up? Or find another way?

PS) In the past when she was discussing nursing as a profession, I shared some of what my nursing friends shared with me as the downfalls.   We've also discussed other professional options.  She just doesn't seem interested in them.


  1. That's a really tough position to be in. I think you have very valid concerns but voicing those to her will be difficult. I hope it works out.

  2. Very tough situation indeed. I think it really depends on the relationship you have with your sister. I know that my sister and I have a very open relationship and can say brutally honest things to each other without hurting things. Regardless I hope that it all falls into place.

  3. It's heartbreaking when she says she wants to show everyone she's still the same person. It must be so hard for her, but your concerns are very valid. Is there anyone that might be able to convince her of another job choice? She seems to be in a position where she really needs support, so I completely understand that you want to support her... Hoping that you and your sister find a good way out of this.


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