My younger sister and I are very close. We had a rough childhood, we’re only 13 months apart, and she’s always been my favorite person to be around—when things are going well. But she also has some anxiety issues that drive me crazy. She just left after visiting my city, and I’m still trying to unclench. “Lost” earphones (that are always in her bag) mean being drawn into a frantic search that involves me calling my husband at work to make sure he didn’t “do something” with them. A change in plans while she’s out doing tourist things means a phone call to me while I’m working so I can plot a new subway course for her. A hotel hold fee on her credit card means another phone call to help figure it out, even after the hotel has reassured her it will be refunded. And she never seems to be having a good time, which breaks my heart.
So, two questions. First, how can I help her? I’ve casually talked to her about therapy and how much it helped me process some childhood stuff, but she thinks therapy is just about assigning blame and “stirring things up” (I’ve told her that hasn’t been my experience) and believes people should just “power through” their problems.
Second, how do I protect myself from the craziness this causes? When we were younger it was fine, but now that I have a family, I’m more aware of how exhausted and irritable it makes me and how focused I am on her to the exclusion of everybody else.