ON THE WAY home from Brisbane airport, my older sister Tammy turns to me from the driver’s seat and asks an unexpected question: ‘So, are you going to marry him?’ She says this in a silly voice while pulling a silly face – a mode of speaking we adopted as kids when we wanted to express something serious to each other, like affection or an apology, without having to show vulnerability.
Our family is highly emotional, which happens when most of you have been mentally ill at some point, and Tammy and I have seen what happens when family members allow emotions to get the best of them: from screaming matches so fierce they cause neighbours to drop in to ensure no one’s been murdered, to decades-long grudges that will only be resolved in the afterlife. As the youngest kids in the family, forever observing, we learnt to be silent and mask big feelings with humour, though we always make an effort to be open with each other.
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