Sticks and Stones

I’m sure we all know that one person. They can be so much fun to be around. But if you cross them, batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst, because they’re gonna tear you apart. They’re the ones we think about when we say, “It’s not me, it’s you.”

For me, it’s my sister.

Sibling abuse. Unreal, right? Siblings naturally compete. Isn’t it melodramatic to call it abuse?

No.

Since when has sibling rivalry involved arguments where the elder sibling starts beating the younger with an electric skillet lid, then says it was self defense? Dragging the younger down the sidewalk on Main Street? Following the younger in a car when they’ve walked away from an argument? Throwing objects at the younger’s head for “lying?” Refusing to leave the younger alone no matter what—after polite asking has turned to demanding has turned to threats has turned to begging?

If you think that’s all good and normal, try imagining now that the older sibling is an adult, and the younger sibling a child. Or maybe the first a man and the second a woman.

It’s wrong. It’s abuse. Nobody should be allowed to do that to another person.

But my sister has done all those to me, and much more. When I’ve walked away, not wanting to deal with her, she’s said I’m too sensitive. When I resprained my bad ankle, I was a drama queen. When we went to church together, I couldn’t sit next to a friend, because I’d talk. I hate St. Patrick’s day, so I’m a hipster. I enjoy the dramatic side of life, so I’m emo. I’m whiny, selfish and immature (yet I’m not the one to come after an annoying sister with scissors!). Our dad does so much for us that I always fail to appreciate. (But, y’know, I’m the one who’s had a more recent job. She wasn’t even looking, and had been “borrowing” money from my dad for over a year.)

She realized something was wrong with Mom before I did, so I figured she was always right. I’ve always looked up to her. So I listened to her. I can’t even count the hours I’ve spent trying to figure out why I was being such a sensitive, whiny, selfish, immature, emo, hipster drama queen.

To anyone out there who’s going through similar things with a sibling—or anyone else: you’re not the problem, so stop second-guessing yourself. Be who you want to be, not who they want you to be. Forget the old adage—words can hurt just as much as physical blows. They can damage and stunt us as we work to avoid them. They can make us doubt our reality—our sanity. But realize that the words aren’t correct just because someone we love said them.

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