To My Sister

Beloved big sister,

We’ve been through hell together. Childhood? What childhood? We were too busy trying to cope with an insane mother. Trying to figure out why everything was our fault. What we were doing wrong. Of course, I was the golden child. I saw Mom’s good side. She was a better mother to me.

You tried to mother me. Heck, I needed it sometimes. You didn’t understand that Mom was better toward me. So, that led you, a child, to unintentionally be an abusive sibling. You led me into depression. But you know what? Most golden children grow up to be narcissists, themselves. So I’m grateful that you were there to balance me out. In all honesty.

I’ve always looked up to you, no matter how much I tried to deny it. You were strong and sassy and smart and pretty, and I wanted to be just like you. How times have changed. I’m happy being me.

You hurt me. I won’t ever deny that. A lot of my depression issues come from innocent comments you don’t even remember making. That’s okay. You helped me develop a spine. I can take insults, spit them right back, and shrug them off. I stopped caring whether or not I’m Mom’s good child. I’m an adult. She can’t punish me anymore—not that she’d have the guts to do it anyway. I’m stronger than she is.

Sis, I love you. I’m so grateful to you, being there for me through my discoveries with depression and especially with this problem with Scott. I’m glad you’re letting me make you watch anime. I’m glad you’re taking me climbing, and offering to hang out with me. I can’t live with you anymore, of course, but I love having you around. You’re so caring and now, that you’ve grown up, you’re the kind of mom figure I wish I had. Definitely the closest thing to a surrogate mother I have.

Thank you for everything you’ve done. I forgive you.

With love,

Mac

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Effemiphobia: A Fear of Femininity and Weakness

My sister and I (mostly her) have discovered something. Our life is a lot like the TV show Supernatural, if you take away the supernatural elements, and genderflip everyone. Crazy, abusive parent? Check. Older sibling scapegoat who has to be the parent? Check. Younger, golden child sibling who has to be protected? Friggin’ check. Effemiphobia? You bet! Now, I’m not a big fan of the show, so a lot of this is what my sister tells me, but I’ve seen it in the episodes I have watched.

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been split into two parts. I was in middle school when I finally named them after my two male OCs (original characters) who they seemed to represent. There was the quiet, cold-tempered, intelligent chessmaster who despised all weakness (the cynic), and the kind, gentle peacemaker who just wanted everyone to be happy (the sensitive). My two personalities, as I described them. I knew I didn’t have multiple personalities, of course, but that was the best way to explain it. When I was experiencing negative emotion like anger, sadness, hurt, fear, whatever, I tried to emulate the first. Shut down my true feelings, raise an eyebrow and make a snarky remark. When the emotion was positive, I was the second, laughing at myself, making jokes at my own expense, slipping on ice and taking a bow. But sometimes, I fell through the cracks. I’d cry. I’d fly off in a rage. I’d scream when I saw a spider. And the cynic side tried to tear me apart, angrily telling me how stupid and weak I was, while the sensitive side cowered before that rage.

Depressed people have described feeling like they have two voices in their head. One, always berating them for the stupid things they’ve done, and the other, constantly apologizing for living and wondering what they could do to make things better. This was me in a nutshell, for most of my life.

The problem: why were they both male, in my mind?

In the past, I’ve described myself as a tomboy. But maybe that’s not altogether accurate. I’m not really the sporty type. I hate almost any sport that involves a ball, as a matter of fact. No, what I am is terrified of femininity. The trap of masculinity, as I’ve called it in the past.

So, yes, I’m a girl. Yes, I’m friggin’ effemiphobic. Dean Winchester’s line, “No chick flick moments,” might as well be my motto.

It’s a hard concept to explain. Effemiphobia is the word commonly used across the Internet (especially Tumblr), though it’s mainly used to describe men, especially gay men. It’s got nothing to do with misogyny. I don’t hate women. I am one. I don’t even hate femininity—forgive my language, but I’m fucking terrified of it. It’s a message I inhaled from my first teacher, Hollywood. Feminine women need a hero to rescue them, while they stand around looking terrified. Masculine women (and guys) are the ones who save the day, and kick the bad guy’s ass. Maybe it was also because I idolized my dad and action heroes, but the only feminine role models I really had were either damsels in distress or my mother and sister (who were both their own brands of crazy). Masculinity, to me, was sane. My dad was masculine. He was sane. He was smart. He was rational. My dad could fix things. My mom and sister knew how to mess them up, and let their feelings get in the way.

And the more masculine I acted, the more my dad acknowledged me. The more he wanted to spend time with me. The more I wanted to be his son, not his daughter. Anything was better than being my mother’s young lady. Because my batshit crazy mother wanted me to wear dresses all the time. She wanted me to be the proper young lady. Her golden child. Her perfect little girl. I rebelled. My sister is far more feminine than I’ll ever be, and that was not the way it started.

I have guilty pleasures in anything remotely romantic or soft. I love fluffy animals. I’m decent at amateur romance scenes. I love analyzing every romantic moment of my favorite movies. Heck, I love a good chick flick, and I’ll occasionally pick up chick lit. Sometimes, I just want to eat a salad and listen to music that’s described as girly.

But all that sucks. Know why? Every time I engage in one of these activities, I hate myself for it. I don’t want to be the romantic. I don’t want to cry when I see a mouse get killed. I want to consume the entire double bacon cheeseburger, and I’d drown it with beer if I drank. I watch horror movies, I read and write the most horrific, gruesome things I can devise. I can burp on queue. I bombard myself with action movies. Because they’re safe. They’re not weak. They’re not feminine. They make me strong.

I have a different perspective than any guy who’s effemiphobic, obviously. I can’t escape femininity completely. I can deny all the aspects of it I want to, but in the end, I’m still a girl, physically and mentally. I’m still attracted to men. I still want them to notice me. To find me attractive. But I’ve been told I’m beautiful more times than I can count. I’ve been told I’m awesome, smart, funny, cute, whatever. I’ve been told I’m soft, and I can’t stand to even think about that. The highest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a guy that I was more of a man than he was. Because that made me strong. That meant I could protect myself, that I didn’t need anyone else to protect me. I need that assurance as surely as I need to breathe. I need to be strong. I need everyone to see that I’m strong.

But I’m still a girl. I wear flattering clothes and jewelry and makeup and fix my hair. I own a lot of shoes. I like to cook, and I love to dance. But I haven’t worn pink in years. Lace is disgusting.

It’s like constantly being at war with yourself. Wanting so badly to just be a guy, but at the same time, realizing how much that would suck. Wanting to enlist, but knowing you can’t get in because of depression. And even if I could make it in, I’d wash out during basic training due to depression. I know that. And I hate myself for it.

But, oh well. Life goes on. First step to fixing the problem is admitting that there is one, and I’ve come a long way toward fixing it already these past few years, even without having a word for it. I’m pretty happy being the way I am, honestly. Effemiphobia doesn’t control me. . . most of the time. And when it does, I just need to blow metaphorical raspberries at it, because I’m awesome. Right? Of course right!

Thank you for tuning in to the Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings and Musings of Mac. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Life on Anti-Depressants

Well, WordPress, I’ve been taking it easy since being put on drugs. Lazing around. Writing. Feeling a lot less moody than I normally do. Let me tell you guys, that’s been great. It’s a weight off my shoulders.

I’ve also talked to my sister. Actually sorted things out.

My sister, who admits she abused me, now. My sister, who was also diagnosed with depression. My sister, who’s found so much through counseling and fiction that I never would have thought of. It’s amazing. Things are actually working out between us. We can talk our problems over rationally.

And so many of the paranoias my mother imposed are crashing around my ears.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Arizona, where I’ve been visiting my mother’s parents with the rest of my family since Sunday. My mother told me she was abused by her own mom. That my grandma was a horrible, terrifying, abusive woman. I was shocked, of course, to discover that’s not the case, at all. Grandma just happens to get that my mother is a narcissistic, compulsively lying hoarder. My mother’s parents are fantastic people, who completely understand the problems of dealing with my mother and my aunt. I thought I didn’t have grandparents who loved me, honestly. This realization is shocking. And wonderful.

Also, I never realized just how far my mom went into making my sister the scapegoat. But, just recently, my sister told me a story. How, at the age of fourteen (when it typically happens at age twelve), she finally dared to apply for a temple recommend (need to follow specific Mormon rules to be eligible). She didn’t get one before because she thought she was such a horrible person. Because she believed what my mother told her. And when she brought that brand new recommend home, she showed it to Mom, trying to show her that she wasn’t worthless. You know what Mom did? Shoved her up against the wall and told her she’d lied to get that recommend. A fourteen-year-old. A kid.

I’ve heard things no little kid should ever have to hear. Mom and my sister, fighting. Or so I thought. But my sister was always just a kid. Only two years older than me. How could those noises I heard coming from her room ever be a real fight? Her screams? How could she possibly fight back, when my mother was the one with the power? I was only about six. I wanted to go solve the problem, but I was too scared to see. And when my mother came in to talk to me, her golden child, I believed what she told me. After all, Mother is God in the eyes of a child.

She lied to me. And I believed her.

Now, my sister is no saint. She was trying to protect me in her own way, but as a kid, she resented me for being the golden child, and went about protecting me all wrong. She’s a parentified child who thought that I needed looking after. But let’s face it. My mom was a much better mother to me, because I was her golden child. I didn’t see the dark side until I was older, really. But in my life, there were always those two opposing female forces, neither one of them completely trustworthy. Always telling me different stories. Thanks to all that, I’m a huge fence-sitter. Apathetic, for the most part. Peacemaker might as well be my middle name, because I will always see both sides of the issue, and trust no one completely.

Well, that’s the serious part of what I had to say. The rest of it? I could regale you with the fascinating tale of the dam we visited on our way to Arizona, and the storm of dam jokes that didn’t stop (and I was the queen—even after we left, I was on a dam roll!), but that might get tedious and repetitive. Or how about my sister’s dramatized impressions of my mom’s passive aggressiveness? Making jokes with grandma behind Mom’s back? Mom mispronouncing the word anise (“Oh. Anus!”), or any other number of little amusing things (an adventure at the Hard Rock Cafe!). But, once again, repetitive and boring, quite probably. Humor and light stuff is not the point of this blog, you know. We want darkness. Doom, death, dying, and depression. Not necessarily in that order.

So I’ll leave it at that for now.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be here all night, pretending I’m funny.

Pent-Up Anger Isn’t A Sleeping Aid

An insomniac night. Sleepless. Left to stand the watches of the night alone with my thoughts, as they roll through my mind in wave after wave of restlessness.

A good part of this insomnia is due to working a late shift. But there’s more to it than that. Always is.

Sister, oh Sister, wherefore art thou, Sister? Deny thy victimhood and refuse thy childishness. For what is in a child? That which we call thou by any other word may make me want to punch your teeth out just as much. And so Sister would were she not Sister called.

Sissy Darling is living with her ex-boyfriend’s family, free of charge, and seemingly treated like a princess. Me, I work full time, and pay all of my expenses myself. But I’m still supposed to safeguard my darling sister’s things that she left at the apartment we used to share. Which, apparently, is why she’s dodging the issue of giving her key back, no matter how much the landlord says he’s going to replace the lock and charge my dad for it.

My dad. Who got forced into retirement (though still basically supporting my sister and I) a few months ago. But Sissy doesn’t have a job. So she can’t pay for it herself. Poor little princess, lost in the big, cruel world! I think my heart just might break for her!

Well, maybe it would bleed a little, if she wasn’t blaming everything on me. How stupid of me for standing up to her. How could I possibly be so inconsiderate as to make her attack me with scissors? How dare I call the police and tell them lies to get her arrested? Why, is there anything in the world lower than this humble slave to her older sister?

Then she’s accusing me of stealing things. Breaking her DVD player. So, what does she do? Use her key to get in while I’m gone, and steal some of my things. Though the kindhearted princess was considerate enough to inform our parents of this.

I want her stuff out of my apartment. I want her gone. I don’t want to see her or have to put up with her anymore. Let her be someone else’s headache, for cryin’ out loud! And my landlord has been a saint about the entire thing—not pushing. But I want that key back, too. Maybe she wants to keep it for her own twisted security reasons, since she left so much of her crap here, but I have my own security problems. Somewhere in the distant back of my mind is an irrational fear that I’m going to have my throat slit by a pair of scissors in the middle of the night. Or that she’s going to feel free to keep playing klepto.

I know that if she doesn’t respond the next time I ask her about the key—or if she tells me to chill out and deal with it one more time—I’ll pay for the damn lock change myself, as well as the new keys to be cut, and earn that money back when I get rid of all the stuff she left.

At least, that’s what I tell myself I’m going to do.

On the Sibling Front, Egocentrism and Hypocrisy

So, I saw my sister on Sunday. The abusive one who was arrested. Only one I got. She came to my apartment to move some stuff out. And she was talking and laughing with our parents and my friend who was visiting, just like nothing had ever happened. And I was right back in the same place, hating and feeling inadequate. Second best. Back to being the whiny, sensitive drama queen. Forget how much I’ve grown these last few months. When she’s around, it doesn’t matter. I’m just the stupid little emo kid she has to put up with again.

And other whinings. Story of my life.

My guy friend, Scott, is driving me crazy, too. My abrasive sense of humor has been offending him lately. He’s been glaring at me and telling me to quit being such a bitch. I had to bite my tongue to keep from telling him to stop being so whiny and develop a backbone.

Hypocritical? You bet! But just because I recognize it doesn’t mean I can bring myself around to think differently. Because, of course, I’m the most important thing in the world. Didn’t you know that? Heck, I’ve probably got enough egocentrism for five people.

Anyway, he asked me to cut down on the insults, just as I asked him to stop making sex jokes all the time. I didn’t, though. I just put on a serious act, didn’t joke or smile at all, and avoided him for the rest of the week. Even after he apologized. I made no apology, and I don’t plan to. I am who I am, and I’m not changing for him. I’m not the one who claims to be in love with him. I have little emotion vested in this relationship except annoyance, anymore. Every little thing he does pisses me off. And I don’t want him around me. At all.

How I treat Scott flies in the face of so many things I believe. But, of course, it doesn’t mean he’ll stop pissing me off or whining to me about all his little problems I don’t care about. I couldn’t stop being mean if I tried. There’s just something about his face that makes me want to punch it in.

I’m no saint, even if my religion has it in the name.

Just A Little Sibling Rivalry—Nothing to Worry About

Due to our charming legal system, I haven’t spoken to my sister in almost six months. We’re not allowed any contact with each other.

For some of you, six months may be nothin’. But, seriously, we were practically best friends before this situation got out of control. And after such an emotional thing, there are a lot of feelings we haven’t been allowed to talk out. So, bitterness has developed. And boy, do I make use of it. I complain about her to almost anyone that’ll listen. Precious little of this six months has been spent missing her. I guess that’s why they say never go to bed angry, huh?

It drives me crazy, this whole thing. When I hear her talking to my parents, she sounds so happy. What friggin’ right does she have to be happy? She messed everything up! She got arrested!

Oh, but she blames herself for everything. I forgot. Friend of hers told me that.

Well, look at the precious little victim. What a drama queen.

We’ve always had a rocky relationship, being so close. The fights we got in became rarer as years went by, but also more violent. After her first summer working at a scout camp (she was eighteen and I was sixteen), she came back and started telling me how much I’d changed. How immature and selfish I was, etc, etc. And she started playing mommy, which led to deeper problems over the next year and a half. We got in more arguments, and I’d always apologize because I hated it when she was mad at me, but never once did I get an apology back.

When I was seventeen, I got so fed up with it that I wrote her a note (because writing is my preferred medium, and I feel that I can express myself better in it) trying to explain my side, hoping she would see it, and hoping that, in return, she’d help me see hers.

Nope.

The next morning, the note was crumpled up in the garbage, and she was being more hostile and passive-aggressive than ever. Of course, she wouldn’t tell me what had offended her about it. All I got, five months later, was an, “I’ll never forgive you.”

Right. Did I ask to be forgiven? Nope. Because I didn’t know what I did.

Then came our first big fight, which involved violence and even a punch or two. I won. And, as always, I apologized first. Her response? “No, you’re not.” After which she ignored me for a week. We were still living in the same house, and the family went places together. But she refused to address me about anything. That’s right. I got the silent treatment.

After the first couple days, I found it amusingly immature of her, and was perfectly ready to tell her to grow up.

Then she started speaking to me again.

About a week later—two weeks to the day after the last fight—we got in another fight when she grabbed an electric skillet lid and started beating me with it. Being the awesome, action-movie-loving chick that I am, I couldn’t find a suitable weapon, so I used a side-kick in her stomach to get her out of my room, and somehow I managed to wrestle her to the ground. When she got up, she ran to her room, and I went to my parents, who I told my side. They went to talk to my sister, who dared to claim she’d picked up the skillet lid (which was aluminum—hardly lethal—and now severely mangled) in self-defense.

BULL.

Anyway, somehow, we straightened that whole mess out, and sorted out our differences (though she never once apologized) well enough. She finally went off to college, and then eventually invited me to join her in renting a house with our mutual best friend. I had misgivings, but agreed.

Feel free to start calling me stupid, now.

But it wasn’t that bad until around November, when my sister, who had been up all night, overheard me half-jokingly asking my dad for a car over the phone. She went ballistic, saying I was so selfish and ungrateful and she couldn’t believe I’d done that.

Even though on the other end of the line my dad had already agreed, I backtracked, telling him never mind, that I was just joking, etc, etc, etc, before hanging up. But I’d already snapped the twig, and my sister was yelling at me for being ungrateful, etc, selfish, childish, and so on. I asked what she wanted me to f***ing do about it, since I’d already told Dad it was a f***ing joke.

That was when she got up from her chair, stood directly over me where I sat in mine, and said, “Don’t you swear at me,” then using my full name, which I hate. (You have to understand that Sister Darling is a hypocritical, holier-than-thou Molly Mormon. Swearing is a sin in her eyes, and she snaps every time I s-a-y the “damn” word. It can be kind of funny. Funny like being trapped underground with a bomb that could explode at any second.)

I knew violence was close at hand. I knew she was trying so hard to intimidate me, which always came before her sissy hits. And I’m a smartass. So, I said, “I already did.”

So, she threw my chair back, with me still in it. Broke the chair. Started yelling at me again, told me to get out, because she didn’t want to deal with me, etc. Long story short, I left, situation diffused.

But she did apologize for that one. After a few minutes, she came into my room, where I was getting ready to leave, and said, “I’m sorry, I’m out of control.” Or something along those lines.

So I said, “Yeah, you are.”

Didn’t help matters, but I gotta admit it was fun.

On our last day together (aka the day she was arrested), I thought I was home alone, so I was cleaning my room while listening to music on my laptop (the night before, we’d had a large text-argument), singing along with the rock gods of the eighties as I went.

Suddenly, who should bust in but Sister! You know what she did? Told me to turn my music down and criticized my singing, saying I was off-key (quite possibly), and that I could never hope to be a singer because my voice was terrible.

(OOH, ouch! How could I ever recover from a zinger like that? That was too harsh, man! I mean, everyone knows how it’s my secret dream to be the next American Idol. Like, for reals! How could she crush my dreams like that?)

Then she told me to turn the music down, and slammed my door.

So I did. A bit.

She came back. With scissors. Yelling at me to turn it down, etc. I shoved her out and closed the door. There was a loud pound, then silence.

I remained in my room for a few minutes, knowing I’d broken more than one twig, this time. Possibly cut down the whole forest. So, I readied myself. I grabbed my pocket knife and the pepper spray that she’d loaned me earlier (didn’t plan to use them—just wanted to be prepared, because she was armed). Only then did I dare open my door, mainly to make sure my two cats weren’t anywhere near her. There was a hole in my door from where the scissors had penetrated, but the scissors weren’t there.

(Now, keep in mind that this house was rented from a couple that my sister admired and looked up to like no other. And she put a hole in their door. Just sayin’.)

At this point, I don’t recall if the music was still playing or not. I don’t remember what happened, but The Beast emerged again, with its talons.

Argument ensued. She tried to break my laptop, still wielding the scissors, though not forcefully. Intimidation, mainly, because she thinks she’s scary. I pulled out knife and pepper spray, more argument, I took laptop back to my room.

Sister came, demanding pepper spray back.

Put yourself in my shoes. Pepper spray is the most dangerous weapon of the three. I knew I was in control—thinking somewhat rationally, just as I always was in these situations. I knew she wasn’t. I couldn’t be sure she wasn’t going to use the stuff on me! So, I refused. She tried to take it by force, still wielding the scissors. We wrestled.

I had fifteen pounds at least on her. I had more muscle. I’d seen more action movies. I was thinking pretty clearly. So, of course, I won. I put her in a choke hold, thinking to knock her unconscious, therefore eliminating the threat. She started gasping and wheezing. I said, “I’m sorry I have to do this.” She was clawing at my arm, saying I was killing her. So, I relaxed the grip enough so she could breathe, but not letting go. She kept on saying I was killing her, coughing and hyperventilating.

“If I let you go, will you stop trying to hurt me?” I asked.

“You’re killing me! Let go!”

“Will you stop?”

“Yes, I’ll stop. Just let me go!”

So, I did. I got up, watching her gasping and hyperventilating on the floor, trying to encourage her to take deep breaths.

“I’ll call the cops on you!” She said between gasps.

“I’ll tell them it was self-defense.”

She hyperventilated a little more. “I need an ambulance!”

Panicking a bit, thinking I’d overdone it, I called 9-1-1.

That calmed her down pretty quickly. As I was on the phone with the dispatcher, my sister started crying, saying she didn’t need an ambulance and she just wanted to talk to one of her friends. She even handed me the scissors. Score for me.

But a car was already on its way to “check up” on us, and I followed instructions and stayed on the line with the dispatcher until they arrived. And it was only when I opened the door for the cops that I started crying.

Interviews, pictures and statements later, our best friend came home, my sister was arrested for domestic violence, and I was stunned. But at the same time, I felt good. My friend and our other roommate were on my side, as was practically everyone else. I’d stood up to my sister, and told her that I was done taking it. Being arrested proved she was in the wrong. I’d proved that I was done being a victim.

She told our other roommate that she was scared to be around me, now, because I’d caused her to go unconscious (except I remember her fighting me every second), and I was violent, etc. Uh-huh. That’s right, sweetheart. When things go south, play the victim. Ploy of the worst kind of women everywhere.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Apparently, the case is almost over. My sister’s been diagnosed with some mental problems and is getting treatment. I’m bitter as hell about the whole situation. I expect one hell of an apology to make up for all the ones she’s missed, if I ever see her again. I know I wasn’t entirely in the right (I’ve since learned how close I was to crossing the line of self-defense laws), but most of this wasn’t my fault. She can blame me all she wants to.

Our best friend says that once this is over, me and my sister need to patch things up. Go to counseling together. So the three of us can be like we were before—inseparable. She’s probably right. But I’m not sure I can deal with Dearest Sissy anymore. I can’t look up to her as the leader over the other two of us anymore. I’d be more likely to trust an armed bomb. It’s more entertaining—and less of a whiny drama queen!

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.