Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Another post unrelated to books...

When a sibling tells you they are sick, what is your first reaction? Do you cry? Do you hug them and tell them that everything is going to be okay? Do you quietly fall apart inside while they tell you they are going to chemo? Oh, you do? Huh...what's that like?

When my sister informs the family that she's sick with cancer, my reaction? I scoff. I roll my eyes. I patiently wait. What do I wait for? Oh, just the moment when she realizes that she can't keep up the charade and lie anymore and miraculously she's healed. I also get angry. I rage. I cry for all the wrong reasons. I cry because it's not fair. I cry because I'm angry at the wrong sickness. I cry because I have nothing else to do. It breaks something inside me to have no compassion for my sister. It destroys something within me to know that if this is the one time she's telling the truth, my initial reaction will have always been disbelief and anger at yet another dramatic story from Ashley.

I don't talk about my sister very much; I refer to her as my sister even less. I'll always love her because she is blood and that's what I'm supposed to do but I don't like her. While I understand that she has a mental illness and I've have plenty of therapy to get me to where I am today, I don't like her and want very little to do with her. I don't get to have a sister that I'm close with. I don't get to have a sister that I call every couple days to talk about my day and see how her life is. I don't get to have a sister. Period. I don't get that because of who I am. I don't get that because of who I have grown to become. I don't get that because I don't accept that her illness is an excuse. 

No one should be able to make me feel the emotions that my sister does. I shouldn't feel like a horrible person because I either don't believe her about an actual cancer that she might have, or I do believe and I'm made a fool of because the lie seemed so real this time. I have lost count as to how many illnesses and sicknesses she's had. I've lost track of the amount of the times that she's supposedly been pregnant. I can say with complete seriousness that she has cried wolf so many times that it's become a joke in my family. She's a liar. She's a thief. She's ripped wounds open so many times in my family that there are scars where they used to be. She is a one-woman wrecking machine. 

This news today has a lot more affect on me than I'd like to give voice to but I've been incredibly quiet for so long regarding this that when I do talk about it, it's confusing for my audience. For a long time, I had only my parents. While I was in high school, I was practically an only child. My brother had his own life that he was screwing up since he was out of the house but I had my parents. I spent my weekends with them because I liked their company. I liked making them proud because I knew at that point, I was the only one. I used to joke that I had to make up for a lot but I'm not so sure it's a joke anymore. I guess I should be thankful to my siblings, especially my sister, because most of the decisions I make are based on the ones my siblings made before. I have my full time job. I have my college degree (albeit an AAS) and I'm continuing on to get a BS at some point. I pay my bills. I have good credit. I'm in a stable, healthy, and happy relationship. I would rather spend my time reading then going out and drinking and barhopping. I'm 24 years old and I'm settled in my life. I owe that to my parents. I wouldn't be where I am today without them. 

My sister broke our family down systematically with her sickness and her lies and her mistakes. She has weathered us so much that something like her having cancer doesn't phase us. She broke our compassion long before now but still, there will always be that niggling feeling in the back of our minds. At least in my mind. When my sister says she has cancer, I roll my eyes. That sentence should exist. That thought shouldn't be in my head. But it is. And it breaks me. 

All I can think of is what if she really does? What if she really does have 6 months left to live? Will my incredibly strong and stable parents break? Will I go to her funeral? Will I go for the right reasons? To support my parents or because I'm really and truly sad?

For the first time in years, I saw my sister a couple months ago. The visit was for all the wrong reasons and we all had banded together to help my brother. We only had to spend a day with her. That day was the first time I had seen her in probably 6 or 7 years. Not one moment of that day did I think "Man, it's good to see her again." Nope. That entire time I was with her, I was willing the clock to move faster. I was wishing for a reason to leave the room whenever she was in it. I couldn't stand to hear her voice. I couldn't stand to listen to her and my brother talk about our childhood like it was this horrible event. My siblings have a habit of making it seem like our childhood was this disaster and our parents were so terrible. Every moment of every day I wish my parents knew that they were full of shit. They don't, though, because on some levels they question their parenting because of the mistakes my siblings and I have made. Yes, I've made mistakes...significant ones. But I'd like to think I've learned from them. Not so, for my siblings. 

When I think of my siblings, I don't think of home. I don't think of all the good times we had when we were kids. I rarely think back to our childhood. All I can remember is the pain that we've all made my parents feel. How heartbroken we've made them when we make the significant mistakes that don't seem so big when we're making them. All I can remember is my brother saying that Dad never let him do anything, and my sister saying that my Dad used to abuse her. All lies. Every single one of them. Lies. 

There is absolutely nothing I can do or say to my parents to make them forget those things said about them. There's nothing I can do except my very best to show them that I've listened and I've learned. I wish there was but so far, I've only been able to use words. Even so, the fact that my Mom is so calm and quiet about my sister angers me further. A mother shouldn't be so desensitized to something her child says. She should never be in that position in the first place. A father shouldn't have to feel like a bad person for not believing another lie. Parents shouldn't have to deal with that pain.

My sister doesn't afford my parents that courtesy. Instead, every week it's something new. Two weeks ago, she only had 6 months to live and there was no reason for it. Today, she has cancer. I ask questions. Why cancer now? Did she see how we rallied around my cousin and her husband's passing from lymphoma? Did she hear a story about how people would give more attention if she was dying of cancer? Was it more believable for her? A little sister should not have to ask these questions. A parent should not have to ask these questions.

For a very long time, I hated my sister. I hated what she put my family through. I went through therapy to talk out my issues and to stop hating my sister and I believed I'd worked through my issues. I don't think I have, though. I think my indifference was masked anger. I don't think I've ever been okay with my sister and the things she's done. In my head, I know that she's mentally ill. I know that some of the things she does and says are because of that illness. I also know, though, that there is something of my sister in there that knows what she's doing and saying and she doesn't care. So long as she has the attention, all is right in her world. 

There is no answer to this. There is no right or wrong for me to feel which just pisses me off further. My sister shouldn't have an affect on my life anymore. Yet, I still get tears in my eyes when writing about it. I still have a weight in the pit of my being because of guilt. Guilt for not believing, guilt for believing a tiny bit, guilt for still wanting nothing to do with her, guilt for considering my reaction at a funeral for her, guilt for not wanting to go to a funeral for her, just guilt. 

And that guilt weighs heavily.

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