Ever since my first sister was born when I was 5, I have been second-best in my family. When my parents first brought her home, I could not have been more excited to meet, interact with, and have fun with her. Little did I know that I would be essentially ignored for the next few weeks as my sister adapted to the real world. The only attention I got was the daily beatings I would receive from my father for being too loud near my sister.
Don’t get me wrong here; I know it’s normal for parents to devote almost all their attention to their newborn baby. I would’ve accepted it had it not escalated further. Two years later, another sister was born, and my parents ignored me again; this time, however, my first sister was still treated as if my second sister was never born. Again, my father beat me for being too loud near my youngest sister. Getting beaten was no longer something that happened occasionally; At age 7, I was crying every day as if depressed, just because my dad would find a reason to punch, slap, and kick me, whether it be for something accidental and petty or for something that might have actually warranted it.
I started playing piano when I was 5, about the same time when my first sister was born. My parents took such an authoritarian stance on the instrument that I was literally dragged off the bench to be beaten before being forced to repeat something I was practicing a hundred times. After 5 years of this, I had finally had enough and declared that I was officially done. My sisters, on the other hand, had started when they were about 7 and never suffered any of the abuse I had tolerated all throughout elementary school. They ultimately quit as well, but only because they always complained that their teachers were bad. Now, I have played concert percussion for 7 years, have played with my local youth symphony for 4, and plan to study it in college. Funnily enough, my parents were never nearly as strict with my percussion life as they were when I played piano. It took me years to figure it out; you will know too when I reveal it at the end of this story.
In terms of academics, my teachers from kindergarten through 2nd grade all said I was incredibly gifted due to my advanced reading skills, but in 3rd grade, as I developed new interests (chess, basketball), as any kid would, I read less and less until my teachers said my reading level was merely “average,” prompting my father to force me to read books with the threat of beatings. Being a helpless child then, I obliged for the next 3 years. These years, I believe, contributed primarily to my hatred of reading fiction text today. Eventually, as I started middle school, my parents used my relatively average report card in 5th grade to force me to get all A’s, with the threat of beatings (of course) and loss of privileges, including playing at chess tournaments and basketball games. Again, I did everything in my power to get that perfect report card that every parent dreams to see. My fear of punishment became so intense that I was eventually forced to resort to occasionally cheating to ensure that I aced my school tests. Although I have not cheated for years now, I will never forget those years living under the extreme pressure of attaining report cards that would allow me to keep living life as a teen.
My sisters, on the other hand, seemed like every teacher’s ideal students. They loved reading and excelled at math and every other subject. Sure, my parents pressured them to get all A’s as well, but never with any threats. They worked patiently with my sisters to help them rectify their mistakes and provided them enough resources to ensure their constant success at school. This led to triumphs in age-level academic competitions, where my middle sister won 3rd place at a local math competition and my youngest sister won her school spelling bee and a place at the regional spelling bee (I had won 6th place at that competition and had only been a spelling bee runner-up in 4th grade and 3rd place in 5th).
The past few years have sealed my confirmation of my worst fears. I had not gotten a cell phone for personal use until I was in 8th grade (I did get one in 7th grade but I had to share it with my mom, who eventually took it for herself). My middle sister, on the other hand, got my dad’s old iPhone 5 in 6th grade and was practically addicted to it, yet my parents rarely said a word about it (my parents enforced a strict time limit on my electronics usage until high school). This wasn’t even her first device; she had gotten an iPad mini four years ago, something I never had at age 8. My youngest sister got jealous and cried until my parents agreed to buy her a Kindle Fire. At age 6, she had her own personal device that I never owned until age 14. Now, my middle sister’s iPhone 5 has crashed, and now my parents have agreed to buy her a brand-new iPhone 6s . I’ve talked to them multiple times about why she got her phone earlier than me, and all they say is that “she’s a girl” and “needs it.” I had only gotten my phone and laptop on my birthday and Christmas, respectively, whereas she gets a new phone for being a girl.
Anyways, it took me the 10 years, but I finally figured out the truth without my parents having to say a word to me: I had been used as a guinea pig in my childhood. My parents had abused me, pressured me ruthlessly, and kept me from things kids enjoy for the first 12 or so years of my life. By then, they had clearly realized the huge mistakes they made in raising me, and became as permissive as you could possibly imagine when my middle sister started playing piano. When I finally had this epiphany, I felt absolutely shocked and hurt. How could they use me like this, practically treating me like scum while my sisters were pampered and tended to at all times. To this day, I cannot understand why they had done this. Now, as I receive acceptance letter from top-tier schools and prepare to major in biology, I bitterly reminisce about my miserable childhood and how it has made me vengeful and isolated from my family. I think back to the measures I took just to make my parents “happy” and how lucky I am to have friends today who give me the attention I never had growing up. Of course I never want to kill myself – I only hope I can become financially independent as quickly as possible so I can sever all ties with my family for the pain they have caused me. If you know anyone who is like this, please just give them love and show them that you care. It gave me the will to begin taking the initiative in high school and focus on my academics despite the relative negligence I suffered at home. If the problem at home is even worse than how I described it, call CPS. Call the suicide hotline if your friend wants to die. Please use my story to keep others motivated, show them they have a purpose in life, and that someone outside their families loves them.