I’m the youngest of three daughters. I was born into the party life. My dad spent a lot of my childhood high on something. My mom was more of a weekend drunk but only because she had an office job. She could drink a twelve pack of Miller on a Friday night and then do it all again Saturday. She believed if she ate a big meal before passing out that she wouldn’t be hungover and she was right. Dad was usually across the street at the drug dealers house making a fool of himself. Dad was the kind of guy who told fighting stories like they were the highlight of his life, and he told the same ones repeatedly when he got wasted. Most people liked him because he was funny and social but at home he was selfish and mean and when he was acting like a fool my mom was mean too.
I had 2 older sisters. The oldest one was smart but sneaky. She was thirteen when I was born and by the time I turned 4 she got married and moved out. I looked up to her but she later ruined it when she got herself hooked on crack with a boyfriend and chose the crack over everything.
The other sister had a mental illness that was never officially diagnosed. She struggled with anger and depression. She wanted to be a good person but had very little control over herself and her emotions. She was 9 years old when I was born. She told me she was angry when she found out Mom was pregnant with me. She thought it was messed up that they would bring a third child into this life. Even though she felt that way, she did nothing to make it any better. She spent her time plotting ways to torture me and embarrass me for her own amusement. When I was 3 she made me eat cat poop. She would pick fleas off from the dog and put them into my hair when I was a toddler. She hurt me when my parents left the room and denied having anything to do with my tears.
By the time, I was 6 my entire family was living in a 2-bedroom duplex that had a cesspool in the front yard. The older, married sister was pregnant and brought her husband to live with us while they figured out where to live. I slept with my parents in their room but my Dad hated it because I was a bed wetter. Sometimes I would roll off of the bed and they would just leave me sleeping on the floor. We were in that duplex for a few months before moving to another one just like it across the yard. It didn’t have a cesspool in the front yard so it was an upgrade. Both parents had pretty good jobs and worked full time but we lived like we were poor. Clothes were given to me from women that my Mom worked with. Most of them were worn out and dated but I didn’t care. We ate like we were poor. My parents would add water to spaghetti sauce to make it stretch enough to feed 6 people. My one pair of shoes were coming apart at the sole. We lived like we were poor so that my parents could live like a king and queen on the weekend while they partied. I spent a lot of time with my sisters who fought a lot.
Right before first grade I was having a sleepover with my friend who was also my neighbour. She lived in the duplex behind mine with her mom. Her mom partied with my parents a lot so I got to see her every weekend. My parents set us up with blankets in front of the TV where we would sleep. I was beyond excited to have my friend there. She was my favourite person in the world. We were watching TV and getting sleepy when my dad’s drug dealer buddy from two duplexes overcame staggering over, high and drunk. He came inside and sat down in the arm chair behind my friend and I and seemingly passed out. I wanted him to go home but my dad insisted that his friend is a “good old boy” and deserved to sleep off whatever he was on. My dad would regret that later. Sometime in the middle of the night, but not quite morning, my dad’s drug dealer friend slipped down from the arm chair and slid in between my friend and I on the floor and there he molested us both before going back home. It was days before we told anyone, because we were so young that we didn’t know we were supposed to. We were outside one afternoon at a different neighbour’s door when we saw the drug dealer man walking our way. My friend said “I don’t like him” and when the neighbour asked why, it all came spilling out. The drug dealer man knew exactly what we were saying and so he rushed himself home to pack his bags and leave town before the police arrived. We were questioned. I was too young to write so I was asked to tell the details to a voice recorder in front of my parents. My mom cried. My dad wanted to kill him. It was all very overwhelming. It was recommended by the police that my parents take me to a therapist to see if I was okay. I just remember sitting there colouring the whole time. The drug dealer was on the run for years after that.
We didn’t stay in that duplex for long. We found a 3-bedroom house with a real, fenced backyard. I figured that the reason we could afford it was that dad’s source for drugs was now on the run, so enough money was saved for us to move there. I was so happy to live in that house. The backyard had a row of orange trees and the day that we moved in there was a little girl back there with her dad picking oranges. I chased her and she ran home. I stopped at the curb because I wasn’t allowed to cross the street by myself. She looked at me from her house on the other side.
I had no idea that I was meeting my lifelong best friend for the first time. I was in first grade and she was 2 years younger, but tall for her age. She was shy and I was loud. We were a great match.
I spent a lot of my elementary school years barely passing. Most of my teachers didn’t have the patience to deal with me. If I wasn’t being loud or trying to be funny, I was fighting. My dad thought it was just great to have a tough girl for a daughter so he would spar with me smack me around until I had enough and lost my temper. I’d either come at him harder or I’d start crying. He thought picking on me would toughen me up. It did to a point, but I was still a big softy inside. If I got really mad I would cry. I was taught not to let anyone pick on me. I think a lot of that came from dad’s guilt about his drug dealer friend. He would say things like “If anyone ever puts their hands on you, you kick them in the balls.”. The problem was that I enjoyed fighting because it made him proud, so if I saw any sort of injustice, or someone else being picked on, I came to the rescue. I stood up for myself but also for others and this went on for years. I was the girl who could fight boys. I wasn’t scared of anyone. I never thought I was cool because I was still dressed like I was homeless but I was always ready to fight if someone said anything about it.
My parents weren’t the types to come to any special school events. Even when something really mattered to me, my mom just dropped me off. I was lucky to even be there. At the end of fifth grade the school threw us a graduation picnic and invited the parents to come. They gave us free t-shirts and played music with games. My mom showed up 5 minutes before it ended but that was 5 minutes where I got to be proud she came.
I changed when I started middle school. I was no longer the big kid on campus. I made the decision that I would have a fresh start. I didn’t want to fight all the time anymore. I wanted to see what it would be like to earn an honour roll and I did. The middle school years were my best years of school. I was in chorus. We did concerts. I was happy there.
At home I was still fighting, but with my sister. I was twelve the first time I got into a scary, physical fight with her. She had beat me up in the past when I was younger, but that first time, when I was twelve, I fought back. I still remember it clearly. My first big brawl with her was ugly. She was twenty years old and had just gotten home from work in a bad mood. A friend of hers called so I was holding the phone up to let her know. She came to take the phone but swung her purse to hit me. That was the day I decided I was done letting her bully me. I stood up and shoved her as hard as I could. She lost he balance and landed on the coffee table which tipped over with her on it. For a moment, it seemed to go in slow motion. I knew there was no turning back because I just stepped into the ring, officially. I bolted through the kitchen to the living room and she was right behind me. We ended up locked on the couch with hair in our hands and legs flying all over the place trying to kick each other. My mom heard and ran to intervene, throwing herself onto the fight ball that was us. When mom got us apart, my sister grabbed one of our glass Jesus candles from the TV and smashed it on the ground, then proceeded to stomp on it with bare feet like a psycho. Mom sent me to my room. I saw myself in the mirror and I looked like I had just been in a fight. I stood there, staring at myself. I was proud. I stood up to my sister after all this time. I spoke out loud, giving myself words of encouragement. My mom overheard me and busted into the room. She told me I shouldn’t be proud of myself for that. I didn’t care what she had to say. She was never there to see all of the slaps I had taken leading up to this day. Those days were over and I knew things would be different from then on.
From the age of twelve to sixteen I had been in several fights with her. The kind of fights that have you rolling around on the floor. I remember the awful, anxious feeling that came right before we came to blows. I always knew that every argument had the potential to end in a brawl. I started to wonder if my parents actually cared at all. My sister, in her mid-twenties, still living with us and still picking fights with her teenage sister on a regular basis. I thought I would probably end up turning eighteen and moving out of their house before she did. One day in particular, I came home from school and I was exhausted. I had to be at school before the sun came up so my mom could make it to work. All I wanted to do when I got home was go to my room to avoid my sister. She was in the bathroom wearing a towel. She had been out of the shower for a while but she had a long beauty ritual. I asked her how long she would be. She snapped at me. I went to the kitchen and I waited but she seemed to be taking even longer on purpose. I asked her if she could get out for 1 minute and she said “no”. I asked why she has to be such a bitch all the time. That got her to come out except she wasn’t calm about it. She came at me, still in a towel. She clocked me on the forehead with the cordless phone so I took her down to the ground. We were fighting there on the kitchen floor tile. The towel fell off so she was fighting while naked and trying to hold my head by the hair to slam my head into the ground. I stiffened my neck so she couldn’t do it and then her boob swung by my face. I bit it. Really hard. Right on the side of it. It got her to stop. Something had to happen because we were alone and there was no one there to intervene. She ran to the bathroom to look at the damage and I bolted out of the front door and took off down the street to a friend’s house. I knew that if my sister came for me again, she was likely to grab a knife. She had a history of fighting dirty like that with our oldest sister.
This life sucked. I hated coming home after school. I never knew what I’d be walking into and I was always tired too. I felt like that ever since I was a little kid and alone with her over the Summer. When I was a kid she got away with blocking me inside the house so I couldn’t escape but as a teen I had to resort to devastating moves like biting her hard to get her to back off. She didn’t care who was around. She fought me in front of my friends. She fought me in front of our parents. She fought me in front of anyone, anytime. She threw a full mug of soda across my room while I was sitting on the floor putting together photo albums and ruined the only baby pictures I had of myself. I think out of all the fighting we did, her ruining those photos hurt me worse than anything.
The one and only time I was ever arrested was because of her. I was sixteen, she was twenty-five. I was caring for an epileptic kitten I found lying on the ground in a neighbour’s garage. The neighbour had so many feral cats that there were always kittens around. This particular kitten was broken. All of her siblings were bigger and mobile, but her body was twisted and her bones were deformed. If I had left her on the ground, there in that hot garage she would have died within hours. I brought her home and I cared for her. I saw her have a seizure and I remembered that my aunt had visited and left behind some of her seizure medication. I double checked one of my mom’s medical drug books to make sure it was something I could use and so I began giving this kitten tiny doses. Within days this kitten was standing. She still couldn’t walk but she could stand and she seemed proud of that. My sister walked in and saw the kitten standing, then the kitten fell over. My sister said I was being too rough. I told her to back off. The kitten was just lying on her side, dying in a hot garage days ago, and here she is standing. Why can’t you be happy for us?
She insisted I was being rough. I disagreed. I loved that kitten. I told my sister to shut up and she came at me. My dad was sitting right there watching. I stood my ground as she touched her nose to mine while screaming at me. I pushed her back and we started and it ended when I bit her. She called the police. When they showed up they could see she had marks on her inner arms that looked like bruising but I was only flushed and red. They determined that since she had the marks and I didn’t, I should be the one to be removed from the house. I was handcuffed and put into the back of the squad car and driven downtown to the juvenile detention centre. A woman who smelled like she bathed in orange oil frisked me and I had to sit in a freezing cold room and wait to be called by the evaluator. The movie Matilda was on the TV. It felt like I was there for hours. When I was finally called in by the counsellor, he laughed at me when he found out I was there for fighting with my sister. My parents were waiting in the lobby to take me home. I was mad. I felt like my dad could have stopped that police call. He did nothing.
Months went by before I was sentenced. That sad part was my sister and I were somewhat getting along when that date came up so when I went for sentencing and was given a huge list of things I had to complete, I was upset all over again. I avoided her for a long time.
My sister got pregnant so the fighting came to a quick stop. I wasn’t home much to fight, but her being pregnant gave her something good to focus on. She was happy. When the baby was born, she experienced some postpartum depression. I helped with the baby as much as I could. It was a baby girl who was now the light our family needed. We all needed that little baby more than we could have ever imagined. I’d buy her little outfits and shoes. When my sister was well enough to go back to work I took care of the baby. She woke me up in the morning before she left and I would go sleep in the baby’s room. I very much enjoyed that time because I was always maternal. It ended after a few months because of some stupid argument we had. The moment she could she took it away from me. I was heartbroken. My sister started fighting with my parents too, so she packed up hers and the baby’s things and moved out. She stayed with the oldest sister who lived an hour away and had her watch the baby during work hours. I didn’t get to see the baby for so long. I told myself not to let myself get attached because this will become a pattern and I was right.
I was eighteen when my parents got a bigger house in a bad part of town. Rent was cheap and the house was big. They told me my sister was moving back in with the baby to save money. I wasn’t thrilled but I’d get to see the baby. It wasn’t long before we were arguing again. My sister was jealous that I graduated and she hadn’t. An argument turned into her using her baby as a shield while she threw things at me and one of those things was a glass ashtray. She knew I loved that baby and that I wouldn’t throw anything back. My mom shooed me off to my room. My sister was still pulling stunts like this after everything we had gone through. Again, we stopped talking and I had very little to do with her. She and I were like oil and water and I had no hope of that ever changing.
We could go from friends to enemies so quickly, like a lot of siblings but I think what makes us different was our age gap and the fact that I just wanted to love her and be her friend and she made that very hard to do. During a lot of those fights I held back. By the time, I was seventeen I was strong enough to do some real damage but I just couldn’t. I had years of practice and a lot of muscle and I just could not give our fights the same level of rage that she could. As stupid as it may seem, I would have fought for her on her behalf. No matter what she did to me I would be there in a heartbeat. When that kitten finally died, she came and whisked it away and buried it for me. There were moments where she surprised me like that and I knew that somewhere inside her was the will to want to be good.
I moved out of my parent’s house when I was twenty and I never moved back in, but my sister did. Several times. She hated it every time too. She had too much pride to be in her thirties and living at home. Her daughter was growing up and had a strong bond with our mom which made my sister jealous. Life at my parents just sucked for her.
We both experienced a lot of crap in our lives. We got together occasionally and drank beer and shared our stories. She had been raped when she was a teen, and so was I. She was drugged when it happened to her, but I was passed out drunk when it happened to me. For both of us, it was a “friend” who did it to us. I smoked my first joint with her. I went to my first bar with her. I will never understand why we just couldn’t make it work when that’s all I ever wanted.
I was in my mid-twenties when we had our final fight over at our parent’s house. During that time, I was babysitting her daughter again so she had a key to my house. We got into an argument over something minor but she blew it up when she tossed my key at my face and told me she wouldn’t be needing me to watch her kid anymore. I acted like I didn’t care so she swung her purse at my face and I had flashbacks to that very first fight we ever had. It filled me with a rage I had never felt before. I was finished with this. I wanted this part of my life to be over. I was going to end it once and for all. I don’t care about anything else but ending it. I went after her. I grabbed her and threw her down. I was so angry and powerful and just done. I know I had to be coloured red. I told her I would kill her among many other nasty things. I saw her standing there stunned. My dad grabbed his chest like he was having a heart attack and fell back into his chair. My sister’s focus went off of me and straight to dad. Our older sister was there and came to break things up. All of this happened in a minute’s time but it felt like ages. Dad straightened up like he was going to be okay so I wonder if it was an act to get us to stop fighting. It worked and I didn’t kill her but I think he knew I could have. I was different that day. I was rage. I went home and logged into my sisters Myspace page and deleted all of her photos and changed her profile picture to a picture of an anus. I also changed her name to Asshole. I got a phone call from my mom asking me what I did to my sister’s profile. I told her what I did. Still to this day I think that is some of my best revenge work. My mom told me I was wrong for that. I did not care.
Two years went by. I avoided any gathering with her present. I got to see my niece occasionally when she was with my mom. I was happy without that in my life. I said I was done with it and I was serious. Then I got pregnant. Not long after I told my mom, I got an email from my sister. It was long and emotional. She apologized for being a horrible sister and asked if she could be in mine and my baby’s life while I go through this life changing experience. After sitting on it for a day I responded. I let her know what was at stake and I had requirements. I would not put up with petty arguments that lead to fights. I would not tolerate any sort of negativity that could potentially lead to an argument and I most definitely will not be throwing hands with her ever again because I’m going to be a mom and it’s time to grow the hell up. She agreed. The mending began.
From that point on we did not fight and we did not argue. She somehow managed to learn some control, maybe because she really did want to be in our lives. She finally had some respect for me after all those years. When my daughter was born, my sister came to see her and it was love from the first touch. She said they were Aquarius girls and so in her mind they had a natural instant bond. It was a beautiful thing to see that side of my sister, all emotional and teary eyed. She was finally happy for me and a very loving and doting aunt.
When my daughter was 6 months old I moved out of state, a thousand miles from home. I was twenty-eight years old and ready for something new. I wanted to raise my baby far away from the childhood I had. I needed a new start for us and the only way I was going to get it was leaving. My family was sad but they knew this was a possibility ever since I met my baby’s father. I kept in touch though because I wasn’t about to lose the connection I had finally gotten after wanting it for so long. We would text and occasionally call. Social media was a huge convenience. I visited them three times my first year and twice the second year. My daughter was two the last time we saw my sister.
We visited in October 4 years ago, my sister was recovering from a devastating blow. One of her best childhood friends had suddenly died. This was a guy who was so important to her. She had been through loss many times before but this one really broke her. They were old friends but they always had a deeper connection. They were always in relationships with other people so they never had a chance to try it out with each other. The timing was just never right. If there is such a thing as soul mates, I think they could have been. When he died, she took it hard. He died in March of that year and she still cried for him all the time. She lost her job and had to move back to our parent’s house once again, only this time her daughter decided not to join her. She went to live with her dad instead. That was another devastating blow to the fragile mild. I did my best to console her during my visit but I too had to go home, and October 16th was the last time I saw her.
I went home and we kept contact. She got a new job and she was feeling okay for the moment. Her goal was to get back into her own place so she could get her daughter back. She had some boyfriend who she wasn’t all that serious about. He seemed like a weird guy but it was just someone she was passing time with.
On November 14th, 2012, My sister commit suicide. She hung herself in the closet of the spare bedroom at my parent’s trailer. It was 6:00am when I was woken up by a phone call that I thought was a dream. My mom told me she found her body and that the police were on their way. I lost my mind. I started to hyperventilate and my lips went numb. I collapsed to the ground and I just stayed there. I was a thousand miles away and completely helpless to do anything. There was nothing I could do but cry. I thought of her daughter. I cried more. I thought about how she tried to call me the night before but my reception was so bad at the apartment I couldn’t talk. I missed my last chance to speak with her. All of these thoughts went through my mind. I wanted to know why. I wanted to know when. I do not have a vocabulary big enough to describe the feelings I felt. There just aren’t any words. I was broken too.
I flew down there as soon as I could. I went through my sister’s phone and found out that the guy she was seeing was harassing her and using low blows to make her feel horrible about anything and everything, including not having her daughter. That fragile mind of hers hit the limit. She was done with life.
In the days after we had to deal with a flood of condolences and also some not so nice words. One guy actually got angry with us for not having a funeral. My sister was cremated and my parents couldn’t even afford to do that so the crematory threatened to keep the ashes until it was paid for so I paid it. No one was ready for this. No one wanted to host a party for the living to grieve. We were hurting.
I forgive her for everything. I have to, for me. I see now just how fragile she was. She had attempted suicide many times. Some of those times were just cries for help and others she got fairly close. She was not well. A person of sound mind does not do that. I understand now that mental illness is very real and if left unchecked will kill the person it belongs to. I’d give anything to talk to her now. Even if we couldn’t talk I would just hold her. After everything that happened I still loved her. I understand now. I’m just thankful we were in a good place.
My dad died within a year. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and didn’t put up much of a fight to live after what happened with my sister. I know it broke him too. He was on the other side of the wall from where she died. He was depressed and didn’t care to go on.
Her daughter has been living with her dad. I was worried about her for a while because she seemed to be going down the wrong path, smoking weed so young and drinking so often before she’s even eighteen. She’s got a job now and has turned into a bit of a nature lover. I feel better about her now and I think she is going to be okay. She went some time not even wanting to face the loss of her mom. I kept reaching for her but she was pulling away. She seems okay now and is getting on with her life. She looks more and more like her mother with every birthday.
That was my life with my sister. I hope that wherever she is, if she is anywhere, that it’s better than here.