You fooled me into feeling sorry for you, and now I’m a living ghost.
I walked into my dark house and looked into the entryway mirror, what I noticed was not my seven-year-old external appearance but the working neurons of an older woman’s brain fascinated with my current situation: my sister could no longer touch me. She and I were sisters back then, real sisters. I remember when we used to play carnival with our pink octopus erasers; she had purchased them from our elementary school store with the spare change that we had dug out from underneath our dark green couch. There appeared to be no torment in either of us, but if I had looked more closely I would have noticed it in her eyes. When my sister was just nine (I was seven at the time), she developed a strange fear towards any physical contact with me. It perplexed me that her once loving nature could so easily vanish into a maelstrom of violence that was aimed solely at me. Three years later, I discovered that she had been clinically diagnosed with Sensory Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder (OCD). From that point on I knew that I couldn’t selfishly enjoy the carefree nature that childhood had promised; I had to grow up and take on the role of maintaining the sanity in my house.
I began to throw away the legless pink erasers.
The years following my sister’s diagnosis were ones, I admit, of turbulence. I never knew how to react to her horrible insults or her never-ending rituals that she forced upon me for hours on end. I soon found that attempting to argue with a delusional girl remained a fruitless cause; I had to accept the burdens that came along with her disorder. It was my duty, or so I believed, to absorb any pain that her illness caused upon my family. The youthful flower that I once was, slowly and painfully withered under the force of her nefarious threats. I decided that I would attempt to ignore her remarks day after day, not realizing until much later that my brain had actually learned to block out these memories in order to protect me from her abuse. How sad.
As her condition worsened, I found refuge in classical music; I began to listen to Bach’s “Prelude to Cello Solo No. 1” whenever I felt broken down. I concluded that the soft notes agreed with me in their disposition- that they empathized with my circumstance. I closed my eyes and listened to the comforting notes until my sister realized that I had music playing and demanded that I turn it off. Needless to say, I rejoiced when I was given an MP3 player with headphones. I learned to passively accept my circumstances, and so I began to innovate my daily schedule in order to finish my school work. I found myself working on my Biomedical homework during the silent night after the day’s episode had ended and my sister had gone to sleep.
During these nights, I thought about how much introspection and self-analysis I was doing. The desire to help others soon took over my entire being. I was amazed by the idea that it was actually possible to heal people, even those lost in the sea of their own minds. At the time I thought this idea was an epiphany, but I came to realize that my love for psychology began the day that I realized my sister and I were not capable of maintaining a normal relationship, the day that I forced myself to throw away those erasers. For years I helplessly witnessed my sister’s OCD torture my entire family. However, I would not take these years back. If not for my sister’s condition, I would not have learned to develop compassion and empathy for all individuals.
I have kept the lessons that my childhood has taught me; at an early age I decided that I would use them to change the world. Having to grow up at such a young age was not a loss of a childhood, I found, but was an increase of insight. I learned to utilize adversity as a gift, and now I am able to laugh at myself and my troubles; I am truly able to enjoy the hand that life has dealt me.
And this is where the story ends? Not quite. Like I mentioned in another post titled, Stop. You’re Lying to Yourself: Life is a subway worker that’s giving out shit sandwiches for free– and it turns out, my sandwich was a 20+ years-long.
I originally wrote this piece in 2014, when I thought I had outgrown and escaped the detriments of my childhood. I had been to therapy many times on my own accord and desired to better myself and the anxieties that came with such a chaotic childhood. And, you know, there isn’t anything wrong with sharing your struggles and the struggles of your family. Somehow vulnerability and openness has been consumed by the stigma of perfection and stability. But is anyone really stable? And why the hell should I care if someone uses my story to shame me? People who do this are hurting in their own way. The one’s who understand are the ones who remain silent and thankful that you had the courage to share your experience. This is something that I didn’t realize until, well really, this year… maybe even today.
After playing D1 soccer for a year, I finally had enough of the depression of being in such a negative environment. The only sanity I maintained while away at school was that of the fleeting feeling of escape. When I realized I actually had the option to escape that place, I finally rejoiced in the feeling of relief. I transferred quickly and quietly so that the drama surrounding my exit would be short and quickly forgotten. I enrolled in a new school close to home, and I decided that I would attempt to live in off campus housing.
I realized after one semester that working a job and going to school full time was incredibly difficult, and expensive, so I decided, after six months, to commute from home. Doing so would save me around $5,000– and with just that statistic, my outlook on the matter became optimistic enough. I began my life as a commuter college student. Something I’d never thought I would have to do.
While at home, though not ideal by any means, the turbulence which characterized my past household seemed to dim, as we all had aged, and perhaps even matured, a bit. My sister and I were actually able to share a few kind words here and there– well, outside of the abusive language. I did notice one thing shortly after returning home, though… she was able to make physical contact with me again. She actually gave me a hug once. Imagine that feeling after 12 years of never hugging your sister. It totally brought me to tears, to be honest.
In some ironic way, we were finally able to share some common grounds. It was as though our connection became a thing only when I felt as miserable as her. She had no job, still lived at home, and there were a few other things which I should leave unmentioned– but nonetheless, we connected– because I had my own issues with depression, loneliness and isolation to attend to. It was truly the perfect storm for a bizarre friendship.
A few months passed, then a year; let’s bring this story up to date…
She attacked me. Four days ago, actually.
The reason: she had a bad day at work, and she noticed that I had been in a room that she had been throwing all of her old clothes in. She realized that I was actually walking through the room to get to another room, which I did because I wanted to finish a project I was working on. She freaked. Like, totally lost it… a mental breakdown of some sort. Which is whatever, I calmly walked to the back room to grab my stuff. No worries. I won’t freak out, she has an issue, sure. Then she enters my room. She begins to stomp and kick my belongings. My personal things. So, like any rational person, I walk over with a little pep in my step, still holding my books, and I give her a shove and tell her to get off my stuff (Of course I added some choice language. It seemed necessary in the situation). She continues to lose it on me, as though she had some judicial right to destroy my things, and so she swings at my face. As I said earlier, I was holding things. I couldn’t defend myself until it was too late and I had already lost my balance. I will spare you all the details, but I will add that she got me in the head… more than once. My mother. My FUCKING mother had to pull her off of me. Her (very young) son came out, saw what had happened, smiled, and then? Held up his fist. Great parenting right?
What the fuck?
Of course my mother lost it at the time. My sister drove away for a couple of hours while I called the police and proceeded to tell them I wanted to press charges. And here’s the thing.
I have PTSD now. That fucking bitch. Can you all believe the shit life has dealt me? I’ll be honest, I am not over it. Nor will I ever be. I won’t forgive and forget. I won’t pull an Oprah and thank my sister for giving me a concussion. I won’t ever fucking speak to her the same. I won’t look at her the same. I won’t support her.
But I won’t press charges either. I can’t. Not because I don’t want to, but because of my family and her son. Because she has OCD. Because she, is unstable in every way imaginable. She needs to lie to herself.
Even as she proceeds to tell people I attacked her, as she begins to tell me I deserved it, as she begins to laugh at the fact that she gave me a concussion, that I can’t focus in school, that I struggle with depression, anxiety and loneliness, that I can’t fucking handle the emotional stress of feeling beat down in every sense of the word, that I can’t even receive the justice that I know I deserve, that I can’t even achieve some acknowledgment from my family that I deserve some vengeance, that I can’t get a simple I love you or an are you ok? from anyone in my family, that I can’t fucking just get a damn break from the Universe, that I feel betrayed by my those who still speak to her as though she weren’t an evil, maniacal human, that I can’t find a single ounce of happiness in my current situation… even as I feel like I can’t possibly move on…
I will continue to move forward.
I’m a ghost. I was fooled by the innocence of my youth before this. I feel, nothing. I hear my thoughts and my memories– the memories that haunt me. The feeling of complete terror, and torture, and emotional turmoil. Guys, I mean, I really feel it. And there is nothing I can do to take it away, to alleviate the pain, to distract myself from my imagination. I deal with this in public, and I deal with it at home. No one thinks I have a damn care in the world. I’m that good at hiding it.
The truth? Im broken. I am fucking broken.
But I know one thing.
I’m a fucking survivor. I’m a fucking creative, empathetic, kind, sensitive, intelligent person. I am worth love. I am worth joy. And I won’t succumb to anyone’s bullshit. Not anymore.
And that’s what I will tell myself. They can’t take away who I am. Even when I lose myself, I am still me. I can always rediscover myself.
And if that means getting a restraining order, finding a job and paying for an apartment of my own, all alone, then so be it. I will do it for myself.
Focus on the things you can do for yourself, guys. No matter what– just take the next step.
And you know what else?
How FUCKING IRONIC that the very begining of my problems– the fact that my sister couldn’t touch me– is the very essence of my downfall– a shock right to the skull.
Life is really funny that way, #amiright?