Rarely in my life do I feel like I deserve an award. Although I long for recognition, I blush and fumble over my words anxiously when receiving praise, not believing I am worth positive attention. However when it comes to my family, I strongly believe that I should be given a title: “World’s Worst Sister.”
Now, my family becomes frustrated when I begin to think like this. Then I feel even worse and want the title “World’s Worst Family Member” or even “World’s Worst Person.” Other times I think that my siblings and parents should be awarded instead with “World’s Best Family.” Whatever the case, it is so difficult to be the disordered, self-destructive, needy sister when I long to be a good sibling.
Although my family claims that I am not the “trouble child” and they are happy I am alive, I see the pain that they go through each day with me. I know that I make life more difficult, confusing, and boring. And yet, no matter how hard I try to be a better family member, I continue to struggle.
My sisters especially endured a great deal of hardship because of me. Undiagnosed Aspergers along with social anxiety caused me to fight against many activities. Family vacations turned to long hours spent in the car listening to me sob for home. Parties or events with friends or extended family centered around forcing me out of the house. Even family picnics at a nearby park were never free from my complaining and discomfort.
Meanwhile, depression pushed me away from the people and things I loved. No longer would I play dress-up, dolls, flashlight tag, or swim. Instead, I stayed shut away in my room with piles of books or a laptop. Despite my middle sister’s numerous attempts to draw me out, even enduring chick flicks instead of the action movies she preferred, I isolated. Although I longed to be with my siblings, fighting off the darkness engulfed all of my time and strength.
Then there were all of my physical illnesses: asthma, allergies, headaches, sleep problems, vocal cord tightening, stomach problems. My social life consisted for a while of seeing a new doctor every week. Although my sisters never complained, I know that Mom driving me from appointments to medical tests to therapy sessions must have been stressful and lonely for them. Although she still showed them a great deal of love, I took my mom away from my sisters.
Then college came. One would imagine that I would grow in independence as the eldest child finally off on her own. However, this is when my Eating Disorder took strong root. By the end of the school year, I should have been in the hospital. Instead, I went into all-day treatment that summer, residential that fall, and back into all-day through the winter. Now, I was even weak and needed more care than ever. My flight out into the world had landed with me falling on my face. Once again, I was causing pain for my family.
One might argue that I am not truly the “Worst Sister in the World” because I have no intention of causing distress. This is true. However my role in my family needs to change. I do not want my younger sisters to feel the need to take care of me. My little brother should not fear that his older sister might kill herself. None of them should begin to doubt their own self-worth, beauty, intelligence, or skills because I doubt mine. They should be free to have happy, meaningful, exciting lives.
Every day, I try to be a better older sister. Yet I am constantly making mistakes. Discouraged but not hopeless, I will continue to fight for recovery and to be a kind, supportive, healthy sibling. I need to recover if not for myself, for my family.
So, please forgive me, Christine, Maria, Mario, Mom, and Dad. You all mean so very much to me and I love you! Although I fail often, I will continue to try to be a great sister and daughter. I will prove that I am not a lost case.
To my family and other families with similar members, please do not give up on us. Although it is painful, stand by us and help us along as best as you can. If you make mistakes, that is fine; it is a normal part of life. We just want to know that you will love and support us. The process is slow but together we can make it.
To all those who are the struggling family member, you are not alone! It is so painful but there is still hope. One day, the sun will shine all the brighter because of your present outpouring of tears. My heart goes out to all of you. And, despite what I said about myself earlier, you are not the “Worst ______ in the World.” The fact that you are seeking recovery, hope, and/or peace shows how strong and loving you are not only to yourself but to those around you.