The first thing you must know about me is that I have never had a “normal” relationship with my siblings. There are three of us: 21, 18, and 15. I am the 18 year old, the dreaded middle child.
Our childhood relationship eerily resembled that of Full House…
Three girls with large personalities that rarely fought and always ended on a happy note. That all changed when my older sister turned 13.
So used to our easy going relationship, you could say I was shocked when she suddenly slammed the door in my face, saying I was too young to hang out with here. That’s when my intense desire to earn my sister’s attention had begun.
As the years went on, her weight dropped, her hair constantly changed, and her mood was more unstable than uranium. I was desperate for her attention, as was my little sister for mine. The more my older sister shut me out, the more I shut my younger sister out. Subconsciously I suppose I thought that’s what sisters do: act as though they are the biggest nuisance in you life. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It breaks my heart to think of what my younger sister must have felt. She was hardly 10 and she already felt alone in a house full of people.
The next 5 years are a blur of screaming, fighting, groundings, and finally disappearances. My sister and my parents were at it again. I think this time they were fighting because she had come home an hour past curfew. I remember my sister cursing, my mother crying, my father screaming, the floorboards stomping, and finally the door slamming. I didn’t see my sister again for 6 months. She was only 17.
She moved in with her boyfriend-he was drug dealing and 23 years old. She came home from time to time for visits. What she was doing during those 2 years of living with him was a mystery to me. Finally, to all of our reliefs, they finally broke up. We thought this would mean she was coming home. Wrong.
She moved in with a new guy, this time he was 27. I was 16 at this point and used to shutting my sister and her crazy behavior out of my mind. Yet I still yearned for her attention and affection, so on the rare occasion that she came home I accepted her every offer to hang out, even if it meant putting me in danger. There was that time she had to pick up drugs when we were supposed to be going to church, or that time that she came home on cocaine and I covered for her. All of this was in an attempt to feel included, for her to see me as cool. And during this entire time not once did I ask my little sister to hang out, or even how her day was.
SISTERHOOD IS A SACRED THING….
I remember the day everything unraveled. I had just gotten home from school and my mom called me and my little sister into the family room. She told us to sit down. Her eyes were red and puffy.
“Your sister is pregnant. She’s been on heroin. The baby might not survive.”
BOOM! That’s what it felt like. The room was spinning and I couldn’t make sense of even the tiniest thought.
Now, sitting here and writing this, putting the darkest years of my life on paper is probably one of the hardest things that I have ever done. There are many things about this story that make me sad, but none has the ability to keep me awake crying at night as what I’m about to share with you right now:
Not once did I ask my little sister how she was doing or how she felt. It was my job to take care of her, my job to protect her. I left her as a helpless child, alone to deal with things that most adults have never even thought about. I can try to make up for it, like I’ve been trying to for the past year, but it will never make it right, just like how my older sister has been to rehab, given birth to a beautiful little girl, and has been clean for a year but it will never give us back our innocent years.
Sisterhood is a sacred thing, but it’s so easily tainted. Of all the things that I have learned as a younger sister of a heroin addict, that is the most important one.