My sister and I have always been different. We do not look alike. Our body shapes are the opposite but most importantly, our personality and character could not be further apart.
We were both raised very differently to each other.
Before I came along, my sister had eight years alone with my parents and saw more of a relationship between them. They put her needs first and spent time with her emotionally, as well as physically being there. They gave her opportunities and encouraged her studies, nurturing her as parents should.
However, after several years of longing for another baby, my mother finally had me. I was born at a bad time in their lives. Their relationship had become non existent and they shared no love or communication. My father later blamed my birth for the cause of this.
I had several health problems as an infant, spending time in hospital. My father expected my mother to deal with all that. I began taking up a lot of her time, resulting in my sister losing all the attention that had been focussed on her.
Resentment was a feeling that remained in our family for a long time.
We rarely got on. We often fought and squabbled like normal sisters but nothing was ever resolved. I always loved her though. That never changed.
Both of my parents put my sister on a pedestal (although she would disagree). They regularly told me to “be more like her”. I did not read enough like my sister, or take enough interest in my culture like her, I was not as academic as her, I needed to be mature like her, and the list goes on.
These comments didn’t really affect me as a child. I was a free spirit and although they all hated that; it was what saw me through the terror going on in our family home.
It was as an adult that it affected me the most. The comparisons continued. Our education choices and career were the two things that were targeted the most with my mother. My sister had set the bar high and although I have always considered myself to be intelligent, being compared and to my sister and having to measure up to her constantly, took a strain on my relationship with my mum. It was very difficult to live up to the expectation put upon me. I was not permitted to be myself. It was not good enough.
During the worst years of abuse, my father compared my character to that of my sister. Even though she had ostracised herself from him for many years, he still idolised her. She was perfect and he would constantly remind me how flawed I was and how I lacked in any redeeming qualities.
“I am not my sister,” I’d say.
“No, you are definitely not,” he would answer.