Monday, August 29, 2011

Every Time You Point Your Finger, Three More Point Right Back At You

When I was young, She Who Must Be Kept had a best friend with two step kids and two children she had birthed. Her daughter was significantly older than me (and particularly bossy, so I didn't care for her at all), and her son was right around Big Brother's age, so they were about two years older than me.

As you can imagine, I really hated going over to this friend's house, because there was never anything for me to do. Big Brother and the son would run off to do secret boy things that I wasn't allowed to participate in, and the daughter would never let me color with markers--even when I was allowed to according to She Who Must Be Kept, or wouldn't let me drink my juice box, or pick a tape for the VCR or anything. She was pretty much a bitch, actually. I never did get around to liking her.

So, usually, I ended up hanging around in the kitchen where SWMBK and her friend would park themselves at Carrie's table. They'd sip on cups of coffee while I hid against the counter and tried to be inconspicuous. If I was found out, I was always told to "go play", which meant whining after my brother until he got screamed at to let me play.

Carrie and SWMBK typically complained. About their jobs, husbands, and most of all--their children.

It seemed like they saved up every naughty thing we had ever done and complained about it.

"And THEN he got an F! Can you believe that?"
"He got detention for throwing a spit ball."
"She broke curfew by thirty minutes. I was worried sick!"
"She wandered away from me in the store *again*. I'm so tired of it!"

I hated it. Hated hated hated it. Because Carrie hadn't been there, and Carrie didn't get my side of the story. Even at seven, I knew this wasn't fair. Once I burst out in tears as my mother started in.

"Do you know what Tai did earlier this week? It's terrible, she---."

"Stop it!" I cried. SWMBK turned to stare at me. "Don't tell that story! It's about me."

"I can tell whatever story about you I'd like. I'm your mother and you just have to deal with it. If you don't want me to repeat things that you've done, you'd better not do them."

I sobbed like I had a broken heart. I did, and still do, thing SWMBK was cruel to word it that way. Carrie told her off and said I was right, and if a story upset me, it shouldn't be repeated.

But it's led me to thinking, ten or so years later. What if I'm repeating stories that SWMBK wouldn't like? Do I have to ask her permission to have a blog on the Internetz? Does it even matter? All these strangers read it, but *they don't know who I am*. Does that make it better or worse?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The One I Can't Replace-Ode to a Big Brother

"Taima is headstrong, and loyal to a fault."

These were the words spoken about me at my high school graduation. The instructor giving the speech about all ten of us made it seem like a good quality. Something everyone should aspire to.

I barely heard the words that were said that night. I barely remember the words that I spoke myself when I gave my own speech a few minutes later. I have told everyone since that this is because I was hopped up on codeine for the sprained ankle that just wouldn't heal.

It's true that I was high that night.

I was high on my own adrenaline of accomplishment. I, for one in our lives, had something that you didn't. I had gotten to something *first*.

But more importantly, you were there. Getting you to see me walk the stage had been a fight. She Who Must Be Kept wasn't going to make you do it. You had claimed that all I was doing was rubbing in your face that I had graduated and you didn't. And she, like always, bought it hook line and sinker. I raised complaint to the therapist, and you were made to go.

For once in my life, you weren't allowed to ruin my day.

"Taima is headstrong, and loyal to a fault."

The day you left was the only time in my whole life that I can remember you telling me you loved me.

I don't know if you love me always, or in that moment you loved me. Loved me because I sounded so lost and pitiful, telling you that you didn't have to go, and I would talk to our mother, and I would make it okay, you could stay!

"Take care of Mom for me. I love you."

Perhaps that day you loved me because when Croc tried to pull his shit, like he always does, I ripped into him. I had Had Enough, and when I have Enough, things start happening. You might have loved me because I was defending you, and you've never felt that anyone in the world has done that before. But there's a lot that you were so blind and deaf to. Everyone was fighting for you... You were just fighting yourself.

I've always been more patient than you. This is probably because I grew up as your little sister. While I sat and waited for people to love me, for people to be able to give me what I needed, you demanded it. I fell into relationships, holding my arms out and trusting that someone or something would be there to catch me when I hit the bottom.

You launched into relationships, clawing and ripping the other person, desperate to hurt them before they hurt you. Eager to establish that status quo, because you knew what it meant to be hurt and you were tired of me.

I... I knew what it was to be hurt too, but I managed to climb up from the dirt when no one caught me. You sought revenge, while I sought to protect people from all the things that had happened to me. I didn't know that this made me more vulnerable, in the end. I've learned my lesson now, learned it through hands on my throat and the way that I cried in the shower, alone and empty, because no one wanted to hear it.

But in the end, I was able to protect and save myself when there was no one to do it.

There should have been someone there to do it. But you demanded everything our mother had. You sucked her dry. She and I have had discussions... Discussions about why she focused so much on you, chose to save you in all the ways that she couldn't save me.

There was only so much to her. And you took everything, while I survived on guilt and empty promises.

We've discussed why she let you beat the shit out of me. For years. Why she let you degrade, belitte, and ABUSE me. For years. You were, and still are, an abusive person. I can't say that I blame you. I can say that I didn't deserve what happened to me.

Nothing you did was okay. There is about a decade of my life that is just Not Okay. And never will be. It's taken me a lot of therapy to come to that conclusion. I am not a bad person.

I am not ugly. I am not worthless. I am not unlovable.I am not stupid. I am not any of the things that you said I was. I suspect you said these things to me because you felt them about yourself, and if it was true about me, it couldn't be true about you, because we were just so opposite.

You struggled to survive the most basic things in life, for reasons I will never understand. You had the tools. You knew what you had to do. I guess you were just waiting for someone to come and save you from yourself.

And more painful than that, you watched me soar. You watched me graduate, get friends, relationships. You watched me have a very strong relationship with our mother, based on trust and honesty and forgiveness. You watched me get into college and soar there, too. You watched me be such a loved person, even though you tried to pull me down, and make me miserable with you.

I don't apologize for that.

I have every reason to hate you. And yet, I don't.

"Taima is headstrong, and loyal to a fault."

In this month or so since you've run off, I've spoken to you more than in the past two years of living with you. You and I have our own language, our own inside jokes. We have the things that strike us and no one else has funny. We have Queen and Iron Maiden.

We have a love of World War Two. Although while you are scouring maps and battle plans, I am reading the accounts of the death camps, and the ways that this changed humanity. We love brown soda, although you like Pepsi and I adore Coke.

We lived through the same bullshit. We lived with the same alcoholic father, the same neglectful, unstable mother. You were the only one who validates me. I could always look at you and know that the screaming fights and broken glass were real. I didn't make them up in my head.

We survived. We both bare the scars, although in very different ways. You are cruel and callous to all but a very--VERY few. I am kind and loving, neurotic about those that I care about, desperate for approval and adoration.

"Taima is headstrong, and loyal to a fault."

You still call me "baby sister".

I still call you "big brother".

When you left that day, when you told me you loved me... Who were you seeing in your head? Were you seeing the six year old, trailing after you with skinned knees and tangled hair, clutching her Pooh Bear?

Were you seeing the thirteen year old, in long black skirts and too much lipstick, scowling at you and pretending she knew better?

Were you seeing the the twenty one year old woman, in high heels and tight dresses, with short hair and clear eyes, carrying her textbooks?

In your head, just who am I?

I know for me... You're the one I can't replace.

"Taima is headstrong, and loyal to a fault."

I know where my loyalties lie.