A Lousy Excuse for a Hardship

I want you to meet my sister. She’s two years younger than me, and the best sister in the universe. We look nothing alike: she has straight brown hair and dark almond-shaped eyes. Her feet point slightly inward. She’s really beautiful. She loves baking, bootcamp and traveling-for-the-sake-of-traveling. She smiles a lot.

When my sister comes home from work, she fills the room with laughter and cheerful humming. She cooks and dances to her favourite music at the same time. She calls her friend with whom she’ll go for drinks later. As I watch her from the couch, feeling sad and tired, I wonder how she does it. How does she come home after a day of work and have energy to dance, cook and then go for drinks? How does she move so lightly? How come her life seems to require so little effort? My current mood is not that bad, but being around my sister I realise how painfully low my ‘not-that-bad’ mood actually is. Watching her is an alienating experience, like watching a world that I didn’t even know existed.

My sister and I grew up in the same house. We have the same mother and the same father. We went to the same primary school and the same secondary school. We both have a big nose, we both wore dental braces when we were young, and we both sounded like guinea pigs when we laughed (which we then laughed about even more). So here’s the million dollar question: why does my sister dance-cook while I haven’t been able to cook myself a proper meal in months?

And here’s the answer: I was unlucky. A family friend decided to abuse me, not my sister. From the age of twelve, I lived with secrets, guilt, pain and shame. Yet I find it difficult to accept that V, the family friend, my friend and my abuser, caused all of this gloom. I mean, aren’t we all unlucky sometimes? My sister had her moments of bad luck, too. She had to repeat a year in school, and she was faced with an anorexic sister. Yet she turned out just fine, while I allowed myself to become miserable. It’s hard to believe that I might have been happy, if only I had not been abused. Who knows, I would probably have found myself another lousy excuse for a hardship to dwell on.

I wake up early next morning from yet another PTSD nightmare, and hear my sister giggling and whispering sweet goodbyes to her boyfriend. I feel immensely sad for all the things I do not have. I also feel eternally grateful that my sister was never abused. If only one of us could be lucky, I’m so glad it was her.

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image source: Ladybird Books

6 thoughts on “A Lousy Excuse for a Hardship

  1. This made me so sad to read. It’s not a lousy excuse at all. Even without a ‘reason’, we are all human and able to experience depression and anxiety and all sorts. I don’t think you necessarily ‘allow’ yourself to become miserable. What you’ve been through is something no one should have to go through, and what you feel now could still have happened even without all of that on top. I want to send you a huge hug – here’s to hoping for a brighter future. xx

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  2. This reminded me so much of another friend of mine. She has an identical twin sister. Like you, she was the victim of trauma and her sister was not. Her sister goes on in life but my friend has struggled with anorexia and many other things. My friend’s body is broken too from bone problems and other physical issues on top of everything else, and yet, her sister goes on in life as any other well adjusted individual.

    I have a brother who I share a birthday with, one year apart. I hadn’t seen him in years and yet when we got together it was uncanny how our mannerisms and looks reflected each other, almost like twins. The difference is I was the victim of multiple assaults, I am the one with a mental illness, with a broken body (chronic pain), with CPTSD, with anorexia. He is one year older and the only thing he has had to deal with is an eye issue. Wow. He is successful, owns his own house & business and even has a rescue greyhound. I am on permanent disability and am heading into an eating disorder program……

    These are not tragic excuses. Perhaps we are emotionally estranged from our siblings and family but we, the survivors, are bound together in our shared experience. Understanding and empathy are shared among us in a way that can’t be experienced with family. In a way, the community of broken people are more my family than the biological ones I was raised with.

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    1. Dear Lexydragonfly, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It feels unfair to blame ‘everything’ on the trauma (or on the person who caused it), but stories like yours and your friend’s do show me that at the very least the effect of sexual abuse is not to be underestimated. In a way that’s helpful, but at the same time it worries me because the abuse may have left me damaged beyond repair. Anyway, thanks again, take care and all my best, Ana

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      1. I spent many years saying that I’m broken beyond repair but am only recently reconsidering that stance. Yes, there are broken pieces in me, in you, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that we are broken people. It’s hard for me to write that because I’ve felt that way for so long. Yet, in this instance, I have to compare. I’ve met some truly broken people, friends who have survived the vietnam war. They are broken beyond repair. I may “feel” broken but in truth I can still function for the most part.

        To note, I’ve used comparing as a way to minimize my own damage in the past and that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m using it as a tool to show that although there are parts of me that are truly broke, my life as a whole isn’t. Does that make sense?

        And, by the way, I can only feel this difference early in the morning when I’m at my best. The weight of my life tends to compound as the day progresses sadly. However, perhaps for a moment each day, we can honor that part of ourselves that isn’t broken, yeah?

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      2. Thanks Lexy, these are very helpful thoughts. You’re right, I still function quite normally most of the day. There are certainly parts of me that are not broken beyond repair. Sending love, Ana

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