Today I want to talk about something that has always bothered me.
Ever since I was very young I’ve always viewed myself as the useless sibling. I have two older sisters who were obviously intelligent, they got good grades they were Salutatorian and Valedictorian of their classes, I also have three younger brothers who are also obviously intelligent, graduating with High honors, internship, also Sal/Val of their class, and then there’s me.
Quiet, can’t speak in school, trouble with bullies, terrible grades, held back twice, nothing really special. I didn’t graduate with honors and I didn’t go to college, I am the useless child. Every parent must have a dud and I always knew it was me.
When I was younger you could go to Wendy’s for a free meal with your report card and for whatever reason my father always brought me along to see my siblings get their free meals and he would buy nothing for me. I’d sit there and watch them eat and feel out of place.
He’d also do this with toys, I got nothing while they got something new to play with. I never really blamed my siblings, I blamed myself for being too dumb to understand the work, too dumb to be able to speak.
My mother probably didn’t know about this and I know if she did she would have bought me something even if it was something small and tiny. She never let me feel useless until that one year she said to me “if you get good grades, I’ll buy you that doll you wanted”, I worked my ass off and I didn’t get that doll, sold out is what she told me.
I think that was the same year my youngest brother was born and my grandmother, my mother’s mother passed away. I remember not feeling anything really, I didn’t cry, I didn’t understand why others were crying but when I saw my mother break down I felt it, I cried because my mother was crying. I loved my grandmother and I have very fond memories of her but I just don’t feel emotions like other people.
That was also the very first year I was held back, I stopped trying, I stopped caring, my first experience with depression but nobody noticed. They said I was being difficult and willful. Nobody saw me.
I used to have a very best friend that I’d eat with hang out every chance I got and the very next year we stopped hanging out and I’d sit by myself on the stairs in front of my class room. I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t eat lunch, my thought were not the best and I didn’t know how to change them.
It’s not to say some of my classmates didn’t try, they did, they invited me to sit with them under a mango tree, they’d share a little of their lunches with me and talk around me. Never to me because everyone knew I didn’t talk. I barely even smiled or showed any emotions.
For my entire young life I felt out of place like I couldn’t understand my peers, they were all speaking a language I just didn’t know. I tried to emulate them, I tried to have crushes like the other girls and copy their mannerisms and what I thought their thought patterns might be but it was like playing a part I had no business trying out for.
In Jr. High my second year of 7th grade after being held back yet again I encountered a teacher that challenged me. According to one of my older sisters she was in the woman’s class all of one day but this woman would constantly call me by my sister’s name and it chafed because I had my own name. This woman would also make fun of students who did poorly and I was not going to let her make fun of me, she was going to know my name. Mine, not my sister’s but mine.
I got into honors that year, I spoke for the first time that year, my grandfather, my father’s father passed away that year. My mother was pregnant with my baby sister that year, 9/11 happened that year and my mother lost my baby sister that year.
It was a catalyst for me and I let everything push me into doing everything I could to get out of school.
It didn’t matter. My father still didn’t acknowledge what I had accomplished, I was still the child that couldn’t speak and couldn’t make it in the real world because I was filled with so much anxiety I couldn’t do half the things my siblings could.
It’s amazing how much your parents can hurt you without knowing they did or maybe he knew exactly where to inflict the worst pain.
He’s such a confusing person, he says these cruel things but then he took me out for my birthday just me and him and he bought me a birthday gift that I never thought he would. We’d go out to the movies together and we argued yes but it seemed like only the two of us did these things. My father was like me.
He was filled with anxiety and he didn’t know how to express his emotions.
As I got older I learned more about him just by observing him and I am so much like him not just in looks but in temperament.
All those times when he’d sit by himself away from others, I understand it now, he looked so cut off from us because he didn’t know how to interact with us.
When he’d want to leave or not go to a social function, I fully understand it. I hate social functions and how it drains me.
His special hobbies, his desire for a schedule, I do all of this as well.
I felt like I was looking for his approval and never got it but I was the only one he’d call to help him, the only one he showed a little attention in, I think my father understood me just a little better than I understood myself back then.
That saying he kept saying to me? That I’d never go anywhere and be able to survive in the real world?
I took it to heart and pushed myself, I left home and traveled internationally, I got married and I might still struggle socially but I function on my own level.
I might not be as academically fortunate as my siblings but I am not the useless sibling, I made my success in personal battles and I accomplished my own great things.
Thanks for reading a tiny bit of my story.