Family first. I always believed that. Not just a Hallmark sign you stuck up on your wall, but something that settled in your blood. Shared blood. Blood thicker than water. I believed that too. Felt it deep in my bones. And there were family rules. Always protect your own. What happens in the family stays in the family. Those were imperatives to live by. And I lived by them.
I was proud of who we were … where we came from. Working class. I liked the sound of it, the taste of it on my tongue. I wore it like a badge of honour. But not you. You were always embarrassed by our station in life. Always aspired to be something else … something more. As if we weren’t enough. That nettled. It prickled under my skin.
But still I protected you. Took care of you. Never let anyone say a bad word against you. And I loved you. Deeply. Profoundly. No matter how mad or disbelieving, there was always the love, burning under the hurt. But not you. You didn’t protect me back. Didn’t take my side. Not once that I can ever remember. You didn’t love me back. You sacrificed me – threw me on the pyre to fuel your own … What? What were you fueling? I never understood it. Never wanted to believe it. But the evidence was always right there … in my face … over and over again. No, you were never going to take my side. Instead of love burning under your skin, there was resentment, always the resentment, smoldering in your heart, sending out charred remains of what might have once been love – though I could never muster a single memory of it from you.
I wanted a sister I could share secrets with – ached with the want of it. But every time I tried … reached out to confide … you betrayed my trust. And worse. You didn’t just betray my secrets. You peppered them with your unique brand of deception, taking a nugget of truth and layering it with bastardized fantasy to paint a grotesque abstract of lies and suffering. You left me aching differently, a hollow husk of nothingness.
And as you grew, so grew the fire of your inexplicable resentment. A towering inferno of hostility. Rarely bared for what it was though … always hidden under some thinly veiled rationale, each more elaborate as the foundation grew weaker. Passive aggressive, with a strong leaning to the aggressive, but covered with sickly saccharine. As you grew, so grew your lies, your cheating, your stealing, your unending sabotage.
What made the sting sharper was the lengths to which you’d go for casual acquaintances …. even strangers. You’d move heaven and earth to fight the cause for others. Just never me. The betrayals were in the little things. But they mattered. They accumulated, like barnacles on a sinking ship, weighing it down.
You loved a good drama – always needed a starring role. When one didn’t appear naturally you had to create it. You should have gone into film. Maybe then you could have found room to love me. Vent your need for a soap-opera worthy ordeal in a professional capacity – wouldn’t need me as your go-to scapegoat. And why was I always the scapegoat? There were lots of other worthy contenders for the spot. Was it because you knew I’d always forgive? That I always had?
And so the pattern continued and continues until I have finally said: Enough. No more. I choose to search out love. Positivity. Trust. Support. Caring. Sharing. I have wished for an epiphany for you. To make you a better person – the kind of person I always believed you had the ability to become. I have my own family now. And I still believe family first. Who knows – maybe one day they will betray me too. Shake my conviction. After all, some of your DNA lies in wait in their fragile systems. But until then I will love them … deeply …. profoundly. And you? I will love you from afar.