Bad things had happened. By my sophomore year of high school, it came out that my sister had been traumatized in multiple ways by multiple people. It was a bit chicken-and-egg as to where her out of control narcissism came from, and my mother definitely contributed to her sense of entitlement, including a sense of entitlement over me. You can’t get that level of raging, irrational jealousy over someone 4 years behind you in school unless another force is encouraging it. Also, normal people do not have screaming tantrums when you bring back a lesser sandwich after Gramps makes it clear he can’t pay for the premium edition she had demanded.
The result was that I was silent as my mother, sister and to some extent father became more overbearing and abusive. I let them “off the hook” at how I was being treated, assuming they were focusing all their attention on my sister because of the Bad Things that had happened. They were struggling with their sense of failure as parents over things that were absolutely not their faults, and in the process failing me 100%. A family therapy session had left my sister convinced she was the “catalyst” to all the family’s issues, thus persuading her she really was the center of everything. Thanks to an incompetent therapist and my parents’ refusals to change their parenting behaviors in any way, sessions were terminated by the therapist leaving me stuck with my sister whose belief the world revolved around her was actually confirmed. It wasn’t factually correct, but it was what she wanted to be factually correct. Huge mess, ever since. The following stories are messed up enough to be triggering. I didn’t throw her cigs away out of concern for her health. I did it because they represented how much she didn’t give a shit about mine.
I kind of suspected she was lying about the stuff that was happened to her. Her wildly inappropriate interest in my sex life (including responding positively when her boyfriends made sexual comments about me) and her need to walk in uninvited and tell my neighbor and I what a blow job tasted like was enough for me to recognize that yes, something had definitely gone very wrong with her – and that I should steer myself as clear as possible of whatever illness she seemed determined to infect me with.
When my sister was home at all, she would lay on her bed listening to tapes on her boom box for hours at a time. There was only family interaction when she wanted something from us, or the day she thought it was a cool idea to sit in the living room going through gay porn and making sure we all saw it. She especially insisted I look with her – yes, she demanded a minor look at porn, class act she was, and my mother allowed it despite having a public tantrum when I was 18 and I looked at porn myself in the back room of the town newsstand by myself. I didn’t give a shit about the naked men; I had a knack at the time for only being attracted to age appropriate boys, and I had already decided for myself how far I was willing to go on my own terms. I calmly picked up one magazine and began reading the porn titles. My family was fond of puns, and porn titles are rife with some good ones. It’s how I learned how much of the art of parody and satire is part of the porn market. So on this day with my sister, I began to read the titles out loud, only laughing when I couldn’t help it. She turned bright red, gathered her porn and ran upstairs. Neither parent asked me about my feelings, although my mother said something snide about being “mean to my sister.”
Really. There was no missing how fucked up that scene was, and yet that’s how my family handled it. They acted as though my feelings were not relevant to the situation, even though most states consider exposing 14 year olds to uninvited porn as an act of child abuse. My sister’s assumption that it was something I “wanted” was absolutely NOT based on any conversation with me – it was based on how she felt, or what she imagined I felt. It was not founded in fact.
At another point, she claimed she was having “blackouts” and asked my parents for money to see a therapist. I think she did go and see a therapist once or twice. At least, she made a show of buying the book the Courage to Heal (outdated, so no link), and she seemed to work through one or two pages of the workbook. I found it on her shelf later, with the same passage marked. As time went on, it seemed like she was getting worse instead of better. My Dad had curbed my lunch money, and more or less told me I had to supplement myself with babysitting money, in part to leave my sister the money for her therapy. One afternoon, I decided to go get a haircut on my way home from school, so I decided to go through the town square. (By age 15, I paid for my own haircuts, my own clothing and frequently paid my share of the tab in restaurants. The silent agreement was to never let my grandparents know this went on. My parents masked their refusal of basic economic support as my “being independent.” It wasn’t independence – I would have gone without completely if I hadn’t found income and bought things myself.) My sister had been bitching that she didn’t have money for anything – not gas, not smokes, not anything. I saw as I left for school that morning that her “therapy money” was off the shelf that my father left it on.
As I walked through the square after my haircut, my sister actually burst out of the bait and tackle shop, sucking down a cigarette as she went. “Hi!” She had the crazy glint in her eyes – at the time I didn’t quite know what it meant, but now I know that Alice and Kris both get it when they know they’ve done or are doing something rotten. I don’t remember what was said, it was the usual self-absorbed drivel that came out of her mouth when there were people around. I did notice the cigarettes that she bought.
The evening my mother had asked my sister about her therapy appointment, and she answered that she thought it was “fine.” I realized then what wasn’t setting right with me – my sister had burst out of the bait and tackle shop with her cigs in hand at the exact time she was supposed to be in a different town, getting therapy.
My sister had used her therapy money to buy cigarettes.
That fucking bitch. Not only was I being forced to live with her crazy ass when she should by all rights be trying to move out and live like an adult, she was actively lying and stealing to our parents while she was also taking from me. She was actively refusing to get uncrazy.
Among the other miserable conditions of the house we lived in that is smaller than my 900 sq ft apartment now, I had to share a stairwell and the upstairs floor of the house with my sister. My mother, under abuser-typical behavior, decided to declare me “in charge” of keeping the stairwell clean. So, under the auspice of treating me like a servant (on the wheel up there, along with several other things related here) I was expected to clean up after my sister AND keep my stuff off the stairwell. The woman would make noises about Kris cleaning up, but the real message was that it was MY job – no matter how tired I was, no matter if Kris blocked the sliding door to her bedroom (my bedroom had no door), no matter if I was sick. It was my job to wait on them and clean up after them – and no amount of cleaning would ever be good enough for my mother.
So when Kris blocked the entire stairwell with her leather jacket, books, and cigarettes on top, I took the cigarettes and threw them away.
It wasn’t about her health – it was about mine. Kris was smoking out the bedroom window when there was a no smoking in the house rule, and thanks to that selfish bitch and several untreated illnesses throughout high school, I have asthma now. So along with lying, abuse and stealing, as an adult I have permanent health impairment.
I also knew how she’d paid for the cigarettes, and I was pissed.
Upon finding the cigarettes gone, my sister demanded an explanation, and I told her I threw them out. She then went on a screaming rampage, and my mother told me I had to “respect my sister’s property.” I didn’t tell her about Kris skipping the therapy session – she wouldn’t have believed me, anyway. Alice’s view is that I was a liar if I said one plus one was two. I couldn’t trust her with basic stuff about my life and experience, so I was never going to tell her something like this, because one way or the other Alice would turn whatever I said into my being a horrible person to my poor, suffering sister.
At least my self-centered ass of a sister never left her cigarettes on the stairwell again. Christ, she couldn’t just leave the pack in her car?