"If you impress our parents, I'll kill you." | A traumatic story of sibling violence.
After days of unimaginable torment, I am putting this down on paper. My head is spinning around, my chest searing with pain, and my legs and arms giving in.
I can’t breathe; how will I get through this piece of writing? I have no clue!
But, while going through the storm of resurfacing memories that shook me up, I googled about sibling violence and I found nothing that could benefit me. I thought I had to share my story, for all the others out there who lived their childhood in terror of this undermined yet very serious form of domestic abuse.
The quest for this answer now ruining my world is actually a long one. I have been investigating for over five years to understand why I hated myself and why I felt absolutely worthless about my existence, desires, dreams, and creative talents.
I found many answers, including sexual assault, abandonment, regressive parenting and schooling, and abuse (Yes, I had a horrible childhood). I also found ways to heal from them all. Still, the abject self-hatred, sabotaging behavior, and tendency to destroy my life didn’t go away.
That’s when I stumbled on my early childhood and years I spent at home, under the absolute control of my sister.
The signs of abuse and extreme violence
I remember a lot of incidents where my sister was horrible to me. They started when I was five or six.
I know she is a narcissist, a compulsive liar who is lazy, irresponsible, and with an unpredictable predilection to aggression. She used force and control over me to maintain her comfort zone.
She has roughed me up frequently, made me do things for her under threats, controlled my mental and emotional developments, and made me feel stupid, ugly, and terrible about myself.
When I say these, I mean she actually made me believe them through wicked demonstrations and abusive sessions of repeated feedback using fear, shame, and gaslighting. Being five years older than me, she was always at a greater advantage, be it physical, knowledge, or mental.
It took me years to come out of these traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to get rid of the self-hatred and low self-esteem I suffered from.
Her favourite act of violence was slapping me across my face. Just one tight smack and I’d do anything she wanted me to do. Sometimes, the threat was enough.
What about my parents?
If you are wondering about this, the truth is they didn’t care enough.
My father was an aggressor himself, who beat my sister and occasionally my mother back then. It was a reign of terror at home. My mother, who was a working woman, loved to play the victim or the damsel in distress. She expected to be saved, sometimes by her own children, whom she was supposed to protect.
I was practically raised by my sister. Or, in the other words, they mostly left me alone with her, who loved to break me in more ways than one!
My constant wish to die
I constantly felt like I was living on rented time, like this life didn’t really belong to me. I felt ashamed that I existed. I sometimes wondered, why was I born? Why am I here, wasting this space? Why was I given dreams and talents I couldn’t escape? Why should I do anything I enjoy doing?
It wasn’t as much a wish to die as it was a need to stop existing. I wanted to disappear from the face of earth without a trace of ever being here.
I felt so unwanted; I felt it was better if I disappeared into thin air.
The problem was that I couldn’t. Not because I didn’t want to commit suicide or anything. I knew I had a lot to accomplish, so I couldn’t give up yet.
I wanted to write and publish my book, spread my works, and influence lives. But I kept failing internally. Self-sabotage with procrastination and self-doubt was my poison.
The threat to my life
I decided to sit down and ask myself what was going on every time I was unmotivated, sad, and hopeless about my life and future.
Two days back I was doing free-association journaling, and I wrote,
“I don’t want to die a battered little child.”
That’s when it hit me! Every time my sister beat me up, or punched my stomach in, kicked me on the floor; every time she strangled me, she wasn’t just roughing me up! She was also threatening to take my life! Driving a little child to death because she was talented and dreamy-eyed.
I remember my sister telling me, if I impress our parents, she’ll kill me!
And she showed she could through extreme aggression.
Later on, I remembered other ways she threatened my life. One, by putting me under cold showers, by pretending to play, and pushing me when we were standing at heights.
Yes, literally pushing me. I’d be terrified I’d fall. But that was also part of having fun or teasing me.
My decision to abandon my dreams and slave for my family
I was so abandoned, helpless, and scared I didn’t know I had another way.
Slowly, I stopped doing everything my sister hated. This included being creative or artistic, writing poems or stories, having friends, having a voice for myself, saying no, or showing affection to my mother, or having any other hobbies.
Instead, I did her bidding. Helping her with her homework, helping my mother in the kitchen and going out to get groceries, staying with my sister as her pet and errant girl became the major part of my childhood. That did please her a lot!
Until, of course, I went to a boarding school when I was 11.
The saddest part is, my mother, sister and I were supposed to be a team. Three women against the world. I looked up to both of them and their tenacity to face the cruelty the world passed down on them.
Now, I realise, it was like my mother in her ivory tower, my sister in her sadistic armour and me in shabby clothes and invisible tethers pleasing these two eternally unsatisfied, whiny women (All hail feminism!)
After two decades, the ghosts of this past are still haunting me. I still feel like I have no right to exist. I feel my life is a mistake, that my talents and dreams are worthless.
When I want to follow them, nevertheless, I have panic attacks, temporary paralysis, mind fog, and intense trauma.
That I could finish this piece is the sign that I’m healing now. I realise I never had a sister. I also know that my creative talents give my life meaning, not take my life away!
I’m finally breaking the shackles of death invisibly wrapped around me and soaring high.
I’m still scared of many things that drain my motivation, but the greatest lesson was that they are not life threatening. It wouldn’t kill me to fail or to succeed.
These are simple problems I can solve!
Nothing to die for!
I hope you found this article helpful!