I have a bad case of Sister Envy.
For those that don’t know, I have two younger sisters ages 17 and 13. I was raised by my grandparents, with only a bit of contact with my mother until I was 7. At that point, I lived with my mother off and on for the next 9 years. Most of that time was spent with my Grandmother, though. During this time frame, I was abused by my first step-dad, gained a sister, celebrated a divorce, acquired another step-dad, and then finally gained another sister.
When my middle sister was born, I was home schooled and my mother was working a lot so for the next couple of years I found myself babysitting a lot. Too much responsibility for a child my age. When my youngest sister was born, again I was called up on to babysit a lot. By this point, I was suffering from a severe case of Anorexia Nervosa. This wasn’t due to a body image issue; I’ve never had a problem with my self image and I’ve always been a very confidant person. My disease was a diagnosis based upon the original Anorexia Nervosa, not the ‘new and improved’ version you see on T.V. dealing with poor body image. My anorexia was induced due to stress. When I stress I get nauseous so I don’t eat. This in turn causes me to stress about not eating which causes more nausea; it becomes a vicious circle. Eventually I began to stress about the fact that was dropping weight which made the situation worse and I wasn’t physically able to eat. In the end, on a visit to my grandmother, I was forced to remain in Santa Cruz and I was given an option: Either seek treatment on my own, or be put into a hospital. I chose to avoid the hospital and began seeking therapy with a woman who specialized in Traditional Anorexia Nervosa as well as weekly visits to an acupuncturist. In the end, my recovery took roughly a year before I was able to sit down and really eat a meal. I went from about 120 pounds, down to 93 pounds, and then by the time I was eating regularly I was up to 115 pounds. It’s something that I still struggle with.
Now, how does the sister envy fit into all of this? My middle sister got the benefits of being the oldest without the downside of getting the short end of the stick. My grandparents were pretty old fashioned and I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or color my hair until I was in my late teens. By that time, I didn’t have much interest in it. When I lived with my mother, I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup or really express myself in any way.
Fast forward to my sister: by 12 to 13 years old she was dying her hair pink, blue, black (natural blonde), was wearing makeup, wasn’t forced to babysit and all of this was Mother Approved. In addition to that, she’s had hardly any responsibility with my Mother paying for everything. It’s very clear to both myself and my youngest sister that we aren’t even in the running of Favorite. My youngest sister is a lot like me in many ways, but Mom is still much more open about what is and isn’t allowed with her.
In the end, what’s been done has been done, but I’m envious that my sisters have been able to experience vacations, have had their cars given to them, that they’ve never had to worry about money, or having clothes full of holes on the first day of school. They’ve been able to experience life in a way that I haven’t. Part of me really wishes that I’d been an only child. Age-wise, and method of raising, I’ve been an only child (I’m 10 and 14 years older than my sisters), but I have the misfortune of looking back and seeing things from the outside in. Whereas, my sisters have only experienced life the way it is. I’m jealous… plain and simple.
In the end, I really hope that I don’t ruin my first born the way I’ve been ruined. I want my kids to be able to experience their childhood.