Family Life Stories Life

This is my open letter of apology to my sister

Growing up, I had only a few friends. From the ages of twelve to sixteen, I had a grand total of three people I would talk to and even then, I only felt comfortable messaging one out of these three friends. But, the one consistent person in my life has always been my older sister, someone I owe a big apology to. 

When we were younger, my older sister and I were often called twins – we were so in-sync all the time whether it was sentences, responses, or even emotions. My sister is in fact just under two years older than I am and although she can be a bit up herself for being the older sibling at times, I can’t say I’ve never connected with her even though my sister was always a little more sympathetic to things than I was or even still am; if I shed a tear, she shed a waterfall. 

Exhibit A; I slipped headfirst into the side of the building and got a concussion at school one time in year three and she cried more than I did as she went off to get a teacher who basically told her to calm down because not a single coherent word was coming out of her mouth. Though I had to stay home battling a throbbing headache for the upcoming weeks, my sister would spend her time at school making get well soon cards for me and coming home to just sit with me. 

I remember when she was leaving primary school and on her last day, I was filled with dread because I realized that if I now had a spat with my friends, I couldn’t run off to my sister. She was now going to be somewhere that would require me to climb out of the school gates undetected, crossroads safely and not get kidnapped by the white van that appears to be everywhere. Far too much effort for the kid who barely got off the sofa once she sat down.

I got through that year anyhow and remember my sister giving me a pep talk before my first day of secondary school with the same sentence over and over: “I’m there if you need me.” It got really sour, really fast. 

Although undiagnosed at the time, social anxiety has always been a lifelong struggle of mine and I always took comfort in familiarity in my surroundings. I expressed to my sister how nervous I was about starting school on our walk there and she agreed for both of us to meet during break time in the school canteen. The first day had already been awful for me with the highlight of it realizing that I would be picked on by this one girl for the next five years. Her reason? She thought I was ugly. 

As I sat at a table waiting for my sister, a group of girls from my class walked past me making comments about how ‘ugly’ I was. I became the focal point of their laughter when my sister walked up to me and gave me a hug asking how my first few lessons were. I was suddenly torn between being in my safe space and fitting in – would I have been spared the embarrassment if I didn’t talk to my sister? I didn’t know it wouldn’t matter either way; the class bullies ran with it, teasing me relentlessly for the next five years. 

I got teased for a myriad of things during my time at secondary school, but it was all largely in comparison to me and my sister. She was tall, fairer-skinned (colorism at its finest), pretty, and above all, skinny. It didn’t help that she was also smart so whenever we had the same teachers, I would have to face comparisons by the teachers which would just become more ammunition for the class bullies. One girl in my class spread the rumor that I was adopted because there was no way one sister could be so beautiful and the other one so ugly. Another girl told me that my sister should be embarrassed to have such a fat sibling. The comments only got more demeaning from there.

I took it all out on my sister. I started arguing with her every morning so she would leave for school without me and purposefully get out of class really late so I wouldn’t have to walk home with her. Everything anyone has ever bought me down for, I would blame on her and I made sure she knew it. I bullied my own sister for my insecurities and that is a regret that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I regret my actions especially because my sister is a kind soul who has only ever encouraged me and waited patiently for me to work through any issues I was having.

It wasn’t until I got out of secondary school that I realized how awful I had been to someone who had never been mean to me – we came out of school with an overwrought relationship on my behalf. The road to healing has been long but my sister deserves to know that none of it was her fault and if I could undo it, I would.

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Gender & Identity Life

I was bullied in middle school, but it was a turning point in my life

Trigger warning: Mentions of bullying, anxiety, self hate, and abusive relationships.

Middle school is universally a trial-some time for most of us, and being bullied in middle school really didn’t help my case. It’s the age when you’re a fresh teenager and you’re just genuinely (and hungrily) trying to figure out who you really are.

Middle school is that age when everything and nothing feel cool all at the same time. It’s also the age when we’re extremely vulnerable as it shapes a huge part of our adult personalities in the way that it passes. For me, middle school wasn’t all bad, until I was bullied. The first two years were actually pretty great; I was a popular girl, and I loved being the center of attention.

But, eighth grade is when everything changed for me. I switched schools mid-semester and I ended up in an alien land where nobody knew who I was (and didn’t want to, either). I felt lonely and isolated.

The icing on the cake was the fact that I was bullied in that new school.

Up until then, I hadn’t been insecure about the way I looked. I was a happy-go-lucky 12-year-old who suddenly wasn’t so happy-go-lucky at 13 when all of her flaws were magnified and made fun of. The bullying made me hate the way I looked. I became excessively critical of my physical features and my personality as well. I felt as if the two were directly proportional – the more good looking you are, the more people like you. It was honestly a very screwed up way for me to look at myself but it was the sad reality of my life for years.

Over the course of high school, I went through a transitional phase where puberty wasn’t the worst to me. Yet I still held that belief very close to my heart – wherein the more good looking I’d be, the more people would like me.

This philosophy really got the best of me when it culminated in an abusive relationship with someone who I thought only wanted the best for me for four long years. My bullying experience in middle school really twisted my perception of reality and made me extremely desperate for friends in the sense that I’d accepted the first person who came into my life and was decent enough to me – as a good friend of mine. 

I allowed people to walk all over me because of the insecurities I developed from bullying.

For four years I thought that being demeaned, manipulated, anxious, and scared were the normal thing to be in a close relationship. It’s honestly scary what being bullied in eighth grade did to me. It made me an anxious mess who didn’t believe in herself.

It took me the longest time ever to get over being bullied and finally get to the point where I stopped getting affected by what people had to say about my looks and finally to where I am today – absolutely and wholly confident about who I am and what I am made of.

Bullying is cruel and it stems from an ingrained hatred for someone who you don’t even know. And it took quite a toll on me. At the mere age of 13, when I was supposed to get to know myself on a deeper level, I began despising myself – all due to the twisted perceptions of other people.

I suffered from an identity crisis that lasted for years until I finally realized my worth. This identity crisis led me to have various insecurities and internalize self-doubt as an essential part of who I was. And it took a lot of effort to let that go, completely.

Bullying is absolutely horrid and I sincerely wouldn’t want anyone to go through that experience.

I’ve learned a lot in my 21 years of existence, and one lesson that will always stay close to me, because of my experience is that I’m here to spread love and only love – there is no place for such shallow hatred in my heart where I’d make a person feel bad about what they look like or who they are. Nobody deserves that.