Thankful For You

One thing that you really need to understand about me is how protective I am when it comes to family—specifically my immediate family. The way I see it is that I can shit on them whenever I want to, because it’s my relationship with them, and I’ve seen just about every side of each and every one of them, to the point where I know them probably a little better than they know themselves.

I’m a very observant person—a little nosy, a little persistent, and very annoying.

But when I hear others talking about them negatively, something in me snaps. For me, it’s like this: you don’t know them the way that I do, so you should probably shut your mouth. I only really allow that kind of thing when I, myself, am ranting about them…but that’s only because I’m not really listening to you, and I’m just going to keep talking, until everything I need to say is out there. That’s just me.

And even though this post is starting out negatively, it’s not supposed to be. I’m just trying to give you a little bit of insight, before I get into what I’m really here to talk about.

And that thing, is my little sister, Caitlyn.

If you don’t know me personally, I come from a pretty big family; I’m one of six kids. Yep, there’s a half of a dozen of us running around. I’m number three—born twelve years after my oldest sibling, Joanne, and eight years before my youngest, Heinrich. And because we’re not all right around the same age, we’re not all close-knit. I only really started to get to know Heinrich, as a person, and not just as The Baby Of The Family, not too long ago.

Growing up, I’ve always been closer to my younger sisters, Brianna and Caitlyn, who are two and six years younger than me, respectively. Brianna and I constantly switched between being best friends and mortal enemies, and Caitlyn was like my own personal Baby Alive. Except, you know, she was actually alive.

I got to dress her up and play with her, but I also got to change her diaper and feed her. And as we grew, some of those things changed, while others didn’t. And because Brianna wasn’t the nicest to Caitlyn growing up, I kind of became her protector. And because my parents divorced when Caitlyn and Heinrich were so young, I stepped in, and basically became a pseudo parent.

(Pause. Our parents are great parents; I only really did what I did because I thought the help was needed, and when such a drastic life change happens, it affects everybody involved. But you probably already knew that. Carry on.)

As weird as it sounds, I felt like Heinrich didn’t need help with the transition as much as Caitlyn did; Heinrich was so young, he probably doesn’t even remember a time when our parents were together. Hell, I barely remember. I did the pseudo parent thing for Heinrich: I would discipline him, and take care of him when I was asked to, or when I felt like I was needed.

But with Cailtyn, it was different. You probably couldn’t tell, but the divorce affected her the most, out of all of us kids. And then we found out that Caitlyn had alopecia areata, and that it was a stress-induced disease, it basically broke my heart. My hair is such a big part of my identity, and to learn that my little sister was losing hers, due to stress nonetheless, I knew I had to do something, anything.

So I would talk to her. and get her to talk about school, and how she was doing, and eventually, her feelings. And that sort of began to transform our relationship.

She slowly started to open up, and I began to do the same. We’ve spent a lot of our time talking to each other about everything, starting from the small stuff, like school and dance, and we’d land at our family relationships and dynamic. We grew as people, we grew as sisters. And we are still growing.

From talking to Cait, I’ve learned something really important about her. I am a heavily sensitive person, although I’ve never really lost anything, except Nan. And then there’s Caitlyn, who also lost Nan, was heavily bullied by Brianna for her entire childhood, and has an autoimmune skin disease, is like a warrior: strong, self-assured, and always ready to take on anything. Sure, she keeps a guard on for most of the world, but she’s also all of these things with those walls put down. It honestly amazes me how courageous and genuinely kind she is, despite everything life has already thrown her way.

I guess you can say that she inspires me.

I talk to Caitlyn a lot more than I talk to Joanne, Rick, Brianna, and Heinrich. Joanne and I talk over the phone a lot (and by that I mean texting and sending each other memes over social media), and Rick and I seldom speak to each other (he’s always working or doing husband and dad things, and I’m awkward and antisocial and don’t know how to start a conversation with anybody). Brianna is a difficult person to talk to (you have to catch her on a good day, and not talk about anything that will trigger her…she gets triggered very easily). And as for Heinrich; well, we’re growing, but it’s hard to talk to him, sometimes. He gets triggered pretty easily too: he’ll shut down completely, and basically go hide from the world. But I think I’m progressing with him.

You know, although I am terrible at sparking conversation with others, I always find myself being the person that people talk to about deep, important things, like emotions and relationships and why are we like this, and why does this and that happen. And I really appreciate it when I get to talk about those kinds of things, because conversations about school and work and driving get really old very quickly.

I love that Caitlyn comes to me for just about anything. We can talk for hours about issues in the family, society, each other, and ourselves. We’ll tell each other what movies and TV shows to watch (even though more than half of the time, we don’t listen to each other), and we’ll recommend music to each other.

We joke with each other, we rant to each other. We confide in each other.

She went from being my very own Baby Alive to one of my closest and best friends. Like, who would have seen that coming?

I guess I’m just really grateful to have that kind of relationship with her. I wish that I had that with the rest of my siblings, but you know, this isn’t a fantasy world where I can get everything I want, and life happens. I have to be thankful for what I have now, and work for a better future. I could probably try to have a picturesque relationship with all five of my siblings, but that would most likely take a lot of time and energy from the rest of my life. And I can’t spend the rest of my life focusing on just that.

So I’ll take what I can get, for now. I just gotta live life and not have any regrets. And so long as I don’t hold onto any petty grudges, I should be just fine.

Sidenote: I’m very grateful for all of my siblings, and this was not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’ve just been really emotional lately, because I’ve recently started to take notice in how much Caitlyn and Heinrich have grown up. So thank you for reading this. And if any of my other siblings are reading this, there is no end to how much I love you. Thank you for everything.

Prompt: Who are you closest to in your family? Why?

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A twenty-two year old who lives through words and her Netflix account. She makes herself laugh more than others, and she claims that she is okay with that.

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