Life happens. It’s why characters in stories are important. Because that’s a representation of a life, and no life is one-dimensional or single-minded. There’s always other stuff going on. So here’s one for the character files. This is the stuff that goes on in a life that makes a person or a character behave and think and speak how they do by the time they hit your head.
I’ve been kicking myself lately for all the “trauma” I unknowingly caused my little sister growing up. All the fights and the teasing and everything copied from the Older Sibling’s Dirty Tricks playbook. People leave a lasting impact on each other through memories and sometimes all you remember is the bad stuff. It’s not fair and I don’t think that’s anything anyone sets out to do, it just happens.
But then I remembered that I was 10 years old when she came around. Suddenly I shared a bedroom with a crib and a changing table. I was pulling night time screaming duty. I knew how to make a bottle. I was changing diapers. I was getting peed on and puked on. I was the one getting sneered at by holier-than-thous who assumed the 12-year-old with the toddler was a child-mom. I was the taxi service by sixteen. I was the bad-luck soccer jinx who couldn’t watch the games or the team would lose. I was the boring babysitter. I was the swim coach. That was how I spent the formative years of my adult life. Trust me, I can tell you as a 31 year old looking back, that did damage. Social skills were never learned because I didn’t need them in order to help my family. I wish I had them now.
So that’s kind of what family is. Especially siblings. They are trauma-inflicting and you love them for it. It is not possible to escape a family of any kind without another person changing your life. We don’t live in a vacuum. But there is a balance there; you give it and you take it.
It’s still kind of sad. The four-year-old version of my sister made a banner in school that said she wanted to grow up and be me. (I hope like hell she grows up to be better than that.) It hung taped to the wall in her room until it got torn. But that’s one of those little things you don’t feel the weight of until it’s gone.