I don’t know if it’s because I’m the middle child with a large age gap between both my older and younger siblings, but I’ve always struggled with my place in my family. My older siblings always had each other, they were two years apart and my younger siblings had each other because they were less than 2 years apart. It’s a very strange dynamic with me always being the odd one out especially since my diagnosis. I’ve tried to not let it bother me but sometimes you just can’t deny the truth.
The holidays are especially tricky not only because of my lack of a spot in my family but because the one person who made me feel valued, passed away. The holidays have never been the same for me. The holidays always make me a little depressed and nostalgic because my father passed away after the holidays and his last Christmas was brutal. That last Christmas, you could tell it was over for him but he was still fighting to get through the holidays at least for his family. It was very hard watching him battle with cancer and ultimately lose a little over a week after New Year’s.
I think this year will be just as hard because my sister passed away this past March. I’m sure everyone says this but if I had known her days were numbered, I would have spent more quality time with her. I live with that guilt every day. After she passed and the funeral was over, I tried to get closer to my living siblings. I was able to get closer to my brothers but not my sister. I would drive up to see her and my brother’s family but she always had something else to do. It seemed like she didn’t want anything to do with me. That hurt. The only time I was able to talk to her was when I took her to a bar as a belated birthday gift. Even then, I could tell something was different; I wasn’t worthy of her time and all I received from her were judgments.
Everything came to a boiling point when the vacation I had planned made me feel like an outcast in the family. It seemed like whenever anyone went on vacation, it was their business but when I went on vacation, everyone had to come. I didn’t understand why an adult like myself would need everyone in her family to come with her when no one ever invited me on their vacations. One of them even came behind my back and no one in my family had the guts to tell me. I handled it the best I could at the moment but again felt like less than a person and the odd one out yet again. It hurt.
I felt like I needed my family more than ever and they turned their back on me.
I tried to make the best of it and even arranged to hang out with my sister. My sister didn’t return my texts or calls but returned everyone else’s and she decided she didn’t want to hang out with me the day we were leaving like we had planned. I would have been fine with that if she had had the decency to call or text to let me know. Of course, I was left hanging and finished my supposed vacation feeling like I had no place in my family.
Things have gotten better for me since then. I feel like I have a new sense of self. I have learned a lot about myself from going through so much. If people in my life don’t value me or my time then I don’t feel it’s necessary to continue a relationship with them. If all I feel is hurt, then that relationship is not worth my time. I am close to the family who wants to be close to me. I have relationships with the people who want to have relationships with me. I’m not going to force anyone to be involved in my life if they don’t want to be.
This past year has been very freeing. I’ve realized that I don’t need to have a specific place in my family. I have a place in the world and am doing good for other people. I am not defined by my family. I am me. I am happy with me and I don’t need anyone making me feel any different. So this holiday season, I am going to spend time with those who support me wholeheartedly, love me for who I am, and don’t leave me feeling like less than a person. I am looking forward to this holiday and future holidays filled with joy, peace, and love which is what everyone deserves this time of the year.