Now looking back at having these constant cycling thoughts when I was young that screamed, “Where did I come from?” when I unfairly compared myself to what appeared to be the perfect family I was surrounded by, I realize that I set myself up to be outcast. This was one of the earliest attributions to my disease of addiction because I had to be different and so innately unique from the rest of my family. Although this isn’t quite true, later on in my teen years I would come to see that I was indeed a bit astray from my family because both my parents and my sister are not alcoholics or addicts. Always having separated myself from my parents and my sister, my childhood consisted of me clutching onto my own selfishness and self-seeking behaviors that displayed themselves in various ways. Even during my first year sober in recovery, I still held these high standards of my family, putting them all on this pedestal and feeling like I could never measure up to be the kind of daughter or sister I was “supposed” to be. It still took me some time to accept that I had to ask myself an important question: by whose standards exactly, was I coming to this conclusion of high, unreasonable standards?
Siblings: Never The Favorite
I would try to live up to expectations and the way this manifested most noticeably was through comparing every aspect of my life with my sister. Alining my life accordingly to hers, I became obsessed with perfecting it to match hers and accomplish all tasks, activities, and achievements exactly as she had. Even in young adulthood my mother had to explain that we are two different people, but the detrimental mode used to running off self-will would seep through and strike terror by trying to match my life to my sister’s as if mine had to be identical to hers. It was as though I had completely overlooked the concept that my life is my journey and my sister’s is hers and that’s the entire beauty of it. It’s our own lives and we get to be a part of one another’s – not have a contest to see whose life can unfold best or to clone my life to look parallel to hers. I came to the conclusion that I should want to have my own experiences and follow my own destiny -- something that I “should” have come to terms with years ago, but these “should’s” will drive a person to the brink of insanity. There is no true “should.” There is only time and trusting that everything happens the way that it is meant to. Still, however, in sobriety, I was still envious of many traits my sister possessed and I had to let these go and over time through this process of recovery as I grew more comfortable and authentic with myself, they did. I also came to see throughout my sobriety that my sister wasn’t the perfect family member I made her out to be simply because there is no perfect person in this world and it wasn’t fair of me to make her out to be that way. I created an expectation that no human being could truly live up to and when I could finally see clearer in recovery, I saw her as an individual that does make mistakes and has feelings as well. It was a defining moment for me in my sobriety because I was grateful that I had program of recovery that shows me how I don’t have to be dishonest when it comes to holding in any resentment, fear, or self-seeking tendencies throughout the day and I can let them go so that I can stray away from the selfishness that my disease encases upon me to ultimately best be of service to others while present in each moment of daily life as a result.
“Where did I come from?” wasn’t the only question I was asking my mother. I was a very young age when I was constantly pleading with her wondering why she loved and favored my sister more than I. Of course the motive behind this was selfish and self-seeking, but I had no true concept of the meaning behind those words at the time. I carried this with me though and always wanted to be the perfect family member in my parents’ eyes so I had to be perfect but nothing I could ever do could measure up in my eyes, anyway, which is why it got easier to resort to other means like drinking and drugging – a temporary fix that only made matters far worse for me and absolutely magnified these already visible displays of my disease.
I once heard on a television series a quote where a crime scene investigator explained to woman amidst an investigation, “You're an average family, burdened with a tragedy that put you under a microscope. That close, nobody can look good.” I always kept this in my mind because even what may appear to be the perfect family could be magnified and all in all, nobody is perfect. We are all human and as a result, we are beautifully flawed with defects of character, but it isn’t such a negative trait because it means that these are areas of opportunity to grow and better ourselves to blossom, ultimately better contributing to society in the long run.