(Tw: self harm)
I’ve tapped out a message to my older sister many a time, but been too cowardly to send it.
‘Big sister, today I went to my first counseling session at my school for my self-harm and my sorta depression. I got a boyfriend, almost accidentally. I keep on freaking out about nothing at all and this Monday I have my first GCSE exam and it feels like I’m growing up. I miss you, lots, and I want you to be home so you can be annoyed with our family and let me watch illegally streamed movies on your bed, and we can share secret and world-weary head shakes behind our mothers back.’
I never sent it and I probably never will. It’s much easier to talk on the internet because then I can imagine people’s reactions instead of seeing play out in real time; imagine sympathy and understanding smiles instead of disgust at my innermost thoughts spilled out messy in jumbled sound.
My big sister is amazing. She is strong and beautiful and incredibly clever, she smokes hand-rolled cigarettes dressed in Vivienne Westwood wellies, her hair is short and her eyeliner flicks are long. I idolise her. She is the jewel of my family, the one who turned out right and who is going to Cambridge to be intelligent with her friends and to change the world. She doesn’t particularly like her family, but that’s okay, I understand that, we’re not really worthy of someone like this to dwell in our humble abode.
I think she’s perfect, but she comes from our little fucked up family kingdom – of course she’s not. She bears the brand of dysfunctionality and 10 years of being told she’s good enough to take on the world when she can’t quite tell if they are lying or not. She drinks too much, smokes too much, loves too much and works too hard. Her waist is slim and her make-up is smudged, and one day her laugh won’t be enough to get her out of trouble.
She may be my favourite sister. I can’t tell, because the age gap between us (8 years and 6 of them spent in a boarding school in Sussex) sometimes makes conversation difficult. I can tell when her laugh is stilted and awkward and when the constant checking of her phone means she really has to go before she kills someone. I have the feeling I know her much better than she knows me.
But that’s okay. I feel privileged even to know this glittery star from afar, let alone have her in my house.
I just wish that I could tell her things that I haven’t told anyone else, and that I could send that message, and that she would tell me things too.