The other day I was having a conversation with my sisters about our childhood. I was talking about the times that my dad had gotten really angry with me. I said it was understandable because I could be difficult. Instantly, I thought that I shouldn’t call myself difficult, but before I was able to change my words, my sister jumped in and agreed with me, recalling the time she had slapped me across the face for not listening to my mom. What?
Part of me wanted to laugh, but inside it took my breath away. I had no memory of this, and the more she told the story, the worse I felt. By the time I was driving home, I was in a funk. My husband asked me why it had upset me so much, and I didn’t know. All I knew was that I felt exactly like I did as a kid. The difficult one. The outsider.
But even as those awful feelings washed over me, I started to question them. I knew that what I was feeling wasn’t true. They were just a hangover from my childhood. So what had triggered them?
Eventually I realized that for my whole life, right up until that moment, I had always considered this particular sister, out of all seven kids in my family, to be the nice one. The good one. And I had pissed off the good one badly enough that she felt the need to slap me. Like, a big slap, wind-up and all.
So if the nice one thinks I’m difficult, it must be true. Which, as it turns out, is bullshit.
Why? Because there is no nice one or kind one or good one. Just like there is not a difficult one, or an annoying one. There is not one label that we can affix to anyone that will ever be accurate. We can sometimes forget that, especially when it comes to those we love, including ourselves. We are too beautiful and too complex to ever fit into one descriptive box. Some days it’s hard to remember that, but I swear it’s true.
So, my sister is nice and good and kind, but so am I. So are most people. And she shouldn’t have slapped me. I’m going to tell on her…