Growing up, I always envied my sister. I never realized how selfish I really was
A longer version of this piece originally appeared on Christine Macdonald’s Open Salon blog. It was written in response to an open call for sibling rivalry stories.
Armed with a half gram of cocaine, I locked myself in a bathroom stall and straddled the back of the toilet with my dyed-to-match pastel pumps, my strapless, floor-length bridesmaid dress dangling precariously over the seat. I knew I still had time before the wedding toast because I could hear the music thumping down the hall. Besides, no bride expects her maid of honor to be high on drugs on her big day — especially when it’s her younger sister.
At 18, I had little life experience, so my mother served up a crash course in maid of honor etiquette the night before the wedding. My toast was to be lighthearted and personal, a trip down memory lane with my sister and new brother-in-law. The problem was, I didn’t really have any stories, nice or otherwise. Short of the pre-wedding hullabaloo, my sister and I barely spoke.
The ballroom was packed. When my time came to toast the happy couple, I squinted in the spotlight, my eyes landing on my mother sitting in front. She smiled and nodded with nervous encouragement.
“Well, Mom, you always wanted me in the spotlight, and now I’m here.”
I looked over at my sister, who seemed as confused as I was. In my coked-out narcissism, I babbled about how happy I was that they had found each other and how I wished them well. I didn’t expect or receive congratulatory remarks from anyone after that speech.
The night carried on, and I continued my bathroom liaisons, my maid of dishonor toast just another feather in my overstuffed, Disappointing Sister cap.
As kids, people used to ask if Laurie and I were twins. My sister was nearly two years older than me, but our features were damn near identical. It didn’t help that Mom dressed us in matching polyester get-ups, straight from the McCall’s patterns she cranked out on her trusty sewing machine.
It never bothered me. Being considered my sister’s twin in the fourth grade was a compliment. She was smart, pretty and popular; who wouldn’t hitch their wagon to that star?
When high school rolled around, our differences began to emerge; I was awkward and insecure, while Laurie effortlessly found her clique of popular friends. She was the free-flowing water to my clingy, goopy oil.
Puberty had its way with me in the form of grade four acne vulgaris, a serious skin disease that left my face covered in purple and red blood-filled cysts, followed by deep-seated “crater” scars. At 14, my nickname in school was Freddy Kruger. Laurie, meanwhile, held a place in the Junior Prom Homecoming Court.
By my junior year, I started to unravel, skipping school and drinking at home alone with Erica Kane and June Cleaver, my faithful TV companions. When I finally graduated high school in 1986, I did so with a stash of cocaine tucked inside my bra. My sister was at college, so she had no idea how much of a mess I was by then. I moved away from home before the ink on my diploma had dried.
As I was packing my things, I stumbled upon one of my sister’s old checkbooks and immediately called my best friend.
“We’re going shopping.”
“Contempo Casuals, anything you want.”
Using my sister’s driver’s license, which I’d managed to swipe a year earlier, I wrote a half-dozen checks from her closed bank account and treated my friend and myself to a new wardrobe. I knew it was wrong, but not once did it ever occur to me I’d get caught.
A couple of months later, I received a phone call.
“What were you thinking?” My mom’s voice was shaking with anger. “Your sister wants to press charges. Do you know what they do to women in jail?”
Terrified, I begged and pleaded for her to help me pay back the money, apologizing over and over as I wiped away my tears.
“Don’t tell me, tell your sister.”
Laurie eventually forgave me, but my little checkbook scheme only widened the space between us. I was floored when she asked me to be her maid of honor.
I knew that I was supposed to throw her a bachelorette party and assumed, naively, that everyone hired a male stripper for the occasion. When Laurie answered the door, her hunk-for-hire was dressed as a cop and pretended to arrest her for check fraud — by far, one of the worst ideas of my life.
“That would be her.” My sister was not amused.
Shortly after her wedding, Laurie graduated college, began work as a middle-school teacher and learned that she was pregnant. I was go-go dancing at a topless bar.
I never meant to hurt my sister, and looking back now, I am appalled by my behavior. I’m sure all of the psychology books would say I acted out of revenge for the seemingly unfair cards I was dealt. Whatever the reasons, I can’t take any of it back.
My sister isn’t the type who speaks about the past, and part of me is grateful. But when it comes to us being closer, I wonder if we ever should.
More Related Stories
- My text blew up in my face
- Boy Scouts end ban on openly gay boys
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- Man arrested for sending Craigslist sex party to neighbor's house
- Greek yogurt, toxic waste hazard?
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Pope Francis: Atheists are all right!
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- Is recreational pot use safe?
- How I ended up in a pyramid scheme
- My bipolar partner beat me
- Teenagers care more about online privacy than you think
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- Kicked out of the mall -- for an anti-cancer hat
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11