The Witch stands alone. I have always been the black sheep in my family.
John S, my Aunt Laura’s ill-tempered lout of a husband, does not like me. I don’t think he ever has. Cold, beady blue eyes stare and glare at me over rimmed eye glasses, a sneer plastered on his face as he watches Phil and I from across the table on Thanksgiving.
“Eat, eat!” He urge my boyfriend and I drunkenly. I glare. He may be okay consuming an exorbitant amount of unhealthy foods—as is seen by the rotund paunch of a stomach—but neither Phil nor I are like that.
Next comes the urge to drink, as if he was some dark creature luring us into the temptations of alcoholism. Misery does love company they say and he is the perfect example.
Now comes the leers and the barbed comments, all designed to unsettle and provoke. “So you two like each other, huh? I can tell. Boob! I remember when we were like that!” His voice is all too loud for my dining room.
As he creepily wraps his arm around my oh-so-charming younger sister Alicia, it is plain to see that she is the one both Laura and John favor. Dozens upon dozens of photographs litter the ettige and show the happy trio, but all of mine are either school pictures or in a group family photograph. I can’t even remember the last time I took a picture with my Aunt Laura.
Alicia knows this too, and wields it as weapon in her limited arsenal. Her chins wiggle and dance upon her face as her voice grows colder and far crueler. It’s just like John’s—especially when she makes a hurtful comment towards me. From the very moment of her birth, we have been rivals and archenemies, never sisters.
I must confess that I never wanted a little sister; indeed I would have been perfectly happy and content with my parents buying me a dog or a cat. And who knows? Perhaps owning a pet would have alieviated my childhood depression. But no, I got stuck with a sibling and even at eight years old, I resented her for stealing my place. I resented my parents too, for adding to my private hell. I was already suffering from depression thanks to the constant threat of being bullied at school, and my only solace, my only comfort, was being with my parents and my family.
And then, on January 8th 1994, even that comfort was denied to me and the only advice I ever received on how to deal with bullies was my mother telling me to get a sex-change operation so they’d stop tormenting me. Some help I got.
Time passed, and my scars grew. I’m not sure when my suicidal ideation started, but it peaked when I began to menstruate and my PMDD kicked in with all the force of a deadly tidal wave. For years, I suffered in my own hormonal hell, not knowing what was happening to me.
Alicia, of course, was “the golden child”, blessed with good looks, thinness, and a life of ease. All I had was my Second Sight and my intelligence. I lumbered around, too depressed and uncomfortable in my overweight, pudgy body to do anything to change it. As a Witch, I have always hovered on the fringes of society and I was always uncanny, even as a child.
But nothing lasts forever, and things change. I grew up, went to college, got into belly dance, and was prescribed Yaz to control my PMDD. I started down the road to being healthy and losing weight. I grew as a Witch and as a woman; and I’m finally at peace with my body and myself today. I have a boyfriend now, and a decent relationship with my parents.
Converesly, Alicia was diagnosed with dysthymia. All her long years of being indulged in her childhood and John sensing that she is weak prey to be manipulated and mold to his exact specificayions made her rage. It also brought forth the cruelty that had always been dormant in her—until now. I still remember the time when she viciously kicked me in the stomach several times when I refused to bring her in leftover pumpkin pie. After that incident, it felt as if any good traits in her have long been smothered.
She lost her thinness too, which contributed to her anger. Weak knees gave way to weight gain and the psychiatric medications piled pound after pound on her sturdy frame. Now all Alicia does is glower on the couch, a focus for all the negative energy in the house and watch television. Occasionally she’ll surf the web or text, but she’s constantly glued to the metal box in the living room to the extent that she ignores everyone else.
Given her issues, I can’t say that I’m surprised at how she tries her damndest to make my relatives turn away from me. Jealousy is a powerful motivator, and the figure glowering from her blanket cocoon is both angry and jealous that I refuse to be the family’s verbal and emotional punching bag any more. This Witch is taking her broom and flying free.
I study them all on Thanksgiving, all three so smug, so cruel, so materialistic, and so utterly heartless. My mind flashes back to May of 2011 when the ultimate deterioration happened between my sister and I.
Alicia had been angry and insecure about her massive weight gain; I can understand and empathize. I fought my own battles all those years ago—and unlike her, I’m not heartless. Still, her hatred of my stubborn determination to get into shape only fueled the flames. Her eyes flashed with malice and jealousy slowly consumed her soul as she slowly realized that finally-finally-I was comfortable enough in my own skin to wear a bikini at the pool during that summer.
On one shopping trip with Laura and John, my PMDD was at its worst and I lost my temper after having to constantly listen to her nasty and belittling remarks. Doors slamming shut, temper tantrums, and barbed comments that constantly pricked my skin over and over again were the order of the day, it seemed. And of course, her behavior went unpunished because who would discipline the Golden Child, even if she’d fallen so far off her pedestal and shattered into a million pieces? Who would defend the Witch, the uncanny one who frightens them all with her insights? No one in my family, that’s for damn sure.
A red rage descended over me, born of the PMDD and I snapped. An angry tigress took my place, one that wanted to snap and hurt and tear and scratch just to get her enemy off of her back. One that just wanted some peace and quiet on a shopping trip, after all.
The anger over being emotionally and verbally abused that I had kept at bay for close to two decades was unleashed. I was sick of being shoved aside and dropped when I needed comfort the most, sick of being told to ignore the fallen Golden Child’s endless taunts, and heartily sick of being everyone’s goddamned emotional punching bag. Perhaps I should have strove to kept my temper, but everyone has a breaking point and on that fateful night, I discovered mine.
The fight was nasty but the aftermath was even worse. Per the usual order of things, my parents blamed me for losing my temper and “not being mature enough”. Why they keep telling me to ignore her when they turn a blind eye to her cruelty is something I don’t think I’ll ever understand, to tell the truth.
Laura didn’t talk to me much after that and John? Well, John gave me hateful glares while flat out ignoring my presence. It was as if I didn’t exist in his world. And that, my friends, was the turning point.
Over the span of the next 48 hours, I heard from the only other relative who was still supporting me, my Aunt Susan. Ironic that, as I had always been given hell as a kid for wearing her face and taunted with the prospect that if I don’t get my act together, I’d wind up bipolar, fat, alone, and unhappy just like her.
Despite those ridiculous warnings, she was my only ally and this time, she let me know that when John and Laura were fawning over La Princepessa (as she had not so lovingly dubbed Alicia), that there was talk that I had an eating disorder. Apparently, La Princepessa gleefully told them that I was in danger of developing an undisclosed eating disorder and that when everyone knew the truth, she was going to laugh in my face.
Laura’s ears perked up with the chance of gossip and she made many faux-concerned comments about the state of my health, which included bizarre text messages to me about my workout routine and my diet plan. John, on the other hand took immense pleasure in this act of malice and soon the three of them were delightfully engaged in a cruel discussion, and I wasn’t not even there to defend myself.
Once again, no action was taken from my parents. I had been condemned for wearing my Aunt Susan’s face in my childhood and had been bullied so much that there were times before the PMDD diagnosis that I was terrified that I too, was bipolar and my Fate would be the same as hers. It is truly ironic that the one person who does threaten to follow in my Aunt Susan’s footsteps is Alicia.
As for me? Well, I was lucky enough to escape with PMDD and mild anxiety; and the the Gods know that’s no walk in the park, either.
I study them some more from across the Thanksgiving table, my hand firmly wrapped around my boyfriend’s. Phil steadies me, reminding me that this Witch has escaped their clutches. All I need is a full-time job so that I can save up to move out and I’m gone.
Still, in a way I do feel sorry for my Aunt Laura. I take in her glazed-over expression and wondered. What made her so desperate for a husband that she’d chose a man who I’d bet money on has Anti-Social Personality Disorder? Alicia I have never really considered to be a real sister to me, and yet I still feel sorry for her too. Still, I know we’ll both be happier when we can go our separate ways and never have to talk to each other much, if at all, ever again. My parents will feel unfathomable sorrow at that statement and bleat about family therapy, but it’s too late. The damage is done.
No amount of family therapy can fix my wounds because let’s face it—some scars are too deep to heal. And besides, they’re still in denial and can’t—or won’t—accept the fact that their youngest daughter is ultimately not the nicest person and has severe issues. It’d just be a waste of time. The Princess and the Witch cannot be reconciled for they are too different.
And for John? He is my avowed enemy. I’ve disliked him from the start ever since I was a little kid, but I didn’t have the knowledge or maturity to verbalize or understand why. I still remember how he picked up my grandfather’s walker and threatened him with it during an argument when I was a child. We will always be opponents.
I give Phil’s hand another squeeze and thank my Gods that my boyfriend is nothing like that emotionally abusive and manipulative monster as my mother starts serving the main course at Thanksgiving.