When I first wrote this headline, I penned ‘step-sister’ instead of ‘half-sister’. Then I realised it didn’t really matter, and changed it to ‘sister’. This is how I can tell I’m finally accepting the 6-year-old reminder of my dad’s mail-order marriage. My lovely, little 6-year-old sister.
The same has gone for just about any social situation where this sister has come up. I’ve called her by any other name than, you know, my sister. Yep. All of the names you can think of. I am, no, I was, a horrible person. But then something changed.
When she came into this world, my sister rattled me to my core. You see, I’d grown up believing my dad never wanted a daughter (me), or sons (my brothers).
"I'd grown up believing my dad never wanted a daughter (me)." Image via iStock.
When I was six, the same age my sister is now, dad left, abruptly. He'd been seeing someone else around the same time one of my brothers was born and soon decided he liked the thrills of a new woman over that of smelly nappies and projectile baby vomit. Go figure.
For the next 20 years I dealt with the pain by convincing myself that he “just wasn't a family man”, he “wasn't meant to have kids”, and he was “just better suited without us”. I'd rattle out those lines at the speed of light because at my core I believed the opposite. I believed he never wanted me. A truth I'm certain my two brothers told themselves, too.
Pinning the idea on a distaste for children in general (and not myself) gave me the power to move on and feel like it wasn't my fault. Which didn't really work in the end anyway, because as we all know, children of divorce always end up believing it's their fault. It's written in the stars.
Anyway, by the time I was 20, and my dad was on to his third marital pursuit, my self-confidence was pretty cracked (despite what I told to my now husband-then-boyfriend, and my friends). So when dad sat my brothers and I down to tell us he'd be marrying the foreign thirty-something-year-old woman who appeared on his desktop screensaver - and having a baby with her - my fake acceptance turned to hatred. Yep, before the baby was but the size of a bean, I hated it.
"Yep, before the baby was but the size of a bean, I hated it." Image via iStock.
Then the baby was born, and it was a girl. She was going to be the daughter dad loved, while I was the one he didn't.
The first time I held her, dad dropped by my shitty part-time uni job to throw her into my arms. I was working all kinds of hours during uni because, unlike other families, my mum was a single parent and couldn't afford to help with paying for my textbooks.
Between answering the calls at reception I held her. I felt like vomiting. He snapped a photo and sent it to me. For the rest of my shift I couldn't stop staring at it.
As the years passed, things only became harder. The pink outfits, the cute giggles, the girly parties. The photos of her dad, my dad, treating her to the love I missed out on felt like a knife to my heart. And it was.
This was my life for the past five years. Anger at a toddler for having things I didn't. Until it dawned on me. Who was acting like the toddler? And more importantly, was any of this her fault?
The answers to both of those questions are pretty clear.
The last text we sent our sister. Post continues below.
But enough self-bashing. I dealt with it in the only way I knew how. And while it's taken me a good six years, I did something positive with this anger - I began to love her. And boy, do I love her.
I decided to put aside the feelings I have for my dad leaving me as a 6-year-old, and see this 6-year-old for the girl she is. A hilarious, cute kid who shares my cheekiness, creativity and cherubic cheeks.
I recently had her stay for a sleepover for the very first time. I painted her nails, put on Disney films in the middle of the night and bought her a chocolate milkshake when she should have been eating breakfast.
When I took her home my heart felt full. Full of the love I'd been missing from my dad. I finally realised the girl I'd been pushing away could help me to move on.
I got home just twenty minutes after dropping her off and my phone rang, it was my sister, hysterical. Between sobs she said “I love you”, again and again. Her mother grabbed the phone and apologised, she was just tired, she said.
Sure, she was tired, I thought. But something else told me she was overwhelmed by the love we'd just finally found in each other, too.
That was the day I learnt to love my sister.
While I can't take back the past five years of discomfort and anger, I can create a childhood that's less dysfunctional for her than my own was. And I can't wait.
Sophie Asquith is a 26-year- old writer from Melbourne, Australia. She spends her days writing advertising copy –selling every product under the sun with wonderful words, but her true passion lies in telling her own stories. She hopes you enjoy reading them as much as she does writing.