Well, well. Where do I begin with this anger I have towards my sister?

Good gawd! Seriously now, why do I hate her so much? Ek dink ek moek my kop laat lees.

Ever since the day my sister was born it felt like she took a part of me; my belonging; my attention and my gifts. Oh, she’s so sweet. Look at her, she’s going to be an adorable little girl. What’s her name? Everyone would ask. My mother would reply, “Melanie, isn’t she something?”

Well, I would just be sitting there and being ignored. No one saw me. I just became invisible and I hated it. I tried hurting myself, but it didn’t do me any good. It only bought me more pain; pain I didn’t deserve. I was the sweet little girl for ten years and then all of a sudden this bundle of joy rocked up.

Ag, she stole my spotlight. Sister or not this meant WAR.

I hated her so much I refused to keep her when my mom would ask me to. I didn’t even hold her. Just for a second she’d call out, and seconds always turned into an hour. It was torture to me. On every given opportunity I would pinch her and run away before anyone saw.

Then again to be honest, the new family member never took the attention I got from everyone. I really didn’t care much about what our family and close friends thought about Melanie. What really mattered to me was my mom, Catherine. We never got along, but she was my mother.

Jean Miller, yip that’s me.

Sometimes I wonder if my mom curses the day I was born just as I cursed the day my sister was. If there was one person I could run to it was my Granny Flora.

Before Melanie was born it was only my older brother, Jake, and I. Jake was never at home; always out with his friends but my mom worshipped the ground he walked on. Whatever Jake wanted no – matter how expensive – he would get it.

And me, well like I said in the beginning, I was invisible to my mom.

I would be too scared to ask her anything; even help with my homework. My mom would always tell me I’m stupid and that I should stop wanting what my eyes saw.

“Money don’t grow on trees,”

Sometimes I’d be all shaken I couldn’t even breathe. Too afraid that she’d give me a beating of a lifetime or even slap me for no reason. Whenever Catherine spoke, I became numb.

Going to school was hell especially if my homework wasn’t done. My granny tried her best to help while my mom was too busy helping out Jake, the bright spark. At times I cried myself to sleep.

I prayed that God would send me a fairy grandmother to help me escape from home. I felt captured, caged like a bird. I kept on repeating my mantra, ‘This is not the end; things will get better.’ At times I would be the only student sitting in detention: HOMEWORK NOT DONE OR INCOMPLETE.

If only the teachers knew what I had to endure at home.

I was the fool in the class. I had no friends; the teacher always yelled at me, everyone made fun of me and talked behind my back, I had low self-esteem and I was bullied. I felt like an insect.

All I wanted was to belong and fit in. I hated my mother even more. But deep down I always managed to tell myself that she was my mother. And just maybe if I got good marks, worked hard, she’d love me too. I wasn’t as smart like Jake, but I was her daughter. No matter what I did she still treated me like a villain.

She would allow Jake to sleep with her at night. But whenever I wanted to, she would tell me to sleep on the floor or she would shout, “Just go back to your bed and stop being a little brat.” That’s when I would go and crawl in with my granny, who would always invite me with open loving arms.

I grew up without knowing who my father was. Whenever people would ask, “Jean, where is your father?” I replied, “He died.” I was too ashamed to tell them that I didn’t know who my father was.

It got all worse, Melanie was born and just a few months later, on the 5th June my granny passed away; heart failure. Damn, God really loved me.

I had to clean every day and every night I had to do the dishes, while Jake sat and did sweet things. Melanie on the hand, all she did was cry her heart out. If I didn’t do what I was told I would get beaten up; sometimes for no reason. Whenever something went wrong I would get the blame.

I just wanted to die, but granny taught me well. Running away never solves anything, plus where would I run to? There wasn’t a night I didn’t cry myself to sleep. I would pray that God would protect me and break me free. My life was hell; a nightmare that had no end.

My childhood left me damaged. So broken that I was too scared to even talk and even more afraid of being judged. When I got involved with someone I would move away before I get hurt. I went through enough hell and couldn’t face anymore. I don’t smoke nor drink. Jake, the apple of my mother’s eye, has been in and out of rehab.

I’m now staying in my own apartment, no kids. All I want is peace and harmony. I’m happy, but still in search of my belonging. I’m working part-time and studying full time at College of Cape Town. Even though my mother mistreated me, I still love her. Thanks to my grandmother who taught me to love the ones who hurt you. Learn to forgive and move on with your head held high.

If you don’t forgive the ones who did you wrong, they will always have a strong hold on you. I refuse to be bitter. I promised myself that one day when I have kids I would love them with every ounce of me. My sister and I do fight, but never physically. She’s smart; a top student. Damn, she has an attitude and she’s so explosive. I always tell her, “Beauty is nothing if you don’t have respect.” Not just for yourself, but towards everyone.

My grandmother would always say, “Respect is everything you have to earn.”

Oh yes, life just got better; lots of laughter. I have two little brothers, Ryan and Cody. I’m over feeling sorry for myself. I’m just focus on what I want to become and with my strong will to survive no matter what obstacle I’m faced with, I know I’ll overcome it.

No matter what, don’t give up. Only you can cheat yourself of happiness. Don’t let anyone get in the way of you and your goals. With self-belief and determination you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. I did, even though I wasn’t raised with a silver spoon. Yes my life wasn’t all roses, but I manage to make the most out of it. Don’t allow your upbringing to determine your destiny.

I’ve been disappointed by someone who I would have given my own life for. And I was deprived of my childhood. I hold no resentment or hatred towards her. I just wish that she would have given me the same amount of love she gave them.