I was six when my sister Julie was born. For complicated reasons involving both family dynamics and the onset of pre-adolescence I started to hate her three years later. None of it had anything to do with Julie herself, she was just the most obvious scapegoat. She was too young to defend herself (Libby could beat me up even though she was three years younger) but not so young as Dan, who was a baby and therefore off the hook. I was horrible to her for years. I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for it, but I couldn't stop. I did everything I could, and as an older sister my powers were considerable, to make her life miserable.
By the time my angry hormones had calmed down and I had, if not made peace with my parents, at least stopped blaming Julie for their failings (it would be many more years before I forgave them for being
I could not tell her I was sorry. I could not ask her for forgiveness until I was able to forgive myself. I could not forgive myself because I couldn't come to terms with what a terrible person I must have been. I was in my thirties before I started to figure out what could have prompted a nine-year-old to act in such a manner toward someone she was responsible for protecting, and begin to see my younger self as a victim of circumstance, as well as a tormentor.
I grew up in the church. I have been taught so much about forgiveness. Learning how to accept it is the hardest lesson.
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