We were twins. OK maybe not “technically”, but I never knew life without her. I was 15 months old when she was born. Contrary to popular rumor, (that was probably started by a grandma somewhere who had severe empty nest syndrome) breastfeeding IS NOT birth control! She is proof!
As children we were attached, if one of us got time out, the other went to sit in time out as well. We were partners in crime, at ages 4 and 5 we conspired to steal and eat our grandmothers chocolate cake while our dad was in the shower… he figured it out, but I don’t think he got any cake. I may have tattled on her when she decided to cut her own hair, little did we know, she actually has a talent as a hair stylist. We played together at recess, and all of our friends were mutual.
We couldn’t have been more different, in fact we still are polar opposites, she is everything I am not, blond, tall, big blue eyes, big butt (If this is being read in a future where anorexia is back “in”, just bear in mind that big butts are all the rage right now), she’s a dancer, a singer AND an artist. She is has a big personality, as a Gemini she is nearly impossible to pin down, she’s always wherever the drama is, and will surprise the shit out of you when she is suddenly completely down to earth, understanding, and will bend over backwards to help you because most of the time she is blunt and tactless… although always truthful… whether you like it or not. (That last part may be a family trait, come to think of it.)
I am 5 feet (short) tall, I have brown eyes that I call hazel because sometimes they change, and it makes me feel like I have some individual, and defining characteristic that the rest of us brown eyed girls never get complemented on. I have brown hair, no rhythm, and I can draw stick figures, which is the extent of my artistic ability. My only claim to fame is that I am a writer. I am a Pisces. And growing up I was very sweet, quiet, overly emotional, and sensitive. Even though I was the older sister, I relied on her to be the things I wasn’t, SHE stood up for ME, when I was bullied, she came to my rescue when I got hurt or cried, she was basically my big sister. MY whole life I have gotten away with being… a princess, I guess. I managed to always find someone to do what needed to be done, my sister and my friends used to have homework pow wows where we would all do all of my math homework for the week (I was in independent studies, and I am terrible at math, if we wanted to hang out, we as a group would do my homework.) To this day I do not have a drivers license (long story), even in my jobs I have managed to get away with not doing things… or doing things that I shouldn’t. There have been times where I get so frustrated because it always seemed like it was easier for people to do things FOR me, instead of teach me how to do it. I have had to force people to teach me things, or I have become a master at Googling. It’s not that I am not smart, it’s that people seem to LIKE helping me. All of this started with my sister, who probably didn’t want to be the youngest, or maybe she noticed my weakness, and instead of exploiting them, she spent years helping me cover them up.
What you are not expecting, is that my bombshell little sister was teased mercilessly from 5th grade to 8th grade. She had what you call “baby fat” she didn’t overeat, at least not initially, eventually she did use food as comfort, which only made the situation worse. I don’t even know if she was teased for being “fat”, or if there were other things… but I do know that this was the same age that my sister began to notice that she is not like other girls. While she had typical crushes on boys, she also had crushes on girls. It’s funny, we both had the same feelings, but again, the way things played out couldn’t be more opposite. Her defense mechanism was to be mean. She turned into a bully, a bully that was bullied. I remember people telling me how mean my sister was, and I didn’t get it. She wasn’t mean to me, and she always stood up for me. During that time I was too self absorbed to pay attention to what was going on with my little sister. She was having problems at church and school, and I wasn’t. I was never “popular” but I had a lot of friends, I have the ability to get along with just about anyone. (I think it was more my need to be liked and accepted though, because now, as an adult, I am very particular about my friendships, and I listen to my intuition about people.)
I was the squeaky wheel in the family. So while everyone was paying attention to me (I had depression, and an eating disorder) and taking me to therapy, and checking in on me… and grounding me (Ask my friends, I spent at least 2 full years grounded). No one paid attention to her. No one saw that she was sad, lonely and confused. I don’t think she even felt like she could say anything, about anything. I don’t know if she felt it would matter? My Sophomore year, her Freshman year was a turning point, I had switched to a new school (yes, I was the diva of the family who needed to change schools… I did this several times before Independent Studies became the obvious solution) and she started selling drugs, my moms medications, I think. She had already been doing other students homework for cash, for a few years. She must have felt gypped when she did my homework, anyway, from what I remember this was the year that she started using. The previous year we had dabbled in drinking and smoked pot, but it was really experimental, at least for me. It’s a trip to me that she managed to get loaded while we lived in our dad’s house. I mean, he was not only sober, but he worked in rehabs our whole lives! Maybe that’s why my vice became an eating disorder, instead? I have to confess I had no clue what was going on with her at this point. We lived in the same house, but we didn’t really talk. She really must have felt invisible then.
It wasn’t until the day she came stumbling home (and by home I mean our mom’s house, we had moved in full time with her at this point) after vanishing for 3 days, and she was a mess. She was obviously loaded, I don’t know what she was using, but it was obvious. She then proceeded to molest my boyfriend at the time. I was horrified, and more horrified, I think because I realized that not only had I not realized she’d been gone so long, no one else had either. This was the first time I called my dad and said that she needed help. This was the first time she went to rehab. Little did I know, she would go 5 more times.
I confess that I don’t know her current sobriety date, but I do know it’s been about 4 years, and the last time she went into Treatment it was thanks to a phone call from me to my dad… again. But this time was different than the other times to me, she’s changed. I feel like I have a friend again. The best part is, she is painting again. I mentioned earlier that my sister is an artist, well I feel like it’s an understatement. A lot of people claim artistic ability, her art, is unbelievable. There is something about the way she puts her soul on canvas, actually, she paints the way I write, she completely opens herself up, and puts it out there. There is a vulnerable honesty that I see when I look at her paintings. I am so happy she has found a healthy way to be noticed, and not just to be seen, but to be understood. Something she has needed for years. And as her big sister, I want to publically acknowledge my little sister, her talents, her accomplishments, and her strength.
She came out about 8 years ago, and I think that was one of the proudest moments of my life, I felt like she had finally began to find herself… my heart also broke knowing what a hard road she had in front of her. Some of our family members have completely written her off, she has been shamed, guilted and rebuked for her “choice”. I know, from personal experience that whom you love, is not a choice, yes there are decisions in love, but the heart you are drawn to has nothing to do with gender. I have been bisexual since I can remember, and for whatever reason I never felt like it was wrong. In fact, I felt like denying that part of myself was unnatural. I am happily married and madly in love with my husband, however, it would not have surprised me if my soul mate had been a woman. Even though her path is not easy, I think the one gift I have given my sister is my 100% support. I have fought for equality passionately, because I am fighting not only for what I believe to be “right”, not only for myself, and anyone else who deviates from the norm, I am fighting for my little sister.
Feel free to check out her are pages, you can follow her on
Instagram, her name is Shonlieberman
and order her original art here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/darshonna?ref=search_shop_redirect
or order her prints here: http://twenty20.com/shonlieberman