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Ariela – Being a Little Sister

dinnerI think that being a younger sibling of a struggling teenager has left a special sort of impact on my life in that it continues to affect me in small ways. A good example of this would be a lasting paranoia throughout our family. I think the best way to describe this is a constant awareness of our actions. For example, if one of us skips a meal, the other two will watch closely to see if this becomes a trend. Back when Rob had just got out of the eating disorder clinic, nobody would use the shower fan, which had been used in the past to cover up sounds of purging. Even now, I am very conscious of how long I spend in the bathroom.

Evidence of the last few years also shows up in the relationship between my parents and me. This mainly resonates in the rules that they make. I am only allowed to do homework or use the computer in the kitchen; this rule started because Rob used to do all of it in his room. Meals are only to be eaten at the table: Rob used to take it to his room and then not eat it. No electronics after bedtime: Rob used to stay up all night on his computer. No electronics during meals: a rule that started in the eating disorder clinic and followed us out. No staying up late, get all school work done before bed time or wake up early: Rob used to procrastinate and then work late into the night.

Other than all that, there is the constant evaluation in my head of whether or not whatever I’m doing is therapeutic boarding school material, and thinking about whether one day my parents will assume I’m doing something bad and ship me off to a wilderness program anyway. Also, this fear for me shows in my parents, constantly watching where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. When I am out, I have to check in and sometimes send a picture. My parents meet all my friends and have strict rules on: what time I have to be home, how I get there if it’s late, and sleepover’s.

Staying home with my parents after the whole fiasco has also brought us closer in many ways. We have been through a lot of trauma together, and through that time I have gotten to be on a somewhat level playing field with them. I felt like we got to work together in a very adult way, where my opinion very much affected their decisions. I think that mindset has helped over the years for them to deal with me as a very headstrong teenager. We got to a point where we could heal together and also address new issues in a way that causes less drama.

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