This is Jennifer, and she has a confession to make. She’s spent a lot of time hating someone very close to her, and now she’s bitterly ashamed of herself. This is her story.
She has a younger sister, Stella. She was 4 years old when her sister was born, and she remembers that she was really enthusiastic to have a little baby sister who she could play with. Well, she was still a baby herself, to be fair. But things went awfully wrong from the very beginning.
Stella was born underweight and had to be kept in the hospital. She struggled for weeks, and all the family’s relatives and friends worried about her. In the meantime, Jennifer was forgotten by everyone. Just three weeks previously, she had been the center of everyone’s attention; everyone played with her and gave her presents, and now everyone was talking only about Stella – no one even wanted to know how Jennifer was! So she found an inventive way to attract the adults’ attention to herself: she threw tantrums. But her parents very soon explained to her that a tantrum doesn’t make everyone forget Stella, and that she should be less selfish.
To be honest, she got very offended, but this passed totally unnoticed by everyone. When they finally brought Stella home, Jennifer felt nothing when she looked at that ugly screaming creature. She couldn’t play with her as they had promised. But at least she finally got her parents back! But no one was ready to spend all day playing with her any more – her parents had other, more important things to do, such as taking Stella to the doctors. Jennifer had to learn to mind her own business and to live with only half of the attention that was supposed to be all hers.
Then she went to school. Things didn’t improve. Stella remained a sickly child, and her parents were constantly dedicating their time, effort and money to curing one illness after or another. And all the while, Jennifer was just an ordinary kid with her school, hobbies, and friends. Her parents gave her attention, but not as much as she needed, and she solved her problems pretty much on her own. Her attitude to her parents became very bitter, and she started detesting that helpless monster of her sister.
When Jennifer became a teenager, things got even worse. It was always “Stella this, Stella that”, while it seemed that since she herself was no longer a child, her parents assumed their job done. She tried to rebel to get more attention, to ask for help, even to talk to them. This is when her parents explained to her that they loved her a lot, but they saw her as an independent person who didn’t need that much support. “Look Jenny, you’re strong, you can literally cope with everything! Stella is weak, she’s sick all the time, who will take care of her? But you won’t have any problems whatever the situation. We’re so proud of you!” Yeah, pride is great, but what about a bit of support?
The worst episode occurred when she was due to go to a new school in another city, and therefore had to move away from her parents for the school term. She’d been asking her parents for ages to buy her a guitar. Everything seemed fine – her sister went to school, and Jennifer thought that finally they would have a well-balanced family. She didn’t communicate much with Stella – she had little in common with her, and wasn’t eager to talk to her when she tried awkwardly to start a conversation. And she was sure that she would get her guitar. Then suddenly Stella got some lung infection and had to stay home for a couple of months, and after that the doctors said that her parents needed to take her to the seaside to convalesce for at least a month. Guess what Jennifer got in return? “Oh sorry dear, a month at the seaside is expensive, can you wait a bit?”
She was furious. Again, that little princess got everything, and now she had to leave home like a stray dog! She didn’t even try to reason with her parents that time, she just left boiling with anger and disappointment. She even imagined how wonderful life would be without Stella, and didn’t feel any sympathy towards her. Those feelings didn’t fade away during the term and she came home all bitter for Christmas. When suddenly, the time came for giving presents. And Jennifer was amazed to see Stella bring out a guitar.
She couldn’t understand what was going on. She knew her parents didn’t have any money. Stella said that it was a present from her personally. She confessed that she’d felt bad for being the reason why their parents hadn’t got Jennifer her guitar, so she spent all her personal savings on one, and even did some odd jobs during the autumn to collect money. Jennifer just broke down in tears. Now she’s trying to improve her relationship with her parents and her sister. She’s learned that hating someone without really knowing them well is childish and can backfire on you.