Stuck in the Middle by Rue

by Hailey

“Oh, oh; Say, that I’m never really wanted but you never know it from the look on my face. And I spend my time at the bottom of the barrel, oh; it’s never easy if you never shoot straight. I’m a junkyard, cowboy, old news, lost cause. I tried my best but it just wasn’t the same.”

These are the lyrics of my favorite song. Catchy? Yes. Sounds pretty cool? Yes. Cryptic? Of course. No one will ever know how deep this song goes and how much it touches me. No one will ever know how many times I told myself that I’ll no longer be just paint on the wall.

Hi. My name is Rue. I grew up in a family of five; a mom, a dad, and two sisters – me being the middle child of course.

I always got along with my older sister. I won’t say her real name, so I’ll give her a pseudonym. Let’s call her Ivy – because she likes that name. Okay – let’s get back to the topic. I like my sister. She always listens to me, she never takes sides, and she gives awesome advice. I’ve always counted on her because she – unlike my other family members – always made some time for me. Whatever problem I had, she always told me that I got her back. Now, thing is, at school, I am living under her shadow. Not only was she a top student (gold medalist, first honors) but extremely talented at almost EV-ERY-THING. She could sing, she could dance, she could play the guitar, she could draw, she could write – you name it. It wasn’t long when I was labeled ‘Ivy’s sister’. They often sought for talent in me (mostly singing) because I was Ivy’s little sister. My chemistry teacher even wanted me to sing in class! Sadly, I’m tone-deaf, so apologies to my classmates whom I have destroyed their ears. Of course, who wouldn’t get annoyed if you were being compared to some whose talents exceed yours and that they are directly related to you? Up until now, I still look at her shining in her spotlight up in the pedestal, waving at her audience.

Before my little sister was born, my parents gave Ivy and I equal attention.  We had the same number of gifts for Christmas, same amount of allowance – everything was definitely equal, until my parents decided to get another kid. Let’s name her Louise or ‘Lou’. So, Lou was obviously prettier than me, fairer, whiter skin; big, innocent eyes; and long silky hair. I got jealous, of course – given that, not only was the equilibrium disturbed at home, but in the extended family as well. Oh, yes, my aunts and uncles, god-fathers, god-mothers, grandma’s and grandpa’s – EVERYONE – favored her. Not only was she absolutely beautiful, but nice as well. How everybody adored the little girl who bat her eyes at anyone who sees her. And I wasn’t surprised when Lou had developed a powerful voice. Jealousy changes everything. I always gave her dirty looks, called her stupid and pathetic and whatnot, but deep down I always loved her. But I never showed it. Soon, I found out that Louise was dyslexic. Just because Lou was pretty, didn’t mean I had attention for myself. But when my parents told everyone about Lou’s dyslexia, all that attention somehow vanished and magically appeared towards Lou. And I hate her for it.

My parents were successful people. Both my parents were doctors, thus I lived a very comfortable life. I have an iPod, and Samsung Galaxy for my cell phone. My family owns three laptops, a PC and our house is WiFi. I wore branded clothes and shoes. I had a Casio electric piano, and three guitars (two of which are mine) sitting in the corner of my room. I studied in one of the most prestigious schools in my city, and lived in a private neighborhood. But since both my parents were busy, I never got to spend much time with them. And when they do have time, they spend it on giving Ivy some advice from when she graduates to college or on teaching Lou so she could learn how to read easily. I was always so quiet at home, and I often isolated myself in my room; thus, I was dubbed as ‘the easy one’. So, they gained little trust from me since no time was given for me.

At school, I am – not the paint on the wall – but the tiles on the floor. I had a group of friends. There are four of us – Andrea, Lee and Desiree. Lee was probably the one I could count on. Andrea was stubborn, and we’ll always fight – but we find our way back into friendship. Desiree was the girl genius, really quirky, but awesome nonetheless.

It wasn’t long when I went into high school and that Desiree got into one of the smartest boarding schools. So I was left with Andrea and Lee. It was weird having only one giant lunch table to only three people. Pray tell, it was hard for Lee with Andrea and I fighting over stupid things. Soon, I realized that I belonged in the group of oddballs. I was unaware of having MCS, but my parents, Ivy and my friends knew. The psychiatrist said not to let me know, because it will get worse. I found out anyway, and I felt detached. I was lonelier than ever.

The popular group soon found it entertaining to walk all over us, pick us up and then walk on us again. I didn’t care really, but that just made it worse. A guy whom I’ve had a crush on since 3rd grade became a good friend and nothing more. I soon learned that he liked one of the snotty girls, and he began to ignore me. Not only was I practically invisible – at home and at school – but battered with use. I didn’t like showing how miserable I was, so I bottled it up all the same with my feelings for Ivy and Lou.

In my second year of high school, Andrea left the country and went to USA (I am not American, but it seems like it, huh?). It was even more awkward to have two people sitting at one giant lunch table than having only four sitting on it. We were getting along fine without Andrea and Desiree, but then, someone up there definitely hated me. A vein in Andrea’s brain somehow ruptured, and Lee, Desiree and I soon found out that Andrea was born with Brain Aneurysm. She was rushed to the hospital. Luckily, she was in the US. But she was miles away from us.

I got so upset that when my parents came to collect me for lunch I just snapped. Just like that. I remember yelling at them to leave me alone because I was already so used to being by myself. Then they started talking about things I really didn’t care about. Saying that they understood what it was like but I know they’re wrong. They don’t know anything. I remember kicking my dad’s shoulder because he tried to carry me out of my room. My mom yelled at me, and stormed out. But my dad decided to stay and lecture me even more. I hated it. He left eventually and I decided to write a rant on a notepad (since, over the years, I developed a talent in writing). I wrote about knowing that I had MCS. I wrote about how much I hate my sisters for being so perfect or for being so needy and difficult. I wrote about how much I alienated myself because I felt comfortable alone. I wrote about my snobby classmates, and that the guy I liked (and still do) preferred one of the snobby girls. I wrote about how much I hated my parents for not sticking up for me when I needed them most and for trying to pry down the walls I set up between us. I practically wrote down how much I did not trust them, and that only a few deserved it.

I was feeling a little better when I finished, so I folded it neatly and eased it in my pocket. I went for a nap, but when I woke up, the note was gone. I shrugged it off and said that it probably just slipped and when somebody would pick it up they’d throw it away. Later that night, my mom came into my room and had a little chat with me. Apparently my dad came into my room to check up on me and nicked the note out of my pocket. She said that I was not the only daughter in the house and that she had other problems. Lou was dyslexic and Ivy was away in college so my parents needed to adjust without her around. She said that she loves me but I did not believe her. I didn’t listen to her. I still did not trust her.

Up until now, still fourteen and still immature, I cannot bring my brain to register all my parents had said to me. None of it made sense, since they never had a friend who had a brain injury. And after all these years, I was able to classify the difference between people saying they understood with a person who really knows what it feels like. So I categorized my parents in the people who say they understood. I began dropping one name after another in my little box of ‘people who say they understand’ and soon I had a pile of names. Only four made their way into the ‘people who knows what it feels like’ box and I’m guessing you already know that. I never ask for much. I just wanted people to give me more time. Because it all seems that, after all this time, people would just give me half their time for something stupid than with someone who has feelings. Obviously, no one cares, but I am a person too.

I still have a lot to learn. My mind may even change. This is all in the view of the fourteen-year-old me. Let’s get back to the song, shall we?

“Oh, I’m letting it go. I know that I’m caught right in the middle of; I’m in between it all. Oh, I’m done with this half way love that I’m here right in the middle of. And all I’m asking is to give me more; more than this heartbeat I’m stuck in the middle of.”

- Rue

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shannon Johnson October 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Hi, Rue. I am a 31 year old mother of three. I want to thank you for sharing your feelings about being “the middle child”. My 10 year old son, Eric,who is the middle child, displays some behaviors that I do not understand. I often become irritated with him, especially when he demands so much attention from everyone in the family. You helped me understand what might be going on in his mind, and why he responds to me and his siblings the way he does.

Thank you, Rue. Please don’t hold in your feelings. They’ll eat at you like a cancer. Know that you matter and that, sometimes, parents don’t always make the best decisions, say the right things, or think the right way. However, you can believe your parents love you very much. Parents have challenges to overcome, too, so give them a chance. Older siblings are usually thought to set the pace for all the other children; the “baby” or youngest sibling(s) are usually demanding (i.e. of time, interest, space, etc.). I know that understanding, or at least “hearing”, this does not fix what has happened to you. However, it may help change your perception and perspective of the roles of each family member in your household.

Unfortunately, parents do, often, pay more attention to the children who are multi-talented because they are, likely, involved in so much, but, due to age, are dependent upon their parents for transportation and financial investments into their interests. Likewise, the younger children or children with disabilities or other life-altering circumstances require more attention because they are limited in their knowledge of “the best route”; they need an adult to help provide the support they need in order to function well.

Talk to your parents when you are not angry and when they are not angry. When you’re angry, you tend to say and do things that you may not mean, or, you may be misunderstood; your actions may be misinterpreted as disrespect or selfishness, when, in fact, you have very valid concerns and understandable emotional responses.

Do your best to love your siblings, and be open to share in their lives. Don’t seclude yourself. Enjoy your family; it’s the only one you have, so make the best of it. This will help your parents be aware of you and open to hear you when they see your positive interactions with everyone. Remember this: You will get the love you give in return in remarkable ways. Believe me – it may not come the way you want it from whom you want it, but it happens, and you’ll be a better person for it.

Forgive, forgive, forgive. I can’t stress it enough. Let it go … forgiveness is for you, not for them. When you’re free to be you and free to love them, your world changes forever. You’re no longer in prison, containing all your thoughts and feelings inside your heart and mind, when you forgive. You don’t have to continue to live in someone else’s shadows. Create your own space; take the time to discover what really makes you unique, and then allow others to celebrate you, whether it’s your family, friends, or extended relatives. You are worth someone’s time and genuine love. I pray that your parents’ hearts, minds, and eyes will open so that they can see and hear you from a different perspective (your perspective).

Tell your dad you’d like to go out on a daddy-daughter date, just you and him, to talk and spend time together. If he agrees, use this time to tell him everything – - everything you feel, think about, dream about, and aspire to do and be! Don’t be afraid…

Tell your mom you want “girl time” with her (time all your own). Ask her if she can get a babysitter for your younger sister, if need be, or if your father or other family member(s) can hang out with her for a while, and you two go and have a great time. Perhaps, on the day/night you have “daddy-daughter time”, your younger sister could be having “girl time” with your mother, and vice versa.

I pray that your parents discern your hunger for their attention. You want to get it the right way, though, not the wrong way. So, I also pray that you do not, because of your hunger for their acceptance, affection, and attention, go after “wrong” people or things to satisfy that hunger.

Lastly, know that God loves you (He isn’t that “someone up there” that sits around, playing with your life just to see how angry He can get you). He doesn’t hate you; He loves you more than you could ever imagine. He knows how you feel, and, if you’ll let Him, He’ll do something about it. It may not be what you think you want, but it will certainly be what you need and what He knows you want, ultimately. Know that He accepts you. He knew your birth order; He made you in His image; and He has plans for you beyond your wildest dreams.

Don’t give up, Rue! Be encouraged! It won’t always be like this; it’ll turn around.

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Rue November 11, 2012 at 2:59 am

Hello, Shannon. ^^

It’s difficult trying to find time from my parents since they’re always so busy (being doctors and all). I can’t even get them to sign my permission slips and exam papers. But, nevertheless, I’ll take your advice.

The school principal actually sought that ‘feature-writer’ in me and my music teacher signed me up for some student-orchestra thing. Not to be vain and all, but I am multi-talented. I have been involved in swimming lessons (and ended up being a part of some swim team that I quit ’cause I didn’t feel like it) and became the secretary for the school’s digital arts club. The school also signed me up for this division’s journalism contest and is currently training me for it. Thing is – my folks aren’t giving me a shot at it. I go home pretty late because of all these clubs in my way and when they come to fetch me, they’re pretty angry at how much time I consumed. They’re still proud at how far I got anyway.

All that set aside, thanks. :)

P.S. Please tell your son some kid on the Internet said ‘Hi.’. Haha.

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