Now You Are 24

Dear Shrimp,

Recently I’ve begun to believe that if we weren’t related you wouldn’t like me as a person at all. That you wouldn’t be friends with me in another life because I’m “too much.” That you only tolerate me because we’re siblings, so close in age, our father’s only children. That you only love me because you have to.

I’ve been thinking this more and more lately. I’m trying to keep reminding myself that this is a stupid thing to think, that it’s pure paranoia, that it’s textbook fear of abandonment. I always call you “my best friend” but I don’t think I am yours. Sometimes you look at me in this exasperated way and I think, “Oh my God, he fucking hates me.” Then I think about it some more and it becomes more and more true and I cry and cry. Then I remember that my brain is unwell and that it is trying to kill me with bad thoughts and that these bad thoughts aren’t always trustworthy. Then I remember things that you and others have said, and I remember what we’ve survived together and I think, “Of course he’s my bestest matest! Of course he doesn’t hate me! He could never hate me!” But then I’m not sure if that thought is trustworthy and so the cycle of doubt and fear plays out in a never ending loop to the point where it’s just a load of shouting in voices that I don’t recognise and I no longer know what’s right or real or true at all.

I thought we were untouchable, that my illnesses and stupid thoughts and behaviours and moods would never come between us. I’m frightened that’s what’s happening now because I keep panicking about you disliking me and I keep doubting the strength of our bond. I don’t like it one bit. I am trying so hard not to allow my brain do this to me but it’s often the worst, most damaging thoughts that appear in perfect clarity, uninvited and unwarranted but seemingly logical, rational, even essential. I’m glad you don’t understand what I’m talking about. We’re different and the same in a million ways. It’s me and you against the world, kiddo – always has been, always will be. I can’t let myself let you down. But one of my biggest fears is that one day, I will.

I’m sorry I had a black eye and swollen face when I met you on your birthday. I’m sorry I didn’t have a coat because I’d torched it the night before when “I just fancied making a fire.” I’m sorry for being a permanent mess. I’m sorry for all the hospital rooms and police cars. I’m sorry for generally being a pain in the arse. I’m sorry for that manic email about different brands of butter. I’m sorry for embarrassing you. I’m sorry for being your responsibility.

I want to be better; to be the sister you deserve. I’m so fucking proud of you every day. Dad would be too. Ily broseph! xxx

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