I remember when I was about 7, my brothers would take my favorite baby doll and play “keep away” for what felt like hours.  I would get so angry I would scream at the top of my lungs, and eventually dig my nails into whatever bare skin was available and try to draw blood.

They would get so angry with me, and my father used to always have the same response, “if you would leave her alone, she wouldn’t draw blood.”  That’s my motto with my boys and they get so mad at me! I’m the youngest of four and the only girl.  I guess I probably don’t need to say much about the teasing I experienced growing up.

My brothers never understood the long term damage they were causing in my young life, and now they have a great deal of guilt and remorse for the problems I have today from their tormenting actions.  For example, to this day I still won’t sing in front of anyone because they always told me I sang like a dying cat.  As a grown woman I still ask myself “Do I really sing like a dying cat?”

They would take my dolls and put gel in their hair and spike it up, then their hair never went back quite right.  They would call me ugly, leave me out of a lot, and being the only girl and the youngest, that made it very hard for me to learn how to be an active part of things.  I was always left to do my own thing.

I think the way they treated me has a lot to do with my self esteem issues.  I felt ugly because I heard it so much, I was anxious around crowds because I was always isolated, I didn’t know how to get along with anyone because I was always in self defense mode because being the target of their jokes.  It was brutal, emotionally devastating, and very hard on me for years.

Now as a mom, I watch my two boys torment and taunt my daughter, picking and poking fun at her, calling her names, and teasing her like my brothers did to me.  I won’t stand for it, I don’t stand for it.  If they are being mean to her she is allowed to retaliate as much as needed until they stop.  They get angry because they get punished and she doesn’t, but they don’t understand the road they are paving for her — but I do.  I hope eventually it will stop.

My brothers never knew the permanent harm they were causing me in their fun, but now as adults they have apologized and feel pretty bad for the way it has affected me.  Unfortunately, I can’t turn back the hands of time, all I can do is break the cycle with my boys and protect my own daughter from the same problems I have faced most of my life.  When she sings, I turn up the music and sing along with her, wondering if she thinks I sing like a dying cat!