When I was younger, being different from the people around me and not fitting in were absolutely horrible. The only time that I came close to ‘fitting in’ was when I would get in trouble for what other people did. I remember once my cousins and younger sister were torturing my cat. We had a bunk bed, they put my cat in a small child backpack and would let her drop from the top bunk. When she fell, they grabbed the back, tossed it back onto the top bunk and let it fall again. I was being the ‘oddball’ by not finding it amusing. I literally had gotten to the point of crying while trying to stop them. So finally I told on them and they were told to stop. I was then punished for tattling on them because “They’re family, blood is thicker than water, you don’t tell on family.” They were then given ice cream and I wasn’t. Afterwards my toys were taken away for 2 months due to tattling  then I was in even more trouble when my mom found out that I had beat up my younger sister when she tried to suffocate the cat with a pillow. For me, that was the beginning of understanding my family’s rules and it was the first time that I gladly took the punishment (spanked, not allowed to be alone EVER, and absolutely no social life, toys, or fun until my mother said so. I was to come home from school, do my homework and sit quietly at the dinner table until instructed otherwise). My younger sister wasn’t punished for what she did to the cat, but I saw myself as winning in the end. Yes, I had made my life worse, but she never hurt the cat again, and I was the only person who the cat was nice to in the house. Every time my younger sister walked down the hall the cat would attack her, the cat would wait near our bedroom door and every time she tried to go into our bedroom, the cat would attack her. So in the end, I thought that my punishment didn’t really matter because things had improved from how they were for the cat and my younger sister had learned a lesson.
I remember in middle school my cousins had started bullying me. They antagonized me and spread rumors. They even encouraged others to do the same. I started fighting back and standing up for myself, and then my cousins twisted it to me bullying others and being ‘weird’. I stated my case to my mother, but she didn’t believe me since after all  I was known for not fitting in, and I was outnumbered, so I obviously was lying.
That led to open season for me because from that point on everyone knew that no matter what they did, I couldn’t do anything back. My mother had put the ban on me ‘starting anything’. But after a while I realized that I couldn’t physically beat my cousins or family, so, I decided to use my lack of freedom to my advantage. Reading and school were my escapes from life and soon, I found that no matter how much or little I did socially in school life, my cousins would constantly report back that I had done ‘bad things’. But, I realized that I needed to focus on things that would better my future, rather than wallow in my own pity about how unfair and how shitty of a hand I had been dealt.
But in the end, I’ve found that I’m reverting more and more to my original goofy self, the me that I had to keep locked away for so long because it was bashed through my head constantly that I was to not be myself, but the self that my family saw fit and acceptable to be part of the family. And the environment else where did not allow me to be goofy and silly, so I had to keep my skin thick and my bite hard. The end result is a silly, nerdy and goofy girl who melts at the sight of animals, but who also is very untrusting of others, willing to fight anyone who wants to start things, who is rebellious, doesn’t really care for others, has an attitude and big authority issues.
Since I’ve moved and have seen life and have been able to live my own life more and more completely on my own, I’ve noticed that my family is much like a cult. We had our ‘leader’ who was the eldest person in the family (my grandmother from my mother’s side). What she said went, and my mother is now in charge since she is the eldest woman. Everyone has to do things together and conform and fit in together. Each generation does things at around the same time. They have kids at around the same time, they all live together at around the same time, they all went to college at around the same time, they all stopped going to college at around the same time, they all got around the same grades in school, they all think the same.
If one person looks at a picture and says “I see a duck.” Then everyone else sees a duck. I was the only one who would see an elephant or an apple, and was told ‘No, it’s a duck. There is nothing else but a duck. How dare you say it’s something other than a duck.’

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