I often asked myself, Where did I go wrong? My relationships with my older brother and sister had become awkward and detached, making me uncomfortable around them. Similarly, I am sure they didn’t prefer to be around me either.

Thoughts would run through my mind on why I didn’t have a “cool” relationship with my older siblings; why I couldn’t be close with my older sister; why I became so withdrawn from all four of my siblings.

It seemed to be four against one.

One silly, but probable fact I considered was because I am the middle child. I have an eldest brother and an older sister and a younger brother and a baby sister. Not only that, I am the middle daughter of three girls. With the two older siblings, they were born only two years apart, so it was almost inevitable for them to not be close. Surprisingly, my two younger siblings are eleven years apart, but they seem to have a strong bond with one another and with my two older siblings. So where did I fit in with all of this? Quite too often, I didn’t fit in anywhere.

I was the black sheep among a herd of familial unity.

More evidently, my self-seclusion seed became permanently planted about eight years ago when I found my older brother’s abandoned iPhone between the sofa. Since he had saved enough money to get himself a new one, he gave his old iPhone to our baby sister to play with. Like with any toy or object that a child plays with, it became a lost item. But I happened to come upon it when my own phone fell in between the sofa.

As the curious person that I am, I unlocked the phone and decided to do some investigating. I wanted to see those crazy partying pictures of my eldest brother that all my older cousins and sister kept talking about during family gatherings. I had no intention or idea of discovering what I was going to find— I only wanted to see what, and if, anything was left on the phone that could be scandalous. I guess I now know what they mean when they say, “Curiosity killed the cat.”

My curiosity killed any bond I (could have) had with my siblings.

While meandering through old text messages, I stumbled upon the messages between my older siblings. I can’t clearly remember who was saying what, but I do know that the words I read stabbed at my heart repeatedly, leaving scars that are still raw today. The messages talked about how weird I was and how different I was from my younger siblings and even my cousins. The texts chastised me, ridiculed me, and othered me. I cried, reading text after text after text… But I couldn’t stop scrolling. It was like reading an engagingly morbid novel about the death of a sibling where no one in her family was truly sad that she was forever gone.

Something overcame me and I grabbed my phone and took pictures of the text messages. To this day I still wonder why I did it. Did I want it as some kind of proof? But proof of what? Proof that nobody really loves me? Proof that I’m just an inconvenience to everyone? Proof that my mental illnesses are valid and that I’m not just some weird sibling/child who “doesn’t seem to give a shit” — according to my mother.

I don’t know. I still don’t know.

Those pictures are gone now, though. I don’t know where they went. After going through two phone upgrades and having to upload and re-upload pictures, I lost my proofs. I’m not trying to find them. And I won’t. There is no need.

A loss of proof does not mean it will be forgotten.

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