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Freedom Within Failure

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Within every family roles are assigned. And no matter how much we change, learn and grow when we come home, that specific place is still there waiting for us. This feeling is warm, it’s familiar; it’s the smell of your favorite home made dinner, it’s the playful smile that dances across a sibling’s face when they are about to trick you. For the most part this place, this sea of normality is where we all feel most comfortable. Here we settle into the roles that have been assigned to us, amongst our parents and siblings. We morph effortlessly into the cookie cutter versions of ourselves, and for some; this where they remain.

Then there are those times when the roles are switched. For me this time came my sophomore year of high school when for the first time in my life, my role, my place, my identity within my family, altered. My older brother became the one who needed taking care of, who needed protection and who needed me to be strong. I felt this change begin to rattle me, shake me; it started to blur, twist and distort the carved out lines that kept my family in place, but I tried to hold on. I attempted to build up a façade of courage that, at fifteen, simply wasn’t there. And then one day that barrier crumbled, then one day I failed. It was the morning after another night of hushed tones and phone calls from doctors that I wasn’t supposed to hear, I walked into school that day, with no intention of reporting to my classes, but with every intention of not being home, not dealing with, not witnessing my big brother at his weakest. After hours of wandering the halls and attempting to avoid teachers’ and school official’s suspicious eyes, the lunch bell finally rang. With watery eyes and heaviness within my chest, I made a beeline for my best friend, sat down and began to cry. I don’t remember moving, but all at once I was outside, with my friend, cell phone in hand, coaxing my mother to please pick me up. I had failed. At that point in my life, when all I needed to do was be more than the little sister, the sensitive teenage girl of the family, I couldn’t do it. I had failed my family, and myself. I felt defeated, broken and small, but looking back, I also know there was a sense of freedom in that failure, an honesty and a truth that needed to be released. When I arrived home that day and looked into Sean’s tired eyes, I realized to be weak, to hit rock bottom, to have your core jarred and your identity forsaken are the steps we must take towards courage and towards strength.





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