“I grew up with eight siblings and while some call it a blessing, for me, it actually couldn’t be further from the truth,” says 61-year-old Anne who recalled her childhood as the worst time in her life.
“Nothing I ever did was good enough for Mum and Dad. Mum’s favourites would get away with murder,” Anne says.
Anne calls her family ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘chaotic’. Her siblings were extremely competitive and jealous of each other and it didn’t help that her mum played favourites.
While the favourites played with other kids in the neighbourhood until dark, Anne and her other sister Sally would actually slave in the kitchen. After all they were the eldest.
By the time both of them reached their early 20s, they realised they had neglected much of school over housework and were never sent to study in college.
“My heart was crushed and shredded into pieces when mum and dad sold land just to send the younger siblings abroad,” Anne says.
Decades after that, Anne found herself to be the most underachieving sibling, financially. The others had built property portfolios, travelled and lived abroad, met and married rich men and ran their own companies.
“I became extremely embarrassed about my situation. All my younger siblings were doing way better than I was and I felt like a failure,” Anne says.
But one day, things changed. Anne suffered a mild heart attack.
A few months later, she recovered and from that moment on, realised that she had been fixated on the wrong things.
“I thought that was it. That I was going to die,” Anne says.
“Oddly, when your life flashes in front of you, you don’t see money, houses or status.
“All I thought about was my children and my grandchildren and how I was lucky to have them in my life.
“Some people don’t get to enjoy that and there I was… eight children and 12 grandkids.
Although all her siblings were either comfortable or very well off, they faced different challenges. Two of her sisters didn’t have any kids of their own and were miserable about it. One of her sisters was cheated on and mentally abused by her husband repeatedly causing her kids to live a very troubled life.
“I realised that I failed to see things from a different angle and that money wasn’t the answer to everything,” Anne says.
“I was determined that even if I only had another year to live, I wanted that year to be full of love. Love is family, happy experiences and you don’t have to be rich or famous to achieve that,” she says.
Although Anne did feel like she had wasted most of her life feeling inadequate, jealous and left behind, she reminded herself to think about the things that matter.
“I’m so grateful to have made it this far in life. Age has taught me to be proud of things that matter,” Anne says.
“Just because I’ve had a sh*t life, it doesn’t mean that I can’t make the rest of it beautiful.”