Soda Can Therapy

My sister, Alya, is one of the most beautiful persons I know. When I was younger, I seriously thought she was so gorgeous, she could be an actress if she wanted.

To this day, I’ll look at her, and it’ll blow my mind how pretty she is. Like, I know looks aren’t everything, but hot damn, my sister is breathtaking!

She has thick, wavy hair with a natural color of burnished gold. Her eyes can switch from a sea blue to a pale green to a steely grey depending on what angle you’re looking at her from (and on what color shirt she’s wearing). She exercises a lot, so she also has a fit physique, complete with trim calves and defined forearms.

Her personality is magnetizing, too.

She’s sprightly and vivacious. She boasts often because she seems to have a wellspring of confidence within her that never runs dry, but it’s always meant in good fun. One of the first dates she went on with her future husband is now a hilarious story, because she insisted she could play tennis extremely well, and when that wasn’t the case, good-natured humor ensued. Her attitude and active mind boost her good looks to the millionth degree.

But it wasn’t always this way.

My sister went through a bit of a “blossoming” phase when she was in high school. That’s when she became the person she is today.

In middle school, she was bullied terribly.

To this day, I don’t know why she was bullied. She was thin, wore glasses, and sported an unfortunate haircut, true. But she was genuinely a great kid. Smart, good-humored. But she was missing the self-confidence which she has now, and I guess that made her a target.

I’m sorry to say I wasn’t aware of her troubles then. I was making the transition to middle school as well, so I was more or less absorbed with what was going on with me. As far as I was concerned, Alya was just my knowledgeable big sister who I hung out with after school.

Alya later told me that she purposefully hid her trials from me. She didn’t want me to know that she was getting bullied. But she did admit there were times she cried before going to bed, dreading school the next day. She developed a habit of grinding her teeth in her sleep, as if she were clenching her entire body before having to dive back into the toxic atmosphere waiting for her.

There was only one time when Alya actually broke down about a situation going on at school. She and I were hanging out with our childhood friend, Mia. The three of us were each other’s closest friends, and nothing was more enjoyable than just kicking back at Mia’s grandparents house, giggling about books we had read and planning our next adventure pretending we were on Middle-Earth.

That day, we were just chugging a bunch of those mini root beers and having a burping contest.

Side note: Yes, we would have burping contests. No, we were not ashamed.

After the contest, Alya told Mia and I about this boy who had bothered her at school. I can’t for the life of me remember what the boy did. All I know was that it upset Alya almost to the point of tears. Not tears of sadness, but tears of frustration and anger.

For a while now, I had been eyeing this sledgehammer that Mia’s grandparents kept in a toolshed, and at that point I had the perfect idea. I suggested we all let off a little steam by using that sledgehammer to pound away our problems. The plentiful amount of root beer cans around us could serve as symbolic stand-ins for the objects of our ire.

Alya, Mia, and I then solemnly proceeded to heft the sledgehammer over our shoulders and then slam it down upon those teeny cans, crushing them flat. It’s a testament to how much soda we guzzled that we were able to do this more than a few times. We decided to give Alya the majority of cans to smash, but there was still enough to go around.

These days, I kind of question whether or not that was healthy for us to do. I mean, we were not shy about naming the situations or people that we were venting our pent-up rage against. Those cans were getting destroyed.

But we felt better afterwards. And that’s all there really is to it.

This soda can therapy in no way fixed Alya’s bullying problem. I can only hope that at least for that afternoon, this one moment helped her feel an ounce more in control of her situation.

Side note: I won the burping contest, I’m 90% sure. Mia and I were always the big contenders in these things. For the life of her, when Alya was young, she just could not burp. She would try, but nothing would come out.

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