*Notes from a conversation with my (1953) sister

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The following notes are from a January 5, 2010 conversation with my sister (I took notes as she talked from point of view as my sibling and my mother’s child) when she was here visiting for a few days this winter:

We were never allowed to have our own thoughts and feelings – we knew this innately, so we “snuck it” – didn’t talk personal with each other.  Faking feelings felt normal.

We could never express needs – didn’t know it was ‘odd’ not to have needs.

Walking on egg shells – all had to be extremely sensitive – had to mind read.  Always hypervigilant, never relaxed.

All kids were always afraid that what happened to Linda could always happen to me (abuse did happen at times) – [all kids knew mother’s attacks on Linda were not deserved, so knew it was very possible at any moment it could happen to others) – Conditional love – mom didn’t do it to Cindy, no litany for Cindy, but knew it COULD happen – all knew it could happen to them – always afraid

No social interaction outside the family – only two of six kids even now can relate in groups

All good feelings came from what Cindy did – mom = always comparing kids

Hated feeling survivor guilt – as a child would have traded places with Linda

All kids put to bed without supper, Cindy was kept up [singled out] – felt better when she was included in the banishment – hated “except for Cindy”

Being singled out for no reason at all – she never ‘bought it’ and always knew better.

Too much pressure – “I am only worth what I can do for you – sum of my actions.”

Like wild children – could never ask a question (‘set her off’) – no one to offer adult perspective to help kids interpret the world – we were dumped into the world — no shared joys in exploration – no idea what would set her off – could never share feelings – no normal talk as kids not afraid of adults

Had to have Mom’s thoughts – her’s or none at all – couldn’t have hers, but couldn’t have own – changes how mind works – 100% not thinking about self – always interpreting cues, placate other, avert a blow-up

“Be good enough” to avert blow-up and people will like me and be nice to me – “I spoiled mom”

IMPORTANT:  I always knew she was odd – forced to spend time with her to be her friend – never about Cindy – adolescence = came to fantasize and continued into adulthood – getting something out of doing something you didn’t want to do [for mother] – had to do whatever she said, like a robot.  Nothing was ever all good.  No choice, whether wanted to or not – no thoughts of own so easy to brain wash.

When mother became religious, went to youth groups, age 13-15 with 28 year old men, “allowed to be touched in cars, etc.” all mixed up with Chritianity = religious abuse.

Cindy did what the adults said to do – like defenseless needy hungry pigeons – perfectly set up – needed approval — didn’t start paddling my own boat until I was 40 – no idea I could direct change in my own live – floating as on a leaf.  “Where’s my paddle?” – don’t go down rapids without a paddle.  We were paddleless.

No joy in adventure.  Try to affect your course.  Humans don’t do well with powerless.  We were not equipped to have power.

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