Friday, May 04, 2007

Little Sister Arrives...It is Still All About My Mother

I was three years old and looking forward to having a new sister soon. Some months earlier, while still in my two's, Mom evicted me from my crib into a regular bed. Word has it that I loved my crib so Mom was worried I would resent a new kid coming along and taking it from me. The transition was painless. I didn't care that I was now sleeping in a big bed, in fact, I remember liking the feeling of "growing up". So I think I was more attached to what I did in the crib, sleep, than the crib itself. My mother has consistently through out my life misapprehended my feelings and motives. I guess that habit of hers started really early for me.

I remember the night my mother came home with my new sister. I was in awe. I also remember asking if she was born with that cute little yellow outfit she was in, and all the adults laughing at the question. "No, S, I brought the outfit with me to the hospital." explained my mother. "Babies aren't born with any clothes on." Now there was a shocker for me. Obviously, at three years and three months of age I didn't have a handle on certain subjects yet.

I have come to strongly suspect that my mother as a child had a severe case of sibling rivalry when her first sister came along. My mother was the eldest of three girls, and she was somewhere between two and three years older than her next sister. From well before my sister was born my mother operated on the assumption that I would be upset and angry at having a little sibling. I now think my mother was projecting onto me. I think she was the one who was inordinately attached to her crib. I think she was the one who resented losing her crib to a younger sibling. I think she is the one who hated the little usurper of attention and affection. It wasn't me. It was her.

My mother claims I often asked for a little sister to play with. I have come to suspect that my requests for a sibling were probably prompted by my mother. I can imagine how it likely went down, "S, wouldn't you like to have a little sister to play with?" "S, wouldn't it be fun to play with your dollies with a little sister?" Leading questions. Suggestions. Get the little kid to cooperate in your quest for a new baby to hopefully convince the recalcitrant husband of the need to concede. I have no memory of ever picturing myself with a little brother which is evidence in support of my "desires" having been shaped by my mother. I know my mother didn't picture having a little boy. She wanted another girl. Period. I think she projected her desire for another girl onto me and caused me to wish for the same little girl. My mother's reaction when my first baby was born was disappointment because he was a boy. She acted like it was some kind of tragedy. My mother hates males. Little males or big ones. So, I know she didn't spend any time hoping for a male child for herself. I have the added evidence of her dislike of small boys from the children she baby sat. I saw how she treated them. I saw her unconcealed dislike of their maleness. I have often shuddered at the thought of how my mother would have screwed up the raising of a boy long before I knew anything about narcissism. I remember musing as a young adult that my mother would have likely raised a serial killer if she had had a boy. Serial killer or not, she would have royally f***ed up a boy. As girls, my sister and I at least had a chance at normalcy.

I have some clear memories from before my sister was born, so that means I can remember certain events from the age of two and a half and later. I remember how I felt about having a little sister. I was thrilled. I did not resent her. I wasn't jealous or angry. It never occurred to me to feel those things. Nevertheless, my relationship with my sister was largely shaped by the interference of my mother. At some point my mother managed to create some of what she was assuming was true. I eventually did come to resent my little sister...and now I realize I was justified in those feelings.

Several factors were largely determinate as to how my sibling relationship developed. I've already mentioned one: my mother's projection of sibling rivalry onto my motives. Another factor was that my sister was a wanted child. I was conceived out of wedlock which is why my mother married my father. I was most decidedly not wanted. She told me often through the years that it was a good thing I was such a quiet baby because she doesn't know how she would have handled it if I was difficult. (I do. She probably would have killed me. She intimated as much in later years.) I didn't know until many years later that I was conceived out of wedlock. A lot of things made more sense once I got that piece of information. First child: not wanted. Second child: coveted to the point of screwing over my father. My mother was determined to have another child even though my father only wanted one. Here is how she tells the story:

"When you were born I was so overwhelmed at the responsibility that I gave you to God. I just wasn't ready for the responsibility so I knew I couldn't handle it on my own. But as you became older I realized you needed a sibling. Even though your father didn't want to have another child I knew it was the right thing to do. You needed a sibling. But this time I wanted to keep this child to myself. I told God, 'I already gave you one, this one is for me.' "

She has admitted to me that she "accidentally on purpose" became pregnant with my sister. Notice how she makes her deception of my father, and her not respecting his desire to not have any more children, into a virtue. She did it for me. She was only considering what was best for me. F***ing Mother Theresa she was. When she tells this part of the story she likes to emphasize how often I asked for a little sister. I now doubt I asked unprompted as I explained above. I was always a very happily self-contained little person. I didn't need to be entertained. I would have been a very content single child. I think she has exaggerated my requests to add justification for her dirty little deed. She was the one who wanted a new baby. Not me. Not my dad. It was her idea. Besides that, who depends on the advice of a two year old to decide whether or not another baby should be brought into the family?? How ridiculous she looks when I realize she was using a two year old's "desire" to justify what she did. She doesn't see this ridiculous aspect of her story; she only sees justification for what she unilaterally decided was going to happen.

Another thing her script above reveals is an attitude. I do know she believed she "gave" me to God. I have certain evidences that her belief was a restraint (somewhat) on her behavior. I am very thankful she believed this. So, if her believing she gave me to God shaped her approach to me, then her belief that this second child was hers also shaped her interactions with this child. Regardless of how you or I believe, my mother did believe this way and it shaped my and my sister's life.

Another interesting part of my mother's rendition of this story is how she admitted to this after she had overt evidence that she'd raised my sister into a selfish bitch. She used this story to explain how her selfish desire to keep a child for herself was the beginning of her mistakes in raising my sister. Obviously, there was no denying what a self-centered brat she'd raised so this quasi-confession served as an explanation for her failure at raising my sister. In my sister's defense, part of what my mother considered a "failure" was that my sister wasn't the compliant and obedient kid I was. This was true into adulthood. As a teen my sister was mouthy and cruel to our mother which was Mom getting her own shit dished back to her. My sister got away with things I wouldn't have dreamt of doing or saying. My sister was able to bully my mother because she caught on a lot sooner than I did that my mother was a bully herself. Get in a bully's face and they are likely to back down and run. Unfortunately, my sister chose to become like our mother in order to fight her. Those two were peas in a pod. My mother often confessed that my sister was too much like her which is why they clashed so often. From what I have seen, I'd say she was right about that.

I want to say that when I describe myself as an obedient and compliant child I am not singing my virtue. As I outlined in another post:
  • A forced obedience is no obedience at all, but rather it is slavery.
  • A manipulated obedience is no obedience at all, but deception.
  • A purchased obedience is no obedience at all, but bribery.
  • An obedience rendered in fear of adverse consequences is no obedience at all, but self-preservation.

I was a child with a sensitive nature which could be easily shaped by fear, manipulation and deception. I was a child who deeply desired to please which made me rich fodder for a narcissist mother. Mid way through my teens I started to rebel, but I did it mostly under the radar, sneakily, and in a self-destructive way. Understandable, but not virtuous. I didn't lash out on others. I saved the lashes for myself. I actually admire my sister's early recognition of some of my mother's attempts at mind control. She caught on much sooner than I did that our mother falsely ascribed motives onto us and judged us thereby. I was more prone to brainwashing because I just didn't get it. I trusted my mother to know me better than I knew myself because she impressed this on me very early on. On the other hand, my sister's ways of coping were to take my mother's tools and use them against her and others. She made a decision at an early stage that the ends justifies the means. My admiration doesn't include how my sister chose to cope. She was much more sheltered from my mother's cruel ways at an early age. She was sheltered because my mother indulged her and because I was a shield to certain realities being impressed onto my sister when she was the most impressionable. Not that I was a willing shield. It was because I was the oldest that my mother held me accountable, not just for my behavior, but for my sister's behavior. I think my sister's early years of not being oppressed by my mother is what enabled her to get a "leg up" on the mind control techniques when my mother finally got around to trying to use them on her. I am sure that when Mom decided it was time to start reining in my sister with some good old fashioned mind control that it was a real jolt to my sister. It would have felt foreign. Whereas, for me, those methods had been employed from before I could have any memories of when they began. We tend to accept as normal what has "always been".

This is more than enough for one post. I see now that describing my relationship with my sister is simply another description my mother's narcissism. Narcissism affects every aspect of life. Nothing comes out unscathed by association with it. Remember that when trying to decide whether or not it is healthy for you, or your children, to remain in proximity to it. Narcissism eats away at everything. It undermines every relationship it touches.

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