Walking down Memory Lane

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by New Leaf, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    I am the middle child.

    We are four, the first three born in rapid succession, then five years between my sis and I. Older brother and sister had some time to bond as toddlers until the dreaded baby came- me. I say this because my childhood memories good and bad are intertwined with intense, merciless teasing by my older siblings. It seems they had a pact to either get me to stick things up my nose(raisin) or eat stuff(dirt, wooden game piece) but the number one objective was to get me to cry.
    I remember Mom and Dad telling me to be tough, to just ignore them. In their defense I think they were trying to prepare me for the world outside. Yankee toughness, keep a stiff upper lip. I don't remember brother and sister getting into trouble much for this behavior. This reinforced their teasing, and eventually taught me to "stuff" my feelings.
    Cry I did. I am sensitive. It is the artist in me. I learned to cry in my room or out in the woods, somewhere safe and private. I got no empathy for crying in front of them, it only made things worse.
    My sister made a "go-for"of me. One day, I dared stand up to her, "Get it yourself" I said. After that, all bets were off. The meanness came on triple fold.
    She found my diary and read it to the neighborhood kids. When I was going to enter the same middle school her instructions were, "If you see me, do NOT tell me hi, do not try to make friends with my friends they are MY friends, not yours. She had one of her friends call me up to "ask me out" I could hear her and her friends all laughing in the background. Etc. etc. etc.
    I was an awkward child, my sister, the popular one. I didn't have a name for myself in high school "Oh are you Sue 's sister?" kids would say.
    I think this went beyond sibling rivalry. I felt for years that something was wrong with me, at 13 I hated being home, it was not my safe place.
    Our family moved from the East coast to Hawaii when I was in the 5th grade. Moved back East after 7th grade, then to Hawaii again in the 10th grade. I loved Hawaii, my brother and sis didn't. Those were trying times. I was a lonely kid. Not a loner, I had friends, lonely at home.
    This is from my past, my childhood. It is a part of my life that has shaped me. I love my brother and sister, we have become friends in our adult life but this stuff, these memories do not leave me. I do not dwell on them, they surface here and there triggered by an old song, a familar smell, an old movie. I have come to accept the feelings, not the ill treatment.
    We don't get together often because of the distance, I settled in Hawaii, the family one by one, ended up back east.
    This trip, after a few glasses of wine, and a stroll down memory lane, we were talking about old times. When I was 13, I wanted to go to the fair with my friend. My Mom said no. I was desperate to get out of the house, to be with someone who treated me kindly. So I went. I think it was one of the first rebellious things I did. Long story short, we stayed at the fair too long and were so afraid to go home. We ended up sleeping in the hay in the sheep barn. That's where the police found us and brought us home. Boy, was I in trouble. That story has been one of the notorious recollections of memory lane. It was brought up again at lunch at brothers house. Age, stress, wine, loosened my tongue. The feelings surfaced and I quietly said " I wasn't trying to run away I just needed to get out, I hated being home." Emotions took over and escaped. Looking at my brother and sister I blurted out " You guys teased me relentlessly, you were 4$$#0}€S! (Shocked silence filled the room) and I continued tears filling my eyes (inner voice repeating-I will not cry, I will not cry, oops too late) " You tortured me, I hated myself and felt like a nothing, I hated being at home". I recounted the stories told above. An awkward silence was broken by my sisters protest " I don't even remember doing that stuff, you've got to move on. My brother echoed in the background adding "That was forty five years ago." I quickly wiped the tears from my face and apologized, saying it was tough for me growing up.
    I then went full swing, the gates were open, I talked about my difficult children, how hard it has been, looking at my nieces and the boyfriend I said " Do not try drugs, not even once, it rips your family apart."
    What an introduction to the entourage from Hawaii. I apologized to the boy sheepishly(sorry for the pun)saying " Wow, you really got to know me inside and out!
    I had not intended to go there, but there it was.
    My sister is upset with me for bringing these memories up " You've got to stop dwelling on the past. " she retorts.
    I don't feel I dwell on it, but it is triggered by certain things, it is a part of me, my life. We are at an impasse. She does not understand, and doesn't want to address it.
    We put it aside and planned a day trip to my Dads college. On the way back we stopped at Moms. She has decided to go ahead with her procedure on Friday, and I have adjusted our schedule to be by her side. Sister does not want Mom to do it. I have my reservations, but will try to be positive and will be there. Sis did mention to me she would go too. Like so many other times, she abruptly decided not to. "What you are not going?" I said incredulously. She shot me one of her famous looks. I just shrugged, there was no sense arguing. Mom came out to say another goodbye as we were going, she looked at my sister and said " Will I be seeing you soon?" Sis replied harshly "You mean If I see you? Implying Mom might not survive. Mom tried to brush it off, I was, well to put it crudely, pissed off. We drove off and I told my sister how mean that was. She went on about how; that is how she feels, and she won't hold back her feelings because that's how we were raised to just stuff everything....blah, blah, blah.
    Most of my family do not tango with my sister because the dance never ends well. Especially me, because of our history. I crossed the forbidden zone and told her "Oh, I see, so it is okay for you to say what you really feel, but not anyone else." Her hands tensed on the steering wheel and her voice got louder. "What are you talking about? Ohhhh, all that stuff you said? That's in the past, the past is the past, I don't go around calling people @$$#0))3$, and dwelling on stuff." Needless to say it did not go well. I ended up calling her "domineering sister" my daughter finally chimed in and told us to stop. Wise young one.
    I suppose this is something families go through when faced with the stress of terminal illness of a beloved parent. Family dynamics kick in.
    My sister called and we talked and apologized. I feel what most puzzles her is that I am not the retreating underling of years past. I am older, and will not roll over to her whims.
    We are all on a journey of no return. Our parents imminent passing reminds us of our own mortality.
    For me, this means some ongoing reflection of past and present, trying to figure out what makes me, me, mending what needs to be fixed and striving to make the best of the years I have left.
    I encouraged my sister to be there for Mom at the hospital. I told her to try to put her feelings and fear on the back burner and concentrate on Mom, be positive and support her. She said she will be there, we shall see.
    I do hope in the future, as we walk down the memory lane of this chapter in our lives, we will be able to say we did our utmost to be there for one another and helped our Mom retain her independence and dignity up until the end.
  2. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member

    I am so very, very proud of you! You truly are brave. You faced your sister, the one that terrorized you when you were young.

    Of course, she says that it is in the past. SHE was not hurt or affected. She hurt you! One or 40 years ago, does not make a difference.

    She is still trying to bully you into submission, and you, the new braver Leafy, stood your ground.

    You go, girl! Fantastic!

    Yes, stress, worry, fear, a little wine, years and miles apart...they all mixed to make this brew of truth. No more swallowing your hurt feelings. I know your daughter is proud of you.

    You have every right to be mad at your sister, for her past mistreatment of you and her lack of feelings shown towards your mom now.

    You are right, Leafy. Life is too short. You let them know the truth. Not small petty things, but major traumatic consistent occurrences that made you not feel safe or good in your own home growing up.

    You are so brave facing your mother's illness and the dark trauma of your childhood. Bravo!

    It must be your new pixie haircut!
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  3. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    You handled yourself well I think, Leafy. You made a place for honest and open to happen. From your post, it seems that your sibs were able to hear, if not support you, and that no one left.

    And you did not leave.

    I was happy to learn that your sister called, and that you were able to talk together about what had happened.

    If we are not able to say the words we need to say, we carry them inside us, instead.

    I am happy for you, Leafy. You were brave. Your sibs listened. Love doesn't always look like that perfect family dinner. Most often, I think it looks like people who care enough about one another to listen.

    Holding you all in my thoughts.

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  4. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Thank you Feeling. In comparison to what you've endured, my trauma pales. I am truly amazed at how brave you are.
    I do not know what makes my sister behave the way she does. She can be quite loving at times. Since she was a little girl, the focus had to be on her. My Nana had some wonderful jewelry, sister developed a ritual. " Nana can I see your jewelry box?" My Nana would oblige. Sis would look through the trinkets asking this and that. Then she would ask, "When you go, can I have this?" When Nana agreed, she would say "Can I have it now?" Nana would give it to her. Of course, she ended up with many family heirlooms. Her excuse- Don't ask, don't get.
    Sis had wrangled some of Dads items after his death. Mom is a "purger" when Nana passed she cleaned out her room and dispursed things as if in a trance. I think that was how she dealt with the loss. She did the same thing with Dads stuff, in haste, a cleansing, as if her sorrow would lessen removing items from her view. Who do you think got a lot of it? Yes, sister. Mom woken up from her daze of loss and diagnosed with cancer started asking where is this and that? I told my sister, just give it to her, she is trying to relive her past while dealing with her illness. If it will bring comfort give it back to her!
    My kids told me about a quip she had with my Mom yesterday. I brought out my Dads high school football trophy for my son to look at-he is playing football at school.
    Sis shot me a look and said "That's mine you know" I ignored her and put it back in Moms room. While I was in the room my kids said their Aunty told Tutu that the trophy was hers and "Can I get it back? Oh never mind I'll just get it when you die."
    I am baffled by this. I used to think of my sister as forward, brash, unfettered? Now I think she is just plain abusive. Narcissistic?
    Her phone call to me was about not fighting anymore. She will not say she is sorry for her antics growing up.
    I started to wonder if I was being silly, or if I was a mirror of my difficult children playing the blame game? I do realize that the latter is not true, I don't blame my sister for my life's choices, rather, feel my childhood experiences are a part of me.
    When my difficult children speak to me of past hurts I own them, say I'm sorry , I tried my best, I am human, I make mistakes. If it makes them feel better, I will apologize, but not fall into guilt, that is the new me.
    I am not trying to judge my sister, just examining to understand what makes her tick.
    What I have learned is to use better judgement. I do not need to go back in my history with her, it is an unfruitful exercise. I am able to set boundaries, and be more predicting as far as her responses and reactions. Narcissism is an addiction to the self. In many ways, her actions and reactions point to that.
    So much discovery has occurred on this journey.
    Thank you Feeling, for being here with me.
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  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Cedar, woman of deep thought, kindness and amazing intellect, thank you. My brother has taken off work and today we drive up the sea coast. Ah the sea! He is normally too busy to spend a day with us, I am most thankful for this gesture. I remember the gist of a quote from JFK regarding the sea, that we are drawn to it because it's composition is the same as the fluids running through our veins. I look forward to the refreshing salt air, and strengthening myself for the day to come.
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Nobody has a right to tell you how to deal with your own feelings and experience.
    She can listen or not. But she has no right to tell you what you need or how to act.

    You stood up to her. Whether she understands is not the important thing. You said it. You gave her the opportunity to respond. If she chooses not to or is incapable of such intimacy she has lost an opportunity. But she cannot legitimately tell you to be mute.
    Bravo. You spoke up for yourself again.

    And she could not hear you without criticism. This says much about her, and her limits. She seems like a bully. Bossy. Who needs complete control. She seems like Nellie in Little Town on The Prairie. The Grocer's daughter. Incapable of reciprocity.
    She may be frightened Leafy. She may be bluster without a great deal of strength. In truth, you may be the stronger one.
    She is the one who lacks control.

    And you can see now that her meanness may have been directed to you during childhood...but it had nothing to do with you. This is who she is.

    It is all happening as it needs to. You said your truth. They listened but may not have heard. That is enough. All you need. People are who they are. No matter how much we need or want them to be what we need them to be, they can only be who and what they are. You are learning so much. Especially about your own strength and integrity and ability to be present in a difficult time. Your Mom seems to be a real trooper.

    I know how stressful this is. I would not had the kind of courage you are showing. Nothing about it is easy. It is a triumph.

    I hope the day at the sea was all you needed it to be. I wish I was there too.

    You will do fine on Friday with your Mom. Actually, I hope your sister does not show. She may not be able to handle it. And it will be about her. I am sorry she is not being the sister you deserve. But you are showing her a sister who, if life was fair, she would be grateful to embrace.
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    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I have heard narcissism described as an unrequited love of self.

    I liked that definition. It adds another layer of understanding.

    You will do very well, Leafy. We will be waiting to hear, and that will be a source of strength for you, too.

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  8. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Copa your observations are spot on.
    I do love my sister and feel badly for her. What a sad way to live, to always need the upper hand. I will be more measured in my conversations with her, there is no sense in pursuing the subject with her any further.

    This has been an eye opening visit. I am beginning to understand myself more through this journey, and thanks to my warrior sisters, here in these pages, am finding strength to sort through it.
    Thank you Cedar, Feeling and Copa, so very, very much.

    Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning-
    “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life—daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.”
  9. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member

    Leafy, we are all very lucky to have each other. We have each other's back.

    You have had great times, sad experiences, and some true life 'messages' on your trip. You bravely stood your ground. You continue to amaze me.

    Perfect quote... from Copa's selection? You chose BOTH the 'right action' and the 'right conduct'. Bravo, fellow warrior.

    Our positive thoughts are being sent out your way!

    ROAR!!!....Although last night....meow....
  10. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Thank you Feeling, yes we do have each other's back and that is a saving grace for me. Your words mean much more than you will ever know. I can't thank our fellow warriors enough, though we are corresponding through cyberspace, the kindness and caring comes through as if we were all chatting in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot coffee.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    How did everything go today, New Leaf?

    And Feeling Sad, how are you. How are you, really?

    You mentioned Meow, instead of roar.

    I think about you in the night, Feeling.

    I do.

  12. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you for tomorrow.

    Just know, the mere presence of you with your mother is helping her immeasurably. Be with her, listen to her, and hold her hand. Simple things that will give her strength. She is fortunate to have such a caring daughter.

    Rise above your sister. If she does show up, do not let her drag you down to her level. Be in the moment with your mom...for your mom, collecting cherished memories. Often events are viewed from more pristine lenses. Beautiful, precious, pearls of moments.

    Strength being sent out to you! We are here for you, dear comrade.
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi New Leaf,

    I too am sending my thoughts and good wishes that tomorrow's treatment is without event or undue stress for your mother and for you. I am so glad for your mother that you are with her. It is the greatest of gifts.

  14. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member

    Cedar, thank you. I am just tired. I am overworked and dragging emotionally. My air in my classroom went out again. I had it for 6 days out of 7 weeks.

    Also, a student scratched one of the student computer screens. I do not know who did it. It will not be replaced.

    I feel profoundly sad and hopeless about my son. It is so difficult to not know if I will ever see him again.

    My youngest son is home, but my room creaked last night loudly about 3 A.M. and I bolted up in bed petrified. Then, I started to cry because I am so tired of being scared...of my son...who I miss so much.

    It is hard to act like everything is okay at work. Always the actress...

    The good news is that I got all of my progress reports done in my hot classroom. Yay....

    Leafy, your times are difficult right now. We are all here for you. Keep us posted.

    I remember my times with my mother. At the moment, I knew that they were precious, but now...exponentially more precious. A comfortable bathrobe, magazines, a note pad, a cute sterling pendant or cute bracelet, a book, hand lotion...bring a care package for her.

    Is it an out-patient or in-patient procedure? Regardless, make her queen for a day.
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  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Dear warrior sisters, the peace of sleep has evaded me. I am going to try to rest, I want to be able to be my best by Moms side. Feeling, my Mom has been admiring my daughters small Michael Kors bag, stating that she has been looking for one just the same. We trekked over to an outlet shop and luckily, found the exact same bag. When the kids drop me off, they will give it to their Tutu.
    I am praying for a routine procedure that goes smoothly without complication. My Mom wants to be around for much longer and she is stubborn. Yankee toughness.
    Up to bed in hopes for sleep.
    Cedar, Copa and Feeling
    Thanks so much for your kindness.
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    New Leaf, what a lovely gift. How amazing to find the exact same bag.

    The fight to live means almost everything. The rest is in G-d's hands. I believe your mother knows and accepts this. I feel she is at peace and wants you to be, too. She is very brave and you got that from her.

    I hope you have a restful sleep and a good day tomorrow, both of you.
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  17. Feeling Sad

    Feeling Sad Active Member


    What a perfect gift for your mother. She will love it!

    I agree with Copa. You and your mom are both very brave.

    We will be praying for you both. Sweet dreams, warrior sister.

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  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It isn't kindness so much I don't think, Feeling, as it is the strength of women, come together. Though the circumstances will have been different for each of us, we have been where you are, Feeling. And for you Leafy, too. Though we are not connected in the way of the world of time and place, each of us listens and stands for and believes in, the others of us.

    And that makes all the difference.

    And we are so fortunate, and so honored to be part of one another's stories and recoveries and replenishment.

    So...does anyone have a funny story to tell? Laughter is strengthening. It is so good for us to laugh, and especially so when we are coping with difficult and necessary things.

    I will try to remember one, for us.

    Feeling, my daughter is a teacher. Did you know?

    Leafy, I love the way you are caring for your mother.

    Holding you both, and all of us, in my thoughts today.


    Copa, your post was beautiful, and so strong.
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  19. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Dear friends a quick post Mom is very weak and resting. Dr. put her on strong antibiotics whilst awaiting lab results on samples from the procedure. The Nurse said she had lots of mucous in her lungs. Praying for her recovery. Thank you all for your kindness. This is exhausting.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    It is a Godsend she had the procedure. If she had gone without it, who knows? She got through it. She is resting. On the medication she needs. Results are pending to further treat her. All good things. Everything now is out of your hands.

    Do something nice and calming and restful for yourself.

    Did Sis show?