The connection in family is something we all need.
We need to belong to a mother, father, sister, brother, grandparent, it doesn't matter we all need it & we strive for it.
Humans desire that true belonging.
I may not have the typical connections with other family members in the house I grew up in, but I was lucky enough to get out with a single bond, that cannot be broken.
I must have been a happy & content child at points growing up.
But those great memories do not come up when I think back.
They just are not there.
When I was about 3 1/2years old, my adoptive parents decided to go forward & adopt another baby. I do remember the day we went to pick up the baby. It was located on top of maybe a Woolco or Zellers store. In order to get to the offices we had to go through the whole store & the elevators were located in the back. We took the ride up & being that I was still preschool age, I had no idea that this moment was very defining in my young life.
My belonging changed that day.
The baby girl was roughly the same age I was when I came to these parents, & I do remember her being very tiny, with dark hair & dressed in all pink. There was even a pink blanket wrapped around her as she laid in the car seat. She was quiet (or maybe she wasn't) but she was so tiny. I do know that on this particular day even in her peaceful state, she was going to be a force of self indulgence for the rest of my life.
From that moment it became all about her.
I have very little beyond that moment in the Social Services office. I have no idea when we left, or when we got home. I think I did the preschooler best of; 'if it didn't affect my life, it wasn't a concern of mine'.
From the stories I had been told, the baby sister was extremely sick & had severe colic. But again, at 3, I didn't care. However, my mother had said on more than one occasion 'If you weren't such a good kid, where you fed yourself, or even got yourself food, or played by yourself happily, I would never have been able to deal with the baby.'
Sure, I must have been a good kid, but at that point what else would I do? I know from our own daughter & oldest son, they are both well mannered & easily entertained at that young age. They also were very independent. So I guess I was also.
But the problem with that statement above, is that; was I forced to be maybe too self sufficient. Striking a beginning to my desire to be my own person even more. There were also no moments of time with the eldest child (me). No special moments or memories. Only a reminder my mother was 'exhausted'.
Just cause I was a 'good' kid doesn't mean you can leave me alone to fend for myself. The funny (sarcastic) thing about all of this time, is that I do have memories of my father coming home from work & helping make dinner for me, & eating it together all while my mother slept.
I want to be clear, I am a mother & I have also had one difficult baby experience. However, I also made sure at that time that the older 2 of my kids were acknowledged & fed & it was not all dependent on the TV or someone else. They too were my children. The needs maybe were different but regardless they still needed me.
But at this moment of my childhood, although seems harmless, it became an illustrated narrative of my future with these people known as the family.
Once we brought the baby home, & because she was crying & sick all the time, my mother began to flourish. As exhausted as she was, this baby was exactly what she needed. She NEEDED to be NEEDED. I was independent, I was outgoing, I was capable. The baby was needy, sick, & cried often, & my mother was in her glory. She loved then & still does now the desire to be NEEDED! This did not change at all through the years, & my sister continued to NEED our mother in various ways right into adulthood & beyond.
Once not that long ago, I got the same speech as a child but delivered for an adult. 'Well you are fine as you have a husband & children. She (sister) has no one except her baby.'
How does that mean as a parent you get to play privilege over one child versus the other?
Over the next few years of my childhood it was just the 4 of us. But the dynamics did not change. The sister was all encompassing & I was the kid that did not need the same attention or adoration as her.
I was never close to my sister as a child & it did not change. She was shy, needy, health issues (not severe I should add) & she was exactly what my parents wanted.
I was independent, outgoing, loud & was exactly what they did not want, but they got me anyways.
I had to take her with me here or there as kids, but most of the time she went running home crying as I was too mean, or too fast or I just didn't pay any attention to her. I knew through those years that she & I were 2 very different people. I was the older sibling that did older sister stuff to her, but her reactions or crying or tattling was always so mystifying by me. She was going to get what she wanted regardless even if it meant I spent the night in my room or without dinner. She knew her power & she even at 3 would use it.
I started school & at that point in those 1st few grades, I was a well behaved student (maybe I talked too much) but I tried & for the most part was unaffected by the sister & the parents. I had a life outside of our house. Although I do know that I searched & looked for attention at school where I was not getting it at home. Any teacher that would say anything to me that made me feel special, I remember my heart soaring.
I was alone in this house with a family that there was no feeling of true belonging.
Then the mid 80's hit & the oil prices dropped & my father lost his job. The day he got laid off was in June & I was in grade 3. I do still get the feeling of uncertainty in my chest when I think back to this moment. What we were going to do? Even though my mother told me what happened, they NEVER & I mean NEVER discuss anything with their children.
Here is an example: I am a mom & married myself, & lone behold my mother needs surgery. They do not tell me any of this. She literally drops off the face of the earth. I call them & my father is like 'Oh, she is away for the weekend.' I think to myself; 'When did she ever do that? Go off on her own somewhere.' But I guess, good for her. What I find out like a week later is that she went to have surgery & she didn't want me (maybe us) to know, so they just don't tell us anything.
Their life & no explanation needed.
So back to the 80's & the frightened child I was without knowing what we were going to do or how we were going to solve it. It is okay though, that is all I got. It is all not my concern.
It was also around this time that the parents announced that we were going to get a younger brother. But this time around he wasn't going to be a little baby. He was going to be a walking, talking toddler at 18 months. This was mostly due to the fact that they were given 2 'healthy' babies & newborns to adopt were not high in numbers during this time.
I know I also had angst about all of this as it was clear to me that I already was shafted for the sister, what would the brother bring to the table.
Shafted in relationships & shafted in the world around me.
We visited him at his foster home & the moment I saw him, I loved him. There was a magical connection with this kid. The parents decided that he was indeed the one & home he came.
I no longer felt alone in this abode.
So my father went to work in another province & our house went up for rent (as they always knew we would come back) & my mother was now responsible to get us all there.
I could feel the tension & the stress in the air at this time. I was 9 & not blind to the feelings or concerns of the parents.
We left the day after Halloween. Mother, sister & newly minted toddler brother in the car for our cross country adventure. However, the adventure became a nightmare, while the sister & my brother were in the back seat of the car. The WAR was on. My only day of sitting in the front seat (yes folks back then you could have a 9 year old in the front seat) came to a complete end.
She was tormented by the 'brother' & being that she got what she wanted, I got moved to 'keep the peace'.
The sister was the 'baby' up to this point, coddled, loved, adored & was so super cute. They worshiped her. The new brother came with personality traits, was a little person, & was not the cute little pink bundle that we picked up all those years ago. Needless to say, sister versus brother meant they were getting on my mother's nerves & I was the only one left who could 'deal' with it.
The sisters jealousy was fierce! There is no denying that she did not like this kid we brought home. The feud that started in that car lasted for years. I on the other hand, although upset to give up my front seat, loved him. He was spunky, funny, a little crazy, & adventurous all the things I wanted to be but hadn't figured out yet.
That road trip just solidified my love for my new brother. We played, we laughed, we read stories, we snacked. There may have been 7 1/2 years between us, but it was honestly a time to create our belonging to each other.
In the years that followed, I became & still am very close to my kid brother. My mother in fact knew that we were connected on a different plane as she had used that on several occasions. Our connection was used as a manipulation for me to do what she wanted.
The sister however, well, we certainly did try to be close, but it never panned out. She is still the favorite & still gets things that us other 2 could only dream of. Cars, House, Money, even paying for her speeding tickets. She is still what my mother NEEDS.
I understand that all families have dynamics & some are complicated & some are not. But in ours there was always the favorite, & the jealousy & envy started from somewhere. She could do no wrong, & I was always in the wrong. She was & is always what my mother wanted in a child, & I was not.
I don't fault any of them now. I am happy & understanding that they all got what they need from the one child they chose over the others. I was for years broken about how I was always a disappointment & a failure (there is that word again). It was hard to see them be so close & I was pushed aside & not allowed within arms reach.
But if you dwell on things like this, it can only break you further.
I may have walked away from my parents & sister years ago, but I still have the one that mattered the most back then & still does; my brother.
We do not genetically share the same DNA, but we are similar in so many ways. He is the one physical blessing I have gotten from my adoptive family.
I could never imagine treating my children in very distinctive ways. I have 3 kids who are very unique, but they all matter, & I do everything to make them matter. I know my daughter & I are extremely close, but that does not take away from my sons. I may not understand when my boys talk about cars (that is cause I don't want to), but I am there with them. I do not choose one over the other. They get their time & love from me unconditionally.
I was talking to my youngest just the other day, he said 'I hope to be close to both my siblings when we are all older.' I agreed with him as he went on to say; 'Sometimes I like talking to my bro & sometimes I miss my sister, but I am not sure we will be close.'
My reply to my son was simple; 'There may be things that you do not like about them or you do like about them when you are older, but the joy is they will both be there for you forever.'
My children all have a sense of True Belonging in our family.
This is the truth. I may only have one brother, but I got one!
Don't let anyone take away your worth.
If the relationship is broken, try to fix it.
However, sometimes it is more healing to walk away.
I walked away & mended my feelings of never truly being the child that mattered.
I was not the one that gave them the gleam in their eyes.
But I Truly Belong, even if it is not the family I deserved.
Healing is all about this series.
Finding your wound & mend it.
The Hard Truth (series) is about my life, my thoughts & my encouragement to all.
It is life where we have gone wrong & what we have done right.
It is something that we all have had some sort of experience in.
We are not alone.
Someone is suffering like you.
Your tale is no different from someone else's, but your journey is your own.