Friday, February 1, 2008

Friday’s Child - A Lesson For Unlearning

I’ve been re-running these Prozac Palace posts with the hope that anyone who needs to read this sort of thing will find them.
It’s occurred to me that readers may wish to comment, but not know what to say.
This is understandable.
You’re under no obligation to say anything. If you want to, but are at a loss, may I suggest this simple phrase: I read it.

#
Originally posted Monday, April 30, 2007

Were my parents any help against my sister's bullying? A commenter asked this and I gave the short, easy answer of no. But it’s not entirely correct.

Mom stepped in once. I was about eight and we’d gotten into a fight in the living room that wound up in Dawn’s bedroom. It’s been 40 years so I can’t recall exactly how it happened, but I remember clearly that I was winning.

My sister and I were about an arm’s length apart when mom came in and said we’d better stop. At first I was relieved. She’d stopped a fight. Then I got scared because I knew wasn’t really over and that Dawn was just going to finish the fight later on.

Then I realized something that proved true all through our lives. The only time mom ever stepped in was when I had the upper hand.
I learned that day to not stand up for myself. It’s quicker and more efficient to let Dawn win.
I still fought back to a minor degree. I wasn’t a total doormat, I simply had sense enough to take it.

Physical pain is transient. Gouges and scratches stop bleeding. Emotional hurt endures, though, and stopping a fight because the wrong kid was winning was an experience I only needed once.

For background on my sister and her mental illness please see this post at The Goat's Lunch Pail and this Goat's Lunch Pail post and Talia’s post on it at the Centre for Emotional Well-Being.

6 comments:

Holly said...

I read it. It is sad. I have a high functioning 11 yr old autistic son and a "typical" 13 yr old son. I often wonder how their personalities affect each other. Some days I suppose the impact is negative, some days I suppose positive. I am sorry your mom wasn't more "fair". As the mom, let me tell you it is not easy to be fair. It is actually quite difficult and often I don't realize there is inequity until someone snaps and calls me out on it.

Life is tough. Don't let the scars of the past ruin your future.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I read it too--also, before on Prozac Palace.

It's funny (and especially odd for a former therapist) but I do indeed find the Friday's Child posts moving but difficult to comment on--it's hard to express the sad, complicated emotions they bring forth.

But life is not all sunshine and cupcakes, a fact I have trouble accepting sometimes. Thanks for sharing this.

the Bag Lady said...

I read it, too. And I agree totally with Crabby about the emotions it brings up, but even more so for me because I didn't realize what was going on at the time, so feel some guilt about not being able to step in and stop it. Of course, I wasn't around very much, and when I was, Dawn was usually on her best behaviour. I don't recall ever seeing her being cruel in a physical manner. She may have occasionally dished out some verbal abuse, but nothing that sticks out in my memory as anything more than the typical sibling bullshit.
I'm sorry you had to deal with that on your own.

Reb said...

I read it too (& at Prozac Palace). Like Sis, I only wish there had been someway we could have known at the time and something we could have done.

Leah J.Utas said...

Holly - THnaks. I don't have the perspective of being a mom so I appreciate you taking the time to tell me that side of it.

Crabby - I suspected there might be some difficulty in knowing what to say.

BagLady and Reb - I don't think there's much you could have done, but I appreciate the thought.
And yes, Dawn was always on her best behaviour around witnesses.

Leah J.Utas said...

I checked this three times and still got *THnaks.* Yipes.
Thanks.