Sometimes being the family’s scapegoat can give enough distance to be able to observe certain dynamics very clearly. Like the fact that my sister has turned into Mom’s Minime.
There were six of us children and so there were enough of us for my Mom to have two Golden Children. One of my adoptive brothers was one of them but that role was no longer needed since his adulthood and living the whole time in another city. The other one was my youngest sister, also my Mom’s favourite. She’s now forty-five and has settled solidly in her role, even seemingly embraced it.
The way I’ve come to think of her now is how much she over-identifies with our Mom. Strangely enough, there are things just like our Mom that would have been mostly out of my sister’s control, and then there are those things that somewhere deep inside she must have known she was copying her.
To set the stage with this minor observation, they both have the same hair colour, body type, and sort of look the same. Mom gave birth to three children, all girls and each two years apart (the others were her adopted children), and my sister also had three children, all girls and each two years apart. Mom was thin and then becoming obese after her first child with no signs of seriously losing weight, same as my sister. This is noteworthy because my sister belongs to a family where four out of five of the other children maintained a healthy weight to this day with one (my oldest sister) only just recently gaining weight in her mid-fifties due to attending to a dying boyfriend and is back to working out. Mom ruled the household, my sister also rules in her family as well. They both have the same political leanings and same worldviews.
Any one of these things could be a coincidence, but not all of them. And my knowing all the dynamics of their personalities in relation to the larger context of the family, taken all together I KNOW it’s not a coincidence. The only one would be my sister having all girls like our mother did, but the spacing and number was in her control.
I have a very real sense that my sister would probably feel panicky at the thought of changing one of these things. This occurred to me when I was thinking that my sister really wouldn’t have a reason not to lose weight anymore now that her children are older and wondering why she wasn’t joining her siblings in looking into even more healthy lifestyles due to our our increasing ages. That’s when it hit to me: she would be afraid to.
I seriously believe that she would think such an act would be a betrayal to Mom, it would be an out-and-out affront to her. And, undoubtedly, my Mom would probably agree.
My sister is trapped. She seems contentedly trapped, though, or at least willing for this role to continue if it must because the alternative would be… who knows. I’m sure if she’s analyzed it at all she must have come up with a blank as well. It’s one of those roles you play because you feel you must rather than because you coolly weighed the pros and cons of it. I do know that part of it is her having watched what happened to me her whole life.
I had done the opposite and made the decision to not be like our Mom. This decision was made while still a child and on into my adulthood by both feelings and by weighing and rejecting certain characteristics of my mother. This might have had the risk of causing me to adopt characteristics that weren’t authentic purely because they were opposite to traits my mother had. I’m okay with that on some level, though, at least for now. But that decision had afforded me a chance at freedom now that I’m becoming able to more accurately describe what had gone on in my childhood and have determined to begin sloughing off my nervous traits that came from it.
This blog will never be seen by my family so I don’t worry in exploring some of the dynamics of it and will probably be doing so off and on. I’m thinking it will help me to continue to learn to accurately describe, and assess, what had gone on there and how to start altering reactive traits that are hurting my life now. And just maybe someone will be able to identify with it as well as they, too, are trying to sort out just what the heck happened when looking at the roles of their childhood.