Remember when we were young, playing superheroes in our underpants
The elders told us Batman wasn’t real
So we grew up rather young
We bled real blood just to act real tough
We realised pretty soon real life is really real
~ The Parlotones, Remember When
I have one sister and one sister-in-law, both of them have their dive tickets. I told both of them that I was planning on learning to dive.
My sister-in-law said “You are going to rock, you will be completely hooked. And we will have new dive buddies.”
My sister said “You must be careful, remember that you have had bouts of claustrophobia, tell the instructor and they might be able to give you some advice to get you through it.”
And I was completely fascinated, the “helpful” advice, is not really that helpful…but rather a reminder to stay in my place. I have not been told that I can get out there and be active and take on an extreme hobby, that is not my turf.
And I know it was given with good intentions…and simply a pattern of a lifetime of conditioning…but I am starting to recognize when advice is actually helpful, but rather a way of reminding me to continue to play the role that I was assigned.
One of my roles in the family was to serve as the contrasting dull background, which allows my sister’s achievements to shine brighter.
Please, if you are reading this, don’t misunderstand the situation…I bear little resentment for it, it is simply looking at my family situation for what it was and what it is, and figuring out how to break out of it.
My parents did the best job that they were capable of doing. My dad worked hard to provide us with the things that he never had.
My mother grew up in a poor catholic household, with a narcissistic mother and an alcoholic, philandering father…and too a large extent was forced into the position of mothering her siblings as the eldest daughter.
In her childhood environment, her eldest brother (and the oldest child) was also regarded as being the golden one…leaving high school at 16 and obtaining a doctorate in engineering at 20.
So, I do not think that the situation was consciously engineered, which of course, makes it all the more insidious and difficult to change.
If I ever confronted anyone in my family with this information…I would be told that I am completely mad, nothing ever happened that way.
And yet, I have been told by three different people that they witnessed this behaviour…and this witnessing and acknowledgement has opened up a gate towards healing. It is unlikely that the situation with my family will change, they are already confused and slightly resentful that I am no longer playing the role assigned to me.
But I am okay with that, and over time, they will begin to accept my decisions and changes in behaviour…or not, it is really up to them.
You see, one of the most important gifts that I have started giving myself on this road to healing is absolution…an acknowledgment that I am not responsible for fulfilling other people’s psychological needs before my own…especially, when fulfilling those needs would be harmful to me.
And while it would be amazing and wonderful if life were a fairy tale, where a confrontation leads to an apology and everything being magically alright, real life is messy.
And we are all trying to make our way through, and hopefully we ease other people’s journeys on the way…but ultimately, the only journey that we have any control over is our own.
So, I am giving myself permission to break out of the role where I fade into the background and provide the contrast to make my sister’s achievements appear more brilliant.
We are both intelligent and both can be successful, they are not mutually exclusive. We can both be social creatures, neither one of us needs a monopoly on any sphere…it’s a big world, with room for both of us together.