I watched this video this morning and I was sobbing, literally crying on my keyboard. I actually had to stop this video, have a good cry, then finish watching the video. I then wrote this post and sobbed some more. This video may as well have been written for me, it rang THAT true. (This is NOT one of JP Sears funny videos.)
I LOVE my sisters. (All of them.) I have a wonderful life. I have a great husband. An amazing child. Things are going well. And yet…there’s a part of me that remains guarded. I don’t accept nurturing. I push away the things (and people) that make me happy. I wrestle with depression, especially when things are going well.
When I watched this video, I thought about one of my earliest memories.
My mother was sick with multiple sclerosis. She had minor symptoms before my sister was born, but became VERY ill after my sister’s birth. I was only four years old. I remember being soooo excited when I found out that I was going to be a big sister. I remember looking forward to my sister’s birth. My parents assured me that I’d never be replaced, that my sister would only add to our family. But my mom became very sick after my sister was born and I was sent away. I spent TWO weeks with one set of grandparents, then TWO weeks with the other set of grandparents while my mom recovered.
As an adult, a month away from home is a long time, but not that long. However, I was only four. FOUR weeks is a LONG time when you’re only four-years-old. An eternity. All I knew was that as soon as my mom went to the hospital, I had to go away. I didn’t get to see my sister come home from the hospital. I didn’t get to see my mom for a month. I didn’t know what was happening. I just knew that the new baby was here, and I couldn’t go home, not even for a visit. The baby was here and I wasn’t allowed to go home.
Both of my grandmothers did the best they could, trying to reassure me that everything was going to be alright, but I remember being so lonely, and so hurt, and so scared, and I felt completely rejected and abandoned. When I finally saw my new sister, she was around three or four weeks old. My dad brought her to his mother’s house. My mom wasn’t with him. I was so happy to finally see the baby. I remember that she was dressed like a little doll with a soft white blanket and a frilly dress. I wanted to hold her. She was so pretty. I’d never seen an actual baby up close like that before. But I wasn’t allowed to touch her, and when my Dad went home, he took the baby with him and left me behind again.
I have never experienced anything close to that intensity of pain as I felt when my father left with my perfect little doll-baby sister. I cried for days. I have never been that miserable since. Four-year-old me felt like my parents had completely abandoned her. It’s pretty common for kids to feel like the new baby will replace them. For four weeks…my younger sister DID replace me. I went from being an only child to being virtually homeless. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my house again. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my mother again. To my knowledge, my parents didn’t have a return date in mind. They were waiting for my mother to recover from childbirth. But her health took such a bad turn, she was never the same as she was before my sister’s birth.
I also have a strong memory of my grandmother being an advocate on my behalf. I remember her getting into a fight with my father about my going home. My parents didn’t think they were ready to take me back. My grandmother insisted it was time.
For a young child, this only hurt more because I KNEW my parents didn’t want me, not really. They could say that they missed me. They could tell me how much they loved me. But I felt ashamed. I wondered what I’d done wrong. I wondered why I wasn’t good enough. I thought I must have been bad. I didn’t think I was a bad kid. I was so shy. But I must have done something wrong, or my parents would have loved me enough to want me with them.
When I got older, I understood how sick my mother was. As an adult, I do know that my parents loved me, that the time probably flew by for them. I really don’t think it occurred to them that I was being harmed emotionally. My father was worried about his sick wife. They had a new baby to take care of. For my parents, I’m sure the time must have gone by in a blur. Many years later, both of my parents admitted that they would have handled things differently, had they know how upsetting this experience had been for me.
Honestly, I thought I’d put this matter behind me. It was traumatic, but it’s been forty years. I’m close with my sister. We live in the same town. We raised our kids together almost more like brothers than as cousins. I don’t hate her. I don’t hate my parents. Life goes on…right?
And then I watched this video and the floodgates opened. All those feeling I’ve struggled with for most of my life, of not being good enough, of not being worthy enough. I’ve been married to the same man for 17 years and there are still days when I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is this the wound at my core? Deep down, am I still a little girl waiting for the people she loves most in this world to abandon her? Have I come to expect rejection? I feel like I insulate myself from others so I’ll never get hurt, but at my core, is this the reason? I’m a scared little girl, afraid to trust other people.
Holy WOW! I feel utterly gobsmacked!!!
Thank you, JP Sears!