I’ve been asked countless times, during countless MH assessments, about my childhood: whether my parents were strict, or couldn’t care less; whether they treated my two siblings and I the same; whether there was rivalry amongst us as siblings…
To be clear, I blame no one for the way my life has turned out. My personality and the path I started out on were incompatible. In my effort to be brave, grit my teeth, I probably did more harm than good and, before I knew what was happening, everything I had worked hard to build into (the nightmare that was) my life came crashing down.
As far as my siblings and I are concerned, lately, I’ve felt inadequate as the eldest. In terms of role models, my younger Sister and Brother could have done better, I think. In fact, when my Sister and I are out together, people almost always assume that she is older than me. She has an air of protectiveness about her and tends to talk for me, and it’s not everyone that can put that down to my anxiety disorder. That aside, though, we are three such different personalities (heck, we don’t even look alike) that to attempt to compare us, single one of us out as something more than the other two, would be nothing short of impossible.
There is one thing, though, that I envy of my Sister. She commands my Mum’s attention far better than I ever have.
Allow me to explain. My Mum deals with my illness by burying her head in the sand. She chooses not to know a lot of what goes on, and invariably has a reason why she can’t accompany me to appointments. I understand this. I can’t imagine what it must be like, being my Mum, to watch me abuse my body as I have, and to be having this constant battle with…well…life. My GP told me recently that there is no chapter in any handbook, anywhere, that has guidance on how to parent me!
My Sister, on the other hand, is someone my Mum can really focus on. She has a chronic illness too. But hers is physical – Crohn’s Disease. And that’s the difference right there. To clarify, I don’t envy my Sister her illness. If I could have it for her, on top of my own, then I would take it tomorrow. But I envy the way my Mum gets so easily involved with her and her problems. The way she came home from work, distraught, on the day my Sister got her diagnosis but wouldn’t visit me in the hospital where she works, the afternoon after my second overdose. The way she worries that my Sister hasn’t gained enough weight (in her opinion) during her almost complete pregnancy and so ‘might have a very difficult labour’ but won’t come and see the Dietitian with me to better understand my ED.
My Psychiatrist asked me a couple of weeks ago if I was ‘jealous of my Sister’. I’m not jealous of her life, of her marriage, of her (almost) new born baby, of her nice house, of her good job. I love that she is happy, and pray to God that her happiness continues. But I’m jealous of her relationship with our Mum.