My (step) father was my younger sister's natural father...and he spent an awful lot of time reminding older sis and me of our lowly status in his eyes. He spoiled younger sis in ways that has affected her throughout her life. He treated her as a Princess...told her daily that she would grow up one day to be Miss America. He bought her things that she had no right owning at her age...or need to be more precise. For instance..she still didn't know how to ride a bike when she was 7 yet he went out and bought her an expensive BMX bike....with a helmet AND training wheels. Needless to say she crashed a lot...and was made fun of for the training wheels part. (it may or may not have been me making fun...shhhh) It apparently didn't matter to him that she couldn't ride a bike...he bought her one and then left it to ME to teach her. Of course she never listened to me because she was a Princess and I was a lowly handmaiden. It was a long summer.
I learned how to read when I was 4...according to my mother I just "picked it up" listening to others read. I read voraciously (still do when I have time), consuming books one after the other. Sometimes I would have several books going at once and it was never a problem to leave off one story and jump right into another. My father liked to punish us by making us do things we didn't like of course...because I liked reading...he made me read to my little sister. You might not think this is such a bad thing but she was a Princess and demanded the reading sessions be catered to her whims. This meant I might have to read the same story 5 times. I might have to read the same story but with a different voice. I might have to start over because she wasn't listening...this happened a lot. Now here's the thing...reading to her was not what bothered me so much. Reading to her even though she knew HOW to read herself is what bothered me. My father was making me read as a form of punishment. He was taking something I loved and making it a chore for me..a trial..a test of wills. Of course she always won because if I protested at all that 10 times was enough already...I was shouted at and her triumphant smile made me want to spit nails.
Anyhow, you lose dad...I still love reading.
Little sis got all the interesting toys and whatnot for Christmas. Mom got me and older sis board games mostly....games we would have to play with little sis...who had to win OR ELSE. She made no pretences of not cheating. We had to let her win or the temper tantrum that followed was met with punishment from dad. Whatever toys etc that she got were only allowed to us through forced playing with her. For instance, she got lots of Playschool activity sets...a barn house with animals...a house with furniture etc...she once had a whole Sesame Street neighborhood with familiar characters and accessories. She would insist we play with her, we had no choice really, and then spend the entire time bossing us about who got what and could touch what or where everything went. Playschool might be fun for 5 year olds but 10 and 14 year olds aren't interested. One year she got a full set of metal Tonka trucks. A dump truck, back hoe, shovel etc...we spent many hours in the back yard doing as she commanded (foreman?) digging up the yard and making roads...or pushing her around as she sat on the dump truck. I actually did find the Tonka trucks fun to play with but could never do anything with them without her permission or instructions.
The Princess got everything she wanted. Could command us at will and could pitch a royal fit when we didn't comply. She got us in trouble by making up things and couldn't keep a sister secret to save her life. We told her very little and let her in on next to nothing because we knew she would squeal..if not now..then eventually. (not like we had huge secrets or anything..but you know kids...anything mom and dad doesn't know about...won't hurt them...ha!)
Little sis abused me just like her father. She hit me, kicked me, and I had her teeth marks on my body on any given day of the week. Before I learned that I could run away from her, I had to sit and take it because dear lord help me if I so much as took a swipe at her in retaliation. Once I realized I could actually run faster than her, I would run whenever she got too close. She would actually get so angry with me that I wouldn't just STOP and let her catch me that she would stand there screaming at me demanding compliance. Of course this only worked when we were allowed outside..inside...hiding in the locked bathroom was about the only defense I could take. It was a test of patience...her anger and my willingness to sit on the pot for however long it took...of course if someone wanted the bathroom I was in deep trouble.
She didn't have to clean the house like older sis and I. We got dragged out of bed in the middle of the night more times than I can remember to clean something that was already clean. My father was crazy about our house being military clean...and would often see dirt where none existed (at least to my terrified eyes). I would be up scrubbing the toilet or re-cleaning every single dish in the kitchen (he would drag them all out and fling them everywhere) while he ranted and paced about how filthy we were. If we managed to find our way back to bed without a beating it was little short of a miracle. To this day if you remind her that she never had to clean anything she will protest loudly about that fact...but I know what I know and that's a fact. On this issue mom concurs...little sis was spoiled rotten.
Older sis was abused just like I was but more often than not she did something to warrant her punishment. Not that she deserved the horrible beatings dad gave us but she did go out looking for trouble...and it usually found her. The problem with this is she usually dragged me along...so of course I got beat too. She was just as bossy as little sis to me but only when the parents weren't around as she had no authority when they were. She also gave me plenty of beatings of her own...usually when she had gotten in trouble for something and felt I deserved to be punished too for reasons known only to her. It was rare that I could walk by her without a hair pull or sock in the arm...and of course I never gave as good as I got because she could kick my ass...and I knew it.
I had to share a bed with her for much of our lives and she generally made that an ordeal by whispering threats or promising to exact revenge for something at some future date...or often just continue whatever ass kicking she had started during the day but was distracted perhaps. I had to take it silently of course because to make noise would bring dad...and a beating by him was far worse then anything my sis could do. On the really horrible nights little sis was brought in to sleep with us (she slept in my parents room until she was 6 or 7 I believe...yeah I know...issues there) which meant I was sandwiched between a pincher/biter and a hair puller/arm socker. Long night needless to say.
Older sis was hell bent on burning bridges as I have mentioned before...so when she wasn't actively making me miserable...she was working very hard on making sure my future was miserable as well. She got in trouble doing all the regular teenage things..and then some...so that my parents forbid me to do anything at all by the time I came of age. I didn't date because she got pregnant at 15. I didn't drive because she snuck out in the car and caused mayhem (I actually didn't get a drivers license until I was 27 because ex-asshole didn't let me drive either while in Bahrain...long story) I couldn't work part time because she used her jobs as excuses to get into more trouble...and I couldn't do school activities because she had pissed everyone off that had anything to do with school: teacher/ admin/student alike.
As I mentioned before she liked to drag me into her active pursuits of defiance. For instance, my parents left for the day taking little sis with her. We were told NOT to leave the house for any reason. I was around 10 at the time. Of course, as soon as parents had been gone a reasonable amount of time, sis insisted we go outside. When I refused for fear of parents coming back (and they did often) she just grabbed my hair and pulled me out with her. Once outside I just gave up and went along for the ride....because I already knew we were going to get in trouble by this point. We ran up to a guy that had a cool looking dog (Dalmatian I believe) and asked if we could pet it. Owner said OK so we did...when we had enough and turned to walk away...the dog snapped at me and bit a chunk of my outer thigh. (still got the scar) Of course I screamed bloody murder, of course owner blamed us and dragged his dog inside....of course older sis got pissed at me for letting the dog bite me. (sigh) We went home and she cleaned up the would, put a band aid, and swore me to secrecy. We somehow knew that being outside was bad enough, throw in the dog bite and things were bound to get worse.
3 days later my sis was overcome with guilt (a rarity for sure) believing I probably had rabies. Mom and dad were at work and for some reason she decided she needed to call the ambulance for me right then. Needless to say, it did not go well. My mother was called, all hell broke loose (she went storming over to the house of the dog owner and demanded proof the dog had its shots) and then of course when dad got home...even more hell. Thanks sis.
Another time we had just come back from Sunday school and were wearing our Sunday school best. Before we could change mom sent us down the street to the store to buy a few things. She warned us several times not to go near the small creek that ran by our trailer park. Of course as soon as we were out of sight of our trailer sis dragged me over to the water. We were OK until she spotted a tennis ball floating in the water and ordered me to get it. As I squatted and reached out to snag it...she booted me in the butt and sent me head first into the water. Arriving back at the house dripping wet was bad enough...daring to sit on mom's nicely cleaned pile of towels so I didn't get the couch wet was the proverbial last straw on the camels back. Needless to say sis declared I had done it all on my own despite her warnings. Thanks sis.
So there I was, stuck between two bossy abusing sisters that never let me have a moments peace for the most part. I couldn't beat up big sis and I couldn't touch little sis. I didn't enjoy hanging out with older sis because she usually got me in trouble and of course little sis just made me miserable with her Princess mentality. At times I felt like an only child..strange I know given the circumstances. All I wanted to do was read but these siblings of mine kept dragging me into trouble by way or another (not that I never found my own but that's another story..ha ha)
Being the middle child in my family sucked in more ways than I can possibly narrate here...so many stories so little time...but what I find interesting about our childhood and the family dynamics that sprang from it...for the most part still ring true today. Older sis grew up to be a trouble making pain in the ass for everyone involved. Little sis has grown up to be even more bossy and insists that she is right...end of story...no matter what the story is. She is a loner because nobody can tolerate her personality I'm thinking. She has whitewashed our childhood to the point that she was a Princess...but in a completely benign kind of way. She insists she had to clean stuff too. Sorry sis...but no. Of course eventually dad started beating her too...around the age of 8 or so...even tried to choke her with a dog chain one time...but her personality was already set by him by this time...and now even more rigidly. She is so much like him that it's scary at times to witness "him" in her actions and mannerisms. She treats her own daughter much like dad treated us...and I find this the worst trait of all to share with him. Older sis also treated her children very badly so that by the time she passed away the two older ones had no contact with her despite their still young age (older teens).
While I am by no means a perfect mom, I have never resorted to the sort of violence those two inflict(ed) on their children...which I find very telling as my position as middle child. Having been abused by dad and both siblings most of my life I just can't imagine raining that same sort of pain down on my own children. I might also add that my own mother was rather a passive bystander during all this abuse. She could have stopped dad by leaving of course...and she could have stopped her two daughters by paying attention to what they were doing to me (she was right there many times when younger sis did it but she also knew the consequences of pissing of the Princess) and I often complained about older sis but I guess I could say she allowed it to happen to avoid problems for herself by possibly raising the anger of my dad.
It is only through my older (dare I say wiser) age that I can see that my own mother was just as much my abuser as the rest of my family members. She could have protected me, all of us really, but she chose to do nothing. I find I have a new sort of anger for my mother that I never had for most of my life because she was the "good" parent and I looked up to her so much...but hindsight tells me that while she did not physically abuse me (though there are a few times I can remember but not many) she did allow my abuse at the hands of others to continue. My own role as a mother has opened my eyes to many new views I didn't have before, but the main one is, my children come first. Always and forever. To realize that for my mother we didn't come first has caused a great deal of pain to my heart. She can give her many many oft repeated excuses as to why she "couldn't leave" or how could she leave and "start over with nothing" but in the end...she chose to do nothing...and for that I find her culpable in my abuse.
I start this New Year regretting many things in my life...and looking forward to many more. I am sandwiched between pains of the past and hopes for the future. I spend far too long analyzing my past because who I was a child and how I was "created" by those around me influenced who I became as an adult and the abuse I allowed to happen then as well. I also spend copious amounts of time actively trying to overcome my childhood/early adulthood and change into something more proactive and less accepting of what others decide to do to me..just because.
I find myself the middle child once again, though my older sis is no longer with us and younger sis can't be bothered...but now I am the middle child to the past child that I was...and to the potential future woman that I strive to be. It's not always an easy road...but I find I'm fairly easy to get along with. I don't bite, I don't kick, and I don't mind sharing my toys...or my secrets. However, I do have a rather sharp tongue (or so I'm told) so watch out.
Happy New Year everyone...and may you make peace with your past and find inspiration in your future....and always always greet each new day with a new sense of hope and potential for something good.