This one is going to be long… Sorry…
This is a very hard topic for me. In a way I would like to think that my brother sort of knew what was up and tried his best to make up for any deficit in parental attention. I love my brother and he really is a hero. But it was my relationship with my parents that got a little stormy.
Now that I am older and I see how life with ALL my brothers has played out I know my parents love me. But I have to admit, and I sort of hate to admit that there were times when I was much younger that I very much doubted their interest in me. So I clung to my brother who seemed to have all the time in the world for me. Even when he was going through negative symptom, I could sit in his room and color as long as I didn’t say too much. He would color with me.
I don’t talk about this part of life very much because it causes so much guilt. But siblings do feel forgotten and left out because we don’t need the extra attention. I know 100 times over that my brother didn’t ask for this, would love to never have it, is working his butt off trying to over come this… but I didn’t have this insight when I was 5. I just saw it as I was the mistake. When my brother was getting really unsteady I was sent to live with an aunt for a few months. It helped my parents figure out what to do and learn and help my brother get better. The time I got sent away is the time my parents needed to form the battle plan that got my brother to this point today. They needed to focus on him and figure out what in the world to do.
But being 7 years old and having to be sent away because HE is sick just confirmed my 7 year old suspicions that my parents had no interest in me and didn’t want me. Plus I am the only girl.So I took that on as being one of my defects. (If ONLY I was a mentally ill boy they would love me.)
I KNOW now that it’s not the case at all. But again, 7 years old… I too am in therapy and I too have benefitted from a sibling support group. I had very hurt feelings about my parents. My parents brought me back into the house when I accidently broke their heart. With the help of a much older cousin, (maybe it was his idea) I put a want ad in the alternative newspaper looking for new parents and why. They found the ad and then they answered the ad. They still have the ad. It was on the family fridge for YEARS. I think they kept it as a way to remember the other siblings.
I’m not the only sibling who has wished to have mental illness so our parents would love us too. Again, not a lot of insight when I was 5-8. The hardest part for me was the egg shells that were around when my brother was crumbling. There were a lot of rules of what to do, say, how to say it, what not to say, how not to act, don’t express any emotion, don’t ask any questions that might be upsetting, don’t talk about it, don’t ignore it. I was always more at ease around my brother then my parents because my brother was so out there he didn’t seem to care what I said, did, asked. I had a much easer time around him.
From a siblings point of view there are a few books that are tucked away in my house…
Hidden Victims / Hidden Healers- Julie Tallard Johnson
Being the “Other” one- Kate Strohm
The Normal One- Jeanne Safer
Mad House- Clea Simon