Today my fourteen year old niece announced mid dinner in a restaurant that she wasn't joking but thinks there is something actually psychologically wrong with her. She got mixed reactions from the crowd, which included two aunts (me being one), my husband and a cousin. My sister, Katie tried to tell her that the symptoms which included 'suddenly getting really really angry and hearing myself being horrible to people for no reason and then being really happy all of a sudden all the time' were normal because she gets the same thing. I had to bite my tongue from telling my sister that she may not realise it but she's not so normal herself. I expressed to my niece that maybe part of it is just being a teenager but that she has had a difficult life (to which my sister outright disagreed with me: so having two abusive parents and no sense of stability in life and moving countries twice and going through your parents extremely messy breakup and then your grandparents doing the same and having the responsibility of practically caring for your two younger sisters and spending the first half of your life in a cult isn't difficult?) and two very volatile parents so it would be understandable if she was having problems expressing her anger or emotions appropriately.
I don't know how well my niece really understood how well I was understanding her but I was surprised at my sister's resistance to the conversation. I sensed she disagreed with me even engaging in the conversation.
The thing is, if you grew up in my family, you would be a miracle child not to be psychologically affected. Is this just a pattern of mentallness that will be passed on from generation to generation because each parent is so fucked up by the ones they had? Is this reason enough for me to never have a child of my own? I like to tell myself I am the least crazy of me and my sisters (and I have DID!) but maybe I'm just naive. I don't know that I won't damage my children in the same way my sisters have damaged theirs.
It's sad though, because I feel I have so much to offer a child. I feel I could be an amazing mother. Yet at the same time, I know I couldn't do it consistently because of who I am sometimes. I myself am unstable in that there are other parts of me who can't tolerate humans. How would they tolerate a needy child? Will I ever be different? Is there any hope for me or would I be doing the world a favour by allowing this chain of crazy genes/learned behaviours to die with me?
My eldest sister Noeline has been getting on my goat a lot lately. She appears to be going through some kind of extended mental breakdown, which involves being extremely accusatory, harsh and angry towards everyone she knows. She managed to fall out with my entire family, including me, while I was away on my big trip earlier in the year (I hadn't even been speaking to her, I just got home to find I had been blocked from her facebook). She then reinstated us onto facebook via a new separate identity she has set up so that it is secondary to her 'real' facebook. She doesn't post much on this, except to moan about how hard her life is as a single mum and to write critical things on our profiles. She has pissed me off something shocking this week, firstly because she had a go at me for not getting in touch with my dad and for not making more effort with him while he was over. This really upset me. I can cope with harsh judgements from outsiders who don't know my dad or the history, but my very own sister?! She of all people should know why I might not be keen to make much effort with him.
She annoyed me again because she posted a picture of her little girl wearing a special dress which has been worn by all the girls in our family so far: me and my sisters and all my nieces. She said that she was going to keep the dress now to hand down to her children's children to wear. I questioned what about mine or Katie's children, as neither of us have kids yet and she posted a harsh and cutting response about how it was hers to do what she wants with etc. There's just no need. She could have said that she'd happily lend it to them to wear or something like that but that's Noeline for you. I felt angry but I didn't want to let her know that. I also didn't want to just say nothing because I feel like she only says hurtful and cutting things because she gets away with it, so I just responded by saying: "Oh well, it's only a dress". I think that will piss her off, which I'm glad about, because she's certainly pissed plenty of people off lately.
I asked the rhetorical question on twitter and I ask it again (although if you have the answer that would be great!): how much crap do you take from a member of your family before it is enough? Is there some kind of manual with guidelines as to the recommended amount of abuse you should tolerate? If she wasn't my sister, she wouldn't be in my life anymore. It would be simple: friends don't treat their friends that way. She obviously hates me so get her out of my life. When you share blood it's different though isn't it? But does that mean you should just put up with anything?