The Normal One – Life With a Difficult or Damaged Sibling… by Jeanne Safer, Ph.D.
Okay, Okay so I’m a bookaholic. Just finished another one and I have about fifteen in the wings. The past summers, since I can remember, were ones of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This summer is my summer to read and relax (do you think I'm kidding myself here - I'm not sure). It might not sound all that great to some, but to me it sounds wonderful.
I just finished a quick read called The Normal One – Life with a Difficult of Damaged Sibling. I was recommended the book by a friend of mine. My brother has been gone a long time now, but he had such a hard and different life. A difficult life. Did his difficult life influence my life?
I never gave any thought to the idea that maybe, part of my childhood was rougher because of him. I always felt he and I were survivors of a very troubled childhood because of our parents. He was the only person alive that knew exactly what I felt and what I had gone though. Now no one does. Maybe my childhood was difficult because of both reasons.
Yes, he was a tad bit dysfunctional I must admit and I realize after reading this book that some of my past issues I’ve worked on through the years, stem from that. I guess no amount of maneuvering your life can change the truth - siblings help define our childhood.
Page 94 talks about feeling invisible. I felt invisible growing up (until I hit about 15 and then I became quite visible). With my brother always needing things, constantly being in trouble, and being so dysfunctional - how could I demand more from my dysfunctional parents and be needy myself? I never came first. In fact, I felt like I was talking care of my parents instead of them taking care o f me and my brother. Six going on sixty.
I think I grew up for a hunger and thirst for attention that was not satisfied as a child. I had to tell myself I didn’t need them as I grew up. It worked for awhile, but how much can one take? Guess that's why I had such a time time with love.
Page 100 talks about having to be perfect to make up for others mistakes. I always felt I had to be the perfect one. UNFAILINGLY GOOD.
Page 108 talks about survivor guilt. I had that too. I felt horrible that my parents liked me better than my brother. That I had more than my brother. She calls this the Caliban Syndrome.
Maybe too, it altered my destiny. What do I care now that he's gone anyway? I loved my brother dearly, I stayed faithful to him until his last breath, and it’s finished. I worked very hard to become the person I am today and I've grown a lot - probably, from all this. So I'm grateful for it.
I didn't always feel this grateful and if I made all this sound simple and easy, don't get me wrong, it takes years to consciously change and turn around and accept, but it can be done.
But if both you and your sibling are alive and you are having troubled with a sibling, The Normal One is a great book.