I am an only child to my biological parents. They divorced and I followed my mom to Belgium as a sweet trailing child. She remarried.

When my first brother was born, I developed the super human power to become invisible. After my second brother saw the light of day, my parents made the distinction between “the boys” and “She”. No name calling.

Now if you think this is a story of sibling rivalry, you are quite mistaken. What I am aiming to demonstrate with this post is that five people may live under the same roof. Each of them will live the same story differently. One event, five stories. Siblings with an age gap will also experience their parents differently, because these people are at a different place in their lives at that time. For better or for worse. Each experience being unique.

Back to the siblings. The first brother was unfortunate to have come at a time when my mother fell into a deep depression. Her state of mind earned him the label of having ADHD. Now there has been so much debate around the subject of ADHD that I have found myself on the side of the nay-sayers. A close friend of mine and child psychologist has confirmed what I suspected all along : children are sponges acting out when a mother has given up on the joy of life and can’t muster the strength to take care of her offspring. Instead she will watch helplessly as the child runs rampant, unchecked for bad behaviour. And then they’re surprised.

To compensate though, a great book can be found about nutritional additives which are used in processed foods. Some dark connection to ADHD, so the assumption goes. And so each supermarket trip would be carefully referenced by checking every tin and can for the additives contained. If one of them made the “ugly” list, the item would not be purchased. I say : diss the book, forget about processed foods and buy fresh. Do I hear protest there? It takes too much time to cook fresh vegetables? According to this YouTube film it’s something like 11 seconds to cut up a zucchini. But hey, that might be tricked with special effects. Wouldn’t trust any info you find on the internet.

The second brother was perfect though, all nice and subdued, preferred not to rock the boat after witnessing horrific punishments inflicted on the first brother. Insert your dark imagination here. It will be good.

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My relationship to my siblings? They were these funny little people who lived in the same house, also known as “the boys”. As it turns out, I happened to hold a privileged position. My parents call me “She”. They were of course referring to the great queen heroine in the classic novel by Henry Rider Haggard: “She-who-must-be-obeyed”. I can only glow with pride and gratitude.

How not to end up like your siblings

My brothers and I rarely fought. Yet the divide exists between “the boys” and the “She Queen”. Granted, my mom had been deranged for years from rampaging hormones, sleep deprivation, and the quadrupling of at-home work. She lost her temper frequently, and her partner closed down and retreated — a classic pattern in the perfectly dysfunctional family that psychologists call demand/ withdrawal. Demand/ withdrawal often stems from a power imbalance.

Of course, traditional siblings don’t have the same sway in every relationship. My journey to restore peace of mind (and fun) in my world carries some lessons in it for all of us. This is how BS gets passed down through generations. Until somebody sets out to find the pattern and with that manage to change their fate.

— Tremelo, Belgium (May 2017)

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