One area of psychology that has been often neglected in research and in counseling is the importance of relationships with siblings and how this affects other areas of one’s life and relationships. Freud did not even mention Siblings in his work as a topic of exploration, except to mention he would put his siblings on an island (p. 29). Quoted in the video below is the statistic that one third of adult siblings experience sibling strife. Safer deals specifically with the experience of having a sibling or siblings with an illness or ‘abnormality’ that was difficult and wounding for a “Normal One.” The book is very insightful and validating of that experience. However, there is also the experience of one’s own ‘abnormality’ and struggles in identifying with humanity as we all are ‘Abnormal’ and broken in some areas. In my opinion there is balance in blaming one’s siblings and family, acknowledging the wounds and healing, and seeing one’s own role in the problem. She has a lot of insight into the stigma that comes with family problems specific to sibling strife when she says, a “damaged sibling a disavowed part of self.”
Although, from the moment we are born we are little individuals with thoughts and feeling in our own right, we begin as a part of this family. Unless we are adopted, it’s the one family we get and the first place we learn, among many things, to attach to others. Adoption comes with its own wounding, even at a very young age. The wounds from our families come with their own set of stigmas and beliefs that guard our acknowledgement of them and healing. We can all admit that we can learn a lot from research of our families- for the benefit of the human race! Do not neglect your siblings! One of my cousins, once, at a family reunion while smoking a cigarette in the driveway said to me, “They should do a research study on our family. Seriously. They would learn so much!” Now, my family has a very rich heritage and fame in its line, but I do not let this get in the way of healing the wounds. We also are all so unique, not one an exact twin. This is not “Gatica,” if you remember that movie where DNA mapped out one’s life status and discrimination. Often people, out of their own wounding will deny and put up a front that there is a ‘perfect’ family. However, if you do not acknowledge the wounds they can not be healed.
If you have a sibling consider them in celebration of Siblings Day! What good memories do you have of your sibling or siblings?
Safer, Jean. The Normal One.
“There is no gene for the human spirit”
Family is so important. Almost all of us have a family and if we do not then it is sorely missed. We feel compelled to find some sense of family somewhere. I believe it is fundamental to human psychology. We need our mom and a dad and siblings in whatever fashion they come. Some of us are adopted and some of us find them in the neighborhood, if not just for a season.
When we got dropped off at kindergarten the first day and mom or dad waved goodbye we had to find a new mom or dad. On the bus the first year of kindergarten me and my new best friend both had an adopted 5th grade ‘mom’ on the bus that looked out for us. This is normal and healthy because we need to be socialized. We also bond with new people, and move out to make our own ‘family.’ None of us are around forever and no-one is always present.
When people in our family are absent or not there due to illness, abandonment, drug use, separation and divorce, or death it wounds and sometimes even cripples us. Sometimes the wound is so deep and painful that one has to go through a grieving process as though a family or family member died. Only then can we accept the love that was always there even in the midst of what was painfully missing. We need to feel we belong somewhere. That is why social stigma is so wounding. That is why bullying is so wounding, cliques, and gossip. When we do not fit in anywhere we can feel like aliens and strangers, very alone.
In one of my favorite movies this idea is explored: The Muppets from Space. Gonzo has an identity crisis and feels he does not know where he belongs or is from. At the end of the movie, the best moment in the film, his family is revealed and celebrates HIM and THEM together! He shouts, “That’s MY FAMILY!!!!”
So many times, I believe, God (or fate if you will) puts families together. There is no program for this but when it happens it is nothing short of magical! Some families come together through formal adoption, others feel the magic and know it is a special brotherhood, sisterhood, or parental bond that has happened. The wounds that were inflicted can be healed in relationships.
I love my family and they have been very good to me. Every family has wounds.This has happened in my life. See below this video just some of the very special people in my life who have become family. 😉