Saturday, 3 September 2011

Family matters...

This post is not so much about me as a student midwife but about me as a person, about my family. I've already told you all about losing my brother after all. I know I've mentioned my sister but I don't expect I've told you much about her and her family. This is all heading somewhere but I just feel that the background is vital....there is no point me telling you the ending without you knowing what came first and I believe that the whole story plays a part in where we are today. It's a part of what makes me who I am. It's a part of what makes up the relationship that my sister and I have today.

My sister is 5 years older than me. As a child I idolised her, I wanted to be just like her. I don't really know why...she wasn't very nice to me - I was her nuisance baby sister. Our mum used to occasionally dress us the same - not a problem for me but I am sure it was pretty embarrassing for her. She wasn't really mean to me but she'd want to sit and read her books and I wanted her to play with me so she'd often tell me to go away and leave her alone. If she wanted to play however, she'd make out she was doing me a big favour and sit and play with my flower fairies and my little ponies with me. We used to share a room until I was 10 and she was 15, and we moved house. We had bunk beds and we both wanted to sleep on the top bunk so she'd tell me to stay awake and maybe she'd let me sleep on the top bunk. I am sure I was often asleep when she came up but I can certainly remember the occasions when I managed to stay awake and she wouldn't swap.

However for me, her halo slipped when she was 17. She had a new boyfriend and we didn't see much of her. When she was at home she'd be in her room, when she wasn't in her room, she was a typical teen and all you'd get was hormones. Then all of a sudden she left home. My parents were out one day and my sister was "in charge" of me and my brother. She left a note for my mum with me and she left. As it turned out, the note was to tell my parents that she was off to live with her boyfriend and she wasn't coming back. My parents were devastated as you can imagine. I was only 12 but I can remember a lot of hushed conversations at home. One day at school, one of the girls asked me if my sister was pregnant which I denied. When I told my mum however, it turned out to be true. There followed discussions with my sister and her boyfriend and his parents and eventually it was decided that they were going to get married, and they were both going to move back in with us. My sister's halo didn't slip because she left home, it didn't slip because she was pregnant, it slipped because she upset my parents so badly.

I recall it being around this time that I was allowed to get my ears pierced whereas my sister wasn't allowed until she was 16. My sister moaned for years about this fact - she didn't realise that in part it was because of her I was allowed mine done early. I don't know what I did, but my mum told me I was a big help to her at that time. Anyway my sister married her boyfriend and shortly before she turned 18 she became a mum. I have loved being an Auntie ever since and I was honoured to become her baby girls godmother. My sister and her husband moved into their own place and a couple of years later had a little boy. Life got better and they managed to buy their own house and 5 years later had another baby girl. I was so proud of them. They hadn't made the best choices but they'd pulled their socks up, worked hard and made a life and a home for themselves. I used to visit my sister weekly at that time, her youngest daughter just a baby. We used to go shopping a lot.  Life went on....there were ups and downs but generally life was good, life was "normal", life was uneventful - oh wasn't that nice! Then followed a catalogue of events that sometimes blurs in which order it all happened. It's the part of our lives that we sometimes think people wouldn't believe. However I am going to focus on the events directly involving my sister and her family, although it was around the same time as my brother falling ill and me getting married.

My eldest niece was 13. My sister and her husband had separated and although we were all initially shocked, it certainly seemed to be the best decision. Then came the bombshell. My niece confided in a friend at school. Her father had been sexually abusing her. Our lives changed in an instant, although of course, hers had changed some time before when it had all begun.

There is so much more to say that it is simply too much for one post alone so I shall tell the next part of the tale next time....

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