Being a replacement child and making the connections only recently at an older age, it becomes apparent that each person’s story involves individual and specific circumstances relative to their immediate family, which makes the replacement child syndrome more difficult to treat in a generic approach.
I was a replacement child after the death of my sibling at an early age. I have one older sibling, born before my sister.
My strong feeling is that my mother did what was expected of her, not what she wanted – only to fill the void within the family. I believe the death of her previous child left her with frozen emotions, not able or willing to bond with me. My father seemed to grieve the death in a healthy way, however, his relationship with my mother was more about meeting her needs and so he was not a source of protection for me from the storm.
I was conceived for the appearance of a complete family to the world, but not for the purpose of a healthy subsequent addition. My mother was very big on appearance.
The expectations of my childhood was to be “seen and not heard” and “not to rock the boat” – we lived in four different homes, so the chance to find someone outside the immediate family for support were slim.
Lacking a sense of self, or self-esteem, my life has essentially been one of survival. I have had more jobs than I can count, am divorced, and have two boys from the marriage who I remain close to, though they both have issues they are struggling with, which hurts me to watch.
I am well aware of my fears, anxiety and distorted thinking involving lack of ability to make friends. Simply, I wasn’t raised to be an adult. My mother use to say, “I just don’t know what’s wrong with you” – I didn’t even know what she was talking about. I’ve only recently learned that my older brother is traumatized by his sister’s death and took out much of his frustration through me. We recently stopped communicating when he refused to respect my viewpoint, and I asserted my right to boundaries, which I never knew I had.
Now at the age of 68 and understanding the complete story, I struggle to put the past behind and live in the present – ways of operating are hardwired and automatic. Further, as anyone my age knows, as we get older, other factors – health, finances, emotional support come into play.
As I read this back to myself, it sounds very cold like someone just looking for pity. However, I do not want any pity – this is my story and an acceptance on my behalf of what my life story is, like others, we are victims of circumstances.
I hope this is printed in the Replacement Child Forum to be shared with other Replacement Children, but even if it is not, I feel like I have shared my particular story outside of my family, with the right to exist as a unique human being in this world.