Mam disapproved of everything Dwyn selected. With her flair for vintage styles and clotheshorse figure, Dwyn could rock a 1940s tailored suit from an antique shop brilliantly. Paired with red lipstick and lace-up pumps, Dwyn looked like a young Vera Lynn.
But Mam went insane. She called Dwyn a ‘whore’ and a ‘c**t’. Threatened to make her walk the streets like ‘the streetwalked you really are’. One day Dwyn came home to find all her beautiful, expensive vintage clothes and heels in the dustbin, torn to shreds. In their place were sensible, shapeless, figure-hiding jumpers and ugly flats. She was inconsolable. As inconsolable as she was when Dwyn discovered her first boyfriend, Sean, in bed with our mother.
Maybe I should have figured it out sooner. Maybe I should have tried to protect my little sister more. I was too distracted with my own life and building my career to pay attention to what Dwyn was going through. She always tended to keep her troubles to herself and somehow she grew up, anyways.
Every step, every year, every milestone was a fight. Dwyn emerged in adulthood bloody but alive. Then she met Steve. He was everything she’d ever wanted in a man. Kind, handsome responsible. They fell in love and planned to start a family. But Mam wasn’t having any of it.
‘It’s too dangerous’ she shrieked. ‘I was glad you were single. Pregnancy is so dangerous. After all I’ve done for you, you’re willing to throw your life away for a stupid baby!’ Dwyn thought again; she stayed on birth control despite Steve’s desire to start a family with her. It drove a wedge between them.
That’s when I heard whispering from the back garden. The name ‘Dwyn’ was repeated, followed by guffaws of laughter. Was I evesdropping? You’d better believe it. But when I saw my mother virtually canoodling with Steve, that’s when, I finally got it. She’s doing it again. Our Mam’s not weird. She’s not insane. She’s insanely jealous of her own daughter.
If she can’t have it, and have it first, then Dwyn can’t have it either. That’s why Mam’s fought Dwyn every step of life’s way.
My mother is flat-chested. That’s why she bound Dwyn’s breasts as flat as possible.
My mother has a figure like a potato sack tied in the middle. That’s why she destroyed all of Dwyn’s beautiful clothes.
My mother has only ever had sensible flat shoes. That’s why she binned Dwyn’s antique heels.
My mother has never had independence. That’s why she fought Dwyn moving into her own flat tooth-and-nail.
My mother is widowed and if she can’t have Steve in her bed, Dwyn can’t have him either.
Jealous mothers. There are more of them than society wants to admit. They are unconscionable and make life hellacious for their daughters. It’s about time we laid their cards on the table, even if they refuse to be honest.
They’re child-women. They never grew up and they’ll be damned if their daughters are allowed anything they don’t have and that includes their men.
I’ll always regret I didn’t protect my little sister when she was growing up. Now I know what’s going on and you may be sure I told Dwyn exactly what I saw in the back garden. From this day forward, I pledge to be my sister’s greatest advocate and my jealous mother’s worst nightmare.