What do you do when you realise your own mother is trying to steal everything your little sister holds dear? It’s not a new thing. My mother has been insanely jealous of her youngest daughter, Dwyn, since she was born. But this week I caught my mother snuggled up to Dwyn’s partner, Steve, as they shared a fag in the back garden. Her hand was on his thigh. That’s when I knew. Mom intends to seduce my sister’s partner. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Two years ago, I introduced Dwyn to readers of this blog. She’d recently emerged from what seemed like bloody mortal combat with our mother who fought Dwyn tooth-and-nail for her right to grow up, have a career, have a relationship, a home of her own and a family of her own. I’m glad to say Dwyn won but not without her fair share of war wounds.
Well, I thought Dwyn had won until I saw my mother’s hand on Steve’s thigh. Then I realised the battle still rages.
So what is my mother’s problem? In a word: jealousy. She is insanely jealous of Dwyn. If Mam doesn’t have it, Dwyn can’t have it either.
Like so many older women, Mam married young and quickly started a family. She’s never been independent. Never had to support herself. Never had a place of her own. The only pronouns she uses are plural: ‘we’ and ‘us’. She’s never been ‘I’.
I remember her mostly in carpet slippers and housedresses. Even her Sunday best clothes were conservative and her shoes always sensible.
Maybe it was being widowed that sent Mam over the edge. Maybe it was menopause. Maybe she was less satisfied with her lot in life than I realised. If I thought Mam was jealous and suspicious of me when I reached puberty, it was nothing compared to her jealousy of her ‘baby,’ Dwyn.
The first time I became aware of it was when Dwyn was eleven. She showed me the bra Mam had bought her. Her first bra. It wasn’t cute or pink or anything a little girl seguing into becoming a woman would like to ease the awkward transition. It didn’t even have proper cups. Mam had insisted Dwyn get the plainest, ugliest, greyest, tightest sports bra in the shop. ‘It’s so tight it hurts’, Dwyn whispered. It was obvious our mother was trying to bind her chest, keep her a little girl forever, stop her breasts from developing.
‘One time I hung it up to dry by the radiator’, Dwyn told me. ‘Da saw it and Mam freaked. She said I was trying to seduce my father’. She was in tears.
I tried to comfort my little sister but she was already convinced Mam was right. A red ‘I’ for incestuous was all but tattooed on her forehead, but only Dwyn could see it. ‘She won’t let me hug Da anymore because I have boobs now’, Dwyn confided to me. I was horrified. If our mother had set out to sexualize the relationship between daughter and father, she couldn’t have succeeded better. ‘I told her I liked my big boobs and want a proper bra but she got mad at me’, Dwyn sobbed. ‘Mam said I was a whore.’ At the time, I chalked it up as a weird thing said by our mother who has always flirted with the fine edge of insanity.
If I thought life would become easier for Dwyn when she got her first job and earned the money to buy for her own clothing, lingerie and shoes, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Photo by chintermeyer