I don’t have many memories before I was 5 or 6. I was the oldest of 3 boys. I do remember my twin brothers being born when I was 5. It was a very trying time for the family. My mother found out she was having twins about a month before she delivered (no ultrasound in those days). I remember the shocked look on my father’s face when my mother came home from the doctor and told him they were having twins. Having twin younger brothers started a whirlwind of change in my life from which I have yet to recover.
Below is the first significant memory I have of being humiliated by my mother:
I was born on the 6th of the month, so my 6 yr old birthday was my golden birthday. My mother had planned a huge party for my golden birthday, complete with about 15 friends, hats, noisemakers and a cake. Everyone showed up and we first played games in the side yard of the house. The first game we played was red rover. Since it was my birthday, I was the first one to be called over. I ran as fast as I could but I didn’t manage to break through the line. I ended up smacking my head on the ground as I fell. I immediately burst into tears and then started to throw a tantrum because “it was my birthday and I should win!” Although inappropriate, my display was not entirely unreasonable behavior for a 6 yr old. My mother, aghast that I was making such a scene, sent me to my room while the rest of the kids invited to the party played the games she had planned. I was eventually allowed to come out after the games were over and before the cake was served. This started a lifelong series of humiliations by my mother that are still occurring to this day.
Looking back, I can now see the dynamics of this event. In my family, image was everything. You had to look good, and the kids were supposed to bring positive accolades to the family. If the kids did something to draw negative attention to the family, they needed to be punished severely. In this instance, my mother had planned this huge party (look how great of a party I threw you!) and then when I acted up, I, in her mind, ruined her fantastic affair. I had also brought embarrassment to the family because of my outburst in front of all my friends and they would now go home and tell their family about how much of a brat I was, bringing further embarrassment to the family. I was six and it was my birthday. Why couldn’t she have redirected me or taken me aside and talked to me about it and let me continue to play with my friends? No I had to be punished and humiliated.