Page 21 - Trapped in a Diamond

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11
Seven Signs That You Are Losing Yourself in a Relationship
Paolina’s Departure
Our beloved live-in nanny, Paolina, also joined us in Rome. I always
considered her to be my real mother. She was the protector, the caring
human being we so desperately needed in our lives. Paolina was always
there for us, trying in vain to stop the beatings and consoling us after-
ward. At age forty-two, Paolina fell in love and left us to marry a won-
derful man in northern Italy. We were devastated, but at the same time,
we were delighted for her.
Her departure changed my life dramatically. I was sixteen and my older
sister was nineteen. The newest additions to our family were a five-year-
old and a two-year old. With five children, a career, and no knowledge of
cooking and cleaning whatsoever, my mother’s efforts to run the house-
hold on her own were disastrous. A housekeeper was hired to work ev-
ery day for five hours to contend with household chores, and I became
the care giver of my younger siblings.
My mother knew nothing about mothering and had no desire to learn.
My older sister somehow escaped her responsibility toward the little
ones, so it was up to me to be their mother, their friend, and their play-
mate. I enjoyed it, possibly because it was the first time and only time
I felt loved. My parents took full advantage of this, and as they gave me
more responsibility for the children, they took away more of my free-
dom. To say my needs were secondary is an understatement. I simply
wasn’t allowed to have any.
My father and mother entered parenthood believing their children
should be coerced, manipulated, and forced into the mold of who they
wanted them to be. As a result, our ideas were ignored, invalidated, or
ridiculed. “You still have milk behind your ears,” they often told us. “You