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Showing posts from September, 2018

Ch. 30 Forgiving the OCS Person

Forgiveness rather than revenge has recently become a hot topic, and most religions and philosophies side with forgiveness. Revenge is rejected as being unChristian, bestial and a bygone behavior that existed in earlier centuries. Now the trend is to forgive almost everything, although some people still reserve the right to reject the perpetrators of, for instance, the Nazi Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s and 9/11 in NYC. Naturally forgiveness has a variety of definitions, but the one we will use here maintains that there is no forgiveness unless the person apologizes and takes responsibility for whatever misbehavior occurred. As I mentioned earlier, in the case of my sib, I do not expect that I will ever confer forgiveness on her because she basically laughs off the idea of a sincere apology. She thought that by repeating meaningless words of apology to "satisfy" my "weird" need that she could get us back on an even footing. I'm not sure her motives for reco…

Ch. 29 What OCS Is Not

OCS is not the same as narcissism although the syndrome may bear a resemblance. Narcissism is not as comprehensive as OCS. OCS affects more than the person who has it. It extends to the people around you whether they are relatives, friends, colleagues or strangers whereas narcissism restricts itself to the affected person.

Also, OCS, as I stated previously, is not in any official medical tome. If you find it at all on the Internet, it will be described as those situations in which families actually have only one child. Experts may describe the pros and cons of being an only child such as not having to share a parent's attention or material possessions or lacking another person to act as caretaker when parents get older. Only Child syndrome, as we define it, refers to the mindset of a person rather than his or her lack of or number of siblings.

Another aspect of OCS that is unique is that it describes a syndrome that can affect a child or an adult. It is not limited to children. It…

Ch. 28 If I Had OCS

It's possible that you  yoursel can be an OCS person or at least have those tendencies. Don't place blame or get angry. You might have been lured into this mindset by a helicoptering parent, the lack of other siblings, or some other factor. First, make sure that you are an OCS by asking yourself these five key questions:

Do I steer most conversations so they're about me?
Do I ignore other people's gripes about me?
Do I have difficulty making friends?
Do I accept responsibility for my actions?
How do I react when people criticize me?

If you're an OCS person with a depressive or anxious temperament, you may act a little differently than the usual OCS adult. For instance, a former woman friend with OCS also had ADD. The ADD often made her depressed because she never seemed to be able to settle on one career. She would start studying for one area, then find herself interested in something else, but when a friend or therapist told her she was undermining her own success…

Ch. 27 How to Cope with an OCS Sibling

For those of you with an OCS sibling, cousin, or other relative or friend, I've gathered together a few techniques that may help you. Keep in mind that like any disease or negative  characteristic, the earlier you find it, the better you are able to cope with it. And depending on the personality or temperament of your OCS child or adult, some techniques may not work as well as others.

Here are the 10 most effective methods of dealing with an OCS child or adult:

1. Do not allow this person to hog the conversation to the point where you're saying virtually nothing. OCS people love to talk about themselves and the sooner you communicate that you have limits (psychologists call them boundaries), the better you are. I remember that I took "politeness" to a ridiculous new high when I listened for a good 15 minutes to my sister's explanation of the card game bridge. I told her I wasn't interested in learning this game, but she tuned out and monologued. Also, be prep…

Ch. 26 Can This Marriage Be Saved, Part 2

While the wife is mulling over her marriage, she recognizes that her husband is an OCS adult. This syndrome has affected her marriage as well as her life choices and those of her children/...............

Her awareness of her husband's OCS gives her an advantage, and she depends on pre-emptive strikes to eliminate most of his worst behaviors. And now the children are adults who also have knowledge of their father's OCS status.

Who are these family members? Some of you may have already guessed correctly. These relatives are none other than my mother, father, OCS sister and myself. Although my mother knew my dad's potential for doing harm, as she grew older and more secure, she found coping ways to handle my dad. As a result, his behaviors were not as harmful as they might have been. For instance, when I had the chance to take a six-week summer trip to Europe, my dad said no initially. But my mom helped him understand that being away from family for a lengthy time was somethi…

Ch. 25 Can this OCS Marriage Be Saved?

Let's say you've married an OCS adult. Lately you've been quarreling a lot. You have attributed it to different priorities, values,  and temperaments. That may be true, but if you're really being honest with yourself, maybe you've married someone with OCS. Is there hope for this marriage, or should you just call it quits?

Good question. Everyone eventually has to do a cost-benefit analysis of their important relationships and determine the outcome by weighing the good and the bad. But before you do that, let me tell you about a couple I knew and describe the trajectory of their marriage.

In this instance the OCS adult was the husband. He earned a decent living in a profession he pretty much disliked. So a lot of his positive career energy was siphoned off into sticking his nose in everybody's business: his wife and kids, predominantly, but also some of his wife's extended family. This OCS adult actually grew up as an only child and derived some of his bad h…

Ch. 24 The Funniest OCS Adventure

Not all OCS adults are subtle about their manipulative, controlling ways. Some are so blatant that it's hard not to laugh at them.

Once my husband and I met a chiropractor and his wife for dinner. My husband knew the guy but had never spoken to the wife. After a few hellos and how are yous, she got down to business.

WOC (wife of chiropractor): Where do you live?
Me: McCormick Ranch
WOC: What kind of car do you drive?
Me: Buick Le Sabre
WOC: Kids?
Me: Don't have any.

It only took her four questions to see if I was a competitor. That was a new record, I thought. Most OCS adults beat around the bush for the first 15 minutes and then get to the nitty gritty. But she went straight to the heart of what was important to her: money and status. Not surprisingly we had an okay evening but her dog-eat-dog spirit was so obnoxious that we never saw them socially again.

Another time I had to take on a pair of OCSs. Married, they echoed each other perfectly in speech and even body language. …

Ch. 23 Mrs. B: the Messenger of My Downfall

After receiving our grades, the three student teachers and their mentors went out to lunch at a nearby restaurant. It was supposed to be a fun time, but at least for me, the meal was hard to swallow. I nearly broke down in the classroom when Mrs. B gave me the bad news.about my grade. I don't think it would have mattered one scintilla, but Mrs. B ordered me to cut out the tears, and I did it in record time. You didn't  disobey an OCS like Mrs. B. After all, she was now the master of my fate.

Back at college I had a full slate of classes and I walked through them in a haze of depression. I don't know what my parents or friends thought of my demeanor, but no one said anything encouraging. I probably seemed normal to them since depression was my norm. Still, although I pretty much told everyone about my lousy grade, I didn't put two and two together and arrive at a helpful conclusion. I was stubbornly persistent in that if I had made it through all those years of classes,…

Ch 22 The OCS Adult Who Changed My Life

She was an imposing figure of a grade school teacher who waltzed into the classroom with the utmost confidence. She wore brightly-colored, loose-fitting, off-the-rack dresses as though they were designer creations. One glance and she could quiet 26 jabbering juveniles. In fact one glance from her and I was putty; she was that authoritarian. To say I liked her would be incorrect. But I did respect her and envy her talent for transferring herself into the quintessential disciplinarian. A heavy woman, her extra pounds added to her strength and ability to intimidate.

I wanted to be her--at least for the six weeks of student teaching. I thought that maybe just maybe if I hung around her and observed her techniques--emulating her every move--I would succeed. I had to succeed if I wanted to apply for teaching positions, earn a salary and move out of my parent's house. I didn't think beyond those short-term goals.

Two other students also were serving internships at the same school in …

Ch. 21 How Mothers Aid and Abet OCSs

When your mother makes the mistake of revealing your sib's IQ but can't seem to remember yours, that's one clue that you not only have a lower IQ than your sib, but you also rate lower.

That's what happened to me when I was a preteen. At the time I didn't recognize that my sib had OCS, but I definitely recognized that my mom had blooped in bringing up IQs and was now struggling to quash her mistake. Her fumbling didn't pass muster and I again had ammunition to believe I was a second-class citizen.

Another time my sister was charged with setting up the Old Bell & Howell projector to show some footage of when the family lived in Belleville, Illinois. It wasn't an easy task so when she succeeded, my mother went ga-ga over her job. Naturally I heard this compliment and made the unfair comparison that I would never be able to thread the projector as well as my sib. Ironically I had to learn how to do this when I attended library school.. I may not have been …

The Monster OCS Child: Gretel in the Fairy Tale Hansel and Gretel

Remember the innocent tale of Hansel and Gretel? When you were a kid, you probably heard the sanitized version, which went something like this: Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods, but fortunately Gretel left a path of stones to find their way home. But first the two sibs get hungry and decide to go to a witch's house conveniently made of candy. The ugly hag is nice at first, but then she gets nasty and threatens to throw the two kids in the oven. Before she is able to carry out her plan, Gretel pushes the witch into the oven. The children quickly leave the house, follow the path of stones and return home. And, of course, everyone lives happily after. But then you knew that.

Actually the original Grimm fairy tale is a lot more shocking. It's more like Freddie Krueger Slashes His Way Up and Down Elm St. Krueger is the legendary monster most of us have seen on movies. An OCS child if left undisciplined can be a monster too. Watch what happens when we add more of Grimm's …

Ch. 19 How to Neutralize an OCS Kid

Parents, babysitters, nannies and even child haters, gather round. Don't dissolve into a puddle if you should discover you have an OCS child. Look on it as an opportunity to diversify your parenting skills.

First, assume that your OCS child wants to attain power since that's their main goal. Accept this goal as legitimate. Some degree of power is healthy and normal as long as the other children and parents in the family do not feel compromised. Take my family situation, for example. The OCS sib was four years older and made good use of this advantage--for example she used her musical talent as a power-seeking missile to plunk out pop tunes on the piano by ear and earn respect and popularity. On the other hand her sib--me in this case--could not compete with this musical prowess. The closest I came to it was singing, and since this calmed me and I could carry a tune, I would wake early in the morning and hurry over to my rocking chair where I'd sing and hum as only a three-…

Ch. 18 OCS Kids: Me, Me, Me

Although I am childfree because I feel it's the most rational way for me to live, I am not entirely ignorant about kids. I baby sat in my teens for many summers and taught third grade for more years than I should have.

The reason for spotting OCS kids as early as possible is simple. First, you're doing them a favor, and second, self-preservation. Take me for example. If you apply the ever-popular nature/nurture theory, then I was born with certain genetic propensities that created a second-class citizen mold--that is to say, I was destined genetically to lack self-confidence. However this genetic tendency was exacerbated due to my OCS sib. By the time she got done trampling over my lifeless body, I was ready to acquiesce to anything. In short I became a "yes" person in the family. I was smart enough to resent my sibling, but not smart enough to do anything much about her. Basically that was because I deferred to my parents in matters of discipline and decorum. When m…

Ch. 17 OCS: It's All Over the Place

To recap I gave you an up-close-and-personal look at the damage an OCS sib  or friend can do. But the OCS adult doesn't have to be a relative or friend. This syndrome can affect any person within your personal and professional circle.

Take for example, a boss or supervisor. What about teachers or professors? Even a helping professional like a physician or dentist can have OCS. Some of you may recall the physician I blogged about several months ago--the middle-aged internist who had pledged to "Do no harm." In my case he did commit harm when he unleashed his anger at me for suggesting he might be well served by posting something about Valley -threatening disease endemic to the Southwest and recently worsening in Arizona and California. His insistence on retaining an all-powerful position collided with my need to spread awareness of Valley Fever. By "firing me" and telling me to seek out another physician, he damaged my self-esteem, which is always precarious due…

Ch. 16 Making Up is So Not to Do

Now that I know the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my mom's will and my sib's crazed reaction to it, I still dislike her intensely, but I don't feel as depressed. (it's amazing what a little forced honesty can do.) Still, ever since the funeral, we have been officially estranged, and I like it that way. Sure, I miss not having a close relative to bear my soul to (as if I would choose the OCS sib to give away my most private thoughts!), but c'est la vie, right?

About six or seven years pass and we don't speak. But I still am able to gather information via Google and Facebook. I still exchange pleasantries with my niece on FB. She posts photos, and I'm able to get the latest comings and goings of the sib and her family. She even invites me to a few birthday parties, which of course I pass up. I'd have to have my head examined (which in fact I do on a monthly basis) to subject myself to the OCS sib and her tribe. Besides, I think this niece i…

Ch.15 The OCS: Money is the Name of the Game

Safe in Arizona, about 2,500 miles away from the OCS sib, I realize that I'm still under her metaphorical thumb. She is the executrix of mom's will and as noted before, has refused to give me copies of the financial statements on my mom's estate. I figure I'll go to the financial consultant directly and ask her for copies, but she defers to my sib, who, as we all know, had manipulated my cognitively deficient mom into signing everything over to her eldest daughter.

So I'm stuck with dealing with an OCS relative.

Mix relation with OCS and money and you get what I got: a maybe fair accounting and distribution of the estate. The OCS adult doesn't know the word "equal." He or she knows "sequel," and that translates to more, more, more for the OCS. I'm not accusing my OCS sib of cheating me (that might be conceivably construed as slander or libel), but her actions gave the appearance of it. Plus her personal accountant did the math, and the b…

Ch. 14 OCS Adults: Convinced They Have a Monopoly on Suffering

Mom's transfer to the West Orange facility supposedly guaranteed her better dementia care, but it turns out that the sib was bamboozled into accepting this as fact. It was dementia unit in name only. I pleaded with the nurse assistant at the Somerset nursing home to spend some time each week with mom. She agrees and reports that the unit's decor is dreary. Within 10 days of her transfer, the facility reports that my mom can't control herself--that she reaches out and touches other patients. Duh. Isn't this expected of dementia patients. Besides I know plenty of "normal" people who do the same.

The nursing home sends her to a hospital, and when I speak to the charge nurse there she tells me that patients are often sent there if the nursing home deems they may be a danger to themselves or others. The nurse assistant I hired visits mom at the hospital and reports that ironically she is getting better care there than at the West Orange facility. But they cannot k…

Post 13: OCS: These Zebras Don't Change Their Stripes

Consistency is something you can count on with the OCS adult. In a weird way they're predictable.
When the behavior or the offense is minor, you often feel bored or taken advantage of. For example, everyone knows the story of Cinderella. Well, the stepmother is an OCS adult with nasty intents. She forces Cinderella to work like a slave, won't allow her to go to the ball and tries to prevent the prince from fitting the glass slipper on Cinderella's foot. She's only interested in her own agenda, no doubt about it, but what certifies her as an OCS is her self-aggrandizing perspective.

My sib had similar characteristics. She chose a nursing home with adequate credentials, but after seeing the individual care mom received, she failed to look at it from mom's perspective. Due to her dementia, Mom needed even more of the  attention and compassion she received as a normal functioning adult.

If you don't already know this, nursing homes are really energized by the numbe…

Part 12 OCS Sib: a Saga that Sucks

To refresh your mind, the last time we saw my sib (the OCS I've profiled here), everyone was celebrating my niece's wedding. I'm staying at my mom's condo, so I  hang out with her new friends, a couple about her age who recently moved into her residential community. As we talk, I gather a few more clues about my mom's physical and mental condition. She is now having problems telling time, and she calls up her new friends many times a day. The news isn't good. I fear the worst.

Over the next few months Mom has to recuperate from a heart attack, and my sib and I agree that an assisted living facility should be the next move. Up to now the sib and I are more or less on the same page. Soon this change. When finances rear their ugly heads, I learn that somehow my sister has prevailed on my mother to sign over all her monies and house to my sister. All documents are now in my sib's name. The condo will be up for sale, and my sister has deposited my mom's inhe…

Part 1l Surprise: Another OCS Emerges

Due to recent deaths in my family, I decide to reconnect with some of my Florida cousins. It takes me a few out-of-state social visits, but eventually--and unfortunately--I uncover another OCS person in my family. Surprise!

Older than me, petite and extremely energetic, my cousin has all the makings of  a great role model for aging. I figure I can learn a few things to enhance my life skills. Boy was I wrong!

At first, I was totally taken in by her niceness, her politesse. She seemed really happy to have me join her family and friends at the reunion venue at a Florida motel on the East coast of central Florida. We caught up on family happenings, and Barb seemed genuinely interested in my recent book publication of a biography on Beyonce. When the reunion ended, we pledged to stay in touch and we did, so much so, in fact, that my husband and I returned a year later to Florida for the wedding of Barb's niece. At that affair Barb and I didn't get a lot of "chat" time bu…

Part 10 We Interrupt This Sib Story for a Word About My Close Friend

Before you go assuming that my sib is the only OCS person I know and have contact with, let me put your mind at ease. The OCS person--whether child or adult--is as common as cockroaches and come to think of it, they're just as hearty. I've been told by entomologists that if Russia, Iran, or North Korea don't play nice and we end up suffering through a nuclear winter, there will still be cockroaches to feast on. Happy thought!

 I guess it would follow that OCS humans would be the first homosapiens to return to Earth.

As I was planning to say before I interrupted myself, I had a friend for more than 25 years who was an OCS. Of course for most of that time I was ignorant of this because I was either just plain stupid or I have a propensity to associate with self-absorbed people. I have a sneaking suspicion that I could be both, but that's my depression talking and I'd really like to give it the day off. So we can safely say that Toni, the friend I've known forever…

Part 9 OCS: Till Death Do Us Part?

Another crisis on the home front forces me to confront my sib's OCS baggage. My 85-year-old father has deteriorated, showing signs of dementia. The sib is bothered by this possible diagnosis, but of even greater import, she is totally disgusted that her schedule has been disturbed. The first thing she tells me after my 4-hour flight from Phoenix is that she spent the bulk of the night in the ER. Unfortunately the triage team in New Brunswick did not consider my father to be a high priority case, so the family had to wait many hours until Dad was moved to a bed. The sib did not like this in a BIG way.

To be fair, my sister is teaching high school at this time (I am freelancing, so according to her, I'm not actually working). I am the logical person to coordinate health care. On the advice of experts we relocate dad to a mental health facility in south Jersey, coincidentally the same one I spent a month in about 10 years ago. My mother and I visit every day, and the psychiatrist…

Part 8 Only Child Syndrome: I Finally Got the Message!

When we last left my sister, she was ignoring me per usual. (OCS people are excellent ignorers due to their innate ability to focus entirely on their own inner dialogue.) Playing bridge 24/7 helped her achieve her goal, but I daresay even if she loathed bridge, she would have found a way to thumb her nose at me.

Oh yes, the Accident. This occurred in the northern regions of Arizona in Flagstaff where winter snow bears the brunt of the bad weather news. My niece, who was in her twenties, was a passenger (sans seatbelts ) in a serious accident that injured her spine. This collision caused my sister to break her OCS promise never to acknowledge me. She had  to call for the simple reason that she needed me to do her bidding.

Naturally she ordered me to pick up her injured daughter (who was being air lifted from the Flagstaff hospital ER to Scottsdale's airport. The plan was to take her to a local doctor and have her injuries assessed. I complied, still playing the docile, malleable si…

Part 7 OCS: The Syndrome that Supports Superiority

It's embarrassing to admit that I did not consider my sister an OCS threat until I was married and moved out of state. I knew she wasn't crazy about me. That was obvious from the look on her face every time my parents asked her to assist-- for instance, give me a few tips on teaching (I was failing horribly with discipline). I knew she didn't care about my psychological problems, but I didn't know that she regarded me solely as competition. In fact if someone had tapped me on the shoulder and whispered in my ear that my sister vied with me for the title of The Bestest Daughter in the Land, I would have laughed, possibly hysterically. And here's why.

In my eyes, she had already emerged victorious.  She was prettier than me, she had more boyfriends, she was smarter (judging by her grades, SAT scores and college admissions letters), and she was less moody. She even chose the right religion. By "right" here I mean the religion practiced by my parents, which h…

Part 6 Only Child Syndrome: Friends Who Reek of It

It would probably take a psychiatrist to tease out all the reasons why I seem to attract friends with OCS, but since junior high I've had a series of girlfriends who, when it comes right down to it, don't give a fig leaf about me.

In 8th grade it was Sheila. Smart with average looks, she didn't take long to cut me down to size. It came natural to her.  During our friendship I had the advantage of knowing her parents and sibs. Despite being the youngest in the family, Sheila was the only girl. I  watched in awe as she bossed her older brothers around, making them jump through hoops while critiquing their performance or behavior. Her family was more than willing to tolerate her OCS because first of all, they weren't aware she was wielding all this power, and second, the parents' immigrant tradition had trickled down to their children-- the brothers were culturally hardwired to put their sister on a pedestal.

 However, I was not quite so amenable to being ordered arou…

Part 5: Only Child Syndrome and Adults

By the time the OCS person has reached the age of majority, he has developed a self-nurturing lifestyle that can mimic caring. Don't be fooled. This is mere pretense. OCS people do not change their modis operandi. Underneath that calm, smiling exterior lies repressed animosity and it surfaces in subtle ways. Take, for instance, my sib. As a twenty-something, I go to a singles dance and meet a neat guy who's in med school but also working in a pharmacy. For some reason we land back at my house, and I foolishly introduce him to my mother and sib. Anyone with half a brain could see I was attracted to this guy and wanted some "alone" time with him, but my sib monopolizes him, and somehow this would-be romantic opportunity runs aground.

On the surface the OCS sib appears to be acting hospitably, but there's a flirty quality to the conversation that I pick up on.If my mother, who is also in the den where we have congregated, notices anything, I would be surprised. Alth…