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Through a lens darkly

My earliest memories are filtered through my mother's psychoanalytic lens. She liked to recall her favorite incidents from my childhood and delightedly repeat them to me over the years. 

My own first memory, when I am five years old, is of her standing by the window in a pale peach silk kimono, covered with exotic birds. Her stomach is flat. She is thin and beautiful again.

"If grandma loves the baby so much," I tell her, "let's cut him up and send him to her as a present."

My mother doesn't raise an eyebrow. She doesn't take me in her arms and hug me or say she loves me. She tells me it is natural to be jealous, to hate my new brother, even to want to kill him. He is guarded by a white starched nurse, I am never allowed to be alone with him, to hold him.

My next memory is of stealing his nursing bottle and running down the long thin hallway of our New York appartment, the nurse in hot pursuit.

By the age of six, I knew myself as a potential murderer and a convicted thief, an envious and jealous child--destined, like the other women in my family for the analyst's couch.