In the reading from the weekend, you almost can’t help but feel bad (to an extent) for Amy. With numerous miscarriages an stillbirths, all named “Hope” by her parents, she essentially filled the position of each “failure” at life as who would’ve been known as Hope (number 8).
Amy on day seven, can’t help but bask in the attention her disappearance has received. For a brief moment she almost feels bad that her parents are hurting, until she reflects upon her life, her identity, and how she’s basically just been a puppet for them to exploit and collect on. Flynn touches on the fact that our experiences form and drive whom we become, and follow us around, haunting us-while also touching on the driving force behind the pressures we face as individuals being our “motivation” (p 259).
“I know I should feel should feel sorry for them, but I don’t. Ive never been more to them than a symbol anyway, the walking ideal. Amazing Amy in the flesh. Don’t screw it up, you are Amazing Amy. Our only one. There is an unfair responsibility that comes with being an only child-you grow p knowing you aren’t allowed to disappoint, you’re not even allowed to die. There isn’t a replacement toddling around; you’re it. It makes you desperate to be flawless, and it also makes you drunk with the power. In such ways are despots made.”
Amy admits that she’s powerful yet cruel, and that her childhood made her this way.
To an extent-I can relate to Amy. My parents had my older sister, very prematurely-unfortunately she was too underdeveloped, and at the time, medical interventions weren’t advanced enough to sustain life. Her name-Courtney Michelle; my parents gave us the same initials. My parents had high expectations for me from birth, always pushing me to do different things, making sure that appearances were perfect, my room was perfect, that I was “perfect”. I grew up knowing about her from a very young age. Besides being expected to be perfect, I felt like a puppet; I was her replacement.
When my younger sister Emilie was born, her developmental delays appeared quickly. While my parents tended to her in her early years of childhood-getting her the resources she needed, they doubled, if not tripled the amount of expectations and pressure they put on me. Because my sister had developmental delays, I was expected to always be the best at whatever I did (whatever they chose for me to do). Here’s a picture of Chad learning Karate, another of Chad playing T ball, Football, baseball, etc. Chad’s 12 and overweight, lets join weight watchers (my mother and aunt) and sign Chad up as well. Acne-lets visit doctors, his face can’t look like that, hair isn’t blonde enough-highlights, time for a haircut-chad this is what you’re getting. Chad’s gay-time to go see a shrink and “straighten” him out, spending extra time at the church wasn’t doing it. College-your grades aren’t good enough-you won’t get in, and we won’t help you pay for it. You got in to massage therapy school? Better save your pennies, we aren’t helping you, oh? you need our financial info for student loans? too bad!
Perfection and being a replacement destroyed a larger portion of my life. It wasn’t until I moved out at 17 and started making my own choices that I found myself to be happier. However, much like Amy, my parents expectations are still present (in my mind). While our relationship has improved over the years, immensely in the last 5, their ideal of perfect follows me constantly. Reflecting, I find that “perfection” has followed me and still motivates me (mostly subconsciously) in every aspect of my life; I’m tired. As much as I’ve tried to remove it from my life, because I lived it, those life experiences have made me who I am today. Like I said, I can’t help but feel bad for Amy, and relate to her; fake murder and disappearing, that’s another story.