Childhood

The Capricorn Woman often grows up feeling very close to her father and uncomfortable with her mother. If she is not close to her dad emotionally, she usually admires him from a distance and accords him the respect she reserves exclusively for males. She rarely grows up identifying with her mother. In fact, she is more male than female in her orientation. She may be a tomboy in adolescence, or a proper little girl, but she is almost invariably more goal-oriented and desirous of worldly success than her girl friends.

She may elect to hide her lofty ambitions (and later her passions) behind an excessively proper and/or competent facade. Many Capricorn girls behave like little old ladies, and it is easy to imagine them in velvet rockers with crocheted lace blankets covering their knees, their most troublesome joints. Nobody may be aware that inside the carefully coiffed, prim little head live the dreams of a grand schemer.

She rarely, if ever, plays with dolls and other symbols of growing up female. She may secretly resent being a girl, feeling that it cramps her style. She may rebel in her own way, but never without worrying about rocking the boat. Capricorn is not a natural rebel; she just won't tolerate being typecast as a second-class citizen—especially when it comes to the size and kind of rewards accorded her.

Eva is a case in point. The oldest in a family of six girls, she was Mother's litde helper, the good girl who carried out Mother's wishes. Eva came to me when she was thirty-eight, complaining of insomnia and vague aches and pains in her joints. She was married, a mother of three children, and an amateur playwright. As we explored her feelings about her life, she gradually revealed (Capricorn types never do anything hastily) her dislike of her mother and timid adoration of her father.

My father was not around much; Mother was the focus of the family. I was supposed to hold the fort while she had the other babies, and to help her. I grew to hate coming home after school because it just meant more and more work. I was a responsible litde girl, but inside I was exploding with anger. And only my father was aware that I was different inside than my facade suggested. He and I had a strong, quiet understanding, and we shared the knowledge that, in the end, we would get our share of whatever it was we needed.

Eva grew up with an imaginary playmate to whom she spoke a strange language nobody else could understand. She called her playmate a "celestial twin." It seemed to me that her twin was everything Eva herself was but could not yet express. Her twin was ambitious, dynamic, sexy, pushy, rebellious, quick-witted, popular, and trendy. Eva was prim, proper, and submissive.

Eva had always wanted to be a journalist but was afraid to tell anyone. Eventually her father came to her rescue and sent her to college over her mother's protests. At that time, Eva broke through her shyness and shared her dream with her father. It turned out that he too had wanted to be a writer but had acquired the business he still owned when the burdens of supporting a large family outgrew his income.

Eva became aware that her insomnia at thirty-eight was punctuated by dreams about her parents, particularly her father. It seemed she had repressed her love and admiration for him in favor of following her mother into a traditional, family-centered life. Eva had been afraid of being her whole self. She had never acted on her ambitions. Though she was domestic and nurturing, she also derived pleasure from work, from conquering new intellectual territory and competing in a male arena.

Many Capricorn Women grow up feeling a distressing emotional distance from others, especially the females in the family. Because the Capricorn is so sensitive, she may take this very much to heart. She may even conclude deep inside that she is just too weird for people to understand, and perhaps to love.

The young Capricorn frequently feels in exile either at school, at home, in the family at large, in her times, or in her culture. This feeling of estrangement usually underlies her determined climb to the top later; she wishes by her success to prove that she belongs.

Often, the Capricorn girl feels she was born in the wrong era. She may wish she had lived in the eighteenth-century France of logic and humanitarianism, or she may think she might have been more at home in Victorian England. Her identification with past historical eras accounts for her love of antiques, but it also baffles her. She may secretly believe that nobody else feels as she does, that nobody would understand.

She may have more than one childhood experience that reinforces her sense of isolation. For some Capricorn girls, feelings of alienation may be exacerbated by the birth of a younger sibling who takes most of the parents' attention away. For others, it may be the parents' divorce. Quite a few experience near-drownings, sports accidents (especially affecting the bones and knees), or some confining illness that limits their activities with peers. Also, moves that radically uproot them and necessitate coping with loneliness repeatedly are not uncommon.

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