Tag Archives: family

My Dad

would be over 100, if he was still alive. His birthday was early this month.

I think, like everyone, when you have an anniversary of this type, you remember the person in question. I have and have been. I wonder what he’d think of who I am now? I’m very different from the daughter he knew. I’m also not “successful” in the same way that he used to deal with his kid crap. Would he think I’m a failure because I’m not all that interested in intellectual pursuits, scholarship, or seeking money/status/power?

I don’t know.

Hopefully it would be enough that I’m happy. Maybe not. There’s one thing I’ve finally accepted about almost everyone who “knew me when.” I approached my early relationships with about 3 premises: I was broken/damned, I was less than they were, or I was there to entertain. NONE of that do I do now.

Many problems I have with my birth family and old friends is just this: I won’t accept any of those as the premises in a relationship anymore. This confuses and upsets people who have known me for a long time.

They think I’m going to provide hours of entertaining stories about being outrageous, emotionally fall apart, or just agree that they’re inherently “better” than I am, and we may or may not “fix” me.

street signs

I don’t and won’t play anymore.

Makes things awkward ‘eh?

The performance art was exhausting. Thinking I was a homicidal maniac and being terrified of myself was exhausting. Feeling like I was damned and deserved whatever derision or nastiness put on me was crushing.

I’m not there. I’m not going back.

I’m boring, don’t entertain, have no need to be told how to live my life, and almost never do anything outrageous anymore.

Dad liked/encouraged my outrageousness. He didn’t understand the emotional over the top behavior. He was proud of my ability to entertain people and be a good hostess.

A Piece of the Clutter

are items staged to go “elsewhere.” Frequently, it’s items for sale, but sometimes it’s items to go into storage, into another room, be mailed, or some such.

I started working on those yesterday, that’s where the 45 photos (on the tally) came from. They’ve been on my desk, part of the clutter ON my desk, in an envelope to be mailed to a relative. I don’t have my relatives’ addresses anywhere.

This is a deliberate part of my moving away from my birth family and towards DH’s. Mine, whether they intend to be or not, are toxic for me, so I avoid them. Not having their addresses stored is one way I avoid them. I had to look up the recipient’s address. I knew their phone number and finally did a reverse look-up. It’s addressed and ready to to the post office this afternoon.

I have another envelope, for another family member, unaddressed. I had found her address previously, but haven’t gotten the piece of paper with her address in front of me so that I can address that envelope. Found! Will be mailed this afternoon 2/3/17.

The last pieces from this album will be donated to Dad’s alma mater, he taught there as well, so they have his “papers.” I have sold portraits of various family members at antique stores in the past few years.

Do I hate my family? No. But the person who abused me wasn’t stupid and used who and what my family was as another stick to hit me with. That brainwashing is so old and so deep that I cannot remove it, try as I might. My family isn’t the warm/fuzzy type where you can talk about things like that and actually get a response which includes an adjustment in behavior. They don’t value me enough to do the changing required to stop punching my buttons, they think my buttons are ridiculous.

I can’t undo the buttons, I’ve been trying for over 50 years, right? So, the answer is to not let them punch them at all. Removing my “family heritage” photos is another concrete way I can stop feeling tied to them. I have one framed photo of my mother, and that’s it in the entire house. We have photos of DH’s family waiting to be framed. When they’re framed, they’ll go up. That’s my family because of two things: they will try and be responsive if I ask them to change in some way. (It’s a reciprocal relationship!) Also, I don’t have the brainwashing pushing me with them all the time.

Is this my family’s fault? No and yes. No, they aren’t responsible for my behavior (buttons) but they are responsible for their own (lack of being willing to accomodate my needs). I will not fight them, and I will not ask, again. I will simply remove them from my life as much as possible.

Harsh? I suppose. But you know? I’m  much, much happier without them in my life. I have nightmares about one or more of them coming to visit here. I’d have to do an exorcism, or something. It would be awful. I keep wanting to move so they don’t have my phone number/address any more.

It isn’t so much that they’re deliberately cruel, although some of them are, it’s that because they think my triggers are silly, they ignore the idea that they might need to pay attention. The only response accepting any responsibility for what they did to me was the last time someone really went after me and I went into a full flashback? They said, “I’m sorry you went into your flashback.” as if the attack which caused it was someone else speaking, as if the 2 weeks it took me to get back onto an even keel was trivial. To them I’m sure it was.

That was the “best”, the most responsive person in my family. When I reasoned it out, I decided they were all just too dangerous for me to be in contact with, and mostly I stay away. Removing these photos is another way to distance myself. No more memory lane — Thank God!

I May Offend You with This Post. If so, I’m Sorry!

I have been contemplating religion a lot. Partly because I realized the Abuser’s mantra that “God can’t love you, if He did, you wouldn’t be in pain” has been (along with the equivalent piece about my family) the hardest thing for me to “fix.”

My family, in the form of my brother, and I may just get to be easy acquaintances, although I doubt we’ll ever be friends — we have few interests in common. My brother made a real effort to see me in my own world and not insist that I meet him in his. I didn’t have to be a student to his college professor and we tried. I don’t expect we’ll ever be buddies, but we can be friendly. He didn’t sneer at me, which was what I was most afraid of. I know him well enough to know/see it when he’s mocking people. He wasn’t.

So my human brother can at least respect me. And, given that I realized not too long ago that I could have loved my sister if she hadn’t kept propping her ego up by making me less to her more, then what does that lead me to with God?

If I believe that I was likely NOT unlovable at birth, then I can accept God/Jesus/Christianity — right?

No.

It isn’t that I don’t think Jesus was likely the Messiah — he might well have been. It isn’t that at all. It’s the “get out of jail free” thing. I don’t want to be forgiven, or not in the traditional sense anyway.

cross

Where I am — seeing myself as flawed and that being okay, is a huge step up from where I was for 50+ years — thinking I was damned, vile and had to be perfect to be merely adequate. To go from that to seeing myself as so flawed that I then need redemption seems like going backwards. Am I perfect? No way.

This is also tied to forgiveness. I don’t believe in that “get out of jail free” card either. I’m sorry. I don’t think if Attila the Hun or Hitler had said “I’m sorry” and done whatever religious conversion that it just washes it all clean. No. More, I want to be responsible for my own actions. I’ve hurt people. I’ve been nasty, judgmental, done careless things which got other people hurt. Done them as a kid, done them as an adult. Am I sorry? Yes. Do I want to be forgiven? I don’t really know. I would like to know that whatever stupid, careless, selfish, arrogant, nasty, hateful, etc. thing I’ve done to or caused for another did not result in lasting harm. I’m afraid that isn’t so and yes, I regret each and every one of those instances.

By the same token, other people have done that type of thing to me, sometimes for decades (my sister for example) and with the repeated pain, I don’t want to forgive them, don’t want to hold the pain/anger tight either. I just want them removed surgically from my life, and no, I do not want to forget the pain — because it is instructive.

I think I have a different perspective about pain, especially emotional pain, than many. I have this completely overwhelmed grieving child stuck in me. I can’t make her feel better. I’ve never found the edges or end to her pain. It’s basically a baby’s grief of abandonment. Not rational, not limited, not controllable.

Because of that, and having to cope with it nearly as long as I can remember, people and things which consistently added to my pain I have written out of my life. No, I don’t want the anger or the bitterness, but I  can’t afford to forget either. That grieving baby takes a chunk of my resources. If person A or situation B consistently pushes me that way, it’s too expensive.

That colors how I feel about God and Christianity and that “get out of jail free” card. I didn’t need Jesus to die for my sins in order to be able to live with myself. I had to learn to live with myself without Him, as He was part of the “proof” that I was beyond redemption. If I hadn’t learned to live with my flawed self, I would have kept trying to kill myself until I succeeded.

Having gotten where I can live with being both flawed and human, I have no desire to “chase” forgiveness or redemption. I also have no interest or intention in pursuing relationships which continually push my buttons.  My mental health has been too dearly wrought.

At the worst, an encounter with these people can cost me two weeks of well being. Ask yourself, who’s worth two weeks of happiness or just being okay in your life? If you’re me, the answer is: no one.

The irony here is that this means I’m also denied the comfort of religion, and the Abuser wins again — sort of. This is still the best I can manage.

The Problem & Blessing of Sisters!

For whatever reason, for years, I kept trying to be adopted so to speak by any family but my own. My counselor & I are agreed that part of the reason that the house purging goes in fits & starts is that I’m not just purging the stuff, but grieving the family — the family I’ve never had.

Since my traumatic event is losing my mother at 3, sisters or quasi-sisters were an obvious substitute.

The quasi-sister closest in age and distance to me was the abuser’s daughter, and it wasn’t until years later that I realized the abuser had done with her daughter what she’d also done to me. That is compare me over and over again, with her daughter, who was apparently my superior in every way. Her daughter told me something that made me see that the woman had pitted us against each other, so we couldn’t find mutual comfort, while calling us “sisters” or saying we were like sisters.

I have a half-sister, who wasn’t raised with me. She’s older and deals with her inferiority complex by an attitude of assumed superiority, something endemic in my family (the attitude of superiority in or about whatever they’re good at). She’s passive-aggressive. She says things that are double-edged, that is they could be very loving, but the tone and delivery says otherwise. She also has no interest in talking to you if she isn’t controlling the situation. I guess it’s too dangerous? The fastest way to get this woman off the phone is to talk about something she can’t play one-upmanship with you about. It makes it very tedious to deal with her. There’s no relationship or connection possible there, as it’s just performance art. I can be an audience and applaud, I can be a victim (so she can be superior) or I can opt out, which is what I’ve done.

I’ve also got an in-law, close in age to my half sister. She has her own tragic tale, but part of it is that she lived on the street for a while and survived by being absolutely fearless (apparently). When she’s mad at you or in your direction this manifests itself. She’s  an emotional steam-roller, there’s no room for you, your opinions, or your feelings. I’ve been flattened by her three times,  three times more than I should have. Abuse starts with the attitude that there’s no room for anyone else’s opinion or feelings, that whatever they’ve done is completely at fault. All traits which are manifested by this woman when she’s being an emotional steamroller. I don’t need to be abused, been there, done that.

Then there’s the women friends who over the years have told me  I was their “sister.” Here’s two examples:  One of them told someone I was disgusting in front of me, but expected me when we connected on FB to be buddies and walk down memory lane (Hello??? Like talking into a dead phone isn’t it?) Another said I was an adopted member of her family, had  a problem with her kid, I stayed up all night trying to figure a solution to the problem, when I (finally) reached her the next day she said, “Oh yeah, we fixed that hours ago. Why were you worried?” So much for being a part of the family! 😀

I decided I just wanted too much. I wanted something like  a “real” family and didn’t have one. It set it me up over and over to be hurt, and no one was worth that.  I wrote them all out of my life, the abuser’s daughter disappeared. She maybe dead or not — I don’t know.

But there’s my SIL from my marriage. She and I are sisters. Various & sundry life things are happening these days, both to her immediate family and to us. There’s a commitment  to try and help each other, to listen and be supportive. It’s completely unique in my life and I treasure it. I got off the phone last night and looked at my husband and said, “I’ve got a sister!” and he sort of agreed, puzzled. I’ve had one for the all the years we’ve been married. Huh?

I was scared of my husband’s family for years. (There are a lot more of them than there are in my family!) For obvious reasons, I didn’t want more relatives to deal with, the ones I had were bad enough.

But life gives you blessings in ways you never see coming. Thanks sis!

J

Okay, I understand now.

I did NOTHING on the cards today. I spent all day, busily doing other things, but even that wasn’t much. wtf?

It’s the end of the day and I’m feeling sort of brain dead, and can’t figure out what happened? Then it struck me. . . someone from my family called yesterday. My family are toxic to me. It’s like a cue ball hitting a billiard ball. I’m going in x direction. I interact with my family and ZING! I’m off in a completely different direction.

Am I excusing myself? Well, no I’m not. I should have done the cards anyway. I meant to. I picked them up, carried them around, thought about it, etc. but other than finishing up the hour from Thursday’s card early this a.m. I didn’t do any of it. I kept thinking, “I’ll do it after I do X.” and then I’d “forget.”

I’ve got PTSD and although I can and do overcome it most of the time, there are things that just do me in. My family is one. If you think because I know that I should be able to compensate? Well, I can, a little, but no — I can’t to a greater extent. For people who think I should just “get over it,” or “think strong,” forget it.If/when I can talk to/deal with someone in my family without it throwing me for a loop, I’ll consider myself as healthy as I’m ever likely to get.

A customer of mine was a ‘Nam vet and he told me the story I use to illustrate what having PTSD is like for people who don’t understand. He’d just returned from ‘Nam and was back in the States, walking down a sidewalk in the state capital where he grew up. Someone flicked a cigarette into the gutter.

He dove for the deck. Halfway down, he thought, “I bet that’s a cigarette.” He hit the ground and sure enough, that’s just what it was.

A PTSD reaction happens faster than you think. If you can’t understand the story above, think of it like blinking. If something is going to hit you in the eye, you just blink — automatically. That’s what PTSD is like. The reactions are a protective mechanism and they happen FASTER than thought, it isn’t rational, you can’t “decide” to not react that way.

Because the phone call was friendly and pretty inane, I didn’t think about it. But inside I was still reacting.

Well, the numb, nonproductive, do nothing, wanting to be busy, busy, busy! all day — avoiding what I planned? That’s a typical reaction for me. Also, the clutter is mostly camouflage from my family, so I’m not really surprised that the phone call would stop my de-cluttering efforts.

Tomorrow? Well, if I’m lucky, and I can, I’ll get mad. Mad works for me like nothing else. If I can get myself mad enough about the phone call stopping me, I’ll have a really productive day tomorrow!

J