November 22, 2010

if this were facebook, my title would be ...."is having a rough time of it right now."

to some people it appears like i was involved in massive facebook drama which led to severing ties with the majority of my family but, as with any decision that serious, it wasn't one incident that led to such a final outcome.

i haven't yet decided how much i want to share in this space partly because this feels like such a private matter and also because i don't want to lend any energy at all to stating my side of the story because it will either appear like i'm defending myself, seeking sympathy, or simply what it is; telling it from my perspective which somehow doesn't seem worth the effort. that should be a benign action, this is my space to say whatever i want, but some of the family members that i no longer speak to may be among my readers, and further, part of me really wonders if i've grown so avoidant-prone that it's just easier for me to know why i made this decision that was a lifetime in the making and leave it at that. i don't even like rehashing or explaining this situation verbally, to people, in the private comforts of my own home.

at least not yet. i do suspect that at some point in my life, therapy with an actual therapist will be part of my reality. when i had good insurance, i enjoyed going to therapy, and i have a lot to work on. i know this.


i do need to release on some level, though, so i'm going to start by sharing what i recently realized when, for the first time ever in my entire life, i had such a terrible dream that i woke up in tears. crying, real tears.

i can no longer have a relationship with my mother because she is the most toxic person i know. i've been saying that for a while and it is my truth. it isn't true for my siblings and i don't expect it to be. i am not saying that she is the most toxic person ever to walk the earth, what i am saying is that to me and for me, she is like a corrosive and dangerous substance and i have to stay away from in order to be the best, healthiest person i can be. i am comfortable saying that, but after waking with tears rolling down my cheeks the other night, i had to examine why. i believe the dream was a way for me to process the very underlying theme in our relationship for as long as i can remember: my mother has never been loyal to me, has not often been present enough to protect me, and she treats everyone else better than she treats me.

i know, that last statement sounds so pathetic and weak. it reminds me of the time, when i was four, that my mother and one of my aunt's were talking about someone and one of them said, "poor thing," expressing some sorrow and empathy for this other person that i wanted to feel. so i said, "what about poor me?" having no idea how to really convey what emotions were going through my little body. they laughed at me and said mockingly, "oh yeah, poor you, you poor baby," to which i responded to with tears. for some reason i've always held on to that memory but i have never understood why i got so sad to hear my mom speaking about someone else with such tenderness but it finally made sense the other night.

by age four, i already knew that my mother was incapable of feeling sympathetic towards me in any way. when i would fall or get hurt there was never a hug or consoling gesture, it was always something like, "get up, don't cry, if you hadn't been doing something you shouldn't have been doing, you wouldn't have gotten hurt." i know she is a product of her upbringing but i was such a sensitive child and very prone to taking everything personally (and of course i had no idea the type of childhood my mother had or how it would affect her ability to parent, as a child myself) so the only way i could process the way she treated me was to internalize it as unfair and not nice. even if i am now an adult with the ability to accept that things are the way they are, i have to work past how that theme has played itself out over and over again, in every situation where i feel my mother has betrayed me, hasn't stood up for me or protected me, or where she's either given unwarranted bad advice or harsh judgment when comfort and support was all that was necessary.

that pretty much sums up her actions every time she might have had the opportunity to be gentle, kind, loving, generous, or just plain nice. now, those aren't words i would ever even use to describe my mother but i have seen where she's tried to be those things with other people, but it was like the effort it took her to be gentle, kind, loving, generous or nice just never applied to me.

since i decided that this must be the first thing i should process, a lot of tramautizing memories have surfaced. the other night, at the dinner table, my husband was remarking at how our four year old is so cognizant of the world and such an active participant in his environment that my husband couldn't understand why he didn't remember being four years old, himself. i told him that i could remember four really well, and even have some very vivid memories of age two. i gave him examples and was sort of taken aback when he looked slightly horrified and said, "wow, those are all really bad memories." i had never thought of it that way but the most salient memories of my early childhood include the times my mother would hide in closets, call my name, and then jump out and scare me when i'd go looking for her, or the times when she (or other adults with her) would put on halloween masks and frighten me, or the time she told me go downstairs to get the surprise from the cereal box and what i found was an empty cereal box in which she'd placed a live tarantula.

the list could go on. i could fill a book of a funny-but-sad-but-true-autobiographical nature.
and i might.

aside from some poor parenting choices there is also a lack of strong communication skills between my mother and i, and as the adult who can accept and forgive and understand how my mother was raised and why that might explain a few things, i still have to take into consideration the very rocky foundation our relationship is based upon. it is not okay for her to constantly comment on, judge, and criticize everything in my life from how i am raising my children to what types of features my husband and i value in a home. it is also maddening that she thinks it's okay but can't accept even the slightest amount of reciprocation. it's such a classic case of being unable to taste her own medicine but it's also a game of high dysfunction i want no part of. i have said for years, "with family like mine, who needs enemies?" but i have actually worked very hard to position myself into a relatively peaceful existence. as a teenager or young adult, there were people i knew that i might describe as enemies but not anymore so to examine that statement a little differently, it just comes down to the simple question, "who needs family?"

i used to yearn for a close-knit family, for connection and solid relationships, reminscent of cheesy sitcoms, but with the authenticity i witnessed in some of my friends' homes. i have come to accept that was just never what my family was about, at least not for me. again, for as long as i can remember, my mother drove a wedge between my brother and i. when he was learning to crawl he came into my room, one day, while i had my barbies out. i asked her to get him, because i had barbie shoes and other tiny, little accessories strewn about the floor. i probably wasn't as aware of choking hazards as i should have been and was simply acting out of a selfish desire to keep my barbies and their things, drool-free, but her response to my request hurt me deeply. she swooped him up, under her arm, and said, "come with mommy, i don't know why, but your sister doesn't want to play with you." that wasn't true, i wanted to protest. i wasn't given an opportunity to play with him, i just didn't want him messing up what i was already playing with, which is pretty reasonable behavior for a four year old.

as i got older, the lack of close-knit family relations was somehow my fault. i was the oldest. i was the angsty-teenager, i was the grouchy, sensitive one. nevermind that from the time my brother could talk he was encouraged to make fun of me. i don't know the exact dates but i do remember how unhappy i was between third and fifth grade. my younger brother would call me horse face and tree bark in reference to my big teeth and dark, olive toned skin. he would do this at the dinner table, nearly every night, while my mom and stepfather would laugh along with him. it sounds so stupid now. it does, i know, but i would request that he be asked to stop and they'd just laugh more. when i got a bit older and wanted to just hole myself up in my room or avoid car rides with them, i was suddenly to blame for why none of us could get along.

that brings me to today. my relationship with my brother was volatile, to say the least, until he grew up a little bit but for the last few years, it's been okay. granted, he's lived in another state for most of those years, but i thought that at 27, he'd finally come into his own and we could relate to each other, on level. he has been pretty much unaware of what's currently going on but responded to a request of mine yesterday with so much hatred and anger that i was shocked. i honestly had no idea where he was coming from and when i tried to speak to him, as a reasonable adult, it only angered him more. i simply asked to pick up the mail, or to retain the mail key at our old address since he has yet to start receiving mail there, but my husband's corporations are tied to the address and some of our mail is still being delivered there. he accused me of taking advantage of him because he's my brother and inconveniencing him the three times i've stopped by to check the mail. i explained again, that if he let me have the key until he needed it, not only would it be more convenient for me, but obviously for him as well. when he declined, i suggested that maybe the inconvenience it causes him *eyeroll* could be overlooked by the genorosity my husband and i bestowed upon his girlfriend by letting her rent our house without paying a deposit or having to switch the utilities to her name, leaving our appliances with food in the fridge, no less, as well as a few other perks, like giving her the keys two days earlier than the lease stated. when he laughed and said that was pretty much not generous (and it's not, it's the new definition of how stupid i can be) i simply reminded myself that a kid that used to purposely piss on the toilet because he knew our mother would make me clean up after him couldn't grow up and possibly know how to reciprocate common courtesy.

a friend recently remarked that it's a wonder i came out so sane. sure, i've had my moments and it's been a struggle to maintain a responsible and reasonable approach to life as i know it, but i don't toot my own horn enough. it's a down-right miracle and even though this hurts, like the worst break-ups, i will eventually be all the better for taking a stand in my life and removing myself from an intolerable, ever-constant, lose-lose situation.

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