To understand my last couple of weeks, I have to go a long ways back to introduce you to who I am. Seeing as I don’t write often on this blog, at least not lately, there is only one way to introduce you and that is through my own descriptive words and phrases. I recognize, and you should as well, that this is my own viewpoint and colored completely by the interpretation I take from the words of others. In other words, this description of me is my own.
Now that I have gotten through the disclaimer, let’s take a look at me. I am average in almost every way, at least if we are looking at the outside physical self. I am not overly pretty but since I am not overly ugly, I presume to believe that I am average looking. Since my grades were average and I have not had any amazing professional successes in my life, we can only conclude that I am average intellectually. I am not a horrible writer, although some of my posts boggle the mind when it comes to other people’s reactions while other posts literally don’t have any true responses. Therefore, one may posit that I am probably an average writer. I believe strongly that I am simply one in a billion that God has made and will have to consult his notes when I stand before him because without those notes he probably has no true idea who I am. I am average.
I am a pleaser. I like to make people feel at ease at the expense of my own comfort. I like to go out of my way to help even when my physical health could be placed in danger. I don’t spend anymore money than I have to because I don’t want my husband to be put in a place of regulating me and my wallet. I eat what my children want to eat. I go to the events that my mother thinks will be great. I even will push myself to the literal breaking point to find a way to do the things others want me to do even if that means driving my own soul inwards.
I am the first to admit that I am mentally ill or even occasionally mentally unstable. But I have noticed that when my mental illness gets exceptionally bad I tend to retreat into a place that I don’t allow anyone else to see. Even when I am pushing myself to go to some ridiculous event for my children or my husband or my mother, I will find myself trying to hold close the pieces of me that simply aren’t working in the ways they should. My husband gets the brunt of my mental illness but even he doesn’t and can’t know the extent especially when I am determined to please someone else in my life. I have been this way since birth; and because my sister grew up in a direct opposite manner (she has never done something for another person simply because she felt she should) my sister has sustained a life that makes her happy. I can’t truly say the same for myself (but this is another topic for another day). I will always wish to be more like my sister for no other reason than her ability to say “enough”.
So what is the point of telling you who and what I am (or at least just give you this brief snapshot?) One, I was told I needed to write. And two, I finally, for once in my life said the word, “enough”.
A year and half ago I was confronted by a angry and resentful person, who stood, blocking my way, spewing filth about me and my daughter. And despite the fact my daughter was there, or maybe because she was there, I stood there and took it. And the act of taking that abuse in front of my daughter has changed me in some remarkable way.
It should also be mentioned that I have finally arrived at a milestone birthday, and for the first time in my life I am beginning to feel like an adult. Someone who has the right to demand certain things in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be the woman who stands in a parking lot and allows someone to yell and insult me, but I am starting to put the pieces together that no matter what she said, it’s possible that none of it was true. Adulthood to me means that I get to say I don’t want to; I get to say I don’t feel like it. And while a certain portion of me will always feel slightly guilty for daring to say these things I do have that right. It’s a novel thought for me. The idea that I am worthy of having a life that is productive and safe, with kindness and hope within it, is something even a year ago I couldn’t articulate. But somewhere along the way I reached an age where I realized that I must respect my own.
I have an aunt; actually I have many aunts. But this particular aunt, who lives twenty minutes from me, is deliberately hurtful. She is purposely comfortable saying horrible things to me or about my husband/children. She demands that her schedule is the first one met. She demands that we eat at the restaurants that she chooses, wears clothes that she deems is stylish, and makes sure that each and everyday we realize that not only is she smarter than we are but she deserves all that she demands. She is the kind of person that truly believes that she is the definitive word on every subject (fashion, art, decorating, jobs, etc.) and that those around her must be as great as she is. We can call this behavior many things, but honestly we don’t need to. Out of fairness, (I am who I am), she was raised to believe that she was the prettiest, best, most incredible person to walk this earth. She was literally told this, shown this, on a daily basis. And despite the fact that she is well over sixty years old, she still believes what she was told when she was five.
I am naive enough to admit that I don’t understand why you would want to be a person that verbally abuses others. I admit I don’t get why you want to push people to be only what you deem appropriate. I freely admit I don’t get why anyone believes that they should not only exercise that kind of power but that the rest of us should literally bow down and follow her directive. (And I am guilty of bowing down and following her directive.)
My mother, my aunt’s sister, is an enabler of this behavior. My mother has been told her whole life that it is her responsibility to take care of her sister. You see, my mom is the smart one and her sister was the popular one. The one time my mother rebelled she payed for it for well over forty years; and one would argue she still pays for it. All this is to say that while I love my mother, I long ago had to realize that she would take her sister’s side over her own daughter. This is a thought that can destroy you, that can activate the poison that is already running in your blood stream, and take you to places that make finding forgiveness almost impossible. This is a thought that makes it virtually impossible to reconcile the love you feel for the woman who raised you and the person that has become so much less than what she was supposed to.
I bring my mother up because you have to understand who she is to understand who I am. I was trained to be perfect and while I disappointed my parents on some many levels, to even have a taste of acceptance for the way things are is crucial to the ultimate goal of finding that forgiveness in my family and someday deep inside myself. I have an almost maniac desire to hear and feel love from my parents; and despite my needs I am beginning to realize their needs will never be the same as mine.
So now that I have probably given you more information than you need let me tell you what happened. I hope to continue posts about what happened for a long time, especially as I refuse to write a fifteen page essay on the abuse of my family in one sitting. But the changes I am starting to explore need to continue and the only way for me to handle the ups and downs of learning my own strength is to continue to write about it. But for now the synopsis.
My aunt, who I have described above as being a bitch began demeaning and insulting my husband a couple of years ago. At first, I am loathe to admit, I didn’t pay attention because part of me didn’t want to believe that any family could behaving so horribly against a man that is not only successful professionally (unlike her children) but who is an incredible father and husband. My husband takes plenty of stress on so that I can live my life in a healthy manner, and there my aunt was, trying to belittle him and all he is. I will point out that my husband who saw the behavior almost immediately has skin as thick as a rhinos and was able to occasionally get digs back in but mostly ignore it. I don’t like that he took the abuse either for me or our family. Part of me wishes that he realized that when it comes to my aunt or him, I will always stand proudly next to him against anyone else in this world.
My aunt then moved onto my kids. I always thought that I was the kind of mother who wouldn’t allow anyone to touch their child with either words or deeds, but like my husband’s suffering I don’t think I saw what my aunt was doing clearly. Don’t get me wrong my aunt is incredible in the buying and spoiling of my children so that she can later complain about them and they will feel so bad they freeze. For instance, she once got incredibly angry that my children didn’t say thank you (which for the record not saying one thank you in a field of thousand thank yous doesn’t matter). I had my children say thank you to her but this was the event that started opening my eyes. I am honest enough to say, I still didn’t say anything even after this perfect evidence but that I will have to live with. My children don’t like my aunt, which is surprising considering not only their age but their manners. They don’t often let the children on the school bus know how they feel, so why would they let me or my family? They will go along to a certain point until they simply sit down, cross their arms, and demand that I hear them. Maybe someday I will go in more depth about the relationship between this woman and my children, but let’s just end it with a emoji that looks like evil eyes directed towards another. (My children are the one with the eyes)
To me my aunt has always gone overboard with the gifts and cute little sayings, and then cut me so far down I didn’t honestly know it was happening until I sit here now and look back on it. I can remember being twelve and she demanding I babysit her children and then tearing me a new one when I didn’t perform to her specifications (obviously I was never paid). You should know my mother did not defend me. My aunt purposely hurts my feelings and then sends me a text three hours later about some great material thing she has found for me. You should know my mother loves that my aunt thinks of me in this way. My aunt will ignore me, which one might think is a good thing, but between my own persona and the fact that she plays these games in front of so many people, it ultimately hurts. You should know my mother doesn’t see it. My aunt will high five me one moment and then slap me the next; and while one would like to just say she must be mentally ill like me, the truth is she is too calculating to be anything but a sociopath. You should know my mother only sees the high fives. I could continue on all my aunt does, but I think that too is for another day.
This last week, exactly four days ago, I finally told my mother (after a bitter breakfast) that I was done. I told my mother that at my age I didn’t have to put up with any negative behavior. I even told my mother that I expected her to side with my aunt and I would try very hard not to put her in the middle of whatever this new development will bring. (And yes, my aunt sent me another text about some sale I had to see).
My aunt is a snake; a mean and deadly one. My mother is a woman who can’t and won’t defend her child in the presence of that snake (although she doesn’t often see it). My husband and my children didn’t ask for this abuse and pure awkwardness. So for now, my truth has to be that I am done with this. And despite all that I wish to say and all that I see, there is a hurt inside me that is ringed with naivete and disappointment. I have always buried my head in the sand when it came to my family, and slowly coming awake the way I am currently doing, is not the best feeling. In fact, it pretty much sucks.
I doubt I will be able to sustain this attitude forever. I doubt that my aunt will ever be someone I can admire or even like. And I doubt I will truly ever be able to forgive my mom for all that she doesn’t want to see. But today, I am not surrounded by poison; so today, I will respect my own life, my own world, and my own family.