I am often bewildered by the requests I get from my family of origin. They ask for the most inappropriate things and then get mad at me for saying no. Most of the time they get so infuriated and will not allow me to explain why I am upset that they would even ask me to begin with. Once I was at a furniture store with my aunt and she saw a woman whose butt, yes butt, she wanted ME to take a picture of. Where do you even begin with that? Obviously, I said no. She then shoved me and said she wanted to go home. I was baffled. Why did she want a picture of this ladies butt? Why did she ask me to take it? Why was she the one upset in the end? This was one of those events that made me see how she was getting other people to do her misdeeds. Then her demanding to go home because I wouldn’t do it was a further insult because it was my planned trip to get things for my new home. I didn’t need her to be there she asked to come with me. Every situation with her has this high potential to become chaotic. Things went from a positive trip about decorating a new home to a pornographic request to take a picture of a woman’s butt. I am still baffled about the request and the randomness of it. In my family of origin nothing seems to be off limits and there is no sense of appropriateness. My husband and I decided to open our wedding gifts in front of our immediate family the day after our wedding. We got about $1000 in cash and checks. I kid you not barely a week later my mom asks to borrow $400. I told her I didn’t have it to loan and then she brought up my wedding money she saw me open. It felt like I couldn’t have anything or I can’t be open about what I do have. To ask to borrow a daughters wedding money just feels cruel. When I said no and began to explain how this request was making me feel, she caught me off saying she didn’t need a lecture. It brought up so many past birthday’s where she would spend my birthday money or pawn any thing of value. The utter lack of consideration to me leaves me speechless. I got married on 8/31, my birthday is 8/17 and I was told by my family that they would not celebrate anything related to my birthday because they felt I was getting too much attention for the wedding. Who tell someone they are getting too much attention? It’s not like every year I have a wedding and a birthday. It was one day! In my family when it comes to certain people they say whatever they want and expect no rebuttal. I’ve decided I am tired of being verbally ambushed. Good natured events like buying furniture, getting married, receiving wedding gifts are undercut with inappropriate comments and demands. You never know what you are going to get with this group but I can almost guarantee its going to be uncomfortable.
As I dig deep to recover my life and who I truly am I examine the person I was forced to be to survive my dysfunctional family. I want to be a woman who can show emotion not have a stone cold expression as I have learnt to do. In my family the less you give emotionally, the less that is taken. Once they know how you feel either way you are stripped of any joy they perceive you to have or your misery is prolonged if they know you are in discomfort. I want to be a woman who does not owe anyone anything. I constantly hear what someone has given up for me or the family as a whole. But when I went over the “books” and tallied the total I “owe”, it didn’t add up. The person who says I owe her has not helped me attain not a single goal that makes me who I am and in fact has purposefully tried to talk me out of the best achievements in my life. I am a victor not a victim. Hopelessness and victimhood are hallmarks in my family. Everyone is waiting to be delivered and an opportunity to have more based on a goodwill effort through someone other than themselves. Well I feel confident that I can go out and create my own opportunities. I don’t have to wait to be discovered or someone to appear and pave a away for me. I want to be proud of my achievements. I’ve been forced to down play my hard work. This is something that I’ve been heavily condition to do through the important people in my life not taking me seriously. Therefore I stopped taking myself seriously. I graduated from Emory University and my mom did not even show up! I want to be a person who reacts appropriately to a situation and not be scrutinized for it. If I’m watching a comedy show I want to laugh so hard I cry without someone commenting that I’m laughing too hard. I want to enjoy being a stepmom without people thinking I am doing too much for kids who aren’t mine. I want to be a lovely wife without someone saying my husband is controlling. Basically I want to live my life free of ridicule in my inner circle of people. If I trust you and love you, then let me be free. That’s my goal to have an inner circle of family, friends and business confidents that love me and let me be. What I’ve been dealt is a family of origin who are controlling, manipulative and miserable and are dedicated to making sure we all stay at that low level of existence. I’ve elevated myself enough but in my family of origin it is a struggle to maintain what heights I have reached. They come over ready to tear down my husband and my kids. Pulling at any perceived fray in our imperfect life. Perfection is another thing I am letting go. I’m currently reading “The Everything Guide to Coping with Perfectionism” by Ellen Bowers, PhD. I’m currently on page 46 and I love this book. It has cleared up so much of what I’ve been struggling with already! I am also reading Wabi Sabi Love by Arielle Ford. I plan to share all the insight and ways of I am applying what I read in these wonderful books. The person I am shedding is afraid to be smart, she’s timid, dowdy, shameful, guilt ridden and ungrateful. The woman I truly am is grateful. She realizes the beauty of just laying down holding her baby girl and adorable pup. Is happy to come home to a warm nicely decorated home and a loving husband. This woman, me, is full of life and ideas. I am a smart worker with an entrepreneur spirit. I am family and community orientated. I want to be weaved in the fabric of life not on the skirts of society marginalized by poor thinking. I am reclaiming my power, voice, my personhood.
“Every family has problems” is what my mom says every time I try to keep my distance from our family. “So what your aunt went through your phone when you accidently left it at her house. Then shared with us your text messages from the fight with your husband” You should still want to be with us. Why don’t you call? Why don’t you text? Everyone goes through this? I don’t know but to me this feels like a kick in the gut. It feels embarrassing and invasive. I’m tired of always having to forgive someone who purposefully crosses the line and could care less how I feel and how their actions/words affect me, my kids and my husband. My mom is insistent that I am being stubborn or difficult. Things like that happen so frequently and consistently it becomes normal. I constantly am expected to forgo my feelings and just go with the flow. This has been the expectation of my life in my family of origin and sadly the things that happen feel normal. I’ve been very isolated their are only 5 family members in my immediate family of origin. We had little outside influences on how we operate. It wasn’t until I got married and started attending other family functions that I saw a lighter side a life. A side were people can have a good time and not sit and sulk. My family sulks at every event from someone’s birthday, graduation, wedding, whatever event is going on you are guaranteed someone is in the corner frowning waiting for attention and then coming up with a way to get it. The person who does not go along with us and demands respect for the event that is taken places is considered dramatic and selfish. My mom pleads, next time will be different, we’ve changed. That’s not going to happen anymore. Well 30+ years later it’s still the same pattern. It’s almost clock work and I can feel the wave of drama crashing in. It wasn’t until I got a taste of something different did I see the need to leave this situation. My in-laws are not perfect by any means but they can almost guarantee a consist and predictable good time. No worries of my mother-in-law cursing me out, going through my personal belongings…When I see here or any of them we can have a lively conversation everyone is engaged and no one is sulking in the corner plotting to steal the show. As I put it blunt I’m cutting my loses and just letting go of a family that is not working to focus my energy on a family that does work. I no longer feel that every family has chaos and drama. I don’t feel that life has to be miserable or something to endure and put up with abusive relatives. I am no longer blindly accepting the normalcy of chaos in a situation where people are purposefully being harmful.
One of the most simplest reasons I detached from my family of origin was because “I wanted to do something new”. I’ve lived the first 37 years of my life in a tizzy. Mirroring the behavior that was around me. Adopting family attitudes that prevailed through the decades. As a result I had problem after problem, lost and disappointments, instability, chaos compounded with abuse and addiction. I was having a hard time maintaining employment and friendships and in my family life that was the norm. We all banded together to discuss the shortcomings of the person or the company. Not once looking in the mirror at the one person who was the problem (and the solution). As I desired real change and stability I dared to look in the mirror accepting responsibility and vowing to do the work necessary. I reached a point where I didn’t have the desire to partake in the drama anymore. Through going to codependency 12 step program I learned not to be preoccupied with other people and to focus on what I needed to do for me. So I decided to live a new inner life. An inner life that didn’t flow from problem to problem. An inner life were I expected good things instead of hard times. To do this I had to cut certain people out. The people who choose to see the worst in everything and everyone. The naysayers. The birdies who chirp in my ear pointing out all the things that are wrong.
But instead of focusing on all the things that they did to me, all the things that I don’t like about them or the relationship I simply focus on my desire to do something different and new for me. I’ve spent so much time focusing on being a daughter, a niece, a sister and an employee. Now I want to focus on being a wife, mother and entrepreneur. Detaching became freeing which is what it should be. I no longer want to feel entangled in someone’s problems or responsible for how they feel or guilty that I didn’t do what they wanted. After the 2nd fight that broke out at my house during a family get together I made the decision to have no contact and low contact with my family of origin. At first I had a lot of anxiety about it because I live less than 5 miles from all of them. We shop at the same stores, drive on the same roads, running into each other is a real possibility. But I’ve actually have only ran into them a few times and thankfully the phone calls and text have been very minimum. I’m grateful to that and I’ve used that to keep me focused on making better decisions for me and the life I am rebuilding.
My family still doesn’t really get what I am doing. They think I’m mad or holding a grudge or just being stubborn. They feel that no matter what we should stick together. Even if people are truly hurting and ultimately we’re all living very limited lives for the sake of sticking together. Yet I don’t point this out. I don’t focus on it. I merely focus on doing something new. And my new does not include them. Whatever reasons they think why is not my issue.