I talked to my mom on the phone last night, and it finally struck home to me.
I will never have her support for the traumas I’ve been through in my life.
We were talking about a friend of mine who moved back to Florida, & when she asked where she lives, I told her.
Mom: “Oh, that’s the same city *he’s* (my male sibling) lived in.”
Me: Yeah, mom, I know.
“And btw, the girls (his daughters, my nieces) are coming up to visit this summer. I need to get in touch with Youngerdaughter to see if she wants to schedule her time home to coincide, so she can see them”.
Me: It would be nice, I don’t get to have any contact with them.
My sibling made a big deal of telling me years ago that he had the passwords & logins for his wife’s social media, as well as his daughters, so I believe he would not just watch if I tried to interact with them, but actively block contact or attack me through their pages.
You can think me paranoid if you want, but he’s attacked me verbally & emotionally so many times I have blocked every attempt he’s made to contact me. He is toxic in my life, & I won’t put up with his abuse.
Mom: “Oh, honey, he’s changed.”
Me: Not enough to say he’s sorry for what he’s done & said. Last time, Mom, he said “I’m sorry if you felt hurt, but sometimes you’re just too sensitive.” He didn’t say he was sorry for hurting me, he put the blame for my trauma back on me, then told me that I was “too sensitive”.
BEING SENSITIVE TO PAIN IS A TRAUMA RESPONSE.
Me: Mom, he has never apologized for what he said, or for what he’s done, he’s always just “I’ve grown up, & want to move past this”
Me: Translation – I’m tired of being called out for the real harm I caused, & want everyone to sweep it under the rug, because it doesn’t fit my “benevolent Christian man, husband & father” persona.
Mom: “Did I tell you my dog hurt her paw? She won’t let anyone anywhere near it.”
After about 10 more minutes of basic, surface conversation, I told her I love her, & hung up.
Avoidance, thy name is Mom.
Same thing happens whenever I bring up anything regarding the sexual assault I suffered from my best friend’s brother when I was 16. Her best friend is this (now man’s) mother. Every time she comes to visit, my mom wants me to see her, & they end up, somehow, working his name into the conversation, which sends me into a PTSD- induced panic attack.
Mom once: “Its been XX years. You should move past this. Let it go.”
I was never believed, not by anyone from either of our families. I was never allowed to talk about it, except when my parents tried to send me to a Christian counselor, & then told him that I thought I was molested. Not that it had actually happened, but that I thought it did.
I love both my parents. And I’m lucky to still have them in my life.
But, that hurts.
It hurts to know that my pain will never be valid in their eyes.
That they don’t believe that one instance even happened, but that I made it up or dreamt it.
And that they don’t remember reading the actual email my sibling sent me that ripped our family apart.
“My little sister died years ago. I don’t know you.”
Oh, fucker, you don’t know how right you are.
She died at 16, when a boy she trusted sexually assaulted her, and no one believed her.
She died at 17, when her parents sent her to a counselor & told him they thought she was delusional.
She died again at 19, when she was raped in college, and didn’t feel as though she could tell her parents, because why would they believe her now, when they didn’t before?
She died AGAIN, when at 20, they accused her of being on drugs, and forced her to get tested, when she’d never taken drugs in her life.
And she dies again, and again, and again, when they excuse her abusers for hurting her.
I still love my parents.
Don’t forget that.
But, loving them, does not make what they say & do, right.
My parents have always been the “turn the other cheek” people.
I can’t. I won’t. I will NOT give you another chance to hurt me, after being repeatedly struck on one side.
I still love my parents.
They’re good people.
But, the pain is real, when I know I’ll never have their unconditional love & support.
Winter is, for me, usually a time of inner reflection. It’s when I do what is called in Paganism, Shadow Work.
And, my Goddess, it’s been a heavy season of revelations.
I’m not listing these in any specific order, just as they come to me.
1. I have been planning on moving for a while now, but the process to get to the actual moving has been slow, and daunting. It’s a lot of work for 1 person to do on her own.
In this, I realized just how much stuff I have.
Gads, the shelves, piles, boxes, rooms… Of stuff.
I’ll never be able to take all of it with me, especially since I’m going to be downsizing my life, considerably.
And yet, I have so many things that were originally given to me as sentimental gifts…
How do you decide?
I was contemplating a clock. Literally.
My grandmother, who passed on some years ago, now, gifted me with a Grandmother clock when I got married the first time. (She gifted clocks to every one of the grandkids when they got married) It’s a gorgeous thing, made of a reddish-stained wood, with beautiful glass in door on the front, split into top and bottom. The top, of course, shows the face of the clock. The bottom is a square in the middle of clear glass, and 4 framing pieces of a lovely wavy, bumpy glass. The bottom shows the pendulum as it swings. The door swings on a hinge so you can open it up and wind the clock with a “key”, instead of like most pendulum grandfather clocks that have chained weights.
This clock used to play a tune on the hour & a piece of that tune on every quarter & half. My first ex-husband broke the music part of it shortly after we received it, by trying to set the time incorrectly. It’s never played music since, but the clock part still works.
During my second marriage, my now 2nd ex-husband, decided he didn’t like the “ticking”… said it was too loud. (Yeah, seriously)
So the clock was stopped, and never rewound. It’s hung on my living room wall ever since, silent.
It has hung there for 20 years, almost 21, now, silent.
And, as I stood there, looking at it, I wondered to myself…
Why do I have a clock hanging up that never works? I should take it down, put it back in its box, and pack it away for moving.
When I move, I won’t have a place for this clock. My grandmother, rest her, is gone. My marriages… both are gone. The whole reason for the clock being gifted… is gone.
Hmmm… maybe one of my girls will want this? My son definitely won’t want it. Has no attachment to it.
And yet, neither of my girls have ever evinced an emotional attachment whatsoever to this clock. This silent clock that they’ve never heard sing. Have barely ever heard ticking.
No one wants this clock.
Even I don’t really want this clock anymore, other than as a tangible reminder of my grandmother… and yet.
I have many other things that remind me of her.
What do I do with it? Do I get rid of it?
I’m sure my mother would tell me to hang onto it. That one of the girls, or one of my grandkids will someday want it.
And yet. That’s so many years in the future. I’m downsizing. I don’t have, and won’t have, room for storage of “future maybes”.
If I get rid of it, my mom will surely have her feelings hurt… but again… it’s my clock. At least right now.
So, it sits on my floor now, I took it down from the wall, and am reminded every day about it.
When I took the clock down, the pendulum started swinging again, and now it sits… on my floor… ticking with the wrong time.
2. I was emotionally and mentally abused in my last marriage.
It didn’t start out that way, of course…(when does it?)
He told my best friend (who introduced us), that when he met me, he loved the fact that I was a “take no shit” kind of woman. I didn’t take crap from anyone, adult, child, or animal. I stood up for myself and made no apologies for that.
This ability was slowly squashed out of me over the 12 years we were married.
I don’t want to go into all the details, but he was a narcissist who had very little, if any, empathy for anyone other than our son, his golden angel.
It took me almost those same amount of years after we divorced to finally come to this realization.
I finally stood up for myself, and we’ve now been divorced for… well, it’ll be 10 years at the end of May this year.
Almost 10 years to finalize the conclusion that I had back then. And it took a friend, former boyfriend, really, to make me realize that. This man, my friend, asked me one night while we were messaging back & forth on facebook…
Are you happy?
And it took me too long to answer him.
I was going to answer “Of course I am!” But, I took a breath, and answered him honestly, instead.
And that was the beginning of the end of my marriage.
The passive-aggressive insults, the subtle slap-downs, the quiet commentary on my lack, on my family’s lacks, on my friend’s shortcomings… they’d all built up into a deep, searing resentment that I couldn’t live with anymore. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but I now realize that he’d been doing the same things to my daughters, who were his step-children, and that this constituted emotional abuse of them as well. I waved it off at the time, not wanting to admit to myself that he was really hurting them. I wanted us to be a nuclear family like I’d grown up in. But I was wrong.
The girls have grown up since, both lovely adult women with lives of their own. My EldestDaughter is now a mother herself, to 3 beautiful children. Her eldest, my Schnicklefritz, is my buddy. The younger 2 don’t know me well enough yet to define our relationship, since they’re in Washington state, while I’m here. But once I get moved, and I’m planning on moving closer to them, that’ll shift too.
My YoungerDaughter is a no-nonsense upright young woman who is the first in our family for 4 generations to finish college, and is now a 2nd-grade teacher in Wisconsin. She lives with her long-time boyfriend, and I can see them getting married within the next few years.
My OnlySon, lives with his father. There’s a whole story there, but it’s not always an easy one, and I’m not going into it right now.
Suffice to say, the girls’ upbringing didn’t cause them irreparable harm. They have both been able to overcome it, and have built lives that suit them both.
Me, I’m getting there. It’s been a long, rocky road.
I’m still prone to times of severe depression, with longer periods now of only mild depression, thanks to changing a few things in my life, and the treatment I follow for it. I still have anxiety, pretty much always, but that’s manageable most of the time too, through my medication & things I do for it personally. I am working on it.
And as far as relationships go? Well, I’ve pretty much given up on that, since they’ve all failed, for one reason or another. I’m 50 years old, living alone with my cat. (My son’s cat went to a new home this year)
For right now, I’m contemplating finishing out my years living close to my grandkids, my daughter, and her husband, Moose. (yes, it’s a nickname, but appropriate… he’s 6’4″ for goddess’s sake!)
I’m contemplating being content doing that alone, because I can’t see anyone wanting to take on any of the myriad of years’ baggage I bring with me into any relationship.
Yeah, my self-esteem is still crap. Being ghosted, and/or told you’re not good enough to be in a permanent relationship, lied to, had promises broken because “it’s just not that big of a deal”, having one tell you that the depression is the deal-breaker, and any other number of “yeah, I’m just not going to deal with this woman” actions, is kind of a self-esteem killer.
But… it’s what it is, really. This is my life now. And I’m comfortable with living alone now.
I do what I want, when I want. I am obligated to no one for my time. I don’t have to apologize if I want to stay up late reading, or gaming. I come home, drop my stuff where I do, and it’s still there when I go back for it.
(unless the asshole cat has done something to it)
I can play my music at the top volume, singing along loudly, and dancing through the house, if I want.
I can, and have, paint whatever I want on the walls.
I can rearrange my life, my house, and my mind, in whatever way I want, and I don’t have to apologize, or explain, or defend my choices to anyone.
It’s not horrible.
Yeah, I’d like to have someone to share it with. Sure, who wouldn’t?
But, Relationship has 12 letters.
So does Fuck this shit.
Maybe, someday, I’ll be able to say I’m over it. It’s better, now that I can recognize what it is, truly.
Now, I can focus on what I need to do to heal.
These 2 things are not the end of my realizations this winter. But I’m emotionally exhausted from this session of reliving them for the page, so I’ll end this here.
I’m still going. I’m slower now, more cautious, in my decisions & actions. But I’m still moving, working toward my goal.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this, yesterday, on my drive to & from my folks’ house.
I am a tangle of contradictions.
Most people know one side only, as I keep its opposite pretty well hidden from view.
And nearly all the people who know me IRL, know the jokester, who mixes in with the caring, nurturing part of me. (If I care about you, I care enough to joke with you/about you)
Something I don’t say often, though, is that – once I love someone, it’s forever. No matter how much this can hurt ME in the end. And I’m not just talking about being in love with someone, I’m also talking about Chosen Family love. And there’s a few of those out there.
Beloved Nephew is first & foremost of the Chosen. He is now, and has been for years, my best friend. There could never be anything intimate between us, because we’re family to each other, but he knows me better than anyone else alive.
And he’s seen both sides of my personality.
There are also kids, well, they’re not kids anymore, because they’re godsbedamned grownups now, (yes, I’m feeling the age, here). Kids my children brought home with them, who needed an adult at the time to tell them that they were going to be ok. That they were enough, that they could do this thing called life. I don’t get to see them, or talk to them anymore, because they’ve moved on & past needing me, but I still consider them Chosen Family.
And yes, it stings a little sometimes when I think that, once I wasn’t needed to prop them up, I was forgotten. But that’s what happens. And I don’t want anyone to feel any kind of obligation to me because I was kind to them. That’s selfish. I’m just glad they’ve grown, and hopefully gotten themselves to a good place.
And, yes, there are people whom I’ve been involved with in the past, exes. Who doesn’t have those?
And yes, some of them I love.
To this day.
NOT to say that I’d go back to them, because most I wouldn’t. There was a reason behind the split, and it was needed. I’m healthier, emotionally, mentally, without them in my life.
There’s a couple that I would, but it probably wouldn’t be good for me, so I keep my damn mouth shut. Go me. (sarcastic eye roll)
Not one of them can say they’ve truly seen my other side.
The dark coldness that I keep for only myself.
Y’all have no idea.
There is a detachment that happens when my switch gets flipped. And I can honestly say I, myself, have only seen it truly come out a couple of times. Always in the most dire of situations, and ALWAYS as a protective measure, either for myself, or for a loved one.
Example – cutting my male sibling out of my life.
I’m not going to retell the story, just know that I did it to protect myself from further emotional harm.
The point here, is, that I was able to do it. With no guilt, no remorse, and no second thoughts.
And no one has ever, nor will they ever, talk me out of it. Familial guilt gets nothing.
Talk of blood, of dna, gets nowhere.
After all, his blood, his dna didn’t stop him from hurting me in the first place, now, did it?
Anywho, before I get completely derailed off onto a rant, this is only one example.
But it’s an effective one.
The level of darkness to which I can descend, should I deem it necessary to the situation, is one which most would never seek, and I’m sure, they would never suspect me of reaching it.
But a part of me lives there.
And only the Nephew has seen it, or heard it in my voice.
Probably because he recognizes a kindred spirit when he meets one.
But, I digress.
My tangled dichotomy is pretty balanced, ironically enough.
Because as deep as my darkness goes, that is how far my love extends. And vice versa.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I became a horse trainer, & lived alone on a farm with all my animals.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe where I died from suicide at the ripe young age of 16, because – emotional trauma.
I imagine there’s one where I became a published author, famous or not, I finally finished writing a damn book & sent it toddling out into the world, instead of having children.
I imagine there’s one in which I actually finished college, and became a psychologist, only to realize I got too depressed over my own problems to help anyone else effectively.
I imagine there’s one where I stayed with my love of acting, even with crippling stage fright, & became a bit actress, only to become a diet-pill junkie, who died from complications due to extreme yoyo diets & depression.
I imagine there’s one where I became a famous horror writer.
I imagine there’s an alternate universe in which I have more friends than I know what to do with, because I can be so extroverted with the emotion switch “on”, and a complete recluse, with the switch “off.
I imagine there’s one, where I retreated into the woods to become the swamp witch of my dreams, leaving everything behind to live off-grid, because I had no one left, after pushing everyone I knew away due to emotional issues telling me I’m not worth loving, which is why everyone leaves, refuses to commit, or plays on my heart strings until I collapse & lose my shit, running screaming into the void.
I imagine that there’s an alternate universe in which I am living a happy life, with someone I love, who loves me back.
It’s been a couple of days since what happened, happened.
I decided to let it sit a little, to figure out how I really felt about it, without just busting off about my feelings and possibly saying something that was “heat of the moment”.
It was a sympathy card.
One that got passed around the office for a coworker from another office, due to the loss of a family member.
Innocent and compassionate, it showed that our coworkers cared about how another one was feeling.
And yet, as I signed it…
I felt a little sting in my chest.
Because, I lost both an uncle and a cousin, father and son, last month, both to cancer…
And yet, no one signed a card for me.
No, I’m not looking to be the center of attention, nor did I need, or want, coworkers fawning over me with pity. When I grieve, I would rather do it behind closed doors, at home. I HATE falling apart in front of people I’m not close to. And believe me, the circle of people I’m close enough to to feel comfortable showing that level of emotion in front of – is miniscule.
I’m glad I took the time to really think about my reaction, because I wasn’t truly sure why I reacted that way, when I don’t like being the center of attention, & would probably have felt extremely uncomfortable having everyone stare at me if I opened the card in the office.
And I realized, I felt that twinge…
Because it finally really hit home that I’m very isolated emotionally from my coworkers. They just don’t see me. Not the true me.
They see the quiet one who hates mornings, so she doesn’t talk to anyone unless directly approached until about 10am.
They see the jokester who makes people smile & laugh.
They see the professional who can talk to just about anyone who comes through the doors, then, as soon as they leave, changes gears back to being quiet & focused on work.
They see the silent one who tries not to engage in the break room, because I’m reading, & really want to be in the story.
But they only see those masks.
I’ve tried in the past, tentatively, to get to know some of the coworkers a little deeper than just small talk.
But, when it’s just not reciprocated, I pull back again, and don’t try anymore.
I hate being a bother or an obligation.
So, i just don’t really try all that hard to be the instigator of deeper conversations, anymore.
Because that twinge hits when you get brushed off.
This was just a little pinch.
And, while I can forgive, because I know there was no malice…
My Youngerdaughter came home, as Saturday was her 25th birthday, & she wanted to see me & spend her birthday here before she & her boyfriend moved to Wisconsin next week.
Yeah, Youngerdaughter is finally spreading her wings towards new skies. Her boyfriend is going to be going to school there, & she’s been wanting to experience other places for a while now, before she settles down to family-life.
I was also lucky enough to have my eldest grandson, Schnicklefritz, here for the weekend!
He’s my snuggler, my buddy. And one of his big wishes for the summer was to spend time at my house, so YAY!
Yesterday was a FULL HOUSE.
My parents, Youngerdaughter & her BF, OnlySon & his doggo, & Schnickelfritz.
We had fried tacos & Texas chocolate cake for YD’s birthday dinner celebration, & everyone had a good time.
Except, my Mom dropped a family news bomb on me, but I’ll get to that.
Today was all goodbyes.
Youngerdaughter & her BF left early this morning, and the hugs were choking and emotional, but I didn’t actually cry. Close…but no tears hit the ground.
Then this afternoon I had to drive Schnicklefritz back to his dad’s 75 miles away.
He didn’t want to go.
He misses his mom, his brother, his sister, his step-dad. He didn’t want to leave me.
His chin wobbled, and his eyes fogged up.
But Gramma’s are no-nonsense kind of chicks, you know, so I calmed him down & we got him home.
The drive home wasn’t so easy, alone.
Everybody was gone.
Yeah, yeah, I live alone.
I should be used to it, right?
And the family news bomb?
As I was making my daughter’s birthday cake, my mother told me that, not only is my uncle in hospice care with cancer, which I knew…
But so is his son, now.
My cousin who is 31 years old has only an expected couple of months to live.
And I won’t be able to go see them.
I can’t afford it.
I haven’t seen these family members in years.
Guilt, extreme grief, depression.
It’s at times like this, that I wish, when I come home, that there was someone here…
Someone who would put their arms around me, hug me, and let me know that I’m not always alone.
So many things come down to that One. Little. Word.
My daughters, my parents, & my Schnicklefritz grandson all want me to move to Washington to be closer to ElderDaughter & her family (Schnicklefritz especially, he pouts). I don’t want to miss being there for my grands growing up. I want to be the Gramma they come running to after school, the woman they brag about to their friends who’s just that cool.
BelovedNephew wants me to move to Georgia to be closer to him. He is my best friend, and soulmate. He understands things about me no one else has ever. I miss him so fully, it tears at something inside when I think about how far apart we are.
OnlySon doesn’t want me to change anything. He wants me to live in the house I’m in, keep the job I have, be here, because he’s here. He doesn’t want to miss me. He hates change, and I don’t blame him. Change is uncomfortable and scary.
I know I have to make a decision.
I know I have to make a choice.
But, I can’t make myself.
Because, you see…
Any choice I make…ends with someone I love being hurt.
And that’s one thing I can’t stand to do.
I’ve hurt people in the past, I know I have, sometimes knowingly, but usually out of ignorance, and unconsciously.
How do I make a choice here without hurting someone? I can’t. It’s just not possible.
And then, I hear the voices of my loved ones in my head saying…
“Just do what’s best for you…”
Yeah…but what’s best for me is to NOT FREAKING HURT OTHERS.
Because of what I used to be in the past, because of who I used to be, I made a LOT of changes in my life.
Oh, Goddess, I’ve fucked up so many things in my past, but there’s nothing I can do about that, anymore. There’s no going back, there’s no atonement, there’s no fixing, for so many of those things.
And, I’ve paid. Oh, yeah…I’ve paid in spades, for a lot of it. I beat the hell out of myself (can’t you tell?) for my past, regularly. *shrug* And I do try to make up for being an asshole back then, by being very much not an asshole now.
I think, too, subconsciously, part of me thinks I deserve to be alone now, because of everything I did in the past.
Penance, you know?
Like maybe there’s some kind of invisible-to-me sign that hangs around my neck that says “unworthy“, that men can see, so they stay away.
But, I digress.
I know I need a change.
I know I have to make a choice.
I can’t stay, because things here…just hurt…anymore. The ones that have left their knives behind in my back, wow, they were sharp, and left scars that just don’t fade. The ones that used only words…seemed to scar worse. And the ones that smiled, that seemed to want the same things, then disappeared… everything just hurts, you know?
Is it any wonder I don’t sleep or eat much these days?
This is simply me, telling about something I’ve figured out about myself. I don’t want any sad looks, or “sympathetic statements”.
It is what it is, and that’s what it is.
To start, I started listening to a new type of music, for me, about 3 months ago. K-pop.
I know, odd choice for a 48-yr. old woman, raised on hard rock & heavy metal, right?
Anyway… I’d been watching videos on You-Tube, and found this song called “Pop Stars” by K/DA, created for the game League of Legends. If you haven’t heard of it, which you probably haven’t, it’s an animated video, and it’s amazing.
I loved it instantly.
I started looking for more K-pop (Korean Pop) to listen/watch, which led me to Blackpink, a girl group, who are also kickass.
And they led me to…
A boy group, comprised of 7 members, who – yes, again, sing mostly in Korean.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan – which means “Bulletproof Boyscouts” in Korean)
I don’t even care.
I fell into the gravity well that surrounds this group. Wholeheartedly.
Because these boys are a family, even though they aren’t blood.
And they treat their fans like family.
And the fans, known as ARMY (Adorable Representatives MC for Youth) treat each OTHER and BTS like family.
At least, the ones that I’ve met so far, which have been quite a few, have all been respectful, welcoming, kind, and warm.
Which has been really, really nice to experience, for a change.
I live my life on the fringes of everyone else’s lives, anymore. Always on the outside, looking in.
And, I understand.
I always kind of hung back, growing up, too. I was always “someone’s friend”, or someone’s daughter, sister, cousin, girlfriend, or whatever. I’d walk into a group, slightly behind and to the side of whomever I came in with…I never walked in somewhere on my own. I needed to belong with someone else.
And then, I grew up & became “someone’s mom”, and then “someone’s wife”. Later dropping the “wife” part.
My children have their own lives. They must go live them, and NOT be immediately tied to me. This is a good thing. They have their wings, they have to fly. This is life.
My parents and I are not immediately tied together, either. This is a good thing. I’m not super dependent on them for things, and they aren’t at a stage in their lives where they need me to step in, either. I’m glad they are still young enough, vital, strong, independent, people who don’t need a caregiver. There may come a day when that happens, but that day is not now.
And, I don’t have a significant other. This is obvious. No need to rehash this.
My best friend, my Beloved Nephew, lives in Georgia, while I live in North Dakota.
He has his family there, his dad, brother, extended relatives, etc. Yes, he is still my best friend, but we are no longer enmeshed in each other’s daily lives like we once were, due to geography.
I’m on the fringes of all of these relationships.
Hanging by the threads of phone calls, text messages, short weekend visits maybe once or twice a year.
And, I can’t deny that it hurts, sometimes, dangling from those delicate strings.
Hmm..so, what, you say, does BTS and the ARMY have to do with any of this?
I figured out WHY I fell so eagerly and completely into their orbit.
Because with them, I don’t have to be fringe.
I’m just another member of the extended family.
They let me right in and gave me a hug and told me to sit down and get comfortable.
And it felt good.
I’ve missed that feeling.
I haven’t had that in a long time.
And, I think that’s the saddest thing of all.
That it took strangers to make me feel better.
(Please don’t feel bad Beloved Nephew! This is me, not you!)
This is just where I am, where I’ve been…for months, now.
On the fringes.
But the music helps.
And so do the boys, just by being who they are. The message they send out has to be listened to carefully in order to really be heard.
It’s difficult to explain, I learned it in small steps, as I watched many, many videos. Not just the music videos, but other ones, too, about the guys, ones that they put out themselves, and ones that fans put out about them.
The fans are super loyal. No joke.
And yes, I’m one of them now, all kidding aside. I don’t care what anyone says.