Tuesday, December 24, 2013

No More Baggage To Carry **LONG**

The very last day of 2013 is fast approaching. So much significance is placed on both the last and first day a year – resolutions for the upcoming year, review and analysis of the outgoing one - that I always feel some kind of way about it. In the past I have gotten caught up in all that, I admit. But for the last few years I’ve really been thinking about this whole ritual, and how it makes me feel. Because I truly believe that each day, each moment is a chance, an opportunity really to start all over again, I have decided to do something different… just happens to be today!
You all know that I’m all trying to be the best person I can; being honest; standing in, speaking and  honoring my own truth; searching for ways to be as authentic as I can be. And you all know that I’ve been struggling, openly here, with who I now am and what my life is all about since I began living with some pretty horrible disease that regularly threaten to take me out. But I’ve only hinted at the other issues I’ve been struggling with, some for years and years, and some are only new revelations and insight into them. So in my continuing quest to live honestly and authentically, I’ve decided to do both a brain and emotion ‘dump’, clean out my emotional house so to speak, and lay bare some of my scares, some of my pain. Some of the things I’ve not wanted to address in any way, let alone publically via my blog, figuring that if I don’t participate in the bullshit, if I rise above it via my behavior (i.e. no response), then it will get better or just go away. But that’s not the case and I know better. All the crazy and absurd bullshit I’ve dealt with, or allowed, all the truths I’ve been either unknowingly or consciously hid because of guilt, or shame, or fear. That’s a big one for me, fear. Fear of what others might think, fear of how others see me. So now is when I start standing in ALL of my truth, not just some of it. And now is when I stop being afraid, no longer give a certain group of folk power, no longer give a damn about what they have to say or think. I’m going to dump it all out so that it’s on the record. For ME. Right here. Right now. Because I refuse to start the upcoming year weighed down by all the things I’ve been holding in.

I don’t write this for sympathy. I write this for my own healing. For me to control my own story. My own truth. I offer no explanations, no insights. Just some things that happened to me as I saw/see it with a little bit of emotion mixed in here. Bear with me as I try to make sense, keep in it some kind of order and not ramble on. Here’s some of my story so far.

As a kid I was sad and lonely most of the time. As a child I felt unloved, unwanted, and in the way. A burden to be endured with little value, let alone a voice (“children are seen and not heard”). Although never expressly stated, I felt reminded of this often. I was trotted out and made to perform on demand for friends and family for various and ridiculous things (“do a back flip!”; “run fast!”; “twirl on the monkey bars”), but most always for the purpose of making my parents look good for whatever reason. Yet as a parent now, I’m sure there had to be some pride involved in those performances, but I never felt it. I was always given a majorly heavy and guilt trip, especially from mom, if I didn’t cooperate. I was never to embarrass them either, well, mom definitely cared more about that than dad. Because of this I did my best to stay out of the way, to be good, polite with perfect manners, and I was always eager to please (or to prove my worth). It’s funny how much I remember about growing up, but what I remember more is how I felt while growing up, and many of the situations and encounters that made me feel it. 

I hate talking about the past. It’s painful. It’s confusing. It’s shady. But I will not carry it with me any longer. I have enough on my plate as it is.

My mom is a passive aggressive narcissistic overly dramatic master manipulator who’s the center of everything, and has a starring role as sole victim in every situation. Everything she does is deniable, her aggressive and hostile acts are paraded as thoughtfulness. Her selfish manipulations are presented as gifts. Criticism and slander is slyly disguised as concern, and overly dramatic guilt trips her specialty. She had all this down to such a science that whenever I tried to let anyone know what was going on, they’d never believe me. It was impossible because everyone adored my mom. My dad? I don’t really know how to describe him, yet I can easily explain his ridiculous behaviors. Yes, he’s very similar to my mom in that he’s selfish and self-centered, but desperate for attention, adoration and praise. I play the doting ‘daddy’s girl’. His ‘shadow’, his sidekick and keeper of secrets. That was my assigned role to play with him and also performance on demand for ego and appearance. I spent a lot of time with him when I was little (before brother came along really) and mom hated it. She was and still is jealous of the relationship she thinks we have. And the relationship we actually have? It’s difficult to be with him, talk with or to him, and he often leaves me devastated and in tears. I believe he knew mom was a bit ‘touched’, but he refused to act – he hates any kind of confrontation. “Just be respectful” or “Now that’s your mother” he’d say. Both have created this false reality of parenthood, a fantasy of their parenting track record of sorts, that always amazes me, and for years I played along, mainly out of fear and guilt, I helped perpetuate it. Especially as a young adult and adult; actually I continued the creation of the bullshit until very recently. 

Fear and guilt is a bitch.

Both lie, mom’s way more clever with it than dad, but I think he has her beat with creativity though! Thanks to their amazing and often fascinating examples, I became a liar too. I don’t think I was as good as them, but I lied like a rug for most of my childhood. I lied about big things (I didn’t do my homework because my mom was sick) and stupid little things (the amount of time I spent riding horses, which was a lot but I just tripped it), it was more than normal childhood lying, and I knew it. None of the lies I told were ever hurtful or mean, or damaging, or in any way brought about the end of nations and corporations, but often I lied just because. And wrong is wrong, period. Blessed with keen insight, I also knew why I did it. I needed to feel worthy, that I mattered, loved. (Probably my own parents’ issues just passed down?) But it left me feeling so guilty, dirty really, and way more unworthy than before. Thankfully I put an end to it all in the eighth grade because I could see how stupid it was, and more importantly, I felt guilty and could see that it got me nothing but trouble. Because of my fear around worth, I became a problem solver, ‘The Fixer’, the go to person for almost everything; I became a know it all do it all fix it all (like my parents), and tied my value to being able to solve the problem, or ‘fix’. This helped, but I still remained feeling unworthy and insignificant. 

My brother came along when I was almost 8, and I’d like to say that not much changed, because I continued to feel the same, just more so. More in the way, more of a burden, blah, blah, blah. Brother was a laid back baby and kid, didn’t kick up much of a fuss, mellow. I liked that and I liked him, but we weren’t close, nor are we now. He was sickly in the beginning, some kind of seizure disorder which he outgrew, but it was terrifying. I was so scared for him because he was so tiny, for my parents because they clearly liked him more (in my young childish mind), and for me because I needed him to be ok. I didn’t want to be left alone with mom and dad, and in my own ridiculous childish reasoning, he took the pressure off of me because all the focus was on him. He was a boy, he was the baby, and he was sick. The seizures wore off but being the favorite stuck. And please don’t think that I’m this bitter older sister who’s twisted over the favoritism of the younger sibling. Nah. Yes, we have very different experiences growing up. Yes, I often wondered why he caught passes, mostly got what he wanted, and didn’t have to change schools (I attended seven different school from 1st to 12th grades, I absolutely hated it). Yes, he was and still is well taken care of. But I hold no resentment towards him. I really don’t. What I do resent is how my parents treated us in regards to each other. They often pitted us against each other (“yeah, but your brother/sister did/said…” fill in the blank). Things got worse after the divorce, I think I was 10, mom was so filled with hate and bitterness towards dad, and he was all about ‘winning us over’. Brother was still very young and I always had to be responsible for him, his behavior. I was always the mediator between him and the parents, and ran interference for him, mostly without his knowledge. I was always the scapegoat when he couldn’t have or do or go (“sorry, you can’t because I had to send some money to your sister..” which was so not true. About 13 years ago there was situation where it appeared he tried to kill himself, he said it was an accident not intentional - I really don’t know, you know how families don’t like to discuss emotionally challenging situations/truths. That was one of the darkest times in my life. Both parents dumped all their shit on me for absolution. Dad needed me to confirm that he’d been a great dad; mom just wanted to take her side in blaming dad; brother didn’t even know what kind of war was raging outside the hospital. He probably has no idea how much I’ve done, sacrificed on his behalf, yet I have no idea what he really feels about me. And no, he doesn’t even know an eighth of my story. 

This is getting long, and I’m getting weary as I try hard not to re-live most of the pain and anguish. But I want to get as much out as I can. I have to. Again, just for me. I’m so tired of hiding, feeling guilty, and being afraid. Are these emotions reasonable? Nope. And I know this. But it still exists, and I know I’ll feel better once I start getting this out. So on with the show...

I’ve been through way more than so many of my friends even know about collectively, and I’ve been too afraid to tell any one person my whole story. Afraid to let someone in fully, and to trust that they’d take care of and honor my story. I’ve not known true friendship til I got sick because before then, all my relationships, including loveships, were always based on what I could do for them. There was little to no reciprocation; even my own marriage started out that way whether he’d admit it or not. Now I’m not saying I was a poor little lamb in the lions den. Most of the takers throughout my life didn’t necessarily start with the motive of getting as much as they could. Remember, I was in need of being validated and feeling worthy. 

Anyway, I’m struggling with finding a way to transition into my horrific high school years which was just more misery, confusion, and pain. Mainly because of my parents, honestly. I was a good kid and stayed out of any real or big trouble. Yeah I did dumb kid stuff, which usually got turned into an act of treason by mom; dad usually ignored it for fear of any kind of confrontation or having to get his parenting hands dirty. During this time I was raped and molested, both times by close family on my step-fathers side. A neighbor whom I always babysat for realized that something was wrong and what that something was. I felt so relieved and taken care of by her, but it only lasted for a few hours. Mom grilled me about what happened, then accused me of purposefully and intentionally trying to ruin her life, that I was jealous of her and all that she had. I was 16 and she was 37. Dad apparently found out, I still don’t know how, and somehow my uncle got involved and there may have been a confrontation. Then it happened again but by the son of a good friend of my dad. Based on all the chaos that went on with the previous situation, I didn’t say a word. All this led to me not trusting anyone but at the same time being open to being taken advantage of. I was still so very naïve. I became promiscuous, I guess, but not with the actual act of sex itself, but in using the promise of it as my power over the guy. I still don’t know what to call it really, and even though I wasn’t having a lot of sex, i still feel

Then there’s my college years and how I wound up homeless for a time while 2500 miles away from home, thanks to mommy dearest. Besides that scary and painful time, and the circumstances around why it happened, I really don’t have too many scarring incidents to expunge during this part of my life. Even though they were trying and extremely hard, it was an amazing time of self-discovery, where I learned just who I was, what I was about, and what I was made of; where I began to uncover my true value and worth, and learn the meaning of friendship. I had some amazing opportunities, experiences, and jobs – as a lobbyist, a 911 operator, a “house mother” in an extremely upscale gentleman’s club (I learned so much from this job!), and then one in particular that developed into my stratospheric human resources career. The best years of my life really! 

It began to hit the fan when I came home from college, with soon to be hubby in tow. Mom really didn’t like me anymore because I had started down the path of self-assuredness and knowing. She could see that I saw through her bullshit. But still, I was too afraid to act, she knew it, and the manipulation went into overdrive! She’d tell me she didn’t like the way I spoke to hubby, that when he left me, she’d take his side, and lots of other cruelties like that. She supposedly gave us some money for the down payment on our house – we weren’t expecting to buy, but had two massive dogs (see malik) at the time so no one would rent to us. She was in real estate at the time, brokered the deal and got a commission. She sly explained that she reduced her commission so we’d be able to get the house, meaning she had lost money in the deal. Well she just tacked on her commission amount to what we had to pay back to her, with interest no less (“that’s what banks do!”). As for dad, the plan was to graduate, come home and work for him. He’d teach me the ropes, and I’d take over and grow the empire he’d begun, but I had changed so much that I just couldn’t stomach his shenanigans any longer. I headed straight for the corporate ladder and began a great career. I continued to dabble at his office, mainly because my name was all over the business. I didn’t understand at the time, too afraid to ask questions, too afraid to brook disappointment, then feel the guilt. He loved bragging about how involved I was, how great I was at handling things. But he never let me do anything of consequence, more importantly, he never taught me anything. Most of what I’ve managed to learn has been on my own, but he’s good at taking credit. Like how he used to tell everyone how he paid for college. Yes, he did what he could do and sent me a few bucks from time to time, but I worked 3 jobs simultaneously for several years, received multiple academic scholarships, and paid off 2 different rather large student loans while still in school.
I came back from college and all my worldly travels, completely changed. I was large and in charge. Most of those old behaviors were gone and I couldn’t go back, and took no bullshit from anyone… except my parents. I was still stuck in those old patterns with them and I just didn’t know how to break them. Then I had ladybug and got sick soon after. 

Your life and the way you see things changes dramatically when you’re told you only have so much time to live - especially when you have a husband and very young child. Everyone acted appropriately and accordingly, accept mom. She doesn’t believe I’m sick, and has gone out of her way to let me know she could care less. She told me as clear as day on more than one occasion that if I actually was sick, then she’s glad of it because it was time for me to grow up; that she hoped I’d noticed that she had no interest in helping me out, “being there for me” (once I got sick) because I needed to “buck up”. Once I had ladybug, I began thinking about all the things my mom had done to me and not done for me, and I became overwhelmed. I realized that as a mother, there was ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKIN WAY I could do to ladybug what she had done to me. PERIOD. Plus all that I had/have been through healhwise, I could see the madness with such clarity, it was amazing. The turning point was when my grandmother was dying not that long ago, and mom showed her ass. Everyone got to see just how hateful she could be towards me. Finally. 

This pretty much brings you all current. Yes, I’ve left out some major drama, but don’t want to turn this into a “Poor Angela” post. There’s just so much and I all I really want to do is shed some light on some of the crap I’ve been too guilty and afraid to say aloud about my family. I’ve taken no shit from everyone else except my parents. 

It has taken me several days to write this and yet I still feel like it’s too much and not enough. But I must remember that this is just the beginning.

I will no longer feel like a hypocrite. I declare that I am no longer fearful, I will no longer worry about guilt around my crazy ass parents. I am no longer giving a shit about how they feel or what they think if and when I call them on their bullshit.  Yes, I’ve been through some shit that’s tougher than them. Rape, molestation, homelessness, hunger, being given 18-24 months to live, chemotherapy and dealing with ongoing life and death health issues. But I’ve come out on top. And I will continue to come out on top. 

 I’m not going to get all caught up in resolutions because I don’t do that anymore. But I have started a list if things I want to get done, accomplish, explore and experience for the upcoming year, but I’m keeping them to myself. However I will say that 2014 is all about me. Me living and speaking my truth 100% fully and out loud. It’s about me increasing my faith; figuring out what the pieces of my cross are (Matthew 16:24-26) and dealing with them openly. This year is all about me doing. 

Thanks for always being here for me.

 Be well

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