This Haiku (or the basis of it) came to me when I glanced in a mirror today. When I saw my reflection, I didn’t recognize myself and thought about all the time that has passed and all the lost opportunity to know myself. I felt defeated, old and like I’m too late for life.
I’m compiling lists of music on YouTube because I’d like to listen straight through while doing things and not stop to switch the video. The reason behind that though, is that I want to use the music as a tool for feeling. Music is one thing that will really get in deep, chip away until the tears come. It causes flash backs while bringing up feelings that I know I need to feel.
I’ve been numb too long. I’ve avoided all the shit I need to peel away and shed.
I was a teen in the 80s so I’m choosing a lot of that music, at least right now. I like a lot of other music too, and although other music brings up emotions too of other things, it’s the memories of the 80’s I’m after in that list.
One video I specifically looked up is “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde because I was a kid (at 15/16) when the song was released and it was being played on every pop station, probably around the nation.
The song “Kids in America” takes me back to my teen years, in good ways as much as sad. But while watching the video and looking at the singer’s face, I was taken back to when I was 19. I think it’s because she was close to that age in the video. I was more than a year out of high school and going nowhere. And I continued to go nowhere all the way up to this day.
I looked at Kim Wilde’s face and compared myself to her. How she was doing something, creating something, putting something out there to be remembered. And at that age I wasn’t even driving myself to the job I hated. I was walking several blocks to meet my ride. I was smoking pot at every opportunity, including sometimes on that ride to work. I was living day to day to find some sort of escape from the depression that had taken such a tight hold by then and continues to this day.
It saddens me so much the potential lost as a result of no guidance in direction by the adults in my life at that time.
The most relatable line for me sadly:
“You know life is cruel, life is never kind.”
Drawing boundaries is not a bad thing. And saying no is a complete sentence.
The word “selfish” is used in place of the word “self-centered” much of the time. Self-centered is probably the extreme on the ‘SELFISH’ continuum, in thinking the world revolves around one’s self. But being self-ish is a form of caring for yourself, protecting yourself and looking out for yourself. Drawing boundaries is not being self-centered.
We need some selfishness to be able to draw healthy boundaries and let people know what’s not OK and what we won’t do. There is nothing wrong with looking out for your-self. And in some cases you might be the only one who does, so step up for your-self. I’m learning how to do this now and what it really means.
It might only be in the form of ignoring some sort of attempt at contact, but your silence sends a strong message. There are times when words are not necessary to convey a message. Of course confrontation can be a healthy thing but that’s a whole other topic. At times it’s not a good idea to confront, especially if you’ve attempted to discuss and resolve repeatedly and the other party doesn’t get it. At some point, it doesn’t make sense to continue trying to make someone understand.
Don’t let manipulation sway you either. Healthy discussions are good and changing your mind is OK too. But this is where it’s important to really learn how YOU feel. Ask yourself, “Are you changing your answer from yes to no or no to yes because you want someone to keep liking you and approving of you? Or “Is it a genuine feeling within that is coming from authenticity?
Watch for the feeling of resentment. That could be a clue to what you really want to say and do.
Only you will know though, so get to know your intuition. You have your own answers.
This was said by a friend of mine years ago. I wrote it in a journal because it really had an impact on me.
Having been abused in such a covert manner and in insidious ways, I have grown up to wonder why my relationships were so fucked up. (That’s a technical term for unhealthy.)
I don’t remember now what exactly we were talking about when he said that, but it’s very likely that I was lamenting on how unhappy I was and probably something about how I’ve felt unsatisfied in every relationship I’ve ever had. That includes romantic and non, just the same.
Sometimes I think I’ve given too much, even though it was from a dry well. So that would make it fake wouldn’t it? I guessed a lot about how to be, how to act, how to talk and what to give and what to take. I wanted to show that I cared but I also wanted to be honest, which at times worked against me.
A friend of mine used to tell me that I was ‘too honest.’
A relationship at any given time could be unbalanced where I gave more than I felt but I wanted to keep the person from leaving or felt the need for approval. Other times I felt I was receiving too much and I would say something or do something to sabotage the relationship.
And then came the desperation in selling them a reason to stay.
After that I’d feel trapped and dishonest for making that sale and break it off or tell them they were calling too much. And then I’d feel lonely.
In truth I had nothing to give. Because there was nothing in the well.
Update on 10/27/16:
Since writing this, I’ve written a post about how I’ve been mostly a taker in relationships and friendships.
To add to this though, when I was “giving” anything, it was out of codependency a lot of the time, being a people pleaser, wanting them to stay because I didn’t want to be alone/lonely. It wasn’t authentic most of the time. I may have liked them, but I also may not have. I didn’t take much time to really know. Much of the time I was running away from myself.
Some cases I wanted to feel special. In other scenarios I wanted what they had, much of the time that was pot. There were plenty of times I would choose someone to call and hang out with based on the high possibility of them having weed.
Pathetic to think about that.
All that time wasted…in more ways than one. All that time I spent high or with someone that treated me like shit or with someone just to avoid being by myself, I could’ve been getting to know myself.
I’m trying to do that now. But it isn’t easy.
Once upon a time being accepted in your tribe was a matter of life and death, so it would be detrimental if we didn’t do what we needed to do, including bow down to the role of family scapegoat, for example. That’s what I was.
Maybe I still am, in their view.
But I’m not there to know. I am not there to be treated that way. My going No Contact or more like No Response was my way of drawing a boundary.
I think it’s still an imprint in the DNA, to feel the need to stick with family, even if they’re abusive.Being part of us, I think is why I felt so anxious about severing those ties before I did so. On the surface I was afraid of their reaction to not liking it.
Would I be in danger physically? Would they come knocking on my door? Would they endlessly text or call? I didn’t know. But I had to take the chance for myself because I was emotionally exhausted and beat down. I needed to get away from them…permanently…as far as I knew. And as far as I still know.
It’s nice to think that they will see. Once you’re away they will figure out what happened and why you want to keep your distance.
That may happen. But in many cases, that most likely will not happen.
There is ambiguity within me about wanting any family member to want to resolve things. Even if they seemed genuine there would be doubt and if they really were genuine what about all the shit that’s already happened? It would take a lot of apologizing and talking to resolve the past.
I’ve said I’d be open to such discussions and conversations. But then how would I know what the intentions are from a phone call or a message?
How would I know it would not just be a trick to lure the scapegoat back in, or just plain bullshit?
There are I’m sure ways to tell, especially when you have “known” someone all your life and you’ve been tricked and pushed and bullied and beaten so much. There’s a lot to be said for intuition. In addition it would be in their words. And later in their actions if it was a trick and they said all the right things.
Someone who is truly sorry and wants to resolve issues is going to know what to say and how to approach things. They will be awake to their own errors and won’t be accusatory in an email or voicemail. They should point out where they went wrong so you can easily know they are self aware.
I also don’t think they are going to send emails and leave voice mails that don’t acknowledge the bullying and abuse at all. God knows the attempts at contact from my family members mentioned nothing of the hell I put up with.
They’d rather sit with the elephant in the room and in the ether. But of course the elephant wasn’t addressed when it was fully present and in fact held against me later. I was blamed for it. My mother blamed me for of it, of all people.
So even if there were sincere attempts and desires to want to discuss things, to resolve and heal the hurt, to apologize, I’m not sure I’d be ready right now, nor trusting. Words prove nothing. A whole lot of action would be needed to prove it was meant and sincere. And that takes time.
The abuse and bullying got to a point that it was severe, and I’m still angry that they would even do those sorts of things in the first place. It can’t be changed I know. But the damage is deep. It’s also layered dating back to childhood for me, going all the way up to a couple years ago.
There’s a lot not to forgive. And besides, I’m just getting to me…the real me and I haven’t even gotten past the surface yet. There’s a lot to get to know and years of catching up with myself. Given the oppression that was dished out and then my own defensive suppression I felt was necessary to protect myself, I think it’s better that I do some healing on my own.
But then if they were actually sincere, the healing would be faster if we were ‘all in it together’ I think. I know that’s not reality though. People who finger point, scapegoat a family member, triangulate and blame don’t usually just wake up one day and say, “OH, what a shit I’ve been. How narcissistic and damaging of me to be so abusive.”
If it happens at all, I’m guessing it’s rare. It’s their way of dealing with their own trauma. It’s more comfortable for many people to be in denial, pretend it’s the fault of one other person, establish a scapegoat and instill lots of double standards. But that doesn’t mean you gotta take it.
To find out who I am, who I really am is important to me and if I were to accept them back into my life right now, even if they truly were sorry, even if they really wanted to work at healing themselves and the dynamic among the family, I have myself to tend to right now.
It would be too easy to fall back into my role, as it would be for them as well. No matter how sorry or apologetic they all might be, we all still have our triggers and history. So I can only assume it wouldn’t be easy for them as well. Change is hard for everyone so that would mean it would be difficult for them not to scapegoat me. It would be difficult not to utilize their double standards of their blame and shame against me.
The point is moot though. I think this may be permanent. I can’t imagine that they would ever understand or stop seeing me as the problem. I can’t ever see them as coming to realize how hurtful their treatment of me was, let alone that they were even treating me like shit.
I don’t expect that any of them will ever be self-aware enough to see the blame they put on me. Nor will they push past the denial of the triangulating and manipulation they pulled.
I just don’t see the rug being put back where it’s been pulled out. And I don’t see them looking under said rug for all the shit they swept under it.
Although I removed myself, I still feel ostracized, because I was pushed out. I wouldn’t exactly say that I went willingly, even though I used my own will to walk away. I did it to take care of myself, for self-preservation and self-defense.
Mr. B did something yesterday that I got angry about. It wasn’t resolved yesterday for a few different reasons and I wanted to talk about it this morning. So I approached him calmly and let him know I needed to talk about something that was bothering me.
He was receptive. He heard me. He was even remorseful. Then he apologized.
Afterward, I felt the resolution immediately. A feeling of relief washed over me.
I’m not hanging on to it as if trying to make it not happen. I’m not ruminating in anger about how much of a jerk he is. I’ve done that in the past about various things and various people.
Two reasons: 1). Lack of resolution and 2). Wanting that other person to change their behavior from here on out. Especially if the person isn’t understanding or empathetic about where I’m coming from.
If I felt the need to resolve such a thing in this way with a family member, before doing so, having the intention, I would be sweating, shaking, afraid of the reaction of whichever family member I felt the need to resolve things with. The resolution in this case was that I wanted and needed an apology.
Most likely, my sister would have pulled something out from history and attacked me for it, pointing a finger and screaming about how, “You did… and another thing, you are….”
My brother would minimize and talk about how my worrying and holding onto things would eventually give me an ulcer or cancer.
My mom would say something like, sounding closer to a whine, “Can’t we just have a light conversation without you having to resolve some issue. Why can’t you just call me and say, “How are you mom?” (As if that never fuckin’ happened?)
They think that resolution isn’t important. I won’t ever change that line of thinking in them nor the behaviors that demonstrate that fact. And my feeling won’t change, that resolution is important in some situations. It’s also important to give it when I screw up as well.
Sometimes instead of working so hard at trying to change others, you just have to remove yourself from the equation.
I am feeling grateful to and for Mr. B. ❤
Despite knowing by then how much she loathed me, a part of me still longed for the resolution I knew would never happen.
I’d been bringing my father smoothies on a pretty regular basis, making a last ditch effort to turn his health around, even though the prognosis was dim. But at the time I had not really known how serious things really were.
I now know that I was not getting clear information from my siblings, who in turn may not have been getting clear information from the doctor either. But they accompanied my father to the doctor so they knew more than I did first hand. Now that I think back on it, I have a feeling I was being alienated.
But then I don’t know since I didn’t go to the doctor appointments. I suppose I could have, but in all honesty I didn’t want to be in such a trapped situation such as a car, with my siblings. And it was difficult enough for me to be in the situation as it was.
My father had already been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was understood the prognosis wasn’t good, but there were no definitive answers. At least as far as I knew. As far as my father seemed to know. I wonder how much the doctor wasn’t sharing with my father. I wonder how informed my siblings were compared to my father.
I started to bring him smoothies because he was having some digestive problems and diarrhea. I simply offered them and he gratefully accepted the jars I brought him, filled with what looked like milkshakes and Mistos, (check out Rita’s Water Ice to see what that is) made with fruits and greens.
I had a feeling that my sister wouldn’t respond favorably to my efforts of helping my father, in the form of green smoothies. So when she came by for a quick visit to ask my father how his appetite was, I cringed inside and waited for her reaction in judgment to ensue.
“Not too bad, your sister brought me a smoothie this afternoon,” my father responded.
From the far end of the dining room table, I glanced over the screen of my laptop, I felt the desire for approval, once she knew, while at the same time the impulse to defend myself. I said, “I thought it would help his digestion.”
Like a jealous and narcissistic co-parent, she spun around on her scrawny ass, where she’d been sitting on the coffee table, to shoot me a glare of daggers and said with a cold and bitter tone, “Or go right through him.” I could hear the sneer that was not quite visible on her face.
I felt so defeated, not to mention hurt yet again. Like I couldn’t ‘win’ with her. As long as I fulfilled her need of “babysitter,” she seemed to feel this right and maybe even a duty to crush and control me every opportunity she saw.
It seemed to be in that moment, that in her twisted little mind, that I was supposed to simply show up and prepare for him whatever was status quo. How dare I go off the conventional track. After all, food had nothing to do with his illness.*
At the time along with feeling defeated, I also was angry while being afraid at the same time. My sister can rage as well as say some cutting things and bring up other apparent unresolved issues she tends to hold onto, fighting dirty, using them against me when the timing seems just right to her.
And me, at that moment, with her, physically in my vicinity, feeling she was presenting a physical threat to me just by her presence and attitude, I wanted to just keep the peace. At that point, I was just biding my time, already knowing I was going to sever ties with this nasty troll, once I’d gotten through all of this.
So I took the figurative punches while telling myself, “Just a little longer.”
Of course not knowing really how much longer.
I wanted to stick up for myself so badly despite that fear. I wanted her to know that she was being a nasty little bitch for no reason.That her behavior was abusive and she had become, along with our brother, a horrible bully toward me.
I wanted to know why she felt the need, to put down my effort to help, in such a mean way, instead of discussing it with me respectfully if she disagreed with it being a healthy alternative.
I knew why she wouldn’t discuss it. Besides the eggshells that surround(ed) the entire family, she was jealous of my ability to think outside the box, while at the same time feeling superior and that my ideas were stupid and ridiculous.
But for me to stick up for myself, I knew, she’d likely just roll her eyes while berating me for being too sensitive after which she’d walk away feeling triumphant and I’d feel frustrated for not being able to get a word in or not know what to say until the whole thing was over.
I’m sure she knew I wouldn’t ‘rock the boat’ in such a scenario, as to stress out my dying father. She’d already put that anchor in place during a previous conversation about “this not being about her or me. It’s about dad and only dad since he’s the one whose ill.”
And although the probability of her raging while in my father’s apartment was low to non-existent, I still worried a little about it because I knew her capability of holding on to something until she could release it on me, which could possibly manifest itself in an explosion.
I’d been on the receiving end of that a few times. Once in person. But I’d said something passive aggressive and I really don’t blame her for that too much. A lot of tension had accumulated between us and we hadn’t had any knowledge of how to deal with it because our parents hadn’t taught us how to talk through our frustrations with each other.
But luckily in the more recent incidents where she flew off the handle (after what I was saying was not passive aggressive, but attempting to resolve some issues between us) took place on the phone and I was able to simply hang up.
In person, I felt I ran the risk of her impulse control failing. So I kept my mouth shut.
More stuffed anger on my end.
I think I’m going to have to write one of those letters I’ll never send to each family member, expressing my feelings.
As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that might help me in a big way.
*projection. I can’t possibly know what she was actually thinking. I was going by things she’d said in the past, issues we’d had that I’d tried to discuss, etc.
In my last post I wrote of an example of the lack of my own privacy as a teen. But that stage was set long before that. It can be asked “Why would a small child, prior to the age of 12 really need privacy?” But privacy isn’t just a matter of someone knocking before opening a bedroom door.
My brother and sister started young, taking the liberty entering my bedroom whenever I wasn’t home.
When he was a bit older, (this started when he was 10 and I was 13) my brother would use my stereo.This would piss me off when I’d come home and find him in there. So I’d run up, go in my room and say in a short and curt voice, “Get out.” Sometimes I’d say, “Get out faggot.”
He’d stop what he was doing, gather up all his belongs and quietly leave. I’d just shut the door behind him with no remorse for what I’d just said or how I just treated him.
Makes me want a redo. I feel sad for both of those kids. (My brother and me).
I’m angry at my parents who set us up in certain ways to act like this and even for me to treat him like this. I believed it was normal to be nasty to your brother, even call him names. But now, I know better. I’m angry and sad that my parents didn’t teach us about boundaries and how to respect each other and each others belongings and privacy while we were growing up.
I’m ashamed of my behavior while at the same time feel victimized by my parents in all of this.
My treatment of him makes me feel like I deserved his rage attacks later in our adult life.
When it comes to my brother and me and these types of interactions, I so wish I could go back, knowing what I know now. To have that awareness so that I can be kinder. I think it would change so much about our relationship probably, and also how I feel about myself.
I try to remember I was a product of the toxic and chaotic environment that was my family but it doesn’t make me feel any better about how I treated him or the way things turned out.
When she was just a toddler (3 years old) and I was about 9, my sister always wanted to play with my gerbils. One day, while I was at school and she was unsupervised, she dragged a chair to my bedroom door in the hallway, stood on it and flipped the eye-hook lock that was meant to keep my younger siblings out of my room and the gerbils safe from the large family dog.
She of course used no precaution to keep the dog out when she entered, so when she took the lid off and took a gerbil out of the aquarium cage they lived in, it jumped onto the floor and the dog, instinctually stomped on it. Gerbil, dead on impact.
When I got home from school that day, just after I walked through the front door, I could see my mother and siblings sitting on the sofa with somber looks on their faces. My mom was the one to tell me the news. I don’t remember my immediate reaction.
I do remember however, how I felt during the preparation of the burial of this pet. We all kept walking back and forth from the basement to the back yard getting tools to dig up dirt for the grave and make a cross. I remember I was in so much emotional pain. It was overwhelming and a raging anger had built up during all of this walking back and forth. The family dog was right there as well, right along with us. The grief was also overbearing.
At the time I don’t think I was aware that I was angry at my mother for letting my sister invade my privacy that day and many other days before that. I was angry at my sister for causing the death of my beloved little pet. It was her fault this cute little gerbil was dead!
But even without being aware, when I think back on it now, I did know this, deep down I knew it was my mother’s fault. But to show anger toward my mother, to rage at my mother for making this happen, would surely mean abandonment for me.
So instead I got angry at the dog for delivering the deadly blow. I know even more deeply now than I did then, that it wasn’t his fault. But my little nine year old body needed an outlet for all the rage that had built up.
I’m ashamed that I smacked my dog as hard as I could with my little hand, while I tearfully raged, calling him a bad dog. And even then, he continued to walk beside us all, as we walked back and forth in preparation of a funeral for a rodent.
In response to my smacking the dog, my mom said, “I’ve already done that” in a somber and regretful tone.
What I really wanted to do was rage at my mother for not being a mother, for not stopping my sister from going into my room in the first place. I wanted to rage at my sister too. How dare they cause this unnecessary and untimely death to happen.
But I didn’t dare. Not only did I not have the words or understand my feelings of rage and anger at them, to rage at them, would surely mean a certain death for me.
The gerbil incident was one of the most painful events of my life as a child. The loss itself felt unbearable. But in addition to that, I wasn’t able and didn’t feel safe to direct my anger and rage toward the people who actually deserved it.
I’m angry that the opportunity for healthy relationships was stolen from me and my my siblings by not teaching us that all emotions are healthy and OK and that we weren’t nurtured and guided through those emotions to help us understand them as well as how to handle them.