In the company of wolves…

It’s no secret that I was raised by a narcissistic bully and a giggling passive-aggressive with a searing dislike for anyone “more fortunate” than herself. I have written about this numerous times and after each soul cleansing admission the only player in this dark, twisted tale to change is me. As it should be.

Each time I lay it all out there, stripped to the bone and raw for all to see, my personal suffering lessens and I relax just a little more. I forgive a little more while remembering to forget even less. Catalog it for future lessons I say! In getting it out I am freeing myself from anger and shame. I am freeing myself from them.

And by THEM I mean my entire family, not just the ones who refuse to talk to me, who refuse to acknowledge my presence on this earth. Or, refuse to understand that I stood with them when they needed me most while I stood here alone.

Little Red Riding Hood has nothing on me…

It’s okay. I have great balance and an affinity for going my own way, on my own time schedule and without the assistance of unwilling companions. It’s truly becoming easier. I’m not alone anymore.

But, just because something is easy it doesn’t mean that it’s preferable or kind or right. This experience is none of those things yet, in a way, it’s exactly all of those things in the same token. It’s what I expected, it’s what I received and now it’s what I will glean knowledge from to learn and continue growing.

The mysterious, all knowing THEY in life have said that strangers will treat you better than family ever will and I have found this to be remarkably true. Strangers typically have no idea what your net worth is or your nasty secrets when engaging in acts of kindness to someone they see as “in need” of a brief kind gesture. Holding open a door, smiling for no reason other than something in your glance triggered their reaction. It’s nice and I appreciate it so much more now.

While growing up I was taught that each interaction with family produced only two things; anger or indifference. You either made someone mad or you didn’t exist to them. Nothing in between. Oh, I can say that there were times when it appeared we mattered to one another but, in looking back, I see now that it was more of a theatrical show for others so the normal family facade could stay in place. It was not sustainable nor was is real.

When I describe my family as wolves, at first glance it may seem mean spirited. But, in taking many decades worth of steps back I now see it as the ultimate coping mechanism, passed down from one generation to another, infinity. It had to start someplace, we didn’t invent devouring our own or lashing out in fear each time authority (or sanity) is challenged. We may not have invented it but our generation is perfecting it.

Each day, week, month and year that goes by connection is cut further and further and the string holding our family tree together is stretched beyond its limited capacity. It’s still tethered but the longer we go without contact the easier it will be to ignore, reject and justify what we do.

We do nothing. And, that is exactly the point. Nothing comes from nothing but doing nothing when something is required is the ultimate cruelty committed by a species that requires connection to survive. To know how to connect but to refuse to engage in it is madness, a self-fulfilling prophesy for failure.

And, yet, here we are, welcoming the wolves of jealousy, resentment, anger and pettiness around our doorsteps. They sit and dare anyone to attempt reconciliation. Come! They invite you to stand at my door to see what type of greeting you will receive.

Now, here’s the thing about wolves, they don’t always get it right nor do they recognize the evolution of people tired of traditional dysfunction. People so tired of grudges, so tired of secrets, so tired of lies that they stop doing all the expected things and replace the usual reactions with healthy ones instead. Becoming enlightened throws off the wolves scent for blood, and our becoming immune to the aggression and mind-numbing psychosis confuses them.

This is why I write everything down. It’s documented and it’s expressed in a way that leaves no room for alternate interpretation. I said it, I meant it, it’s done. Let the universe receive it for processing so I can go about my life. Let the universe determine the outcome so I can be free to live. No guilt, no worries and no looking back.

Yes, the invitation still stands and is sincere. Come to my door, it’s not barricaded against you. Just remember to leave your wolves at home.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Long Year of Silence: And Other Tales of Dysfunction…

February came and went. Silent to begin and silent still to end. To say that I’m entirely surprised would be a lie since I know how these family dustups go. I know that they linger like the annoying stench that clings to the bottom side of a trash can lid; hidden from sight but still funking up the air with the cloying scent of unresolved anger and delusion.

Last year, at this same time, I had a tremendous online, voicemail and text row with my younger sister over what? I’m still not sure what her intentions were when she publicly insulted me, my dear partner and my even dearer daughter online. “They aren’t welcome in our home,” became the flash point proclamation over a post about the senseless loss of children due to gun violence which she assumed was AIMED at her and her husband. It was not yet, here we are.

If you can’t find the energy to defend your actions then don’t expect to make it to the winner’s circle anytime soon…

Ah, assumption, the ultimate guess that certainly makes one look like an ass when one is incorrect. And incorrect they were but, the damage is done and a half-hearted apology will not cover this wound. I am still angry about the words my sister, brother-in-law and other unknowing siblings chose to assign to me, my daughter and my partner. Snowflake! College Educated Liberal! They Think They’re Better Than Us! I have a sinking suspicion that these words had been on their minds for a long time. Words that they didn’t and still don’t have the guts to say to our faces. Was it worth it?

The Psychology Behind Sibling Estrangement

The more I think about it now the more I see just how one-sided our relationship was to begin with. For years I tried to re-engage with both my sister and her family by visiting, emailing, sending cards or texting as much as possible. I sat and listened to her complain about our parents, our other sister, nieces, nephews and so on. In looking back I have no doubt that this scenario played out similarly on the flip side and I was the one that was being complained about but, that’s okay.

We were raised with an “every man for himself” attitude and the MAN that always bested us was our father. Or, rather, he contributed to our emotional destruction and continued destruction of one another. Why be loving and kind when you could be sneaky and manipulative? Did you hear what SHE did? No! Did you know that HE did/said this or that? It’s amazing that we were able to hold it together as long as we did given the monumental amount of shit we talked about one another.

How I would love to tell each party the things that were said about them while absent but, I won’t. What’s the point anyway? I most likely will never see them again so it would be a hollow victory and I don’t need that bile in my life anymore. Tired of the drama, tired of the hatred and tired of feeling guilty for wanting and finally achieving a happy life when so much wrong has gone on in their lives over the many years.

And, despite this, I still jumped in to defend those who were being abused by our parents still as adults only to be lumped in with the very people who created the damaged familial menagerie to begin with. Thank you but, no thanks! I jumped too far for too long and now I’m done. I have to be. What other choice do I have?

But, what will you do when your parents die or if something happens to the other family members you aren’t speaking to????????

What would YOU do? Would be bristle at being asked such a guilt laden question by someone who did not walk in your shoes like, EVER? Would you pretend to feel sorrow for the loss of those who literally wished out loud that you were never born? Would you mourn the loss of someone who punched you with full force between the shoulder blades on more than one occasion? The one who used a handful of your hair to pull you across the room to view a “mess” you didn’t make but were still being accused of? The one who used the bible to justify this physical abuse along with molestation?

No love lost. No sorrow to feel on the parental front for many other reasons but, I do feel sorrow now about the loss of contact with my younger sister, her family and my oldest niece. That loss was sudden and without warning so I am still experiencing the grief process over losing those relationships.

I was angry. I’m still angry and I WILL write about it despite how much this pisses off those who created the rift. Actions have consequences and all, you know? And so, I keep moving into this new year of continued silence. Will anything change? Not unless I make the move to do so because that’s how it’s “always been.” Courage is in short supply in this family while false bravado doth runneth over!

So, now do I continue moving forward in peace without them or take two steps back into a landmine? Sometimes choosing peace is the smartest move and hopefully that move will trigger growth, self-reflection and forgiveness on the other side. I hope…and that’s all I can do.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

An Ode to Rage…

Bark! Bark! Bark!
Finger Point! Outrage!
Blame. Blame. Blame.
I know you are but what am I?

Lurk. Lurk. Lurk.
Eyes scan for evidence.
Blame. Blame. Blame.
You've always been this way!

Whatabout? Whatabout? Whatabout?
Face reddens. Hot! Steaming!
Blame. Blame. Blame.
Adicted to the rage and cannot walk away.

Anger is an energy. Sometimes it spurs on positive action and sometimes it fills up the negative well inside those void of personal insight, those who thrive on conflict. Gotta rant. Gotta rage. It’s all they know so I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything else.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/01/charles-duhigg-american-anger/576424/

I am not a devotee of chaos like some but I will say that given the option of being treated like an afterthought, only good for the occasional favor, and saying how I feel no matter the consequences…I will choose the latter. Like it or not.

https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/whats-your-anger-type/

And, to those that choose to take offense and those who purposely fan the flames of discord in order to keep the grudge going? I’m going to let it burn out. I’m done. You can win this hollow victory.

When you burn shit down you go all the way to the ground

Take offense or take my carefully considered words to heart, I care not which is chosen. Just do something different because this worn-out record is excruciating to listen to any longer and I am tired.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Rehumanize yourself…

The world has gone mad.

Angry mad. Crazy mad. Foaming at the mouth mad.

And, no one seems to care. Except me and other horrified reasonable people!

I care very much and want to right all the wrongs. I want to fix everything that got smashed in the fight, to tape back together the relationships that have been torn apart by rhetoric, nastiness, spite and blatant lies.

But, once something is repaired it is never the same. Sometimes it’s better than before because lessons were learned and other times suspicion lingers, poking out around the glued edges, rough to the touch and seething on the inside.

To illustrate this point I will offer up my own familial example of the inability to grow after a blow-up. Here we are zooming up on 9 months, holidays coming and going but still no offer to mend the tear created when guns and voting for the Orange Anus tore asunder what my bible misinterpreting parents created. For those that hate reading between the beautifully crafted lines: I’m talking about my younger sister drama.

Click Here To Be Brought Up To Speed

I could suck it up and reach out BUT, would it do any good? I’m thinking if we follow the words above about how repaired things are never the same; sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker, then I think my situation will be weaker since this drama likes to lie. We were raised to think lying was essential to creating a positive impression of self so there ya go. Learned from the worst!

http://rolereboot.org/family/details/2015-08-when-parents-still-abuse-their-adult-children/

I’m okay with starting again, with the understanding that EVERYTHING gets put on the table. No hiding anything, all resentment exposed because OBVIOUSLY there is a mountain of resentment. Even as nasty as things went down, horrific crashes can be worked on, patched up and put back on the road to recovery. I’m open even if she isn’t.

Now, back to my original thought; how nasty the world appears. Let’s be clear, it’s always had a nasty underbelly. There have always been horrible, vile, disgusting, evil, self-serving people ready to take and then destroy anyone or thing that stands in their way. That is a fact and not just a hunch. It’s just that now being openly horrible, vile, disgusting and evil is apparently chic and all the rage amongst the racist, misogynist, homophobic, white nationalist, Nazi, fascist and sociopathic/psychopathic crowd. White hoods are in this dark season! As is cruelty.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/06/opinion/trump-winning-america-.html

We see you. We hear you. We will not let the world forget what you are trying to do.

We, the true loving heart of this county WILL stop you.

Did you really think you would win?

Now, let’s talk about cruelty…

I was born into a family that held up emotional and physical cruelty as a sure fire way to control those who needed to be held down and shown their place. That place was never higher than the task master’s place and hovered just a smidge below that of the family dog. To say that the dog received more consideration from my father than we, his own children, is no exaggeration. Oh, some may say I am embellishing but, the sharp sting of a balled up fist connecting with the tender spot right between my shoulder blades says otherwise. I don’t recall the dog ever being hit.

Dates, time and exact GPS coordinates of acts of abuse can be confused after many years but the feelings attached are not. To those who scream about PROOF and documented reporting of such criminality my response is, fuck you.  I was 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and so demoralized that the embarrassment of even acknowledging what my family became was debilitating.

Bravo to you if you weren’t abused or abusive…but, and if we are being honest here, those who shout down the victimized usually do so because they have skeletons of their own to hide. Look in the mirror before you start snarling m’kay?

So? How do we heal?

Slowly and carefully.

My plan is to move forward one step at a time, living my best life, and when opportunities to heal old wounds with my sister are presented I will address them in the moment. There will be no continued rehashing of old business because that is simply crazy making and I have done enough of that. The way I envision it, reconciliation will start with laying all the trash out on the table, sorting through it and then bagging it up and throwing it out for good. And, get this, healing an old wound can also be accomplished simply by saying “hello” to someone that you once told, “go fuck yourself.”

It can be accomplished without all the whatabouts and butyousaids simply because I say that is how I will do it. Be clear, I have no control over how other parties will approach it though and that is okay. Any start is a good start.

Set aside the anger and learn.

This is all I have so, it is what I will do.

What will you do?

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Moving on

I moved.

Both physically and mentally.

It was time.

The house I lived in for 18 years, a house filled with good ghosts and bad ghosts, the specters of a past I have both hated and loved. So what now? The answer to that is this; I finally get to go to a place I am wanted, loved and respected. And, it feels nice.

Some people are miserable after they move…I was not!

I’m not saying that no one has loved me in my past. My grandparents loved me, aunts, uncles, cousins and I’m sure, somewhere deep in the cortex of their brains, my parents and siblings loved me at one time. They had an odd way of showing it but I am sure a small sliver of like, if not love, was there briefly. And if not, I am not going to lose any sleep over it.

Bye, bye, bye…

The stories my former house can tell are a mixture of hilarity, aggravation, joy, anger and finally, resignation. Some I recall with relish and others I wish would slip quietly from my mind, never to be replayed again.

a32dac6705fc0299ff7891f23a59bfb2--abandoned-homes-abandoned-buildings

I feel the same way about most of my childhood homes as well and we moved around a lot! But, none of those homes had my name on the deed nor did I pay the mortgage. This house was paid for not only with my hard-earned wages but also a pound of flesh here and there combined with nearly every ounce of my self-respect.

And now, its sold. A done deal. A new start for someone else and I am glad.

My only hope is that the bad juju does not stay attached to either the house or myself.

Release, restore and relax!!!! It’s over woman. You are finally free!

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lying Tree…

I do not have a conventional family tree. I have a lying tree.

For as long as I can remember the “facts” behind who my blood relatives really are have been blurred and carefully edited to fit a narrow narrative of acceptability. What will the neighbors think? What will random strangers on the street think? And, finally, what will the people at our church think? That last one always created pause for me since church implies certain moral values and the very act of lying to cover personal embarrassment from fellow churchgoers is ironic and laughably hypocritical.

But, don’t say this to the patriarch and matriarch of this fabricated fable!

In modern times there is this little thing called the internet. On this construct exists a massive online newspaper archive called Newspapers.com ( and I am sure there are many more) where anyone willing to pony up a few bucks a month can search the names of relatives, friends, ex-friends, and ex-lovers to see if they ever “made the news” from the 1700’s to the 2000’s.

On this website, I found out that my paternal grandfather was charged with and eventually found guilty of misappropriation of funds while a Justice of the Peace for Cook County, Illinois in the 1960’s.  He was sentenced to 6 months in county jail and not once, in all the years I have known my mother or father have either said one word about this.  Not surprising really since my mother said once, in church, that my older brother was “away at college” when he was actually in jail.  Being a scofflaw runs in the family you see but, Que sera sera, there is not one thing that can be done about it now. The fibbing branches just keep falling…

IMG_7660

Several years ago, after a few glasses of wine around my younger sister’s kitchen table, my older sister mentioned a conversation she had with our mother that included the words, “That was the time when your grandfather was away in jail.” Wait! What?  “Oh, didn’t I tell you that?” was my mother’s response to my sister’s shocked surprise. No, you sure as hell did not!  Much like the various health conditions relatives had that were not shared with us or the fact that she had been borrowing on life insurance policies our maternal grandmother purchased for us for years without our knowledge. I’m sure there is more but will stop at the tip of the ice burg for now. What they don’t know won’t hurt them right?

THIS is the kind of thing I am talking about here. This is also the kind of thing that the truth-impaired bemoan as  “ancient history” and “what’s in the past is the past” but my argument is that this very shit stabs right at the heart of what is wrong with my family and many others. Lying just for the sake of lying, lying for personal financial gain and finally, lying to save face. Once you have protected your image to the point of alienating and potentially physically harming family it becomes clear what is more important to some people:

Not us. Not me. Not my daughter. Not my partner. Everyone is fair game for an attack apparently. I have the letters, emails, Facebook posts and text messages to prove it.

My family is a sad stomach churning potluck of avoidance, delusion, resentment, and selfishness. And, I too have experienced and participated in all of these things over the years and will make that clear. In order to write this I have to be honest and in order to write this, I also have to shore myself up for any pending attacks on my recollection and character. I have been attacked on both fronts by both my mother and my younger sister so any further vitriol is easy to shrug off. They will do what they do and have always done and I will do the opposite because to do anything else is a sure recipe for self-harm and I’m too old for this shit!

As you, dear reader, peruse this little essay I am sure that there are other eyes scanning as well. Eyes that are looking for any mention of them, any mention of blame, any mention at all. Hello! Despite our falling out, I am glad you are here and I am even gladder that you might be reading my words. Take them in. Mull them over for a bit before responding and, might I add, before firing off in a flash of keyboard courage consider picking up the phone to address any grievances with me personally. I will take your call and I will listen to what you have to say. I may hang up without saying more than an initial “hello” but I will listen none the less.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will be HONEST. Everything I write about will involve confession, confrontation and, finally the search for redemption. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need to be redeemed in my family’s eyes but in my own. I am looking for peace, nothing more and nothing less.

Stick with me on this journey okay? I might need a cheering section when the wolves arrive…

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

We all need a break

Well, it’s been a few days since the Big Blow Up.  How do I feel now?

I feel okay.

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At first, it was a sense of shock at having a family member lash out at my daughter online over her stance on gun control and the short-sighted blame game both sides engage in. Then it was irritation that they moved on to heap scorn upon the thoughtful words of the man I love. But, when the real story revealed itself, the continuation of a gripe started months before and long-held resentment, it became clear that whatever relationship we may have had is now almost certainly irrevocably broken.

Can it be fixed?

I don’t know.

Am I going to apologize?

I did apologize to the people that I owed an apology to.

To those that aren’t owed one?

Nope!

That may sound harsh and cold but you know what? I have never really felt like I was a part of this family unit so whether I acquiesce and roll over for these DNA bullies or not it still won’t matter much. Their resentment will remain and I can do nothing to change their minds.

I could never quite put my finger on what it was that set me apart from them and that is not to say that I feel better than them on any level. I just feel different.  Maybe it was that I learned to mistrust people at an early age and the teachers of that lesson were other members of my own family. Maybe it was just some difference of heart that I inherited but they did not.

As time goes on the real outcome of this reality check will make itself known but for the time being, I will just keep breathing, keep improving and keep living my life. I know who I am and take responsibility for the mistakes I have made. I will not, however, take responsibility for the mistakes, misunderstandings, and misery of others. And with this declaration, I accept what the future holds for me and wish them peace.

Elle

© 2018 L.A. Askew
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.