Today I came to the resolute conclusion that I come from a seriously fucked up family. I knew we were dysfunctional and broken but today we crossed the line and became a scuffed, tarnished menagerie of shame, abuse, excuses and crippling paranoia. Whispers behind every back and unspoken resentment crammed into every available mind space.
At first, all the blame for our personal pain was assigned to our abusive parents and, for myself, the brother who targeted me for molestation from the ages of 9-13. I didn’t talk about any of it publicly until recently and this was only out of solidarity to, and support of, other family members who were also molested by additional male members of this religion stamped clan. One of those abusers is dead but another, mine, is still very much alive and apparently on a “rehabilitation tour” with family members he once had no real contact with for years. It’s a lot to follow, I know, but this is the sick diagram of my past. I’m still figuring it out myself.
Trust is a rarity amongst the shame controlled and so it was brought to my attention that my sister and I never really go below the surface with one another. This tidbit of unusual insight was attached to a Facebook post wishing me well on my birthday. It wasn’t talked out over the phone or in person but, the message was still heard. A tiny splinter of truth offered as almost an afterthought and a quick glimpse at the resentment she held towards who? Me? Her abuser? Her life choices? Herself? I have no idea and have tried to share honest expressions of my own pain with at least three players in this dysfunction but suddenly that effort got caught up in the firestorm over gun control rather than tackled under the umbrella of the real issue.
Guns over family?
That is the take away here?
And so, we come back to today. A simple heartfelt plea to help end the carnage of young children, teens and other innocent people at the hands of mass murderers was posted online. In not knowing how to do anything else in such a moment of shock and disgust a simple Facebook post became the catalyst or “trigger” for releasing anger on more than the topic of the insane proliferation of guns in America. The boner some segments of America has for guns is mind-boggling but I truly believe being able to purchase these imagined tools of power and control cloud the reality that power comes from within rather than from a gun. Confident, non-conflict seeking people don’t typically feel the need to arm themselves to the teeth in protection of some threat that hasn’t come to them and may never come to them. But, what the hell! Better to be safely paranoid than sorry. It wasn’t about taking your damn guns away.
So, an honest opinion piece posted on social media, by the only positive male in my life and a reply from my 18-year-old daughter to a less than factual missive posted by her almost 40-year-old aunt, acted as the proverbial straw that broke the fragile family into sniping, passive-aggressive shards. Documenting the slashing comments from other family members or my follow-up text asking the sister who felt the urgent need to embarrass and scare my daughter online to call me, if she dared, would certainly feel satisfying but, I choose to exhibit some restraint. However, out of the need for full disclosure of my own failings I will own up to asking this sister about her psychiatric med regimen and followed up by asking her to “lose my phone number” and pronounced her no longer family. And, in place of goodbye I sadly ended with a rousing, “go fuck yourself.” When we burn it down, we go all the way to the ground.
I’m not proud of how I did it but I am also not sorry for shutting down an isolated, reactionary bully. Two wrongs (or two bullies) don’t make a right and I know I will look back on this moment with edits I wish I could enter but, I can’t. It’s out there, it was long overdue, and now I will work with what I have while sending my deepest apologies to her children out into the atmosphere because doing anything else would anger the beast further. (IT DID…SEE UPDATE BELOW. I AM A SLOW LEARNER)
Disagreement online should not be grounds for imploding a relationship with family when the real issue is personal insecurities and guilt. And, initially, my intent was to ignore and move on but then…Brother Molester joined the fray.
And they know what he did. He knows what he did. Yet, there he was joining in on the roasting of “snowflakes” which was stoked by a sister and brother-in-law who arrogantly and erroneously assumed the original post was all about them. And instead of saving the discussion for the next face-to-face get together it gets parceled out, online, for other family members and friends to see. I am more embarrassed for them than myself because I did not respond online but I was also disappointed, hurt and angry they chose to use my daughter and the man I love dearly as a launching point to express their resentment. If it’s really about me then address it with me. Don’t hide behind a flash-point issue.
It wasn’t about you.
It was about a national tragedy.
It was about yet another school shooting.
It was about our growing lack of concern about the well-being of others.
It was about our own government, the NRA and gun manufacturers putting personal profit over the lives of people.
To not consider any of that and to only take it as a hit piece written all about you surely vindicates and legitimizes the author. Right? If you saw yourself in that mirror of personal opinion and recoiled in anger then maybe the response should have been to consider what you can do to help rather than rushing to defend your guns. But, if it was really about built up anger over personal insecurities then address that with yourself.
The moment the perpetrator of my abuse joined their ridicule party and…they let him, well this is where I lost my collective shit.
I should have let it go, like I stated previously, and ignored it as the kind and considerate man in my life suggested but the more I read their true opinion of me, my partner and my daughter the less I cared about their feelings. I let my ego take over. That in itself is a common trait in my family. The skill of forgeting about the feelings of others when we are so invested in being right rather than loving.
Defend your guns, mock the ones urging action to stop the continued human carnage, I can deal with that. But, to actively engage with someone who destroyed my childhood, trust and innocence while spewing bile about me and at the people I love? That is when the real ugliness is revealed about us all. The long denied self-loathing, guilt and shame ran straight up that middle finger flagpole and flapped right in my face. I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
The things I write, comment on and like online aren’t targeted at anyone specific.
They are a composite of everything I feel inside and want to get out.
They are about how I wish the world could be.
They are about my journey to the person I want to be.
I have no control over how my family feels or reacts but I do have control over how I let it impact me and how I react to it going forward. To distance myself now will be hard but it has to be done so that, maybe in the future, we can come back together as repaired, caring people. It is all I can do. I will work on me and they can work on themselves, or not, that isn’t my choice.
And so, for now I will just sit back, wait and remain open in real-time while disconnecting from them in the vast wasteland of online shout downs, personal insults and purposeful deflection. The welcome mat remains out.
So, I made the choice to unfriend all of my family on Facebook. Harsh choice but the paranoia runs deep in social media land and to save the headaches I just unplugged. Also the interactions of late have made my own daughter very apprehensive about these people she once thought she could trust since her own aunt lashed out at her.
My dear, sweet nephew reached out right after and asked why I did that. I told him why and said I was sorry. He said it was up to me to add him and his sister back because they had done nothing and weren’t involved in the “feud.” If you can even really call it a feud since it was really a cheap one-sided attack that had to be pointed out to me by a third-party because I wasn’t even following the grousing to begin with.
Anyway, in dutiful hangdog fashion I sent new requests to each child and added a note to my niece’s request telling her I was sorry for deleting them and that I was also sorry that the adults in her life were choosing to behave childishly. I said in closing, “We should all do better.”
ALL of the adults in her life should behave better. They didn’t, including me, and I apologized for my part in it.
And…it got sent on to her mother, who is a master grudge holder, for report and inspection. My fault there since I, myself a recovering grudge holder, should have known better. So now I am “a game player” manipulating her children against her for trying to apologize yet she is a martyr protecting her beliefs by blasting her own teen age niece online for daring to question her fact checking. Undiagnosed Pot Calling Kettle Black Syndrome?
For added perspective, her “children” are teenagers as well whom she states are free to make their own decisions so… yeah…there is that. But again, my fault. No excuse. Her kids, not mine. Hand slapped and the cone of silence is back in place.
1. Don’t pull kids (teenagers or not) into adult issues.
2. Reading comprehension flies right out the window when self-righteous paranoia is in charge.
© 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.