Oh, Sister of Mine?

When people ask me about my family of origin I pause and take a deep breath. “How much time do you have?” I ask. It’s never a matter of rambling on about all the amazing memories I have (or had) with family, it’s a matter of, “How much do I tell?”

Do I talk about the feelings of despair, the urgent need to get as far away from my childhood home and town as possible or, do I simply compose a quick verbal synopsis? Even that would be a task destined for failure since there is zero possibility of a speedy deposition because anger, pain and darkness go too deep and have traveled too many generations to be given just a cursory glance. This is a disease that must be examined with the keen eye of a scientist or, at minimum, with the paranoid skepticism of a rabid conspiracy theorist.

“Show me your proof.”

“It’s all made up!”

“You have an agenda!”

Who doesn’t, pal?

I wish I had made up everything I felt compelled to share about my childhood and the people enlisted to birth me and then failed to raise me properly. I wish I had made up the interactions with my many siblings that drained the rose color from my preferred view of the world. The dream of a life I felt excited about as a five year-old was the same one ground to dust at eight by a brother who acted entitled to be doing so without explanation or recourse.

If only I could recall, rewind, rework and then reissue my life. But, I can’t and it must stand as a work unto itself with no revisions because truth is truth no matter how dirty and the lies of others, desperate to silence you, have no power anymore. That, right there, is what sparks the greatest fear in former oppressors, instigators and apologists. I will TELL. I will say it ALL. And, my truth will follow them to the depths of every self-imposed hellscape they find themselves in or into any carefully curated tale of a supposed “life well-lived” they may attempt to create.

It’s the price we all pay for pretending.

But, what happens when the pretenders stop and stand still within their game? What happens when the camera, the one meant to capture a staged joyous moment, starts documenting reality at every press of the button? Sure, we can smile for the camera but we have no control over the image projecting from our eyes. They are the real keepers of truth after all.

I entitled this “Oh, Sister of Mine?” for a specific reason and to document a specific hurt. I have two sisters, born from the same parents and both subjected to the same dysfunction (at varying degrees) I was yet each approaches their wounds very differently. One chose the stance of a pacifist or rather, a “compartmentalizer” and the other, further down the pedigree chart, chose to morph into a volatile cat o’ nine tails ready to inflict as much mental punishment as humanly possible on anyone she decides to level. Did I see that coming my way? No. Am I really surprised in hindsight? Again, no. Some people learn from their pain and some carry it with them like a weapon to be used whenever they need self-soothing. It was just a matter of time.

Now, here’s the rub. From time to time I see strategically posted vignettes of their “and a fun time was had by all” soap opera. It hurts, initially, that I have been purposely cut out of their lives but, in a way, I also see it as needed medicine. The depiction of how their lives easily go on without being invited to share in any joy or pain can feel scalding but, it is also the hurt I need to heal, if that makes sense? The more I see of these surface only interactions the better I feel about my decision to untangle from the diseased spiderweb. I can’t go back to pretending anymore. I won’t go back there yet, at the same time I am irritatingly human enough to still long for closeness and also feel bad for all of them.

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/people-are-revealing-truth-behind-their-happy-looking-social-media-posts-its-heartbreaking.html

And by ALL I mean ALL, even the parents and other siblings who worked so hard to grind my soul into the ground. I wish things were different but, they are not and they never will be. That wish is now released to the wind. It floats away, along with pieces of my regret and anger, to be replaced by a satisfying self-awareness I never even knew I could posses. By “self-awareness” I mean I own up to my faults, my lies, my rage now with zero shame or embarrassment.

It’s never embarrassing to be authentic.

The TRUE shame is in continuing to willfully live that lie.

© 2020 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.

Whose Grudge is it Anyway?

Have you ever gotten stuck in the middle of a drama trap and you had no idea how or why it started? You know I have! And, I am currently stuck in it for the entirety of the unforeseen future. It’s a soul-sucking loop of insanity that appears to have no end!

Now, in the middle of this battle, a fight that I didn’t start, comes the missive that I am STUBBORN. Yes, I know I can be but, in this case, I think I have a pretty good argument for why I should not concede. Does that make me the grudge holder or the grudge refuter? Not it!

Not my grudge, not my responsibility I say. But, does that mean that I won’t jump to help those who keep pulling me back into drama should they need it? I absolutely WILL help them and I have been trying desperately to make that clear. Got it? One has nothing to do with the other.

So, you may call me stubborn but am I stubborn because I refuse to let emotional bullies shit on me and my loved ones or is it because I refuse to roll over and accept responsibility for a conflict that I haven’t a clue about its true origins? Where does the desire to be THE BIGGER PERSON conflict with the need to protect ones immediate family from negative forces that have shown they cannot be trusted and most likely WILL do it again?

It conflicts right here I say.

And, even as I say that we can go back up two short paragraphs. Although I don’t trust the Grudge Family any further than I can throw them I would still save them from a burning building without hesitation. Because I’m not a dick and I do love my sisters and two of my misguided brothers. I can’t reserve a place in my heart for the brother that abused me or the parents that let him and then heaped their own shit-ton of abuse on me but…I do not wish any horrific tragedy on them. I just want them to stay in the past for good.

This is my line in the sand…don’t cross it!

God, what a confusing ball of contridictions family can be! Love them, hate them or hold them at arm’s length like you would a hissing cat. Do I apologize for another’s crimes in order to artificially piece back together the shame-filled family vase or stand my ground and maintain a steady footing in healthy reality? I love a good fictional tale but this one has an ending I can pretty much predict will not be enjoyable so I choose to not play and can only love from afar in hopes that reason finally breaks through.

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/the-psychology-of-the-grudge

Why would any reasonable person accept responsibility for a one-sided, passive-aggressive argument fueled by assumption and paranoia anyway? When an irrational, hot-tempered blowtorch of, “Oh, you probably think I’m a bad parent!” is the first shot fired over a sinking boat’s bow a reasonable and RATIONAL person would tell that person to back up and try again. Nope, we don’t put words in anyone’s mouth here nor do we assume we know how anyone else thinks. Crazy making at its finest! No one wins when crazy is in charge.

The above passage may contain some of the words that launched this battle but, they aren’t the cause. That infection started many years before as just an annoying itch. And that itch fed on decades-long feelings of resentment, even abandonment maybe? I have no idea. We never had any REAL talks remember? Just scratching the surface; “How are you?” “I’m good.” “Let’s bitch about Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister.” Never once did I ever hear, “I really resent that you didn’t make an effort to hang out with me more when I was younger.” “You just left me here with THEM.”

https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-release-the-past-and-return-to-love

Is THAT what this is really about? I can only guess. The odds of getting a reasonable and honest answer are pretty slim so I won’t hold my breath. I would like to know though, it’s part of my curious nature, and I would also like to be part of helping work through that mess of feelings. I honestly would.

The main reason my life record is currently stuck and skipping over and over on this topic is that, maybe, I am using writing as a way to sort through my own emotions about this unpleasant chapter as well. Call that stubborn or call it emotional protection. Either way, if you, the creator of a grudge are reading this then maybe no one needs to apologize at all. Maybe we all just need to promise to do no further harm.

You may think that the vitriol you served up was justified but think about it from where I stand for a moment. Do you protect your immediate family? Yes? Without hesitation? Well, so do I. Simple as that. Now, it’s time to protect myself and as I am doing that I am also learning, growing and prioritizing my energies.

The amazing irony here is that it’s really hard to hear that it’s all on me to fix a problem that I never knew I had until a flurry of text temper tantrums and social media diarrhea proved otherwise. Cat’s out of the bag now, can’t hide that mangey disgusting thing anymore so either admit you own it like me or walk away.

The choice is yours.

© 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.