Today I went with a new friend who lives on my street to the resort village neighbouring our town to visit the flea market and take in one of the antique stores, the lakeside coffee shop, and visit one of her acquaintance’s shops.
Now, this village is where many artists choose to live and congregate and this acquaintance’s shop, it turns out, is a lovely artist shop that was partly full of her and her husband’s creations and some from others. I thought it was wonderful. My spirit felt a little tangled as I left after purchasing a few little treasures that I could afford. It was tangled from a heavy wistfulness that wanted the life this shop represented, full of creating hands and simplicity and loveliness but that I knew will take a while to manifest in my own life. I have a lot of catching-up work ahead of me to make enough of my own creations, and to make them well enough, to introduce myself fully into this community.
I came out knowing, though, that this kind of life is what I want now, that this is what all my life was meant to finally direct me to.
After returning home Continue reading
When you’re from a dysfunctional family, especially when you were the scapegoat, you may not have learned how to interact with others in the same way that most people do. Even in adulthood there is a personal confusion and questions like, “What don’t I get here? What am I doing wrong?” as you struggle to navigate yourself socially and in relationships.
I came across this video and found it to be extremely helpful and offer it here in case it will be of help to anyone else. It’s from the Jef Gazley Youtube channel – “Dysfunctional Families: Healthy Family Rules”
Sometimes being the family’s scapegoat can give enough distance to be able to observe certain dynamics very clearly. Like the fact that my sister has turned into Mom’s Minime.
There were six of us children and so there were enough of us for my Mom to have two Golden Children. One of my adoptive brothers was one of them but that role was no longer needed since his adulthood and living the whole time in another city. The other one was my youngest sister, also my Mom’s favourite. She’s now forty-five and has settled solidly in her role, even seemingly embraced it.
The way I’ve come to think of her now is how much she over-identifies with our Mom. Strangely enough, there are things just like our Mom that would have been mostly out of my sister’s control, and then there are those things that somewhere deep inside she must have known she was copying her.
Like many abuse survivors riddled with anxiety, I can talk too much, or I always feel like I had when leaving a conversation. It’s from the anxiety in me that’s always set anywhere from a chronic low level to a blinding and paralyzing high level. The talking comes out of several sub-reasons: I don’t think I’ll be believed, even over the simplest of things; I’m afraid I won’t be understood or fail to explain something right; afraid I’ll leave something out and the other person won’t think to ask me, leaving a perhaps important piece of information out of the conversation that will be needed later; or from thinking I have to justify why I did or said or thought the thing that I’m retelling so that the other person will agree it was the right thing.
I did it again today when handing in an application for disaster relief from a major heavy rainfall our town went through recently, harming my foundation that was already damaged from a previous flooding. Dealing with such an important matter had me more anxious than average.
It’s like I’m always afraid someone will look hard at me. It’s like everyone else is my authority, ready to crush me on a whim, ready to accuse me of lying, exaggerating, or will just want to make me fight for what I genuinely need just to demean me. Growing up, and even now, my parents have taken the position to disbelieve and dismiss me on almost everything. I often feel my eyes and face wince while talking to them knowing that I’m not being believed over the simplest of things. I never gave them cause, it was simply a position they took with me since I was a small child.
I lost myself somewhere along the way.
Many adults could say this, but I think those of us who came from a background of childhood trauma and rejection mean it in a more significant way. We’ve spent so much of our adult lives looking over our shoulders to the reactions of others that we’ve become molded by our trying to never be doing anything or BEING anything anyone could criticize.
I was speaking to an old high school friend I’ve been off and on in contact with over the years. I mentioned to him something along the lines of how I’m at the point of my life where I want to reset back to the real me and I suddenly saw myself at sixteen in my mind. The image was a captured moment in time and I could feel what I was feeling at the moment and knew exactly what I was wearing, who I was with, and where I was.
To begin, I just want my readers to know that the following recounting of an event in my life is very personal to me and, if one is of the same sort of scapegoated/abusive background, it may be an emotional read. Please do consider that before reading on as my intentions are not to upset anyone with their own memories.
There actually was a day, actually, a moment, that it finally became apparent to me that I was on my own in my family. It was when I was fourteen. I knew in that moment that I was incredibly alone. It was a sickening, deeply dark moment because it finally hit home to me as to how alone my soul was, and would remain. It was so heavy a realization I could feel the weight of it in my bones as I stood there.
The circumstances of that moment was tiresomely petty, embarrassingly stupid, but such was life in our home. Many such undignifying situations where mountains were made of molehills were just part of how a child grows to be emotionally and socially hamstrung.
Why everything changes when I turn fifty years of age, I don’t know. But it’s what I decided, or what something deep inside me decided and I agreed with it. Fifty seemed to me to be the age a woman’s comportment can be of quiet confidence, when she and everyone else knows it’s below her to have to apologize for how she expresses herself and for the choices she makes. I wanted to be that woman.
This decision was made this year when I turned forty-nine and realized that I was on the far side of middle-age and I still had less than the second half of my life to live. My life felt so long already and so full of heartache and desolation that, if I had to live another 30 to 40 years, I knew I had better make some intentional changes and begin practicing them.