Thursday, April 25, 2013

On Family and Fear

This blog's become a bit of a clusterfuck of emotions of late. This is another brain dump on the road to healing. Unedited, aside from adding this wee disclaimer at the top.

The concept of family, as in blood, is vague and damn near alien to me. And now that I'm getting older and getting to a point in my life where I'm having big thinks and wanting that connection to fall back on, it's really, really bothering me. 

Growing up, I had no real relationship with any of my extended family save an aunt or two and my maternal grandmother (sort of). As in, we're friendly, but we aren't close. When we see each other we can have a laugh and catch up, but when I think about grandmothers in the comforting, matronly, crone sense... that's not my Nan. I love her, but if I need comfort or wisdom I'm on my own. My father's father passed away long before I was born, his mother lived 1200+ miles away in the remote reaches of Florida with her daughter and my cousin (who was my other aunt's daughter. Confusing much?). And sadly, after my parents divorced, just the sound of my voice on the phone would drive Grandma in to fits and she'd tell me I sound just like "that whore mother of mine." or ask things like "get yourself knocked up like the tramp you are yet?" Needless to say, our relationship ended pretty quickly. When she passed one, I mourned the thought of what could have been and what was when I was younger, not the woman in later years. 

My mother's father lived nearby, but for reasons that I'm still not clear on, they didn't speak and if they were at an event together (I.E. a wedding) my mother would be so angry and uncomfortable the whole time and heaven forbid the man spoke to her; she'd lose her shit and storm out, my tiny hand being crunched as I was dragged out behind her. For some reason growing up, I was the only child that ever got dragged to boring family events. And yes, as a kid weddings were pretty darn boring until the dancing started. Needless to say, I had no relationship with him, either. And my opinion of him was horribly skewed by the fact that every time I saw him, my mother would end up crying uncontrollably. And in fact, I don't think he ever even knew mine or my siblings names right up until the day he died simply asking me at family gatherings when I'd bump in to him 'You're Naomi's daughter, right?' And even after he passed and the whole family got together to remember him (at my mom's house, of all places!) I still couldn't tell you anything about him, aside from his name. And I don't want to ask my mom, because she's been sort of haunted whenever his name comes up. My understanding of things at this point is that the years of sadness and not speaking were over something that was, in retrospect, trivial and that she regrets those lost years. A valuable lesson that I'm pulling out of my squirrel brain right now and waving at myself like a giant damn flag. 

Because, I haven't spoken to my mother since January. My reasoning is simple, but in effect trivial, just like her and my grandfather. Every time I call her and get her on the phone, she sounds distracted or has company or gripes about my sister/father/family. And she never calls me, I'm always the one picking up the phone which for me is huge. Because I'm shy (yes, even with my own family), I'm an introvert and I hate talking on the phone. HATE IT. I don't even like talking on the phone with the hubster when he's away on business trips, but I do it because the need for closeness outweighs my weirdo brain malfunctions. So, each year on my birthday I give myself the gift of not turning my phone on. Yes, I miss every birthday message, call and text but I get to have a joyous uninterrupted day and the next morning I get to listen to all these amazing voice mails from people who love me which effectively extends my birthday by a day. Every single year there's a great voice mail from my mom so I couldn't wait to get the one for my 30th! I turned my phone on and... no voice mail. So I waited, thinking the phone may be downloading things. Nope. Finally, a beep and a single text message that just says, "Your sister, Pete (my stepdad), Nan and I wish you a happy birthday." That's it. I looked at Joe and he looked at me and all he said was "uh-oh" as I lost it. My dad, the king of forgetting birthdays, had called and left me a message. Joe's mom and sister had called and left me a message. And all my mother could send her first born was a lousy text message. 

I hate technology sometimes. But I digress. 

My relationship with my parents has been, rocky, at best. Growing up, I remember a time when we were happy but I remember a lot more times when we weren't. I don't recall feeling as loved or nurtured as other people seem to. I remember feeling like a pain in the ass a lot, feeling very small and apologizing a lot for all sorts of things. (I still apologize a lot.) We don't have photos with all of us smiling and cheesing it up. I remember my parents working opposite shifts and not being in the same place often or for long and that when they were in the same place for too long, they always argued. Because of this, we never went on family vacations, rarely went on outings and my parents, as far as I can recall, were always cranky and tired. But even so, I loved them with all of my teeny tiny heart and there were good things too; helping my parents out in the huge vegetable garden we grew every year, helping mom take care of the flower beds, going fishing with my dad, singing along to shitty 80's pop and eating Wendy's Frostys while mom commuted to work with me in tow, laying on dad's big old belly while he read me stories. But, most of those memories get buried deep by all the painful stuff; the fighting, the refereeing their divorce, watching them both cry, the constantly needing to be quiet lest I annoy one of them, their working all of the damn time and us never really getting to spend time together, the under-handed insults slung back and forth. The destruction of Christmas and eventual affair. Those were the things that happened more often and those are the things that have really stuck with and shaped me in to the person I currently am. 

The one who looks at families who love and support each other like they're an exhibit at the circus. The one who lets her shyness and terror of being judged and found not good enough ride on her back and keep her from opening up and possibly being a part of one of those families. The one who's afraid to take a chance and let people in to her heart, to pick up the phone and call or email or write. The one who doesn't add family members on Facebook because she's terrified of what they'll say because, dammit, she's tired of being hurt. The one who, even right now, is wondering if it's too late to try to cultivate the familial relationships she's wanting and needing. 

The one who hopes that it isn't and hopes that people will understand and forgive her for being such a shy, quiet, guarded girl.

1 comment:

  1. So much anxiety! :/ I say that until you only want a familial relationship, it's best not to move ahead too fast. If family members are aged or ill, then perhaps you need to speak with a trusted friend to help alleviate this need for a perfectly scripted relationship. If these people aren't the nicest ever, a scripted relationship may be setting yourself up to be hurt.


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