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21 June 2009

Revelation


This is my grandmother, great-grandfather, & dad with me when i was a couple of weeks old.

Duane & i often laugh over our bad timing.

He starts to give me a kiss without me knowing at the same time i decide to stretch & i slap him. Or vice versa. And so we laugh over our timing. And i've many, many examples of this. We usually laugh. Of course another example that is more difficult to laugh over is meeting each other long after i'd given up hope of meeting someone & having a family, especially as we could have met many years before. We had long-term, mutual friends.

But generally when something happens we look at each other, say "Our timing sucks!" & laugh over it.

But last month, just before we left i was hit with the realization that i probably have begun menopause & my chances of pregnancy have plummeted from about 5% to about .0005%. And yes that realization was inevitable, but did it have to come to me just before a long, strenuous trip to visit folks i really don't trust? Beginning a mourning period while visiting them was not something i wanted in any way. A month later would have been just fine, thank you.

My timing sucks.

And again, today i was hit with a realization about my family & the way that it functions. Today. Father's Day. The day i need to honor my father. Thanks so much.

My timing sucks.

I mentioned that Sis #2 interrupted some conversations with my dad & i was really angry with her over this. I thought about it, & decided to put my point in an email to my dad. (It was over organic food, food safety, etc.) This way i could make my point, open discussion if he wanted, but be calm & let him know that i'm not trying to judge or be critical, & not be interrupted by Sis #2. So i did. I did mention that i had been angry with Sis #2 & that Sis #3 suggested that the other might have felt "judged" tho this has me baffled. But that was not the point of my letter, nor the majority of it.

He responded a couple of days later. He didn't respond to my points or my disappointment. He stated PE.TA (of which i am not a member) is out of control. And he justified Sis #2's inappropriate behaviors.

My immediate response was disappointment & hurt - he didn't hear what i said! I thought, "Sis #2 believes she is his favorite child, perhaps she's right." (Which isn't a fair rendition of her words. She said she felt she has a "special relationship" with him.) I did not respond to his email. I didn't want to say things i'd regret.

But today, today i realized that this is the info i've been looking for.

I've long wondered why my sissies & i each felt so unloved & so competitive for attention, praise, & love from our parents. (Except, as i've said before, i essentially gave up that quest at age 10.) I've long known that we hurt alone & individually, we had no equipment to pull together & get thru things as a cohesive group. I've also known that i thought my mother had much to do with this, as she never praised any one of us to our faces, but she would praise our accomplishments (or someone not from our family) to the others so that we felt diminished & a failure in comparison. Or, on the rare occasion i would tell her someone hurt my feelings her response would be, "Well, why do you think they did that?" She didn't hear my pain but immediately leaped to empathy for the other person so that i felt the other person was more important & that i was, somehow, always wrong.

But knowing this never seemed to answer the full question. It seemed to me that a piece of the puzzle was missing.

It was important to me to know why my family was like this, as i didn't want to re-create this in my new family. I wanted to know how to teach children to be a team, to grow together, & to work together. The missing piece of the puzzle worried me. Of course, i'm a little less concerned about that now, knowing we won't have a family, but i was still curious.

And today it hit me. It wasn't just my mother who praised or condemned & didn't hear us. My dad was doing it too.

I know - in head knowledge - that my parents loved me, loved my sisters, etc. But the verbal messages we got over & over again was that we weren't worth it. Neither parent heard us when we were hurt, or seemed to care. There was no validation for unfairness & then assist in trying to cope with it. We were taught empathy - & i appreciate it greatly, i really do - but the empathy came on the wrong end. We were not heard, our pain was not recognized, there was no acknowledgement of disappointment, etc. Instead we were encouraged to look at the other person's point of view - a laudable endeavor - but only the other person's view point or our responsibility for our failure & never any comfort for the pain & disappointment. Thus, the feeling that we had no value, no measure of worth, we were unworthy of love.

My mother was the overt abuser in our family. Especially when my dad wasn't around she pulled no punches (verbally with me, physically with Sis #2) & let us know just what she thought. By contrast, my dad was more gentle with us & so we saw him as a "savior." Besides the fact that mother was not abusive when he was around.

But this encounter with him in the last week makes it clear to me that we were getting the "unworthy" message from BOTH parents. There was no court of appeals in our family, no where that we could go & feel heard, no chance that anyone would grant any comfort. So, i think it was natural that we all, to some extent, would vie for my dad's attention as he was the less harsh of the two.

I guess this shouldn't be a surprise to me, as from the age of 10 the "imaginary family" i created to be a comfort did not include either of my parents. I was desperate for someone else, some other reality.

This may not make much sense to anyone else, but i feel i've found the last piece of the puzzle. The part that makes the picture come together. BTW, i'm sure that neither of them intended this. And i am positive that their own families dealt with them in the same manner. My mother especially felt unloved in her family & at odds with her sisters. It just is very unfortunate that they had to pass this on.

But, of course, it had to happen on Father's Day.

My timing sucks.

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3 comments:

David said...

reading this, and growing in compassion and understanding. Wanting God to hold you in His big strong arms of love and tell you you are worth more than silver or gold, you are worth the blood of His own son, Jesus.

Amrita said...

cute picture

Stacey said...

I LOVE old family pictures. That is a great one & I'm glad you shared it.

I'm sorry, though, about the painful memories and the realizations that certain holidays bring up.