Family Matters

Ed. Note: I started this last night and couldn’t finish it.  I realize that the more I unravel my past, the more uncomfortable I feel about discussing the ramifications.  The legacy of my childhood:  toxic secrecy.  What happens in the house, stays in the house.

I haven’t been to Taiwan in sixteen years.  My brother, my niece, and I are scheduled to go two days after Christmas.  We booked our tickets while my mom was here in early September.  I was looking forward to seeing the motherland again because it’s changed drastically since I last went.  My brother has not been in about thirty years.  This is the first time for my niece.  She is eleven.

Now, I don’t want to go.  With the flashbacks coming at me, I don’t want to go face my father.  Years ago, I made my peace with not knowing what really happened.  In the last few years, I made my peace with my father because he is an old, frail man (physically) who can no longer hurt me.  We were cordial to each other, and I was satisfied with that.

Now, I want to punch him.  I want to protect my niece from him.  I want to ask what the fuck he was thinking?

Many many years ago, before the lost years, at the urging of an incompetent therapist, I confronted my father with my mother and my brother present.  I clearly remember my father’s response.  He said, “I don’t remember that happening.  I would remember that if it happened, right?”

My mother:  “It couldn’t have happened.  I would have to leave him if it did.”

My brother:  “I don’t know what happened, but I support you no matter what.”

Immediately after that, I tucked the vague memories I had back into that little corner of my mind and froze my soul.  I felt as if I would tear my family apart if I continued to explore my memories, and I couldn’t do that to us.

I want to punch my father.  I don’t know how I can look him in the face and not just puke all over him.

I am furious with my mother.  I don’t know what she did and didn’t know at the time, but she was his fucking doormat.  She still is.  She lost herself in serving him, and she taught me that a woman should do anything to hold on to her man.

Even worse, she started confiding in me when I was a teenager.  I was already fat, sullen, suicidal, and severely depressed.  The last thing I needed was my depressed mother telling me shit about my father that I didn’t need to know.  She would complain about the way he treated her, and I would support her.  I have urged her to divorce him since I was twelve or so, but she never did.  More infuriating, she would turn around and defend him not ten minutes after complaining about how mean he was.

I don’t want to talk to her.  Last time she called, she was telling me where my father was (in China), and it was all I could do to not tell her that I didn’t give a rat’s ass where he was as long as it was nowhere near me.  Then she pressed me on my personal issues (I had told her that much).  She asked if it was a man, which is always her first question.   I said no and that I didn’t want to talk about it.  She pushed a bit and then finally said, “Well, I’ll pray for you.”  Normally, I would just shrug that off, but this time, it bugged the shit out of me.

Motherfucking pray for me?  That’s your idea of helping me?  My mother prays for the Twins to win.  She prays for my nephew not to have a tantrum today.  She prays for my brother to sell a house.  I suspect she prays for me to get married and have babies.

She can shove her prayers up her ass, that’s what the fuck she can do with her prayers.  Where the fuck was her God when her husband was beating her son and molesting her daughter?  Fuck her fucking God with a rusty pitchfork.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been this pissed off about religion.  I realize that I’m not mad at God, per se, mostly because I don’t believe in the Christian God.  I’m pissed off at how the mantle of Christianity is used to cover a plethora of sins.

Maybe God can forgive my mother for her sins of omission (and of commission), but I sure as hell can’t right now.  Regardless of what actually happened in my childhood, she taught me that my self does not matter.  I should either be pleasing a fictitious man or I should be pleasing her.  To this day, she confides in me things she can’t/won’t tell anyone else.  She is the therapist to all her friends, the wise one, the one who dispenses advice.  She can’t be seen to actually have problems, oh no.

I am incredibly sad tonight, but I am also filled with rage.

Ed Note: This is the start of today’s writing.

My whole body is leaden, as is my soul.  I had the worst night of sleep I’ve had in a very long time.  I broke down after writing the first part of this entry.  The pain simply overwhelmed me.  I was literally hugging my body, trying desperately to keep myself together.

I am sorrow.  It fills my every pore, and I can taste the bitterness on my tongue.  My heart is breaking in a million pieces, and then those pieces are each breaking into a million little shards.  I am surprised I have any heart left considering how it’s shattering.

All the lies of my past.  All the isolation, despair, loneliness, anguish, hurt.  All the hopelessness and flatness and unending misery.

Everyone tells me I can get through this.  Everyone believes I will get through this.  I can hear what they are telling me, but it seems so foreign to me.  How can anyone be sure that I will emerge on the other side?  No matter how many times everyone reassures me that I am stronger than I feel, that I will endure, all I can think in my head is, “Fail fail fail fail fail.”

My head is as thick as molasses right now.  My brain is not firing on all cylinders.  I awoke from a nap in which I dreamed that there were people trying to kill other people through means of a poisoned virus.  I was one of the people being targeted, and I had to try to escape from the poisoners.  The problem was that it was impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys, so I had to be hypervigilant in order not to be killed.

I feel sedated, and not in a good way.  The voices in my head are telling me that it’s too hard.  Life is too hard.  I am not worthwhile.  I am failing.  I will never be the woman I am meant to be.  While I know intellectually that I should not listen to the voices, I am too beaten down at the moment to be able to effectively resist.  It seems pointless to continue trying.  I want to crawl back into the cocoon of frozen tears and just shut my eyes.  I don’t think I am going to turn into a butterfly any time soon.

I am realizing that it’s harder for me to confront my negative feelings about my mother than it is for me to deal with my father because the former feels more like a betrayal.  How can I think bad thoughts of the woman who bore me and nurtured me and loved me and took care of me?  Being a mother was the best thing that ever happened to her (so she continually tells me in an attempt to get me to breed), and she sacrificed so much for my brother and me.  What an ungrateful brat I am for questioning the decisions she made in the past.  She made them all for me and my brother!

It feels sacrilegious to be pissed off at her, but, god help me, I am.

It’s all crumbling.  The facade of the happy family.  It’s dust at my feet, and it’s dragging me back into the abyss.  Even now, there is the voice in my head saying, “Don’t you dare publish this post.  How can you even think of saying such horrible things about your family, especially your mother?  You’re going to tear the family apart!”

And the sad thing is, I just might.  I might be the reason it all falls apart.  I sit here with tears staining my cheeks, mourning a past I never had and a future that might not happen.  Your video for tonight is one I used two entries ago.  It’s Johnny Cash covering NIN’s Hurt.  Since I am a tad CDO (Compulsive Disorder Obsessive, in alphabetical order as it should be), I have listened to it about ten times in a row, and I am still listening to it.  It perfectly epitomizes the turmoil I am experiencing right now.  And, it’s the man in black.  Nothing more needs to be said.

7 Responses to Family Matters

  1. You don’t have to do anything.

    Especially anything your family wants you to do.

    You don’t need to go to Taiwan just because you have tickets. (Although if you don’t go, you should tell your brother why and make sure he knows to protect your niece and not let her be alone with your father.)

    And you’re not responsible for tearing your family apart — your father did that long ago and your mother’s codependence enabled him to continue his unspeakable behavior. Your mother’s statement that what you experienced couldn’t have happened because then she’d have to leave your father is a sign of her narcissism and failure to protect you. Look again; the family is already torn apart — your job isn’t to keep it together, but to take care of yourself because no one else did it for you.

  2. Minna, as happens so often lately, you and I are in parallel places. If you look at the “outside” portrait of my family, you would see a devout Catholic couple who was married for 47 years until his death. They had 3 kids, all of whom graduated from college, 2 with graduate degrees. All 3 kids have solid marriages, and 2 of them have children. What a perfect little family!

    Except that the father was an abusive drunk; the mother was complicit and not that great of a parent either. Their marriage was miserable for most of their years but Catholics aren’t supposed to divorce. In the 3 kids, there was Super Daughter, Golden Boy, and Black Sheep. Golden Boy molested Black Sheep when she was 6. When Black Sheep was 18, she confided to Super Daughter, who blamed Sheep and sided with Golden Boy. Nice.

    The kids’ marriages? Super Daughter is married to a man 15yrs her junior. They are constantly barely scraping by because of shitty money management and very little real bonding. Their kids have serious issues including drug use at one time, and disciplinary problems.

    Golden Boy is married to The Perfect Woman. They are rich, no kids, and yet, what do they really have? He resents her for not being there when his father died and they both bury themselves in their work to avoid each other.

    Black Sheep is married, but it’s been rocky the past few years. The kids are amazing, but they have felt the ripples from the marital problems too, despite her best efforts. If not for them, the marriage never would’ve survived past a few years.

    Some portrait when the PhotoShop is stripped away.

    I too, resent my mother for being complicit in the abuses that were slung at the three of us. She wasn’t there when it happened mostly, but it doesn’t mean she didn’t know. And my sister? I idolized her, as we’ve discussed before. The shock and pain of her betrayal when I told her what our brother did to me has never -ever- healed.

    But like you, I do what I’m “supposed” to do to keep that PhotoShopped portrait intact, and quietly seethe on the inside. I’m starting to make small steps to do what is best for ME and not for them, but it’s hard. It’s hard to undo all of that ingrained training. I know.

    I agree with Alex wholeheartedly. Perhaps it’s time to seek a refund, or maybe just write off the cost of that plane ticket. Do not put yourself through hell to assuage someone else’s sense of what looks good from the outside.

    You, like me, are worth more.

  3. Here, here, Alex AND Kel!

    Minna, you need an outlet for your justifiable rage against both of your parents. This will serve well, because what you share is honest and from your heart. Secrecy is your enemy, and their friend. They have drummed secrecy & shame into you from day one. But that is so they can continue their dysfunctional little games.

    Next time your mother starts over-sharing with you, I suggest you defend yourself with directness: Calmly tell her that you are not going to be her confidant any more, and that you’re tired of being burdened with secrets from her that are better told to a friend her age, or better yet, a therapist. Let her chew on that one for awhile!

    You don’t have to decide right now whether or not you’re going to Taiwan later this year, and you don’t have to go at all. Take good care of yourself first.

    Your parents both have personal issues that they haven’t addressed/won’t address, and those issues and their denial have damaged your family. You would only damage your family by continuing to play the games they want you to play. You’re not tearing apart anything but a scrim. a facade. And you’re only doing that so that you might have real happiness someday. You deserve that! It’s not selfish either: Your brother might have greater happiness by witnessing your journey. You may inspire other extended family members to fight for healing and happiness in their own lives.

    I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity earlier today to tell you in person why I think you ARE getting through this, and will emerge stronger someday. It doesn’t matter whether you believe me or not right now. You still need to hear it from me, and from others who you know understand what you’re going through on at least some level.

    You are valuable to me, and many others. And every day you tell the truth in these posts, you make yourself even more precious to us, and to future readers.

  4. I’ll tell you a secret about having kids Minna that I don’t think anyone has ever said aloud to me.
    Transitioning from my parents child to their peer was the hardest time of my life.
    Once I understood what it was to have and love a child, I looked at what my parents did to their kids and hated them both for a long, long time.
    I walked in on my father molesting my older sister, I was so young that I knew something was wrong, but had no real concept of sex or what was happening to my sister. Years later when the dots were connected I felt such guilt that I knew and did nothing to stop what I didn’t understand.
    Screw your plane ticket. If you don’t want to go, don’t go.
    If you don’t want to deal with your mom, don’t. If you feel the need to protect yourself, then do it. Stay home.
    Alex is right, you won’t tear your family apart. Your dad did that years ago already and fuck him with ten rusty pitchforks!

  5. Alex, you have me in tears with your comment. You are so understanding and kind; it really touches me. And wise. Did I mention wise? You are good for my heart.

    Kel, you and I are on such similar journeys, it amazes me. Your courage in blazing your own path helps bolster for my own hard work. I am so thankful to have you in my life and by my side. You really get me.

    Choolie, you know without you, I would not have the courage to forge ahead in taiji. Your empathy, understanding, and outspoken support have helped me through some really rough patches. It feels good to have you watching my back.

    whabs, was it a year ago when we connected over La Palina? She may be what drew us to the same place, but our life stories and sisterhood are what have kept us holding each other hands over the last year. You and me, babe. We’re doing this together.

  6. hahah I just said the same thing on your Attention Readers post because I remembered you doing the script last year. AND…I was just over at Immoral Minority and Gryph has a vid of the TurkeyGate posted. That made me think of you and go, wow…a year ago!
    PS Turkeygate and the curse of the Snatch have hit the Turkey Farm that killed the Gash. They are hurting and trying to stay open. 🙁
    Maybe I’ll send away to Alaska for my turkey this year.

  7. whabs, everything La Palina touches crumbles, damn her. Actually, I have only been blogging since the beginning of this year. ScriptFrenzy is in April, which is probably what you remember me doing. Or else I talked about doing NaNoWriMo on the ‘flats. What a wild and woolly year it’s been.