The Slow Reveal

All right.  Today, I am going to start by doing something I rarely do:  I am going to pat myself on the back.  I have a difficult time congratulating myself when I do something good, so I have decided to do that now.  Here.  In the first paragraph of this entry.  I have two things to share.  Gulp.

#1 (OK, this is the second paragraph.  I lied.  Deal).  My mom’s magnum opus went through the process at a very fast-pace and is now accepted to be published.   Why am I patting myself on the back for this?  Because I worked my ass off on it, and that shit looked good.  I had an interactive (or whatever it’s called) table of contents (if I updated the chapters, I could automatically update the TOC, too) and everything.  I mean, damn.  That was some of my best editing work ever.  I really hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Yes, a second round of edits is coming up, and yes, I made a few mistakes, but overall, I did a kick-ass job.  Pat, pat, pat.

#2.  In the last three weeks, I have lost an inch-and-a-half around my waist, which translates to 7.5 pounds.  This is exactly how much I lose each week whenever I start losing weight.  I had forgotten how…not easy…steady the loss is in the beginning.  I won’t say easy because it’s been damn hard work.  Still.  It’s been a nice little boost to pull out the tape-measure (I don’t do scales) and see the steady loss.

Now that that is out of the way, I would like to say that once I am done with my mother’s magnum opus and a couple other things I am doing for her right now (including booking her flight to Colorado because apparently the interwebs is too tough for her, and no, Mom, I do not want to go with you to your conference), we will be setting some very clear delineations between what is my job and what isn’t.  When we started working on her magnum opus, we just said I would edit the thing.  That was it.  Oh, it also included re-typing her thesis because that was lost in the Great Hard Drive Crash of Aught…Something.  We only had hard copies, so re-type it I would.  That was part of the deal, and it was only seventy-some pages, so whatever.

Then, she had problems with the pics.  My brother took care of that.  He also did the tables.  I am not a whiz at the Excel, though I can use it if need be.  Then, it was layout.  The publishing company sent a PDF with all the things they required in their manuscripts.  OK.  Not exactly my purview (and I didn’t get it until after I started), but whatever.   Then, for some reason, we kept having problems with one chapter.  It was a chapter on her symbol paper (as a sandplay therapist, she had to write a paper on a symbol.  She chose the dragon), and I nearly ripped my hair out over that one.  When I do an edit, I name the paper Dragon Copy Whatever.  1, 2, 3, etc.   For some reason, my mom could not get it in her head that I was labeling them in chronological order.  She kept saying I hadn’t included her changes for the dragon symbol chapter.   I would look at the latest version and include whatever she sent.

The last straw was when two days before deadline, she complained about the section again and said I had gone backwards in the editing.  Well, that’s because she sent me an old copy.  So, I had undone the editing I had previously done, and then had to listen to her bitch about why the changes she had made weren’t in the section.  I yelled at her for that one because I had wasted many hours on that fucking chapter due to her stubbornness to really learn how to use computers.

The absolutely worst part, though, was that she was supposed to turn in the manuscript from Taiwan.  The publisher is in England.  She started whining about how difficult it was for her to print in Taiwan (she doesn’t have a car, but still.  Take the damn bus to the print shop), and it would be so much easier if I just sent it.  They needed two hard copies as well as two disks.  Don’t ask me why because I do not know.  Well, I do.  They didn’t want to print the copies, that’s why.  Anyway, I agreed to send the hard copies to the publisher, but I was disgruntled because it’s not that much easier for me to send it than it is for her (in fact, it turned out to be a nightmare, but that part was my own fault).  Then, again, two days before deadline, she wanted me to add another whole…how do I explain?  She administered tests to her clients.  They are called protocols.  She wanted to include one more set of protocols.  HELL NO.  I was already busting my ass to finish the damn book on time.  I was not going to add more protocols!

I did put my foot down to that.  We might be adding them now if the publishing company can find money for it.  Oh, then my mother wanted me to bring a hard copy with me to Taiwan.  The sucker was three-hundred pages.  No fucking way.  She could print it out her damn self.

The point to all this ranting is that because we did not have a clear contract, she kept pushing the boundaries of the definition of my job.   I went from simple copy editor to all-around Minna-of-all-trades.

The above example actually ties in nicely with the main point of this entry (thus, the slow reveal).  Awhile back, I wrote about how I’ve been trained to be the perfect sex doll.  I was taught that my needs, my desires, my wants weren’t important; my only function was to satisfy the needs of my partner.  Well, I have realized that I have been trained to also believe that I am not important in my family.  The real me, I mean.

I have written many times about muting my personality around my family until there is no me there.  The reason is because I feel as if I’m allowed into my family on sufferance.  I am tolerated as long as I am useful.  Therefore, my mom loves me because I do shit for her and because I give her emotional support.  My father loves me because…well, I don’t think he actually does love me.  However, he tolerates me because I’m his daughter and…I don’t rightly know.  He actually doesn’t really tolerate me as I only see him a few days a year, the vacation to Taiwan, notwithstanding.  As for my brother, he likes me because I listen to him and I allow him to unwind.  He can be more relaxed around me than he can be around his wife.  To be fair, I rely on him to be my tech support, so there is some mutual sufferance occurring.

In other words, I had to make myself useful to my family in order to feel as if I were acceptable.  There are so many things about me that they dislike or of which they disapprove.  In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to say something about the essence of me that anyone in my family really liked. Therefore, this separation thing really feels like I’m about to test the hypothesis that I’m expendable to my family if I don’t do what they want me to do.

Love on contingency.  This belief has permeated my other friendships.  I don’t call people because I don’t want to intrude.  For years, I have downplayed my depression and self-destructive behaviors because I didn’t want to worry anyone.  And, more to the point, I didn’t feel worthy of having anyone worry about me.  I tend to be very ‘up’ when I am around other people because again, I feel my worth is in how entertaining I can be.  And, let’s face it, I can be pretty damn entertaining.

My whole life, I have believed that my worth is wrapped up in what I do for others and not in who I am.  In my family, this may very well be true.  Outside of my family, it’s only true with people who aren’t really my friends.  My true friends are nonjudgmental, supportive, and love me for me.  I know this even if I don’t always feel it.   My family, not so much, and that’s why I’m having such a hard time with the idea of being my own person instead of who they want me to be.  Will I still be welcomed in the family if I start standing up for myself and being myself?  I simply do not know.

Today, I made the promise not to kill myself.  I realized that while I balk at making a blanket resolution to not kill myself at all, I am comfortable with mayhaps making the promise every day.  We shall see.

3 Responses to The Slow Reveal

  1. Good. Your mom, like someone else we’ve discussed, wants to have her cake and her Minna too, and that is both disrespectful and destructive to you. YOU deserve respect. And it’s about time you start to demand it. I’m proud of you.

    And you’re definitely right about the fact that your true friends love you no matter what. Doesn’t matter if you’re up, down, or sideways. We don’t judge.

    However, if you come out here for Vienna and even think about hiding your real self, I will swat you with a piece of bourbon cake. The Kellions are biting at the bit to hang out with you, and so am I, and so is C. We all know the real Minna and adore her. We’ll even bail you out of jail if you get arrested for dancing nekkid in the streets of NC. =)

  2. When you don’t have a clear understanding, your mother keeps pushing the boundaries? You don’t say.

    Congratulations on your accomplishments, Minna, and more so for taking a well-deserved victory lap.

  3. Kel, R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Yeah, Aretha had it right. My mom doesn’t respect my boundaries in part because I allow her to walk all over them. It’s difficult and painful to acknowledge that, but I have to in order to change the dynamics of our relationship.

    When I meet you and the Kellions, you’re not going to know what hit you. Seriously. And yes. Keep that bail money handy. You never know what I’m going to do.

    Thanks for being a true friend.

    Gregory, yes, Mr. Reason. Without a clear understanding, my mother keeps trying to see what she can get me to do. And, yes, it’s up to me to start being firm about the boundaries because she is not going to change on her own.

    Thanks for the ‘grats and for your constant support. I appreciate it very much.