Today, on the Eve of my 44th Birthday, I am finally FREE, Hallelujah!
What a trick. To beat and humiliate your baby throughout her formative years and then, after she is literally crippled by your hands, not just emotionally, but also with a brutal physical injury, you tell her she is too broken to be loved. To remind me I am other, to remind me I cannot function normally. To remind me I am in error, I am flawed, something is wrong with me; my posture, my body, my voice. This is not how you raise a person. This is not how you treat someone you care about. Were you aware of this, or do you let shi**y people in your life still? To cultivate and then lay my dysfunction at my feet, and enjoy the illusion she played no part.
What a trick. To enjoy the role of martyred mother, provoking me to perform as she requires, inciting tears or anger from me as she needs to complete each performance.
What a trick. Her rageful, snarling violent beast is kept quiet in the company of others. The monster was mine alone to fear, and to run from in dreams for decades after I’d actually escaped her true clutches. You never escape that kind of abuse. It haunts you and exists in your marrow. It forms a false self, whatever the abuser requires you to be, whatever you require to survive. It is incremental, the slow awakening from victimization. When your whole identity is based on information from those who benefit from hurting you, well, you’re gonna have a rough time fixing all that jazz in your head.
I have finally realized I don't have to let people like this be in my life. Today I am free of these people. Today I am born without the intentional misjudgment and disregard for the essence of my Things I’d tolerated, like gossiping, teasing, are now absolutely not allowed in my life. If it makes me sad or feel bad or funny, that’s my gut saying NO. I am teaching my children these and other important lessons. It is my most important job: To give them the tools they need to feel good about themselves, to navigate the world with respect, gratitude and to honor our responsibility to serve with love and patience. I have worked very hard to not treat my children as I was treated. My children will never be beaten or raped. I will never tell my children that these violations are a part of life and should be tolerated. I am ready to accept my children’s thoughts and criticisms as valid input and our relationships are sacred to me. I recognize that it is my responsibility to change myself for the better in order to continue to have these healthy, thriving relationships. I will not behave in ways, ever, that would make my children do with me what I have had to do today. Who I once was, the person who I had to be in order to function as a member of my blood family, is no longer a part of who I am.
There are very basic ideas about connection, community, family and service that are minimum requirements. There are countless examples of how my blood family go beyond simple dysfunction and enter absolute apathy and lacking in all empathy. I wrote a book, it’s got a lot of great anecdotes about my bizarre upbringing. But I can give some examples here to help illustrate how my blood family is detrimental to its own members.
My blood family will give thousands to charity but refused me shelter and care when I faced homelessness. They flat-out denied the existence of my spinal cord injury at the hands of my mother. They called me a liar and emphatically denied the massive scar on my back was from anything but a 'slipped disc'. When I tried to explain the doctors un-tethered four inches of my thoracic spinal cord and weren’t even going to touch the mess of slipped discs and damage to my actual spine, my aunt and uncle literally hung up as I was talking. My family refused to help me when I was beaten and raped. The first, second and third times. My mother told me to stop whining, 'everyone gets raped'.
The first time I was raped I was four years old. My grandmother blamed me for being too sexy. She actually suggested I was lying about wearing a bathing suit and 'that cute bathing suit was the problem.' I wasn't wearing a bathing suit, but she admonished me for correcting her later.
Both my grandmother and my mother raised hands against me. My mother made it a regular habit, my grandmother only a few times. But both women believed to love was to criticize, belittle, berate, abuse, manipulate and triangulate. I was born into people who enjoyed hurting others and pretending they were kind. Sadly, I think this is more common than not, and that's a scary thought. Certainly they are unaware of their own machinations of cruelty and would no doubt deny any such statements as pure hokey. So many of us are nestled in the ignorance that our society's accepted apathy and lack of empathy are attitudes to aspire to, not indications of a spiritual identity crisis. Which it is. My mother, perhaps once an authentic tender, loving and truly kind soul, was a psychopath by the time I was born. No, to call her that does not please me. Most especially because I've had to spend my life unraveling her behaviors from my own, natural self. What is right, what is wrong? Is love really this painful duality? The view was skewed before I arrived. Over a decade ago my therapist insisted, after only a few sessions, that I must not allow my mother in my life for at least a year. In that first year, I realized the cage of fear and self-harm I was living in my whole life. I knew I wasn't like others, but you can't know what your damage really is. After two years without her, for the first time in my life, I wasn't suicidal. It was a revelation. To exist without the daily feeling of worthlessness. To not spend hours a day considering suicide.
As a woman with Female Asperger's – undiagnosed until recently – every trespass against myself or others was a strike against my sense of justice. As a loudmouth truth-teller, I was dangerous. I'd like to think I served some kind of lesson for them, but I think they just plow ahead, winners all. Us vulnerable, easy-to-hurt kids grow up. But we don't forget. Some of us never heal, lost and broken our whole lives. I refuse to let their actions take away my right to live a whole life.