A year ago, I probably would not have believed that my life would be what it is in this moment. It was unfathomable, and it is incredibly difficult for me transitioning into this “new life”.
Recently someone made the grave mistake of telling me that I “choose not to be happy”. Forgive me, but that’s not only rude, it’s insulting.
I find happiness itself difficult. I’ve struggled with the definition since I was about six. After all, what is happiness without your loved ones close by? I am not the “gone and forgotten” type of person that people might wish I was, and I am grateful that my memory allows me to have significant substance as a human-being, as opposed to being careless, thoughtless, rude, forgetful, selfish, and hurtful to others. I am the person that will always apologize if she’s over-stepped her boundaries or gone too far. I like that about myself. I see it as a great strength, not as a weakness.
Like many other people in this world, I was raised to trust my family & friends. I was raised that “family comes first”. My Grandmother instilled a “Family First” mentality into us, but I decided to redefine her terms, unbeknownst to her.
At around age 13, when I lost my ability to be nice as well as the ability to care what people thought of me, and learned precisely how evil and duplicitous other people are, I started taking a closer look at those around me. For a time, I had something other people wanted and that resulted in the end of many friendships as the years would come and go. Quite sadly, what those other people coveted wasn’t worth a damn thing. It was as fair-weather as they were; but no one should have to learn that their friendships are false and that their family is equally as bad.
Growing up in an abusive, nuclear family; I am completely intolerant of abuse in my life now. While I hate using the OCD comparison, because some people suffer greatly with it, other people use it as a means of control because they feel something in their life is out of control, or perhaps many things. In turn, the person displaying these OCD traits becomes abusive and accusatory. The truly attentive person notices everything from day one. The OCD abuser notices it seemingly out of the blue, and they use it to blame you for things you don’t think, leave alone do. It builds and builds until you reach your boiling point. I reached mine a long time ago, but I was lulled into a false sense of security that this person was, somehow, stable and getting their shit together. They haven’t, and eventually they’re going to realize my escape plan is a drastic one.
I’ve never not discussed the abuse I’ve been through openly and honestly. I’m not ashamed of it. One- It was never my fault, and Two- I survived. Unfortunately what bothers me most about certain types of abuse is that is starts off subtly. It can actually look like love and concern, until it doesn’t. Please pay attention to the signs and know when to walk away. I don’t care who the person is or thinks they are, you are worth more than that. Far too many abusers disguise themselves as friends and family, which sometimes makes it hard to distinguish precisely what it is you’re experiencing. My feeling on that is “abuse is abuse”, and it’s unacceptable, regardless of the packaging it comes in.
Some people astound me, in the open-mouthed, “Are you fucking kidding me?” kind of way.
I have “family” coming into town this weekend. I use the word so loosely they should be able to hang themselves with it. It wasn’t until Wednesday evening that I was informed that I was invited to this “family gathering”. For the record, I like 6-8 weeks notice on the arrival of family members I don’t care for and a week for those I give a damn about, which is an increasingly small list.
I find it interesting that I was “invited” to this gathering, seeing as how their children, my younger cousins, both got married, one of whom had a baby less than a year ago, but I somehow wasn’t good enough to be invited to either wedding (Those are family events, last time I checked.), yet my presence gets a half-assed “Do you think she’d like to join us?” at the last minute?! That blows my mind. No, I wouldn’t like to join you. I find you both repugnant, and that’s putting it mildly.
I have not seen these two “family members” since my mother’s funeral. Not only have they treated me horribly and disrespectfully for the majority of my life, but a year after the funeral, in which they blatantly disrespected both my brother & I to our faces, when I notified family & friends about my parents’ unveiling (The Jewish tradition of unveiling the headstone.), none of them showed up. Not an e-mail, a phone call, or a fucking smoke signal. Only one had a solid excuse; her daughter was graduating college here in Boston. I sent her a note at the time letting her know that I knew she wouldn’t be able to make it, but that I wanted her to have my updated address and phone number and if she needed anything, I would be there for her. I congratulated her on my cousin’s graduation. No response. That was IT for me, especially after they lost their parents and I received third-party e-mails to inform me about funerals I could not attend at the last minute seeing as how I had a huge trip to make and was unable to drop everything. They all live close to where my parents funerals were held, so there was no excuse in terms of travel or anything like that for them. I intentionally gave everyone travel time instead of burying my parents within 24 hours, which is our tradition. Everyone had advance notice, so none of them had an excuse not to show up at my father’s funeral or my mother’s.
“I’d love to hear more about this, but I’m on my way to Spin Class.”, said the second cousin to a relative who was relaying the message because I had my own phone calls to make. Does that sound like genuine concern over a relative passing away? Not a single one showed even the slightest amount of class by picking up a phone, or bothering to send my grieving mother, brother, and I so much as a card. When you’re a narcissist and come to me eight years later (indirectly, mind you) with false claims as to how I treated you at my own mother’s funeral, asking to be in my presence after all this time; you’re either on some incredibly powerful drug, or you’re an asshole. I’ve chosen to go with both.
They have issues with how I treated them at the funeral. It is the most laughable accusation I have EVER heard in my family dynamic. I didn’t know whether to howl with laughter or cry at the stupidity of how self-involved they are. And I am perfectly willing to discuss it with them, via phone or e-mail. Hell, they can be my new “Facebook friends”. But being in my direct presence is a privilege and an honor, and neither of them make the cut.
What I was not aware of in this scenario is that they’ve had a middleman all these years, someone who has listened to their false claims of phone calls and showing love and care to my mother for many years. It happened ONCE, and ONLY ONCE, let’s not exaggerate it into the greatest relationship to ever live. I have repeatedly asked this person NOT to discuss me with them in any capacity. Said person agreed. I don’t know why that has somehow changed and yeah, it pisses me off. It’s breach of promise. It’s such a simple thing “Please don’t discuss me with these people, they are not my family.” It’s direct, to the point, and is precisely what I want. Not to be discussed. I don’t need their negativity directed at me.
Here’s one of my main rules in life: If you cannot be my family every single day, then you don’t get to choose to be family when it suits you, as in, whenever you happen to pop into town. Again, I am happy to discuss their issues, via phone or e-mail, and that is pure kindness on my part, a kindness I don’t feel they genuinely deserve.
They are cowards to talk about me behind my back, as opposed to coming directly to me, so I have two words for them and since I lack the ability to be “fake polite”, I definitely cannot play the game of falsity by spending an entire day with them, or even thirty seconds.
I legitimately have nothing to say to these people. I don’t think about them and I don’t talk about them. I even went over the conversation with my brother to verify everything and he agreed that their behavior at the funeral was appalling (They wouldn’t even stand near us, and not a single one of them said “I am sorry for your loss.”), but that mine was not; I was in mourning and about as polite as I could be after having lost both of my parents and giving the eulogy. He said “We never talk about these people and we don’t think about them; they’re not a part of our lives. We could be dead, they wouldn’t care, leave alone notice.” THANK YOU! That’s first-person validation, not that I needed it, I just wanted to clarify the events because I know how I behaved and I occasionally like to hear his perspective on things we’ve been through together. He’s 100% right. I don’t owe them anything.
I would rather read a good book, see a movie, take a walk, willingly walk someone’s dog, etc., than be forced to spend a moment in their presence. That would be smothering everything I stand for, and I’d be sullying the memory of my mother by allowing them to creep into my life in any fashion. I’d have to run to Salem and get every practicing witch I could find to smudge me with sage. I’m not exaggerating. Their negativity is sickening. The narcissism alone kills me. They think they’re perfect and cannot fathom all the superiority they’ve pulled on my family my entire life, because they can’t see past the end of their own noses. When people behave in such a manner, there’s really no talking to them. They desperately want to be right and they believe they are right, so I’m not going to waste the oxygen. I’m too good a person, too smart, and far too sharp to be lured into such nonsense. If it had gone unmentioned to me, I certainly wouldn’t be writing about it so honestly or passionately, but since it became an issue via negative words said to and about me, the truth is, I’ve never liked these people. Just because we’re related does not mean we have to have a relationship. They’ve had their opportunities and you only get so many chances with me. When I’m done, I’m truly done. I don’t wish any ill on them, I just want to live my life without them discussing me behind my back. Is that unfair? Honestly, I don’t care if it is.
At the beginning and end of each day, I would prefer to be known as my Grandparent’s ONLY Granddaughter, my parents’ ONLY daughter, my brother’s ONLY sister, and my Aunt’s ONLY niece. I am many things, but my Grandparents and parents live deeply within me and I try to honor them by being the person I was raised to be. None of them were perfect, but they taught me things that are immensely valuable. Manners, decency, common sense, and never being afraid to use my voice, for it is a deadly, powerful instrument.
Every time I am stressed or working too hard, I hear my Grandmother say “Sit up straight. Posture is everything.” I have perfect posture because she never allowed me to slouch. When I look in the mirror at my back, I think of her as the backbone of the family, because even though she was passive and kind, she helped raise me and deserves that acknowledgment. I was my Grandfather’s everything. Losing him shaped a lot of my world, but I will never forget a moment we spent together or the things he taught me. He lived each day to the fullest. I wish I had the ability to do the same, but maybe having Fibromyalgia is a mixed blessing in disguise. My parents were polar opposites who would have been better off as friends, but I am their daughter and I will not allow them to be disrespected in death as they were in life. If you disrespect them and you also disrespect me, you can basically kiss your ass goodbye. I don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to hold a grudge, but once I’ve made a decision, that’s it. Forgiveness isn’t always an option.
I often think my family dynamic is outrageously offensive, and then I hear other people’s stories and I find out how tame mine is in comparison, which is actually a scary thought.
Here’s hoping none of you ever have to deal with narcissistic family members who think YOU’RE some kind of she-devil because you lack the ability to be fake. No one needs that kind of drama!
copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.