Sunday, June 9, 2019

La Familia

There was a maternal family event in May, and it was just as soul-crushingly alienating as I feared. It was supposed to be a joyous event for the child I spent her first year living with, who spent every weekend with me when her mother couldn't handle 2 kids so divergent in ages, whom I sat with and spoke to her admission counselor to get her into the higher education program she ended up graduating from, who I talked the same program into taking back on a special schedule after a serious illness. This child who is not my daughter or my niece but something of both.

And it was a family event - except I'm not family anymore - that's blindingly apparent they treat me.

From being told about the event with bare weeks to spare (and having to move business travel plans because of it) when family was told at the holidays months before - to being completely left out of the day-before activities - to being left out of the post-event activities. Which would've hurt less, except - my family sat around the reception table talking about the night before (to which I hadn't been invited) and plans for the next day (to which I also wasn't invited). It was all emotionally isolating. I tried to be positive and not start trouble - but I'm sure I failed at the first part.

Side note: And then there was the actual event time when my mother's odious guest was astonishingly rude - throughout the whole reception. (It's lovely to be grilled on your marital status and called fat.)

This experience was not different than not being invited to other family events since La Gram Russe passed - notably, Thanksgiving 2018, Christmas 2018 and New Years or a certain girl's open house in the past 6 months. I'd been asked to 1 family event in the prior 15 months - Easter 2019 by a sweet cousin. But I had plans as the invitation planning was late. (Family - wonder why I'm not there? Perhaps ask if I was invited.) In the 12 month prior to that, I had to beg to be included in Thanksgiving 2017 that was being hosted in my mother's home. She has chosen time and again her sisters over me - perhaps because I told her until she addressed how they treat me in a meaningful way, I would not attend. Perhaps because telling everyone I'm busy alienates me from them further while preserving her place. Likely. She does worry overmuch about how people think of her.

I'm sure any maternal family reading this would say "It was K's day and NOT about you!" - yes, it absolutely was. And so I kept my peace. 

Here's the thing, I came for K but I'm D-O-N-E being treated like an after-thought and then being punished and reprimanded for feeling hurt by that lack of consideration you extend to each other. I honestly don't think it's a concerted effort - more the death by a thousand careless cuts. The reason being - none of you care. Each cut highlights a lack of connection. It started with one aunt, who seemed to need to continually demean me to elevate her own family, but there are others. The aunt who sent my birthday card with my cousins' - which meant for more than 8 years I received my card 5 months late like the afterthought it was - and in person belittled anything I felt sacred. The mean comments on my appearance by another aunt from the time I hit my teens on as well as her dogged insistence that I am wrong about everything up to and including the color of the sky! And then there is the aunt who claims to be Switzerland and does not ever defend me and or stop them. Her excuse is always -  "That's just the way they are" - no, that's the way we, as a family, have allowed them to become. The finishing touch is my mother's silent acceptance of her family's treatment of me. The same way she accepted her husband's mistreatment of me. Always her reputation among others before me. 

Her acceptance of what they did - always a ready excuse and a reason I needed to understand/accept their poor behavior. For years my mother's silence equaled acceptance and allowed the treatment to become normalized...and then escalate. She never noticed. We have reached a plateau where friends I bring to family events - with zero prompting or preparation from me - comment on how badly they treat me. At this point, there are too many cuts. There's no way back because none of you see what you do. It's somehow always me.

Family - La Gram Russe never taught you what family is. She taught us to survive. So here it is, the definition of "Family" is caring and support. You have not done either for me for more than 40 years. You follow each other on social media - but not me. You buy each others' business products - but not mine. (Mother - you figured out online dating and how to stalking your sister's ex on Facebook - but can't figure out how to order the book I wrote? I sent you a free copy. I can see it's been 3 years and you still haven't downloaded it. It and my others are also on this blog, so don't tell me you lost the email. Great job at supporting on the support, mom!) When you see me, if you ask me anything about my life at all you ask closed-ended questions based on assumptions. I know I'm the one who communicates for a living, but basic adulting skills would teach you how to intereact with people better than that. 

As a family, your interest piques when you see me or when you need something from me. I'm the call you make when you need a plan or to get someone out of a sticky situation or clean up a legal mess. And have been for more than 20 years. La Gram Russe called me the family sheriff. Did you know that? She saw my role.

There's a Hawaiian forgiveness act I've been reading about. I think I'm a bit spiteful in the application of it,but this is what I've got for Ho'oponopono:
- I'm sorry  - I was never enough for you to see me as a person in my own right and value that person
- Please forgive me - for needing you to be to me what you were to each other
- Thank you - for teaching me what family shouldn't be
- I love you  - enough to set you free from the apparent burden of being my family

Next situation or mess, find a new number to call. 

Other posts on my attempts to deal with the family situation:
- Gifts and Expectations
Message in a Bottle (aka the impossible aunt)

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