Dysfunctional Family of Origin Interactions

The thing about being in a family that is dysfunctional, mine was due to abuse and alcohol addiction, is that you are all divided from one another. Children in the family are often put into restricted roles within the family, which helps perpetuate and enable the sickness and dysfunction.

My mother encouraged this division and bad feeling among all us siblings. She seemed to really enjoy it a lot. I know that she felt more confident and in control when we were all divided against one another. She really didn’t like or encourage family feeling or devotion or connection with all of us. On the other hand, she got to decry that we didn’t get along and that we didn’t manage to have any solidarity, so she got it both ways.

Now my father emphasized the opposite, but he wasn’t around much, what with work and drinking. My father loved family and seemed to always emphasize doing good for your family. I suppose a lot of that family feeling was because he lost his mother when he was still a young child. Since she died young, he only had one sibling and always said he wished he would have had a sister, because he would have been so good and loving and kind to a sister.

He would tell our brothers to be good to their sisters and how important that was to do. I don’t think that they liked being told to do that. I wish so much that he had been better to me and more protective of me, most especially that he had stopped drinking and became a better man.

When you teach and encourage your children to call one another filthy nicknames and to insult and demean and bully one another, you will get results. When you never stick up for your own child when she is being bullied and chased and hit, well you get results. When you practice favoritism with two of your children while denying what everyone can see, you get results. When you use some of your children as though they are adult caregivers to their younger siblings, you get results. When you treat your children abusively, you get results.

One of the worst results to my family is the one thing that I hate the most about our family of origin, we are still divided. Here is the thing; I don’t care about being with anyone who was sexually abusive towards me, so I would never reconcile with my second brother and my first brother is dead already. But the rest of us are still trying to cope with divisions over and over again.

One of the biggest things that I hate the most about our family’s division is that siblings grew up, went away, and didn’t give back to the younger siblings. That left us at a terrible disadvantage. The worst part of it is that they did give extensively to their wives siblings, in-laws, and extended family, instead of to us younger ones. Now it is right that they didn’t owe us anything, but we were their family and they should have had helped us more than they hurt us. And they hurt us a lot.

I believe in taking better care of the younger peeps in my family. I do the best that I can. My first nephew was born when I was sixteen. Although I had never had parenting from my mother, I tried to be an extra positive influence in his life. I helped raise him, loved them and told him repeatedly what a great kid he was and why, spent time reading to him and playing with him and babysitting him, bought him lots of books and toys. I’ve done the most that I can possibly do for all of them. And now that the next generation has grown up, I am giving and loving and good and kind in the same ways to their children. My great nephews and nieces are great.

I give them a lot of my love and yes gifts and good words too. It is what you do for family, in my opinion, give them everything that you’ve got to give. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have other stuff to give to other peeps that I love. I choose to take after my father’s best thoughts and beliefs and actions.

My Creative/Artistic Self and Dysfunctional Family Stuff

My family has never been supportive of my artistic or creative work. After a long period of that, being diminished and ignored, I really would not look to them to be supportive, loving, kind, or good about anything that I really care about. I tend to share less and less as the years have gone by and I have to say they don’t seem to notice that I don’t share about my heart and what fills me with joy with them. Since that is so important to me and to my life, it makes it hard a lot of the time to find something to talk about, since so much of it is private and needs to be protected from them.

One time I did try to describe the inner creative process to one of my brothers and he burst out laughing and after my asking him repeatedly to share what he found funny and why, he made fun of me and the way that I had chosen to talk about my collage artwork.

I really have to admit that he broke my heart. That’s my family… and that in no way is diminishing how much he and they have hurt me and hurt my heart. That’s my family… they break my heart. Interacting with them means being self-protective of my life, myself, my creative self, my thoughts, my emotions, my beliefs, and so much more.

Sometimes it just leaks out of me, and I can’t stop myself from sharing, and it doesn’t go good and it doesn’t lead to good. It’s sad to me that sometimes I can’t stop myself or us from sharing things with our family and that it leads to more pain, more hurt, and more of a broken heart. It’s so sad to me that this is my family.

I don’t tolerate anything from my sister and when I started seeing her again almost three years ago, after not associating with her for almost ten years,  I promised myself that I was not going to endure another incident of emotional/verbal abuse from her and that if it happened I would never see her again. She hasn’t. Bizarrely she hasn’t. But I can’t talk to her about all the pain that she has caused me and how all that pain is still inside of me/us and how much it still hurts and how she derailed my life, many times, and made it so hard for me to have self-respect or self-love, because she undermined and humiliated me and verbally/emotionally abused me all my life and how my mother was my primary abuser and bully and how my sister was her toady, until I cut her out of my life. Part of her doesn’t know, part of her doesn’t care, part of her loves being clueless, part of her loved and still loves being both of our parents favorite little girl, part of her has cut me off when I’ve tried to explain in the past, and part of her would hurt if I tried to talk to her about it all now. I know, because I have tried.

One of my other brothers routinely makes fun of me, the things that I say, my politics, my beliefs, facts that I relate from studies, if I have to pause while finding the right words, etc, etc, etc. I limit him in my life, but even a little bit means emotional and verbal abuse. He only gets a little bit of me. After a few conversations in the last couple months I have decided to start hanging up on him again, it is the only way to have a healthy boundary with him.

The worst part of this all is that these are the two brothers who have the most interactions with me in my life right now. They have collectively done the most for me and at different times been my best support. They wound me and that is the best I am getting. Saying no means absolutely nothing.

My brother that shouts at me on the phone refuses to stop shouting at me, insulting me, demeaning me, misrepresenting me, and mischaracterizing me, no matter what I say to him. If I thought the things about him that he thinks about me, I would never have anything to do with that kind of person, I would hate that kind of person, I certainly would not have even one phone conversation with them.

I know all of it is lies, but it makes me wonder why he feels the need to be thinking so little of me and still associate with me. I don’t want to have anything to do with him, but then he acts like he cares about me, but then turns around and treats me like excrement. I know he finds it highly enjoyable, but I don’t. He is going to get the click on the phone line the next time we talk, if he goes there.

She Refused to Apologize

Several years ago an aunt told me, on the phone, that she used to emotionally abuse me with filthy name calling when I was a child. She was an adult. She had her own girl. She did not treat her own daughter the way that she treated me. She did not live with us. She did not take care of me or babysit me. She never bought me gifts or spent time with me or treated me as though I mattered to her or that I was special or that I was loved. She just visited and treated me the same way that my parents and siblings did, she called me filthy names that my parents started and encouraged my siblings to do.  She came into my own home, as an adult, and was vicious and cruel to me when I was a child.

I have to say that I was shocked. I never remembered that from my early childhood. I did remember that while she seemingly worshiped my older sister, treating her like the golden girl, she never seemed to express or demonstrate love for me. I remembered that for no reasons that I could see she would make fun of me, she would invade my space or life, even to the point of reading my private diary or evaluating a hobby or activity that I would do and enjoy. She would enjoy making fun of me. She would grab my belongings and wave them around, shouting, making fun of me, and laughing at me. I remember those times. I remember the kind of aunt that she had been to me.

We were never really close for decades. But over a number of years we had become kind of friends, talking on the phone late at night from states far, far away. She knew a number of issues that I was dealing with because I was an abused child. She knew that I had been sexually abused as a child and emotionally abused as a child. She knew that my father had been an alcoholic and that my mother had been a sexual offender against me. She had heard me talk at length over several years about how painful it all was. There were specific times that I had recalled telling her how painful it was to be the scapegoat child in my family of origin, especially with all the filthy names that I was called. She never told me she did the same thing to me.

So I was shocked and flabbergasted when she finally admitted it to me on Christmas Eve one year. I told her immediately that she owed me an apology for treating me like that when I was a child and she was an adult.

She started making excuses. I was shocked and appalled. I was sickened. I thought how dare she excuse her malicious and cruel behavior by acting like she could do anything that abusive parents and siblings were doing to me.

I explained to her that as an outsider in my home she knew that there were different rules of conduct, as an adult and not one of my siblings she was held to a different standard of behavior, that she was not my alcoholic father nor my sexual abuser mother and as such not my parent and that she had no right to do that to me, no right at all, and that I knew for sure that she had never treated her own daughter that way. Even so her daughter has a very antagonistic relationship with her mother, my aunt and considering the kinds of abandonment issues and emotional abuses she went through, I am hardly surprised.

I told her I am not filth and she doesn’t get to tell me that I am filth, then or now. I told her that no matter what my family did to me in my home that does not make it okay for her to do, and I told her that I know that you knew that as an adult. I told her that what my siblings did to me when I was a small child was when they were children as well. That I understand they were abusive, but that they were also children and that I hold them to a different standard than I do to my parents, to any adult. I told her that she knew it was wrong then and she never said word one to stand up for me, to try to stop the abuses or to be on my side. I told her I know you knew it was wrong because you never did that to your own daughter. I know you saw what kind of lovely little girl I was and your response, instead of to be loving and good and kind to me, was to crush me, to try to crush my soul and my spirit and to make me hate myself, my body, my life.

I told her she gives me an apology or I am out of her life for the rest of my life. She refused, she continued to deny wrongdoing with a number of excuses. I sent her a letter later outlining exactly why again and that she owed me an apology if she ever wanted to be in my life and it has been more than five years and nothing from her. I am fine with that. I never miss her. I hardly ever think of her. I have never refused to apologize to someone. I have always forgiven someone when they have asked for forgiveness. I’m nothing like her. I’m nothing like my mother.