we all have our version of dysfunctional families. we all live lives where we hide pieces of ourselves from others, so we filter what they see and how they perceive us. we’ve learned along the way that there are those who use information against us and it changes who we are and how we navigate life. in my family, we do not associate with each other in anything but planned and formal ways. there is no honesty, no truth, no support.
we say fewer things than you would to an acquaintance or a stranger you share a weeks vacation with. in my family, information is a commodity to be held close so others don’t disparage you and lord it over you. one certainly do not share hurts, fears or accomplishments. far too dangerous for people to know anything about you or your current circumstance. if anything, it can or may be revealed in hindsight, when it is no longer relevant or pertinent.
i think about the history my mothers family has passed onto their children. i wonder about the mistakes made by the children raised by such damaged people, including myself. because it is so hard to navigate and it’s met with such intense resistance, it is easier to ignore it and them and live a solitary life with your own family. i know nothing about how it felt to live their lives. i simply see the result of how they’ve dealt with it.
to be honest, it’s a major contributor to why i’ve stayed married to my husband. he has so many flaws and faults; we have struggled on what i need compared to what he can give. i carry so much damage. yet when the math is done i am sure he will not leave me. his strength is that in his family you stay married, while in mine you don’t. and in my world, once you separate it ends in disaster, financially and emotionally for the women and the children who have another measure of hurt and anger to deal with, on top of all the issues they try to correct from their flawed parenting start in life.
he talks to his children. he has taught through example that you don’t yell, you don’t panic, you don’t hit, you don’t hurt. they can count on him to stay calm and think before reacting. he likes them and it shows. he is far from a perfect father, but he is such a good one. i am glad he is their father. he hasn’t always handled things the way that worked, or that the individual child’s personality would respond to, but he was consistent. and for a girl who grew up with violence, that mattered to me more than anything. i’ve forgotten about that at times, and been furious with him, only to be grateful for it in retrospect.
my upbringing has made it hard for me to reach out to other family members to ask about their lives because it will be met with hostility or lies i know are being spoken because the trust is not there to allow them to speak about it. and i have a hard time tolerating either response. again, i think my husband knows this and it’s why he keeps silent rather than communicate with me. everything he says is wrong because i want validation and he wants to give an excuse to his behaviour. neither one can accept the others words as we view them as lies.
i’ve learned over the years that emotions ebb and flow. anger recedes and is replaced with complacency. there is no real joy, but there is no real sorrow either. is that settling? or is it making the choice to have a mostly peaceful life after being taught that trust and inclusion was not something i was entitled to? it makes me a bit sad. especially when i compare what i have to what i thought i had when i fell in love with a man i had no right to be with. what turned out to be nothing at all except a lesson on why my past matters and why strong emotions risk great pain.
and it’s not worth it to me. having that glorious burning love is not worth realizing it is searing your skin and cooking you alive. and it’s why i won’t reach out to members of my family of origin to ask about their current situation and offer my support if needed. it will be misconstrued. it will be challenged. it will be twisted until it looks as if i am creating drama for prying into places i don’t belong and were not invited into. and it’s why i stay isolated. because sometimes family is more dangerous than strangers.