I know, the title, but come on, it wouldn't really be my blog without at least one slightly inappropriate innuendo, now would it?
Ok, now GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER.
I saw my mother at the grocery store the other day.
I needed to go to the health food store and I drove 12 minutes out of my way just to avoid having to drive near her neighborhood, because that is how much I did not want to see the woman; the woman who I haven't seen since I had essentially burglarized her house. I figured it was worth adding an extra twelve minutes to my drive just for the peace of mind that I might not accidentally pull up to a stoplight next to her; as if we are that much alike to plan our schedules accordingly.
Except that OH NO HA HA HA apparently we are because I ran into her at the grocery store. Now when I say I ran into her, I literally mean I RAN INTO HER. Actually, she backed into me, shopping cart and all, but nonetheless,
NO. Just NO.
That is much too close, STEP AWAY FROM EDEN.
How dare this former family member of mine SHOP at the GROCERY STORE for things that people eat EVERYDAY!?
Actually, I would have been less surprised if she had showed up on my doorstep, seeing as how I was in a health food store....but that's another story for another time....
So, the woman backs into me and it was all....
It was nothing. I was all "Hi mother" and she was all "oh!!! Eden!!! Whatever in the world are you DOING here!? How are the kids!? What are you up too!? You look wonderful! How is work!?"
and I was all "......yea, I'm fine, take care."
Then I simply walked away and that was it.
That was really fucking weird and also, who was that woman?
I spent the rest of my shopping trip peering around the corner of each aisle like an absolute psycho in an effort to avoid haphazardly thrusting myself into another random run in with her. Eventually I got everything
Ugh. Ok, so like I said, I haven't seen nor heard from my family since I shoved my way through their front door and got my things back.
"How has it been?" you may ask.
IT'S BEEN REALLY FREAKING AWESOME.
Oh the peace! How I do love life without family drama.
You see, here's the thing; my father's side of the family is weird. Not to be confused with my mother's side, the side where her abusive father drove her mother to suicide and then the new step mom murdered her father and then she herself disowned the rest of her family when I was 12, no, not them, my father's side. They are weird. They are weird in the sense that I have come to believe that they may be some sort of cult.
I'm kind of joking, but at the same time I'm really not. That entire side of my family, all 40+ of them, live within a 30 minute radius of my house. "Why?" you might ask, well it's because they live and work together.
No seriously, they like LITERALLY live and work together. I'm talking communal houses, I'm talking "buy a gigantic office building so that they can all run their respective businesses together," I'm talking "if one person buys a vacation rental property, another person is sure to buy the one next to it," that kind of thing. On one hand it has worked out wonderfully for them because they own businesses, properties, vacation homes, and assets all over the place. They are no small group of people and are quite profitable in what they do. On the other hand, they seem completely unable to function without each other.
They are one big, happy-go-lucky, codependent, cult.
I once found a letter that a family member had written to another family member laying face up on a desk. I wasn't snooping and I did come across it innocently, but even though I did not touch it, I'm not going to lie, I read it.
I KNOW STOP JUDGING ME.
It was laying there, wide open, and the first line caught my eye. The letter was all about how the writer of the letter needed to get out of the family. How this person needed to figure out who they were and not live in such a constricted environment. That because of the family dynamic, they felt "less than" other people.
It was everything that I had always been feeling, minus the abuse.
That person did make a pretty drastic life change and for a while they really did seperate themselves from the family, and I have to say, I was proud of them, but then as everyone in this family does, they came back.
I have nothing negative to say about them personally, individually, or the choices that they make (it may have always been part of the plan to come back), but the dynamic of how this family functions together is just strange. It's like they are this tiny little self contained....cult.
Does that sound normal to you??
LET ME OUT!!!
We were never an extended family that talked about emotions. We were always a family that swept everything under the rug, put on our happy faces, and pretended we were fine.
Throughout the years there were whispers of suicide attempts, affairs, and other hot topics, but no one dared ever actually talk about anything. Literally a pregnant girl (or in our case, two pregnant girls) who we had never even heard of before showed up at a family party one day, carrying a couple of new family members, and no one said a word. Not, even "this is my girlfriend and she is going to have our baby," it was literally just like a "pretend that they have always been here" kind of thing. A spouse went to prison for selling drugs and guns to an undercover officer and aside for whispers amongst different people, not one conversation was actually had about his absence.
It was just as if he had never existed.
While I truly have nothing negative to say about the people involved (even came to love the pregnant girls that joined our family), there was an unspoken rule that you handle your own business and you don't talk about it with the family. Because of that, I never told anyone what was actually going on in my marriage and I suspect that is why no one ever said anything about my childhood.
When my ex left, the outpouring of support was....minimal. There was an aunt and uncle who were helpful getting my locks changed and trying to recover some computer files for me, and an aunt who took me grocery shopping once, but that was it. Forty people and not one person just showed up and hugged me.
I was expected to handle my business and move on with life as usual, but I just couldn't.
I didn't want "life as usual," I wanted a new life, a better life. As I shunned my parents, my extended family shunned me. They didn't understand why I wasn't following the rules. They didn't understand why I didn't sweep it under the rug. They didn't understand me.
They would reach out to me in the only way they knew how; they tried to convince me to "come back."
I made attempts to get together with them individually, but it was hard. When you have that many people in your family there is always a birthday party or an event to go to; events that I did not attend in an effort to stay out of my parents way. As time went on, we just faded from each other's lives. I spent holiday's with friends, I didn't throw a family birthday for my kids, and slowly we all just sort of faded away from each other's lives. As much as I miss my cousin's and their children, we are a vastly different group of people and beyond DNA, we don't share much in common.
I had climbed out of the little petri dish that was my self-contained family and they had shut the lid tightly behind me.
So here I am now. I had the sudden realization the other day that despite my independent family status, I've actually and unbeknownst to me, been building myself a new family over the last two years.
I'll be honest, it scares me, a lot.
Let's take Frisbee Boy's mom for example; she is like the mom I always wanted. Oddly enough it was her on my wedding day that took over the roll of my own mother and helped me with my wedding dress, just like it was her all those years before that mothered me at school.
It was her that sat with me when my son had surgery on his eyes just weeks after my ex left and it was her that brought me groceries after my rhinoplasty. It was her that drove me to all my follow up appointments and it was her that helped me burglarize my parents. It was her and her husband that covered my mortgage for a few months when I needed help. It was her husband that ended up taking my daughter to the "Dad and Kid" pizza party at school, and it was him that stepped up and offered to be her mentor. It was also him that whispered "I love you" to my daughter when he dropped her back off that evening.
|Frisbee Boy's Mom and my Boy Child at the hospital awaiting surgery|
I don't think I saw everything that they were doing for me until now, because I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to see it because they are acting like a family should and family hurts.
I don't want to be hurt.
It's a tricky situation, being a grown up abused child. There is nothing in the world that you want more and at the same time there is nothing in the world that you want less, than parents.
I know that they aren't my parents, I get it. I'm not some loony tune that envisions family vacations together and to be sitting around the tree with their kids. I will never be one of their kids, but I see my kids falling for them, I feel my heart yearning for acceptance, and it makes me want to run away.
I want to shove away some of the only people in my life who have cared for me with no expectations of getting anything in return.
I want to protect my children from becoming attached to more people that may be ripped from their lives and I want to protect my heart from anymore rejection.
There is no rule book for this, there are no clear answers. I'm not sure what to do next.
Gosh I hate this.
I hate knowing that people care about me and that being cared about is such a terrifying feeling.
I'm easy to like but I'm hard to love, because I don't let people love me, and yet somehow, I think they care about me anyways.
I took inventory of the last two years of people caring about me the other day. The Christmas holiday where I was all but kidnapped by my best friend's mom. The Thanksgiving dinner that I was invited to where another friend's mom went out of her way to make an entire gluten free meal for us. The people that bring cleaning supplies and Gatorade when I'm sick and happily show up to cheer for my daughter at her ballet recital. The friends that check in with me when they haven't heard from me in a day or two and the sweet friend that repeatedly mails me items from Florida. The friends that organized a small fundraiser for me after my ex left, not once, but twice. The neighbors that take my trashcan out every week and clean my car off when it snows. The girl down the street who read my frustrated Facebook post about a lost pacifier and a still crying child, and then showed up at 10:30 pm with a package of paci's and a bottle of wine.
How did I not see how many people care about me?
Because I avoid looking at it, because it scares me so much that it hurts.
I don't know how to be loved.
I don't know how to let someone love me.
It's a tricky thing, being a grown up abused child and a finally free abused wife; the only thing I've ever known is how much people can hurt me. Gosh damn can people hurt you, but as I've suddenly realized, they can also love you.
When it really comes down to it I only have two choices. I can hide away in my house forever, keep the doors shut and never have to face another storm, or I can open the door and hope to see a rainbow on the horizon.
I won't get hurt inside of my house,
.....but on the other hand, I'll never really live.
This is the only life that I will ever have and at the end of my time, I really don't want my obituary to say "Eden learned how to survive not being loved."
What a tragedy if my greatest accomplishment is learning how to live without one of life's greatest blessings?
I want more for myself than that.
Pain comes hard but blessings, they can come softly. Most people would not willingly accept a tragedy and the fact that they come anyways is what makes them so out-of-control painful. But most blessings, they take time to seed and grow, and oftentimes that is done quietly.
I don't know if I'm ready to be cared for, but somehow, I think people care for me anyway.
The storm that is my life shook me. It rattled my walls and shook my foundation, but it passed and then the rainbow, it came softly even though I wasn't looking for it.
It's scary, venturing back out after a storm. The threat of being hurt again ringing fresh in my heart, but what's scarier, is letting that be the end.
Blessings, unlike storms, they don't come with a bang. You can't ignore a storm when it's beating down upon your roof, but the rainbows, they come softly. Sometimes they come when you aren't ready to look at them and so you don't even notice they are there.
My ex, he stormed through my entire life, yet the people around me now, they came softly.
The tragedy of life isn't that the storm came, it's in failing to realize that it ended. It's in failing to see the blessings that came after because you were too scared to open the door.
If we spend the rest of our lives hiding from the rain, we will never see the rainbow that came softly.