I don’t know how coherent this is going to be so please forgive me in advance.
Our parents gave us every advantage in life. And they worked their asses off to do it. Both of them grew up poor. Mother’s family was just straight up poor and Father’s father was a minister and while the church gave them a place to live, salary was sometimes paid in the form of chickens in the early years. Plus, Poppop squirreled away cash when he got it. They lived poor partially on purpose. Which is a good thing because Mommom is now 97 and has money to live on.
But, my parents didn’t want to live poor, so they worked their asses off. Father was a pharmacist and in the mid 70’s he was able to buy a drug store in a city an hour away from where we lived. In the 80’s he bought out his partner. Every day a 2 hour round trip, and when snow threatened he got a room in a hotel close to the store so he could open even in bad weather. When I graduated from high school, they moved closer to the store and the house they built rivaled Tara from Gone with the Wind.
Brother and I had things growing up. We got the gaming systems as they came out and we must have had 30 games for our Atari. We got a computer in the 80’s. We had piles of clothes, we went to a great school, I got a car when I turned 16.
But, underneath, we felt like nuisances. Growing up was difficult for me and Brother. The picture of the perfect family was complete and as long as you didn’t scratch the surface too hard, it held. But dig just a little deeper and the dysfunction was blinding.
My mother is a masterful con artist. She can take the words you say, twist them and hand them back to you and you will wonder why you were so horrible to say what you didn’t say. She also has the most amazing selective memory that I have ever encountered.
We were generally not spanked as children, although when we were Brother always got the belt. Mother will tell you that we were never ever ever hit as children. Ever. However, I remember quite vividly cowering in a corner as she hit me over and over with the first thing her hands touched, which happened to be one of those heavy duty plastic brushes with the really stiff bristles. My crime? I wanted to explain myself.
I became a prolific liar. We were never allowed to just talk to our parents. We obey. Period. End of story. The word “why” would get you grounded for a month. Trying to explain why you asked “why” would get you another month. God forbid I was in a play during this time of grounding. Days before the performances I would be told that I couldn’t perform. I would say that I had some minor breakdowns back then. I would always end up being able to go onstage but the stress I experienced waiting for permission was nearly more than I could handle.
I went to college. I didn’t want to, but it wasn’t up to me. I was the first person ever on my mother’s side of the family to have the opportunity, but I didn’t want it. I had no idea what I wanted to do and I didn’t see the point on spending money on something that I didn’t want. I joined a sorority because Mother wanted me to. And I got tired of being lectured about it, so I joined one that was having a spring rush, so I didn’t have to go through all the craziness of full blown sorority rush season. However, once I got there Mother didn’t want to pay the fees. She did, but she bitched and moaned for months after she wrote the check.
Midway through the spring semester of my junior year, I quit school. I didn’t tell my parents I was quitting, but I stopped going to classes and used my dorm room as a temporary place to stay until the semester ended. I was burned out, and the latest disagreement between my parents and me ended with the following dictate. “You will live at home during the summer and work. You will follow the rules of our house. And you will transfer to a local college and pay your own way”. I figured if I was going to pay my own way, I may as well do it making myself happy.
I attempted suicide when I was a teenager. I just took about 20 pills from my parents medicine cabinet. I fell asleep, but I think most of them were probably vitamins or something else innocuous. I didn’t tell them till I was much older.
My brother turned to drugs and was emancipated at 16. To my parents credit, they did try to help him, but since they were a big part of the problem, that didn’t work so well.
I have managed to build my boundaries. She still has the ability to send me from a room crying if she chooses to, but I keep rebuilding my boundaries (thank God for therapists) and they’ve been holding for a very long time.
But Brother called last night and everything came crashing down. He has had a lot of legal problems recently. He had gotten help from someone with his business and then this unscrupulous person sued my brother, saying that my brother was stealing and took him to court. Legal fees ran high but the case was thrown out this week with prejudice (so this person cannot sue again). Mother and Father said “oh..cool” when told about this victory. Brother had received a check from some job he had done and used it to pay a variety of bills he was behind with. He went to my parent’s house last night to help them with something and he asked my father for advice. Apparently assuming that Brother had blown his paycheck on crap, Father told Brother that he “didn’t know, maybe you should have just killed yourself.”
Brother called me immediately to let me know what happened from his point of view. Because he wanted me to know the truth. I don’t know what mangled version of this I’m going to receive from parents, but I’m devastated. How dare ANYONE say that to another human being. And to say it to your child???? I don’t even know what to do or to think. And I know that the conversation I end up having with my parents is going to be this completely messed up version of the events making my brother out to be a crazy lunatic.
And I don’t know if I’m strong enough to have the conversation in the first place. I’m already in the depression slump of bipolar, but I only slept about 2 hours last night and I’ve got some kind of manic energy behind the tears right now. It’s like I’m getting everything straightened up around the house so that when I’m forced to my bed, everything is done. I’ve never experienced the nesting urge that pregnant women get, but I’d bet it feels something like this.
So, if you are still reading, I thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever done a post this long. And there is so much more to say. The floodgates are open and I don’t know where this flood is going to carry me.