My funny posts are more popular than my serious ones, even though the funny ones are sometimes dark. I understand that but I have to and want to write about the things on my mind. Sometimes they are not funny. Sometimes they are.
For instance, the blog I wrote titled, ” Dysfunctional Family Christmas Cards”. There was one that I particularly liked (even though AND because I wrote it):
On the front. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.
Inside: You called me fat. I was not. Now I am. I am broken. Fuck you.
It’s funny, in my opinion. Hopefully some other people thought so too. It’s dark AND hostile, but also funny.
It’s also true. My parents called me fat. For years. I was so thin and tiny as a child, as a teenager.
Now, I have food issues. Many women do; many men do. I know where at least some of mine come from. Ironically, knowing does not help me end it. Oh, I can diet. I can lose weight. I have been thin, I have been overweight. I go up and down. I have had therapy and I no longer carry the rage and pain of my child abuse, but I have yet to figure out how not to eat pain away.
We had dinner and a show at my home. Every. Fucking. Night. For years. And what a show it was.
I have talked about my adopted sister. She was three years younger than me, adopted when she was four years old and first came to live with us as a foster child. I loved her. I BEGGED my parents for a sister. I begged them for a long time.
Then they brought my sister, Charlie, her nickname, to our home as a foster child. I was thrilled. She was not the sister I had imagined, someone to play with me, as she had been traumatized and she was afraid when she came to our house, but I loved her. I did my best to protect her, although I could not protect her from my father and his anger.
We did end up playing together when we were younger but as we grew older my mother and father turned us against each other. It was systematic and ugly. I still loved my sister but I grew to hate her and resent her too. It’s another thing that I did not understand until I was an adult, what my parents had done, because I thought I just hated my sister. I was actually angry at them. I just didn’t know it.
I was required to get A’s or sometimes, rarely, B’s were okay. It depended on my father’s mood. Sometimes I was grounded when I got B’s. I was required to be the perfect child, to follow all the rules, and never talk back.
My sister had no rules and was not punished for anything she did. She lied. She stole money from my parents. She stole things out of my room until my parents put a lock on my door and only they and I had a key to my bedroom door. My bedroom door was locked at all times when I was not in it or when I was not home. It was the only way my parents appeared to have to keep my then adolescent sister from stealing anything (stuffed animals, clothing, etc.) in my room that was not nailed down. She took things and gave them to other people, but she took things. If she found money, she spent it.
My parents also had a lock on their bedroom door and had keys to it. They locked a cabinet downstairs, two glass doors where they started keeping their checkbooks, sometimes money, and anything of value. Eventually they put a lock on the telephone, the old fashioned landline kind, because my sister got up earlier than everyone else and started calling people in the town. She called them so early in the morning to talk that people called my parents and complained.
Obviously, my sister had problems and there were legitimate reasons for the problems. She needed help, understanding, support, and love. She needed my parents to help her, not to just keep locking things up. They avoided dealing with the problems. That is who my parents were, they beat you or ignored you, except at dinner.
Each day my mother cooked a delicious, balanced meal, from scratch often with fresh vegetables from the garden. Then when my father came home we all sat at the table and my mother said, “Guess what Charlie did today?”
The rest of the dinner conversation consisted of my mother and father talking about everything my sister had done wrong that day.
I. HATED. IT. And it happened every night. I thought. “Wow, this is working so well, so maybe just keep doing this.”
My sister ate up the attention. For her attention was attention, positive, negative, it didn’t matter. Her biological parents had put cigarettes out on her skin. They had starved her. She would take whatever attention she could get.
Every day she did something interesting and every night at dinner she was the center of discussion. Some days she stole from the high school. Some days she stole from my parents. Other days she told amazingly inventive lies at school or to a neighbor. She didn’t receive consequence of any kind from anyone. My parents were idiots.
Meanwhile, if I got a B or a C on a test or on a report card, my father angrily told me I was grounded. It could be for a week, or two, or until the next report card came out. It depended on the mood he was in when he got the news. Every damn thing, for me, depend ed on his mood. I hated being stuck in the house with my crazy ass family. I hated being grounded.
I would tell my parents that my sister lied about me or did something to me and their standard answer was, “Consider the source.”
It was like they wrote a fucking manual on making my sister and I hate each other.
Then one day, my mother took it a step further when we were driving in the car somewhere, and God knows we were always driving somewhere and it took for fucking ever to get there.
Where we lived it took at least an hour to go anywhere outside of our little town. I was always the four of us because my parents appeared to be joined at the damn hip.
My sister and I were sitting in the back of our station wagon. I was fifteen (or so) the first time my mother asked and she asked me in front of my sister.
My mother said, “If something happens to one or both of us (always in denial, apparently my parents thought one or both of them might be immortal), ” can your sister live with you?”
At this point, my sister and I HATED each other. There was no secret about this. We tolerated each other but HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I mean, I loved her but I could not stand to be around her, the thought of living with her, even years in the future, was unimaginable.
And to clarify, my sister had been diagnosed as developmentally delayed, however, she was street smart. She could manipulate and lie convincingly to adults, strangers or whoever, with no problem. She learned slower than others her age in school, but she learned. She would never be a doctor or an engineer, but then neither would I. I fully believe, even to this day, if given any fucking support, she would have been able to work, at least part time, to support herself. My parents kept her dependent on them and convinced her that she could not live on her own. I think they tried to do that with me too, but I was able to leave.
( My sister lived at home for a long time. Ironically, as an adult, she eventually got married and moved out, but we could not know the future. She eventually divorced him and then rented a room in a woman’s home, but that is a different story. I can’t say she was a high functioning adult but I also think my parents did her no favors keeping her so dependent and not setting limits for her and helping her to learn the things she needed to in order to survive as an adult. I asked them to do this for her. I encouraged her to do this for herself when she was an adult.)
But back to the awkward question. “….will you let your sister live with you?” My sister and I just stared at each other in the back seat. I was stunned. Stunned.
Then I knew what I wanted to ask my sister. I looked right at my mother who was starting at me from the passenger seat of the front seat. It was quiet in the car and everyone was listening.
I then looked at my sister. “Will you stop lying?”
She said, “No.”
Ironically, I think telling the truth.
“Will you stop stealing?”
“I can’t.” She sounded so sincere and said it with some pain in her voice. I almost felt bad for her, but I had lived with the craziness of the locks on my bedroom door and the crazy, stupid nightly dinner conversations with my parents for so long.
I said, “Then you can’t live with me because I will not live that way.”
It felt incredibly powerful.
No one said anything and we continued with the drive.
After I moved out of my parents home when I was 19, my parents started calling me once a month or every other month and asking me THE question. It was always the same. “If something happens to me or your father, can Charlie come live with you?” Sometimes my Dad called, sometimes my Mom.
My answer was always the same. “No. I love Charlie and I will do everything I can to make sure she is okay but I will not live with her. You will have to make other arrangements.”
I always said no, and they kept asking.
Once I moved out my relationship with my sister got better. I did not have to live with her, so I did not have to be angry at her. When I visited my parents every three to five years, I stayed only for four or five days. I made a point to spend time with my sister on the first day or two because after that it was difficult for me to be patient with her. I would not allow myself to be mean to her so I limited my time with her. I loved her and would try to do something nice like go out to eat or do something fun with her and my husband. My feelings for her were complicated. My family was fucked up, to say the least.
She was manipulative, emotionally needy, and she continued to lie about everything and anything. I could not trust anything she said. She lied to hear herself talk. She could be very childlike at times. God knows my parents treated her like a child even when she was in her thirties and forties. Her emotions could be just below the surface and out of control, and sometimes she would just succumb to giggles if you even mentioned anything about sex. I tried to talk to her about sex and birth control a few times when she was old enough for this talk and was dating, to try to protect her. She could not stop giggling long enough for me to talk.
. She could be violent if you said no to her. She was impulsive and she would react, hitting you before she thought. We had fought violently when we were both children, so I do not claim complete innocence. Our parents managed to leave us unsupervised a great deal even when they were in the house with us. My father was violent with us. We were violent with each other. I am not proud of that. I never hit her back until she had a growth spurt and was actually physically bigger than me because I would not be a bully like my father, but we did hit each other. One day I was babysitting when we were teenagers and she tried to push me down a flight of stairs. I was standing near the top.. I only prevented it by grabbing the handrail and holding on as she continued to try to push me. Then I eventually was able to get to the landing. I never told my parents. My father probably would have hit us both.
One day while we were still teenagers, we had a horrible fight that scared us both. My father stopped us and I made the decision that no matter what my sister did I would never hit her again. And I didn’t. We never talked about it. We just didn’t fight again.
My sister died when she was forty three from cancer. We were living in different states, talking on the phone every now and then. We always said, “I love you.” I am glad for that. Later I finally was able to understand our relationship better. I wish I had understood it before her death but often that is not how life works.
I am glad that I understand that I didn’t really hate her. I hated my parents. I am not sure that is better, but they did earn it. She didn’t. She was a child. She was my sister and I loved her. I still do and I miss her.
Also, I am not broken, Christmas card reference. I may be bent, a little wrinkled, maybe. I may need some chocolate now and then. But I am not broken.
I am strong after all I have gone through, childhood and the years since. I learned that I could not depend on my parents but I am strong. I can depend on myself. Whatever happens, I will be okay. There was a time, that I didn’t know that, but I have know it for a while.
I also know that I can depend on my husband and on friends and family who love me. I have been through some serious shit with many of them. I know of what they are made. They love me for who I am. I know that I am blessed with good people in my life. Some I have chosen. Some I am related to, but the people in my life, I have chosen to be here and to stay. They have chosen to stay. I am blessed.