We all have that one relative who likes to play armchair psychologist, or who seems to have an opinion about every other family member. Among the many assholes I have been blessed to encounter throughout my life, I seem to have been blessed with a number of relatives who felt it was their calling to point out what’s wrong with me, and has been wrong, my entire life. By the way, I used the word blessed because they are a blessing. They have helped me become the person I am today – though their influence left scars that don’t easily heal, I would rather be me than to be a soul-eating mammoth like them.
As an adult, one opinion, of many, has left me scratching my head many times.
According to a particular aunt, many of my troubles come from being jealous of my older brother, Tony. As I mentioned earlier, Tony was born, suffered and died with a very rare kidney disease. Although he had a kidney disease when he passed, it was not the cause, or at least I will never be convinced it was the causes of his death. I’ll explain that later.
As I also pointed out previously, I was a toddler in the earliest memories I have of living in a family plagued by childhood disease. The thoughts and realities of a toddler are FAR different than that of adults. Obviously! But, according my aunt, the fact that my family was so different, should have altered my abilities to perceive reality in a more mature way. No, those are not HER exact words, but as a writer, I cringe at the thought of using the poor grammar she has repeatedly used to describe the jealous being I have been my entire life.
A large part of my being fucked up in the head can easily be attributed to the opinions of some of my relatives. Thankfully, I have had little interaction with them since my twins were born. I cowered at the thought of their opinions scarring my kids the way they had scarred me. My desire to be the best mother I could possibly be, meant keeping my kids away from people who were so negative, and who had such a distorted view of reality that they would try to project their own deficiencies onto others.
You really can’t build yourself up or make yourself look or feel better by tearing other people down. It just won’t happen!
Back to where I was…this particular aunt happened to be one that would often care of me when my brother was in the hospital. Looking back, I remember so many times of her provoking me into discussions that I was not mature enough to engage in. The end result was always the same – “I was jealous of my sick brother and I should be ashamed of myself.”
Shame became a key component of my being.
In shame, I would learn to keep my feelings, needs and desires to myself. Hoping that some way, somehow, caring for and fixing others would be good enough to make them want to love, and reward me for my efforts. Still, I learned it was shameful to want anyone to love me enough to stay with me and not leave me, even if the absence was warranted as was the case of my parent’s absences.
Thus, the cycle of caring for and fixing people gained strength and became more a way of life than any other aspect of my personality. I was more a fixer than I was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed child.
Rather than fighting with my aunt and trying to prove I am not jealous, I listened to her. I took her opinions to heart. I let her opinions snuff out a little light that shines in most every child on the planet. I lived in shame.
It took me many years, well into adulthood, to realize, I WAS A CHILD! I was not a child with an adult mind. I was not capable of understanding the reality of my life or of the choices and demands that were constantly placed on my parents – who were always dealing with a very sick child. I WAS A CHILD!
I was a child! I was jealous!
Fortunately for me, I could and would grow up to realize how silly it was to be jealous of my brother who would have easily traded places with me, if he could. The hateful, soul-eating spirit that lives inside my aunt is not something that could be outgrown. It was there then and it’s there now.
Now when I think of my aunt, I feel pity. It must be very lonely being the type of woman who must attack a child in order to feel a boost in her own self-esteem.
I pray for her at a distance. I’ll cherish what few, good memories I have with her and of her, but being family does not change the fact that she is not a person I choose to invite into my life, or my home. Sometimes you just have to cut ties with people who don’t value your relationship with them anymore than attacking you with words.
Do you have a relative who stole part of your childhood? Do they seem to be on a constant attack of you or other family members? How do you deal with them?
NaNonFiWriMo – The Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN) Challenge, also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), where I have accepted the challenge to start and complete a work of nonfiction in 30 days. Read my other NaNonFiWriMo posts here