When Family Comes Back to Haunt You (or try, anyway)
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember I was earning my own money. I’m pretty sure I was still doing the newspaper route on our street and had not yet started earning better money working retail at Kmart yet, because $28.00 for a concert ticket was a lot of money to me. I was doing the paper route from around the age of 14 to 16ish. My younger sister wanted to go to a concert and its not that I was against her going to the concert, but my parents did not seem to have the extra money to spare to buy her a ticket, so they asked me to let her borrow it. By this time in my life, I knew quite well that “borrowing” really meant “taking”, so I knew I was never going to see that money again. So I stood up for myself and I told them “no”. Telling them “no” meant my dad’s reaction turned into a red-faced rage, getting in my face, and telling me I was the most selfish person he had ever known in his entire life.
The reality is, it was never my responsibility as their child to pay for another child’s anything. My dad could have sacrificed a week’s worth of cigarettes (unrealistic, I know, but not the point) to send his daughter to a concert. But it was easier to burden someone in the house who had a little money. This was the man who would spend a couple hours at a time every so often watering his lawn so he’d have nice green grass in our sometimes dry summers and then yell at me about wanting to take a shower every day.
I can talk about these incidents now without the emotional weight they used to carry. I can’t say whether my father is a narcissist or not, but I do know he’s at least an emotionally manipulative person whom I feared for many years and who is vicious when he feels you’ve wronged him.
A few days ago, my youngest brother (there are 4 of us and I’m the oldest) unblocked me from Facebook and contacted me, wondering if it was ok for him to call me. I said it was and that I welcomed it. I pretty much had written off all of my siblings at this point, who all cling to our parents still and defend their behavior. I believe partially because I received the harshest discipline of the 4 of us for whatever reason. I no longer care to know what the reason is. It’s not my fault or my problem.
After just three conversations with my brother, I started having mixed feelings about him. Some are good feelings because we both love scenery pics, pics of the clouds and the sky, and animals. He also seemed to actually care and listen to what I had to say about things without getting upset. Finally! Someone with whom I could have some type of relationship in our dysfunctional family!
But then he is also gaslighting me. After telling him I was emotionally abused (both of us acknowledging we both carry different perspectives growing up), he said he believed me, but then followed up with “but I don’t think you were abused.” For a moment, I started to question myself again. But, only for a moment.
Then he took it upon himself after telling him about a more recent incident that occurred with my Dad before I started No Contact with him, to talk to Dad and get HIS side of the story and find out why he was upset with me, if at all. My brother got back to me and told me about this and then said “whoa, there’s a lot of things between you guys.” I think I handled it well for the moment, telling him that whatever it was, its between Dad and I. But then the more I thought about it, the more upset I was that my Dad thinks he actually has legitimate problems with me. The incidents in which I asserted myself is pretty much my life story with my parents as far as MY behavior. Sure, there was yelling and telling them off with choice curse words, but normally in response to emotional abuse. It took me a year of No Contact with either one of them to realize this about myself and to determine I was going to change how I respond to either one of them moving forward. I wanted less stress in my life and in my head. I hated how easily I got riled up and angry at them.
Shortly after my brother revealed he talked to Dad, I posted something about my father on Facebook. Immediately my brother confronted me in an instant message about “posting private family matters”. And in that conversation was this:
Once again, familiar feelings creeping up of being made to feel I’m the bad guy. I’m the reason why my relationships with my dysfunctional family are garbage.
His statement is what is actual garbage. I’ve had a problem with family members wanting to talk to me since LONG before Facebook was even invented. Facebook changed nothing about my relationships with my family. The only thing that changed was that at times, some family members knew I talked to my friends. At the same time, I’ve learned about how the family talks ABOUT me amongst themselves. So, THAT’S ok while not coming to me about anything to ask me why I do what I do or how I feel about anything, but its NOT ok to talk to my friends about why I do what I do and how I feel about things. OK, FAMILY. GOT IT.
So, Joe if you chose to click on this link and read it, great. I HOPE you do what I think you’re about to do and run to Mom and Dad and tell them how horrible of a person I am for airing dirty laundry permanently on the internet where anyone and everyone can read how shitty of a person Dad was to me. And really, the fact you would even help Dad paint me as the bad person just like he did to me as a teenager, makes you just as shitty. Just because you do it with a neutral voice without the hint of rage, doesn’t mean you’re not sending the same message. It took me a few days to figure it out, because sometimes manipulation takes some time to see through. But I see it. And I’m using MY best weapon doing what the family hates me doing the most:
TALKING ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET.
If you don’t want your abusive behavior to be known, then perhaps you shouldn’t be an abuser. Silence is the abuser’s favorite power and fuck that shit.