As we all know Easter was this past weekend and it was all about spending time with your loved one. Whether it be to celebrate the resurrection of the lord or just to partake in the oddly unrelated yet now sacred traditions of hunting for candy filled eggs and an Easter basket the giant bunny from the mall hid under the sink. Buckle up cause we are getting personal!! For me this past weekend was something a little bit bigger and marked the beginning of a new journey in life, the journey of severing ties with those you share genes with.
This isn’t something I decided on a whim or out of spite or anger, this was something stemming from years of family get togethers ending in full on brawls, screaming matches and just trying to get the hell away from each other. I’ve read so many self help books that talk about letting go of toxic, I have meditated, prayed, consulted in my therapist. Anything under the sun that might make the smallest difference so that I could have the family I always thought anyone deserved. But you can not make someone want to change, you can’t even make them see that they need to change. They will only grow through what they are willing to acknowledge, and in victim personalities unfortunately that isn’t very much.
The hardest part of growing up in a victim household is being afraid to tell your story, why? Because you are worried you will come off as someone with a victim mentality as well. I grew up with what psychologists called an “insecure attachment”. My mom was in the picture and worked hard to put a roof over our head and buy us school clothes and supplies but all the money in the world couldn’t have saved our relationship. I always felt this cold gnawing feeling of resentment hanging in the air like a thick fog. I remember countless times when I would try to talk to her or even just see her and she’d ask me to leave her room so she could smoke her cigarette and watch TV in peace, only for my younger brother to run in shortly and be welcomed with open arms. I remember being dropped off at choir concerts and band practice. The empty feeling of searching the crowd for that familiar face and realizing they weren’t there. Senior honors night she left before I was given 1 award and 2 scholarships that I didn’t even know about. But you can’t tell anyone that you felt like you were ignored compared to your siblings, they joke and call it “middle child syndrome” or tell you that all kids feel that way or she was busy trying to make a living. I moved out at 18 and have not by choice sporadically lived home for a few months between living situations. My entire pregnancy it was always complaints about not getting to see her grand baby, and yes you heard me right MY PREGNANCY. She never complained about not spending time with me, just my belly. My Grandma always told me that she could tell my mom resented me because I was so much like my dad.
My sister and I were at one point best friends. It wasn’t until around the time my dad died, I was about 10 and she was 12 and a little while later when she got her first boyfriend that I really felt the tension grow between us, . And by the time I had reached high school it was a full blown war. Like the end of summer when I came home oblivious to the fact that the electricity had been shut off the week prior and my sister beat me with a broom for leaving the light on to go get the laundry. My mom justified it because “she was worried we’d have to go without power again”. Or in the age of dial up when she’d be fighting with her boyfriend and need the phone so shed boot me off the internet while doing my homework, if I booted her back shed beat me over the head with the phone. Countless times she’d come home in a rage from something unrelated to me and I was the punching bag to take her frustrations out on. The problem was if I fought back, I was punished, if I ran to a friends house to hide it out until someone was home to help, I was punished. If I locked myself away in the bathroom while she beat the door with a golf club I MUST have been instigating and I was punished. It was almost like there was always some kind of excuse or justification. Between the 2 of them there are plenty of stories where I seem to not be of importance. I get excuses for why a dinner of their choice and a cake i don’t like is all I get for my birthday while my mom shells out money every year for my sister to take a trip to Duluth.
The real kicker was recently, the day after Christmas I was hospitalized for a Gallbladder infection that was spreading to my liver and pancreas and showing signs that it was about to rupture and leak that infection into my abdomen. In the entire 26 hours I was in the hospital between the antibiotics and the surgery my mom spent less than 2 hours physically with me. It was my step dad who has only been in my life for going on 8 years (mind you him and my mom aren’t even married but hes been a dad to me) birthday. When he heard I was taking myself to the urgent care he offered to go. while we were there my mom had called and he told her where we were and asked if she wanted to come and she declined. When he found out I was being admitted for “emergency surgery” he told my mom and drove me to the hospital. I heard him say not one but THREE times he’d rather cancel his birthday dinner but it was pushed. My mom and sister showed up long enough to complain that it was 7:30 and Olive Garden Closed at 10:30 so they wouldn’t have enough time if they stuck around any longer and to leave my phone charger and blanket. I didn’t see my mom until the hour before my surgery the following day and for about 15 minutes when they brought me back to my room. And the entire time she made sure everyone knew she slept on her back wrong and had a muscle ache. She later complained that her “thunder was stolen”. But mind you she had no problem driving my car while I was hospitalized without my knowledge. My brother was the only one that actually apologized for going to the birthday dinner, and from his words my mom had basically made it sound as if I waited until then to make a big deal about it so I could get attention and it wasn’t really that serious.
For the past 4 months I have had a battle in my mind about whether or not I could continue to have these people in my life. They treat my son FAR better than they have ever treated me, and he loved them so much but I knew a darker side, a less loving side. When Thursday night turned into an out physical family brawl over my wanting to leave with my son I knew it was time to call it quits. As I heard my sister call her boyfriend and cry that she’d been hurt for ABSOLUTELY NO REASON and my mom punched me in the face while i was pinned and nearly defenseless for trying to protect myself from my sister. Then try to withhold my son for her own selfish agenda and cry over a pimple sized scratch my keys left when she wouldn’t stop screaming in my face after I’d asked her several times to protect myself from my sister back up so I was left with what felt like no choice but to push her so I could get to my son and leave.
It is time to call it quits. Because no amount of blood means you deserve to be treated like that. No amount of family ties should come with the burden of toxicity and drama. Because I don;t care how much pain I am in if my son were to EVER be in the hospital you’d have to rip my cold dead hands from the side of his hospital bed to ever stop me from being there. Because to me there is absolutely NO excuse to not be there for your child PERIOD.
You are absolutely 100% allowed to walk away from ANYONE or ANYTHING that doesn’t bring you peace. It does not matter if they are family, friends, a job, WHATEVER. If it makes you miserable then WALK AWAY. I felt for so long that because they were my family, because they were my sons family I had to tolerate the toxicity. But I found better family in my friends. The ones who even though they couldn’t make it to the hospital they called and checked up on me, the ones who show up for me, encourage me, lift me up when I’m feeling low. The friends who love me for exactly who I am. You deserve that kind of family, you deserve that kind of love. We all deserve to be surrounded by those who don’t make us feel less than or not enough, that don’t make us feel like we are hard to love.
The biggest thing you will never hear me say is “poor me”. I think God put me in this situation because he knew I could handle it. Because he knew I would flourish in so many ways because of the strength and power I hold within. I used to play the victim role very well, it was all I ever knew. But I am not a victim, I am a thriver, a believer, I am strong, and courageous and beautiful. And I trust that the universe has bigger and better plans for me.
So love yourself enough to say enough is enough, blood does not mean you need to stay.