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And THAT is the name of THAT tune February 16, 2011

Posted by Toy Lady in just general griping, Living Out Loud, mirth & woe, Musings.

I’m going to come clean here.

I’ve been kind of having a bit of a rough time the past few months.  Perhaps it’s . . .like a  Mid-Life Blarg.

The truth is that my mother hasn’t really been speaking to me since, um, Thanksgiving?   I had finally objected to what I felt was a years-long barrage of unwarranted criticism from the family in general, and from my parents in particular.

It was stupid, truly.  Isn’t it always?

See,  I had previously made a grape pie, and everyone assured me it was “delicious” – then, the following year, it turns out that, well, maybe not so much.  They didn’t enjoy it as much as they said they did.

Ultimately, I ended up not joining the family for Thanksgiving.

It wasn’t about the pie.  It really wasn’t.  It was more about my doing my best to please . . . and its just never being good enough.   About people who can’t even be honest about the stupidest things.  About being where I don’t feel truly welcome.  Where I’m treated like. . . a rebellious, slightly retarded child.

I’m forty-(mumblemumble) years old.  I’ve been supporting myself, in one way or another, since, well, since I was a teenager.  I put myself through college (dean’s list every semester, thank you very much) while caring for a toddler, raised a child virtually alone, and am a homeowner and run a law office.  (And I have a husband and a dog who both dote on me.)   So why do I knock myself out for, at best, a grudgingly insincere pat on the head?  Really, who needs that?

So the weeks passed, then the months.  There was an invitation for Christmas day (we had already made plans) then a brisk (brusque?  terse?) thank-you e-mail after the holidays, and that’s about it.

I’m not going to lie – it’s been hard.  I’ve wavered between self-pitying hurt feelings (sob!) and anger (well, screw THEM then!) until I’ve essentially decided to ignore the whole situation.  I’ve got a husband and a son who love me (and a dog and a cat) and that I can be myself with, and who will be honest with me.   (Except, maybe, the cat – you never know with her!)

And then.

Then we had a bit of a, well, an incident while The Boy was home (with The Girl).  (No, The Girl was not in any way involved.)

It was stupid, really.  I asked him to clean up the sinkful of dishes that had somehow appeared while Peeps and I were at the supermarket.

The Boy hates washing dishes.   He informed me of this fact at great volume, and with rather, um, colorful language.

Clearly, there’s more to this than a sinkful of dishes.  Obviously.  I just wish I knew what it was.

So here I am, parents not speaking to me on the one hand, and my son currently not speaking to me on the other.  And here I am, right in the middle of a big, fat, hate sandwich.

And I’ve been conditioned to believe that when something like this happens – anything, really – it’s probably my fault.  It’s always my fault.  Doesn’t matter what it is – if people are angry, it’s because of me and something I did, something I said, some sidelong look I gave someone – something.  (You know how, on House, it’s never lupus?  Well it’s like that – it’s always me.)

And I spent a good amount of time hating myself – first for screwing everything up – as usual! – then, for reflexively taking all the blame.

Because you know what?  THIS IS NOT MY FAULT.

And maybe, just maybe, if I start treating myself with a little more respect, my family might eventually start to get it too.  Could happen.



1. Barb Cooper - February 16, 2011

Please read The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. It’s really helping me work through my shame sandwich. I bet it would resonate with you, too.

And you’re right. It’s not your fault. Repeat as needed.

Barb, you’ve mentioned that book before, and it’s on my list – I have GOT to get to the library!

2. Nickoshi - February 16, 2011

dont blame yourself for what others have conjured up. As for your son, he will come around 😉 so really there is only half a real hate sandwich and the bread is getting moldy so i think it is ripe for tossing in the garbage :)also you have a perfectly good love sandwich right now too (hubby+puppy) which sounds rather disturbing if you think about it buttttt movvvvving on… he he he, anywho just wanted to chime in and add my support 🙂


Aw, thanks, Niko. And yeah, I guess these guys are a nice furry love sandwich, huh? 😛

3. kayatthekeyboard - February 16, 2011

Twelve years ago, I was where you are now. It took me two years of counseling and another four or five years of good, hard, practicing at it to internalize the fact that the ONLY person whose feelings I’m responsible for is ME. I’m not responsible for my family’s happiness or anger, nor my boss’s, nor my ex-husband’s, nor the cashier at the local supermarket.

That’s a hard place to get to — but damn, it’s so worth it when you get there! If it’s a potential, I highly urge counseling; they don’t tell you what to do, but just sort of guide and encourage you while you’re telling yourself what to do. Because, after all, you KNOW what you need to do.

I’ve considered counseling, but, to be honest (and not make excuses!) I’ve had some pretty lousy experiences with it. Several. But you’re right – I do KNOW what I need to do. Just gotta suck it up and do it. AND keep doing it. Thanks, Kay.

Hang in there. It’s worth it.

4. judy - February 16, 2011

Good notes above Kris. You know I support you all the way! 🙂

Thanks, Judy. ((((hugs))))

5. sjbraun - February 16, 2011

Awww, I am so sorry. I can relate as well – I think I take a lot of blame on myself as the oldest, and I, too, get a bunch from my mom. As to SB, I think so much of kids’ personalities is just a genetic surprise. I can see 1 of my kids totally getting mad at me in years to come and shutting me out; the other 2, not so much. It’s just a bummer that the one you got is difficult 😦 I wish I had more words of wisdom for you. But, I do know somewhat how you feel and totally sympathize. You have done so much, so well!

I think you’re right – being the oldest doesn’t help, does it? I do keep reminding myself, as Kay said, that the only person I’m responsible for is myself. . . then I keep trying to “help” The Boy understand, or trying to get my parents to get it. 🙄

Dude, I sound like I’m in the middle of a big old pity party, don’t I? 😆

6. Kat - February 16, 2011

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but I finally just stopped caring about my parents. We have a civil but brief conversation on the phone a few times a year and that’s that. As the longtime peacemaker in a a very highly dysfunctional family, it was quite the jump to make. No counseling was involoved, just a very level-headed husband who helped me along.
Oddly, I think my folks are as relieved as I am to be quit of the problem of “family.”

It’s not even that I don’t care, so much as, well, maybe I care too much. Certainly more than is healthy for me. I do know that, at the risk of sounding again like “poor me,” no matter what I do, I’ll always disappoint. UNLESS, that is, I’m willing to live the life that’s deemed “right.”

And I’m not even going to go into the whole dysfunctional thing. . . I’d be here all day! 😯

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