(or: why I can no longer deal with my family at all.)
Obviously this is complicated. So over the course of a few sleepless nights I've finally been (sort of) able to articulate why there is just nothing left of my relationship to "The Fam." The final straw (after 32 years of not ever being able to find a healthy, comfortable place for myself in this family)was a very weird family trip to Las Vegas which was strange on so many levels, it's taken literally since 2006 to step back and figure out what all was going on, on that trip, outside my earshot. I went on the trip even though it wasn't a very good time for me to take a vacation, because, as my Dad said, it's not all that often that all of us kids can show up in one place at once. So I went; and, what happened that weekend, convinced me that there's just no way for me to be with these people without their agendas and mindgames sucking the oxygen out of the air. Not even for a weekend can I do it. It's been obvious for a long time that these relationships have been deteriorating, and though I'm told that's my fault, I disagree. For so many years I was the one who reached out, wrote, called, and tried to have direct, honest conversations; I put myself out there, over and over again, and I have no question in my mind that continuing on such a one-way street with these relationships would be really insane . I also disagree that my Dad and Stepmom's marital problems are my fault; their marriage is their responsibility, and if there is a love triangle there that's unresolved, it belongs between my Dad, my Stepmom and my Mother----and nowhere near me. Period.
But a major problem for me is this idea that my mother, a lovely person who cared deeply for three of us, deserves to be kept a secret and never spoken of; the disrespect to her memory is one of the things that galls me the most. I wonder how they would feel if my brother were to be killed--how would it be to box up his photos and never speak of him again, and pretend that he had never lived? I wonder how my Dad, or Stepmom, would feel, if, when their life is over, their family members----those supposedly closest to their hearts-- forbade recognition that their lives were important; that they lived, and mattered.
One problem I had with my Dad was that, from the time my younger brother and sister were children, I asked and asked for a family meeting to explain to them that Melissa and I had had a different mother, and the formation of family in its new incarnation was fraught with conflict and heartbreak. I was told over and over again: when they're old enough, we will.
When my brother at age 26 went off to war in Afghanistan, I realized that the time when they were "old enough" would never come. They had no intention of ever having this discussed openly among the family with all present. So I wrote to my brother and told him that I couldn't go on behaving as if these things had no importance. They changed my life---my Dad's and Stepmom's affair with each other broke my mother's heart and I had a front-row seat to this growing up. To simply pretend, once she was dead and my Stepmom was installed, that she had never lived----it was psycho. It was an unfair burden to ask me and my sister to carry, and I have carried it long enough. The family assumption that this is a topic not to be discussed, is no longer acceptable to me. And I am no longer able to pretend that it is. I did it their way for so long---32 years now. I don't have to do it anymore. It would be one thing if these people were nice to me; but, they aren't. My stepmom hated my mother, and she was not much fonder of me. I am where she would like me to be: thousands of miles away from the rest of the family.
I told my brother: anyone who wants to be my friend, knows where to find me. But my relationship to this group of people, as a group, is done. Over. Finito, Benito. Dead, Fred. I don't actually mean to be flip. It's not funny. It's sad. What makes me more sad, though, is that I have a nephew and niece who might one day be interested in why I don't come around anymore. Maybe they'll find this recording and get to hear my point of view. Maybe they won't, and god knows What they will hear about me from my loving sister, or sisters, and others. Being talked about behind one's back and feeling the weird vibes beaming at me, is finally, at long last, something I no longer want, in any way, shape, or form. And what I also no longer want is for people to behave as if I am a crazy person for wanting to be treated with honesty and dignity. Well, crazy people all through the history of the world have insisted on that. So for the purposes of this side of my life, I consider myself aligned, now, with people who believe treating each other nicely is not just an option, but a rule.
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This photo was taken on the trip to Vegas in January, 2006. I'm the one in the back, in the pink dress. With the gun. (Kind of funny for the peacenik of the family.)