your hair quickly faded to gray,
lines deepened around your eyes,
a hollow chuckle & brittle grimace
replaced a genuine laugh & smile
because you have spent decades
rewriting history to align with
your masochistic moral code.
in the exhaustedly edited version,
you sacrificed your health,
happiness, & sanity for your family
to prosper, an ocean away from
the place you called home.
in reality, you were trying
to outrun ghosts from another life
with every dollar made,
every promotion secured,
& every car bought.
while you inherited her smile
(orthodontia straightened yours)
your eyes are wider & world-weary
(hers are narrow with bourgeois smugness)
you have his bullshit-detecting (rejecting) nose
(hers seeks out malleable sycophants)
the family resemblance is skin-deep
(like the way she cares about people)
you value people based on their character
(not how they can be of service)
it’s unspoken – you don’t care what people think
(she screams it constantly, proving the opposite).
I’ve been posting sporadically because I’ve been enjoying a month off before law school starts. I traveled to D.C. to see Andrea, to NYC to visit my cousins and Gaby, and to Tampa with Ceddy. I wrote the first of many rough drafts of a novel I’d like to publish.
The first (official) day of class is on Monday. After (almost) a week of orientation, digging into assignments, and meeting new people, I’m going to be as prepared as I can be. I’m simultaneously anxious & excited for this new adventure.
I won’t get to post as often as I have been for the past year, but I’m going to try to post during the weekends. Thank you for reading (or looking, if you’re browsing at my photos)!
over two decades ago,
you mastered the art of
creating diversions to diffuse
tempestuous timebombs who
have become strangers
& left you wondering,
“how do I share anything
(much less, genetic material)
with these people?”
A concept that boggles my mind is that we’re supposed to accept blood-relations as family under all circumstances. Gaby sent me a great article called “Motherless by Choice” by Katie Naum. Ms. Naum’s mother wasn’t loving or supportive — she inflicted psychological terror and abuse. After years of trying to build up her self-esteem while her mother constantly tore her down, Ms. Naum escaped. She has cut off contact with her mother and has become happier, healthier, and more mentally stable.
I commented on Ms. Naum’s article to congratulate her for working on becoming the great woman she always had the potential to be. I assured her that there are many of us who have toxic relationships with our parents, so ignore the naysayers and people who don’t understand. I couldn’t believe that numerous commenters shamed her for removing her mother from her life. People quoted the Ten Commandments about “honoring your father and mother.” People warned that she would regret not making peace with her mother when her mother died.
My relationship with my mother hasn’t been as toxic as the author’s with her mother. But I related to Ms. Naum’s feelings. For years, I attempted to be the perfect, obedient daughter that she and my father expected me to be. Any time I would disagree with them, they would berate me for being ungrateful and insolent. My father constantly itemized how much supporting me cost. I blindly accepted everything they said as true. I thought my worth was based on their pride in me.
Father’s Day is on Sunday. I’ll be in Alpharetta for the day, as Brie needed someone to watch her while her nanny makes lunch and my parents go to church. I’m looking forward to having sister time without our parents or her nanny. I didn’t attend Mother’s Day, as I took a trip to California with Andrea and Shaina, instead. I don’t regret missing lunch with my mother that day — she was still harassing me because I don’t make spend enough time with “the family.” (Even if for the past several years, I would go there for lunch or dinner once a week. I don’t know any other people in their twenties who make that kind of effort, especially with parents who are the vortex of negativity in their lives.) Raf is in charge of getting our card, but there is no Hallmark card for those who have strained relationships with their parents.
Family’s involvement in your life should be conditional, just as it is with anyone else. Sharing genetics shouldn’t be a free pass to repeatedly tear someone down. Birthing someone doesn’t give you the right to consistently scream that you hope she fails, since her goals don’t aligned with yours. On the surface, I’ll be civil. But I can never be sincere about celebrating the days that praise the two biggest haters in my life.