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.
there were a limited amount
of times when i could be
foolish enough to mistake
your pawns for people
who have been hurt
by anyone except you.
martyrdom is honorable
& you (supposedly) sacrifice
your happiness for others —
but nothing brings more joy
than for people to marvel
at how selfless you are.
someday, you’ll see there’s a (vast) difference between
teaching one’s child how to make good decisions
& insisting your way is the (only) correct path.
someday, you’ll realize that I’m not rebellious,
(adults don’t rebel; they act on their own accord).
someday, you’ll see that you removed yourself from my life
by (constantly) criticizing everything that garnered your disapproval.
someday, you’ll realize that love is (truly) unconditional
(not contingent on being who someone wants you to be).
despite your insistence that I’m nothing without you,
I’ve never been more certain that I’m becoming
the woman I needed as a role model, but got you instead.
1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)
Once upon a time,
I aspired to be
a (perfect) good girl
whose existence was validated
(solely) by making you proud.
But your expectations
& mine were mutually exclusive.
Your (belligerent) efforts
will never deter me
from becoming the woman
I never knew I could be.