I used to wish and hope he'd figure it out so we could have a relationship, but I can't extend myself into those thoughts anymore. He will forever label and judge, shading over his terrible behavior in brilliant hues. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
People are disconnected from themselves– they don’t get that gross, unsettled feeling the conscience offers, in an effort to say hey, that’s not a great thing to say: what if it was you? There is no consideration for the human on the other side of the comment, the one that hurts, has feelings, and struggles just as we do.
Judgement is rampant. Somewhere along the way it became commonplace to shit talk. And I know all about that, first hand. As a teen I was devastated to hear that my dad had begun ridiculing me and insulting me to his friends. I thought he was the one who would protect me from people who wanted to hurt me. Unfortunately, he became the person I had to protect myself from, and that realization destroyed my idea and understanding of trust.
His bullying was the first I experienced, but definitely not the last. I have an aunt who's done her fair share of it, and some other less direct family members that shall remain nameless. But from the day I heard what he had said about me, and moving forward, I found myself performing a disturbing, self-sacrificing dance, which I starred in up until a few years ago: I felt the guilt pulling me to have a relationship with him, all the while knowing I could never trust him or feel safe around him. And I've danced the same dance with many other people in my life. For the sake of my well being, I decided to cut all ties with my dad five years ago, which was a tough but necessary decision. Guilt is not a good enough reason to have a relationship with someone.
If you talked to him today, I'm sure he would say the same things he said about me as a kid: my mother ruined me or I'm a mental case and need medication (I was on anti-depressants for years and he made fun of me for it). Those are a couple of tamer ones. Maybe he wouldn't say those exact things, but I have zero faith in his ability to be kind to me, at least not in the ways that are important. I used to wish and hope he'd figure it out so we could have a relationship, but I can't extend myself into those thoughts anymore. He will forever label and judge, shading over his terrible behavior in brilliant hues. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.
When I found out all this stuff as a kid, I pulled the "can't beat 'em join 'em" routine. I didn't know how else to defend myself, other than verbal retribution. It wasn't the best route to take, but I didn't know any better. I followed his lead, and lived this way for many years. I held on strongly to that horrible feeling of betrayal from the initial sting and ran with it for a long time; I shit-talked.
But now, I can't pull that kind of stuff anymore. I have a physiological response to it: I feel sick even thinking about shit-talking people, let alone speaking words loaded with hate. It’s instantaneous ugh when destructive thoughts float into my mind. Which is why I work so hard at letting those types of ego-driven thoughts pass through me instead of allowing them to consume me.
And because of my growth, I’m constantly redefining the parameters of my relationships with people who aren't supportive, or don't have it in them to be kind. Negativity got me nowhere in life, and I'm very careful who I choose to associate with. (Or at least I think I am...I have caught myself in relationships with people who have similar qualities over the years. But that's another post all together.) When surrounded by a cloud of nastiness, I ask myself, how much are you willing to take? And how much are you willing to give of yourself to this person who is so obviously unkind?
I can’t trust a lot of my family members, both extended and otherwise, and while it's sad, I’m not the only one who deals with this kind of thing. It has become blatantly obvious to me as of late that some people are looking for cracks in my foundation so that they can bully me into being an insecure, limited-thinking woman. Unfortunately for them, it’s not going to work, and while I find it all upsetting, I choose to use it as fuel to keep me motivated and on track. I’ve found myself pondering why these people are so bitter and mean, but realize that knowing why won’t change things. People are responsible for their own behavior, and I'm not willing to go below the surface of any person who so clearly wants me, or others, to hurt. It's not my job to fix other people, or clean up their messes. I am not a cleaning agent.
Now I must focus on redefining the relationships I have with people who are unkind and unavoidable. I've had enough outing of family members for today, so I won't get into the details of anyone else. All I can say is, having to see family members you don't want to see is tough. And having to see family members who are variably and reliably unkind is brutal. If only there were thick skin pills right? ;) In the meantime, I'll put my thinking cap on, and consider a game plan for the next phase...