I was doing well today. And I was gearing up for tomorrow’s session with determination, ready to walk in and own it and show up and not avoid A. And then, I get a text from my Dad, warning me that my brother is still really upset about being excluded from the wedding party and “its been a rough night over here”. And not to let on that he (my Dad) contacted me. To “stay cool – don’t contact anyone unless they contact you until this blows over.”
Um, really? Excuse me? What?
My reaction was swift and immediate and visceral. Self harm urges, “wheres the alcohol”, and this general absolute panic, and guilt. That I’ve let them down or caused a problem. I messaged a really close friend and shared the text.
“What do I do?”
“Nothing. The wedding is over. There is literally nothing you can do. It’s an error on your Dad’s behalf to say anything. He should be telling your brother off in the first place.”
“I suck at letting things slide.”
“It makes me mad. Like, what does telling me accomplish.”
“Some days, I hate them. I hate my inability to think for myself. That, and my lack of ability to define my own emotions or what I need comes from CONSTANTLY watching them and trying to anticipate how NOT to upset them instead of working with my own feelings. I’m 28, for fucks sake. This is shit I’m supposed to know how to do. I’m supposed to know not responding is best for me, I’m supposed to be able to shrug it off and move on. And I can’t, and its their fucking fault, and now I’m left to fix it.”
“If you messaged back: “I don’t think its appropriate for him to feel that way or for you to tell me that”, what would they say?”
“I tried having that discussion, that its <husbands> choice who is in his bridal party and nobody has the right to dictate any of that. And it didn’t go well, all I got was ‘that’s wrong, he should have included him’. Their special little snowflake needs to feel included and because he’s not its MY fault.”
“It’s tough, these issues feel so black and white to me, I wish I could have this conversation for you.”
“That’s when I start to think IM wrong. And I try really hard to back up my husband. It was a great wedding, a great time, my Mom and I had that talk THIS MORNING. Why do they have to ruin it? Also, why do I let them ruin it? Also, this isn’t even ruining it – gah, they derail me so easily.”
“1) They shouldn’t take sides. 2) Even if they did, you guys win – its your wedding. 3) It shouldn’t matter who was making the decision as long as it wasn’t your parents or <brother>”
“This is when I start to feel invisible in my own family. It doesn’t matter what I say or how I feel, <brother> is always right, and I’m constantly left standing there, feeling completely irrelevant and illegitimate, and its something I’m working so hard to get through”
“It sucks, but their voice is only as loud as you allow it to be”
“It feels so unfair. I know. I know you’re right. It just hits me so hard – all the things I thought were wrong with me as a child. All the reasons I don’t understand emotion, or how to set boundaries. All I can do is accept that it sucks and that this is my reality and I’m doing what I can, and that I can’t control them. I feel like I’m screaming at a brick wall when I try to explain things to them – I know, I’m only responsible for myself and my action. I don’t think <husband> or I did anything wrong, and yet, I feel incredibly guilty and responsible and like I need to go punish myself. Fuck. I’m sorry, my family gets under my skin and I’m still learning and practicing how to not let them – and I can’t tell <husband> because it will just make him more upset than he already is about these unnecessary shenanigans.”
“You’ll get there, I believe in you.”
“I do too. It’s just hard. It’s a lot of work for something that was never my fault in the first place and it feels really unfair. But at least I’m at a place where I recognize the pattern and step away from them, and talk to a neutral third party (thanks, by the way), instead of harming myself or entering the fray. And I know that I’m right, even if the conditioned side of me is going ‘family is everything, you are betraying and ruining your family. How dare you. Too late now. You should apologize. Make it better before its too late.’ I’m in this weird middle place where I can see the patterns and maladaptive behaviours, but I can’t change them or stop taking ownership for things that aren’t my fault. It’s a really fucking uncomfortable place to be.”
“In reality, its your family doing YOU a disservice, not the other way around.”
The conversation helped, but from one text message, my workday was derailed, I was knocked off my feet, I feel guilty and angry and hurt and frustrated and all these other things. Like, how dare my Dad tell me who I can and can not talk to? Don’t message them until things have calmed down, he says.
I hate that they have this much control over me. I hate it. I am trying to step back and simply notice the reaction and not act on any of my feelings but things are so swirly and I want to respond and then I never want to speak to them again and I want to go self harm or drink and then I want to take excellent care of myself as a FU you have no control over me.
It sends me into a deteriorating spiral. One text message. One text message implying that I’m the reason for my brother’s breakdown. One text message saying that if I had included him, we wouldn’t be here. One text message saying that it doesn’t matter what I want for my wedding, because he is related to me I have to give him what he wants.
Its like they all forget there was a time – a year ago – when he swore at me, and kicked at me, and then didn’t speak to me for five months, and he begged me to be the emcee again. And then my parents didn’t speak to me, and then I got guilt tripped into inviting him back and having him be the emcee and NOW its not good enough that he got to do that.
Nothing I ever do will ever be good enough for them. Nothing I ever do, will ever be good enough.
Its a losing battle. I’ve already lost. I don’t really know what I’m doing still fighting it. Anyone have a time machine? Who am I kidding, if it wasn’t this, it would have been something else.
It’s amazing, the crushing self-hate and loathing that a simple text from my Dad can bring on. I honestly don’t know what to do with myself right now.