You know, my family has been anything but peaceful. I grew up in a very strict household, where every family member was too shit scared to make any mistake. I feared my father like you can’t believe. Why? He never knew I was autistic; the first melt-down was dealt with severely. That hiding stayed with me till this day.
Religion was everything. Church twice on a Sunday, prayer meeting Wednesday, youth meeting Friday, and I never had a choice. I just had to participate. Slacks were regarded as a sin; we only wore dresses below the knee. Hats in church. No make-up. No nail polish. No movies. Sin. Absolute sin all of that.
But was there love? No. From a young age, I had to hear that I was the unplanned child. The one who wasn’t welcome. The one they didn’t want at that age. My siblings married while I was still young; when I hit the tumultuous teenage years, they were living happily married in another province. They didn’t hear what I heard. They didn’t see what I saw. They didn’t feel what I felt. They don’t understand why I am the way I am. Still today, I am just the family scapegoat. Anything that goes wrong, can be blamed on me.
And yet, even thought I knew my mother never wanted me, I craved her love, her acceptance, her appreciation. The only thing I could do better than my siblings, were to knit and crochet. And I became obsessed with it. I had to be the best. I wanted to show her that I was worthy. Worthy of her love. Worthy of her wanting me. I never happened. With each project, I always got the same response: “hmmm, not bad, not what I would have done, but I suppose it will suffice’. As a child, I never knew that was a subtle type of rejection. My soul probably knew, but my mind didn’t. It pushed me to new heights each time. Each time I gritted my teeth and tried harder.
There came a day, when I was knitting something, my mom stood watching me, and she said these words: “the learner has surpassed the teacher; you are now better than me”. I nearly fell off my chair. My heart was pounding. My mouth was dry. My hands were shaking. To her, it was just a passing remark, one she probably didn’t even mean, nor remember. To me however, it was huge. I managed to stay calm, keep a poker face and left the room to cry for a while in the toilet.
My mom lived with my sister for 11 years. In all that time, she complained about my sister and brother and law. This, that, the other, whatever. Always complaining to me, and to my brother. So eventually, she moved to my brother. So she started to complain to me and my sister. My brother this, my sister in law that. Eventually I asked her to move to me. She did and the entire family was upset with me. Apparently I caused an upset in the family through one simple question: “mom do you want to move to us?”. That is all I did. I asked a question.
Two weeks ago, out of the blue, my sister and brother in law came to see us; they wanted her to move back. Only afterwards we realised that the same thing happened. She gossiped about us, to my siblings. What she said, I don’t know. I don’t want to know either.
Today, after another incident, I decided to resign from my family. If I can resign from a crappy job, then I can resign from a crappy family. I have tried for nearly 50 years to fit in, to be worthy, to be accepted, to be understood, to be loved. And I never got it right. So why keep trying. I promised myself that today, was the last day that I spent in tears, because of my family. They never wanted me, so I gave them what they wanted. I withdrew. Completely. Does it feel nice? No. Am I happy today? No. But I will be. And I know in the long run, this is the only way I will remain happy and live a fulfilled life. Blood may be thicker than water, but blood alone won’t keep you alive. You need the water too.
I have water. I have a wonderful husband who will fiercely protect me. I have one daughter who will jump in the face of danger to protect me (the other one is still too young and she has too many challenges of her own, challenges she isn’t ready to confront yet). I have soul sisters. They know who they are. They carry me when my legs don’t want to move. They encourage me when I want to give up. They love me for who I am. And they have never made me feel unwelcome. Ever.
I have to forgive. I know I do. And I do it daily. I have learned a long time ago that forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Every day I get up and decide to live forgiveness. Unfortunately, many people confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. It isn’t the same thing. I don’t want to live a bitter, angry life, so I choose to forgive. For that exact same reason, I choose to not reconcile.
I have a gaping hole in my heart. A hole that only a mother can fill. And my mother will never fill it. She doesn’t want to, and today, I don’t want her to either. I am tired of trying to show her that I am worthy. I need another mother.