“Fam-il-y”: noun; a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage; a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy.
Family is a word that a lot of people attach a lot of meaning to. It’s a word that encompasses some of their best and worst memories, and describes the people they love most. For me, Family is a word that doesn’t make sense. It’s as if it’s a foreign word.
Now I’m not a foster child or adopted or an orphan. I’ve grown up with and lived with my mom, dad, and two older sisters my entire life thus far. When I was younger I was more oblivious in a few ways. I didn’t really notice little things that they did that were not exactly positive to my self growth and evolution (i.e., constant picking on me to the point where it could be labeled as bullying, doing the typical parent thing where you only half-listen). As a result of those behaviors I often feel that what I have to say isn’t worth it, that it’s pointless and not important. I feel that my interests and likes and dislikes are ridiculous and that I should be self-conscious of them or else others will make fun of me for them. I’m quieter and tend not to put myself out there and make myself small so that people won’t make fun of me.
I’m not saying that they’re abusive, though maybe some would disagree. I’ve never been physically harmed by them or even intentionally emotionally harmed either. I fully believe that their constant picking on me was what they believed to be normal and fine. They’d done it with my other two sisters after all and they don’t seem to have come out quite as… damaged (I guess would be the word) as I have.
As I got older these things became more noticeable. By the time I was in Elementary school their picking on me resulted in tears and hurt feelings followed by “we only do it because we love you!!!” or Chloe’s favorite, “can’t you take a joke?”.
Fast forward to 5th grade when I started to really pull away. My friends had started to ditch me. My family was picking on me. I didn’t feel like I had anyone. So I did what most people in that position do, I pulled away. And so for the last 4 years I have had a very negative relationship with my parents (and my sisters, with the exclusion of the oldest, Emily, who I have started to become closer to in the past 2 years). Earlier this year in January, I started up a very bad habit. I began starving myself and throwing up after meals trying to lose weight. I was in a very bad place. Life in the house was hard. Chloe sucks out all of the attention in the room so everyone has to focus on her. I felt like it wasn’t even my house since she was there and Emily had moved back in with her two dogs. I was depressed and wanted my family to be a family. But they weren’t. I realized while talking with my therapist that it was likely my very unhealthy way of trying to get their attention (I will likely make a future post in more detail about my ED in the future, however at the moment this is all the information that I feel comfortable sharing as the wound is still healing).
In late May, my mom read my journals. Journals that I had written very private and gross things that went through my mind when I was in my most depressed state. I purposefully only wrote in them when I was the most upset and not rational. Because I felt that was when I most needed to express my anxieties and worries. She read about how sometimes I feel unloved, about my ED, my feelings of not fitting in with the family, of feeling alone, of feeling worthless and unlikable etc etc etc… You know, all of the worst case scenarios your mind likes to jump to to make you feel even worse about yourself when you feel the most depressed. There was one weekend where I really wanted to kill myself.
And she read those thoughts and those feelings. She saw into the darkest part of my mind that at the time was overgrown and messy and filled with terrible, terrible things. She found out about my problems with no context and only the Worst-Case-Scenarios that I had bothered to write about. She invaded my privacy and my ripped away my security.
It’s been about five months. And I still feel deeply uncomfortable but slowly getting better around them (though I don’t expect that this is a wound that can be easily healed and I doubt it ever will be). My 15th birthday was today. She gave me a new journal that has inspirational quotes about shoes and being happy and confident every ten pages and a card with her telling me how much she loves me and to “treat myself kindly” and all I wanted to do when I saw and read those things was throw it in her face. I don’t want her doing that. I don’t want her bringing things she read about in my journal up. Or trying to compensate. I don’t want her to even think about it. I don’t want her to try.
Family is a complicated and delicate thing with so many variables. I probably wouldn’t ask for another family, maybe just that my current family wasn’t quite as shit. I know that my mom and my dad are just trying. But they’re trying in all the wrong ways and just making everything so much worse. If I’m honest, I really don’t want to improve things with my mom. I don’t think I can ever feel safe around her again, not after the things she’s read. My family has inadvertently taught me that the things people know about you can label you and be the cause of making fun of someone. I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever be around my mom and not feel like all I am in her eyes is her failed job at parenting and my past want for self destruction.
Today I wished that I will be able to move in with Emily when she moves out and buys a house by January. Today I wished to get away from my parents and Chloe. Today I did a rare thing. I wished something selfish that would mainly benefit myself.
Family is a complicated and delicate thing.