Posted by: Marie | July 14, 2011

(568) A knot in my rope – Part 2 of 2

Post #568
[Private journal entry written on Monday, December 27, 2010 – continued from previous post]

At the dinner, my mom asked me what I was planning to do to celebrate my birthday that’s coming up this week. I told her that I had nothing planned. She inquired, “So, it’s just another day?” “Yeah.”

It really isn’t important to me . . . so what that I’m a year older . . . it’s not like there is anyone in my life who wants to do something to celebrate my birthday just because it would be fun to celebrate it. If anyone threw a party, it would be because he or she felt obligated or felt sorry for me. So, why bother? I don’t want anyone doing anything for me out of obligation or pity.

I feel the same way about Christmas presents, too. I didn’t send out any cards this year and I didn’t give any gifts except the one I sent to my best friend, Melodie – and I sent one to her because I knew she wanted the full set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books that we saw when we were at the Ingalls homestead site in South Dakota over Labor Day weekend – and because I found a good deal on them. I don’t always send her a gift . . . and she doesn’t always send me one . . . we do so only when we find something really special to send. I like it that way.

Photo by Martin Chen

But, I do feel a bit bad that my siblings all gave me presents for Christmas and for my birthday and I didn’t give them anything in return. Is it disrespectful that I don’t reciprocate? I just don’t like giving gifts because it is expected. I like giving gifts when something special comes up . . . for example, during a family dinner at my mom’s house a while back, my brother mentioned that his camera tripod was falling apart from old age. He was saying that he had to save up to buy another one.

Well, it turned out that my mom had my tripod – a very nice one – tucked away in her storage room. It is the tripod I used when I was into photography. But, I’m not into photography anymore so I’m not using the tripod. So, I gave it to my brother.

I guess I do reciprocate, it’s just on my own terms.

When it comes to celebrations and traditions, part of me feels rather cold and dead about it. Those rituals are not important to me. If my mom weren’t around, I’m not sure I’d even go out of my way to attend family events. I don’t know . . . maybe I’d attend, if I were invited, out of pure obligation. But I don’t think I’d go out of my way to do so. I’m not even sure I’d acknowledge birthdays and holidays – I mean, why bother?

Sometimes I wonder if my mom is starting to feel less accommodating about holidays. This year, she did what my brother usually does . . . my brother usually announces, “We are having [holiday] dinner at our house on Thursday at noon. You can come if you care to.” There is no flexibility, there is no discussion about having it at someone else’s house . . . he says that, if we don’t like it, we don’t have to come.

So, my mom did the same thing this year for Christmas – she beat my brother to it. She told me that she did it so she could invite whom she wanted to invite – my brother won’t allow us to invite our friends to his house because they only have enough matching table settings for eight people – it would be horrible if someone had to use a table setting that didn’t match. (Huh???? Really???)

Maybe the reason I don’t connect well with my brother is because he enables his girlfriend’s belief that having a fully matched table setting is more important than communing with people we hold dear.

I guess my dark feelings are coming from the pain I feel from not having a family unit to which I feel I really belong. I feel a bit orphaned. I really want a relationship with my siblings, but that isn’t happening. I feel connected with my mom, but even that relationship is somewhat superficial and limited because there is so much of what is happening now in my life that I can’t discuss with her because it would cause her great pain.

There is no way I can tell her how much damage was caused by her emotional distance and her not protecting me from my dad’s violence and her not believing me when I told her, at age four, about being molested . . . and her version of physical violence she occasionally dumped on me.

I don’t think it would help me to tell her . . . and it would only cause her pain . . . I don’t want to do that to her. I don’t see any benefit in doing that. But, that means I also can’t share with her on an emotionally intimate level, either.

I can’t have a meaningful conversation with my sisters because, if I mention anything about my healing journey or my spiritual awakenings, the conversation drops to uncomfortably dead silence. I guess they don’t want to encourage my “delusions” and heathen ponderings and they don’t want to openly disagree with me, so they say nothing and wait for the conversation to shift.

I think maybe the part of this that hurts the worst is that we have claimed to be a close family and we have always claimed that we get along. For example, 19 years ago, when my dad was dying at the hospital, the doctors and the nurses commented on the unity and solidarity we demonstrated as a family unit during that very difficult time. I’ve always been told – and have always believed – that I come from a very close-knit family.

And now, at family functions, I feel that I am an annoyance, that they just as soon I not be there. It’s not that we are fighting, it’s not that we don’t get along, we just . . . I just . . . I don’t know . . .

Every holiday is a reminder of how much I don’t fit in anymore. I guess I never have, I just am now finally tired of fighting to be seen and heard. I don’t care; I’m done fighting. If my siblings don’t want to see and hear me, so be it.

I guess that is the great myth that I’m now uncovering through my healing journey . . . I’m learning that my family isn’t that awesome and that my upbringing had a lot of darkness in it. My pain is coming from the disproving of the myth that has surrounded my perception of my family and the way I was raised – the myth is being shattered and that hurts.

So, anyway . . . Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


  1. Marie, I understand exactly what you mean. I think I had a delusion about my family because I didn’t know what real connection was. Once the bell rings about these things its very difficult to un ring. I think part of me was aware of how many family connected to each other but I wasn’t in a place that I could have dealt with it. Christmas seems to highlight it all more. I really understand where you are coming from and it can be harder to be the one in the family that sees the falseness. All the best..

    • Hi, Marie –

      That is so true . . . that once we learn what real connection is, it is hard to be satisfied with less . . .

      I remember the first time I started understanding that it is not normal and healthy for my domestic partner to belittle me and physically intimidate me with violence . . . what a shock! I’m still working to understand the concept that it is possible for a domestic partner to actually support and encourage me . . .

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  2. Yup…my sentiments exactly. Learning how I really wanted to be treated and how I prefer to treat others made dealing with the surface, more superficial connections in my family much less appealing.

    Yet I still always thought of us as a tight knit family until my brother shocked me by being someone totally different than who I thought he was. My family and a lot of my illusory concepts of who we were as a family have been permanently altered, shattered in many ways by the events that took place recently.

    When I began revisiting my old childhood memories, recalled the toxicity, the verbal, emotional and physical abuse that was tolerated…I started to realize that I wasn’t just a “bad” kid as I’d always thought of myself. I was a kid who grew up in a difficult environment.

    But others in my family don’t see these things, have little desire to explore them. I don’t have closeness with anyone really. My mother is definitely the relationship I’ve worked hardest with trying to heal because she is my mom and I love her dearly. And she does try.

    But it’s definitely been sobering and at times bitter pill to swallow, feeling that these relationships with my family members are such dim shadows of what they might have been…

    Still, I think that looking at these things has allowed me to form stronger and healthier relationships with friends, with my wife…with those who have an interest in being connected in a more sincere way.

    Wow, that was long! Thanks for writing about these things Marie. It really helps and your candor is always refreshing for me.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I totally understand what you mean by being able to connect more deeply because of your “awakening” into what can be . . .

      Maybe it is as important to connect deeply with our family members as it is to connect with someone . . . there is no rule that our deepest relationships need to be blood relatives. Thank goodness for that!

      Thanks for sharing your experience! It confirms the validity of my own experience!

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie, like you I don’t really relate to rituals and giving gifts because they are expected.

    I just stopped giving cards and gifts and my extended family seemed to be OK with it – I think they see me as a bit weird anyway.

    It is hard I think when we get some perspective on our family. Realise that they aren’t normal – or that there are lots of other ways to do family. And like you I think there is no going back.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I had to laugh when I read “I think they see me as a bit weird anyway” because that is how I seem to be perceived by my family, as well. But, there is a certain freedom in being “weird” . . . it frees one from many silly social constraints and expectations.

      I like your statement “there are many ways to do family” . . . that is a great way to look at the uniqueness of each family’s dynamic.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings around your family relationships. I relate with your post very much and went through my own version of realizing how unconnected I felt with my family. I spent many years struggling with this. My family are all good people, I have no complaints on some level, but we never really could talk, I never felt like anyone wanted to hear anything I said, because I was different. I still struggle with this, but in the past two years there has been a big shift, where I feel less needing them to be a certain way, to receive me in a way that I would like. I finally started to realized that I can’t change them, and that if I was going to continue to relate with them, I was going to have to start ‘letting them be them’. Ironically, that change in my attitude has created some opening, and gradually they are opening up to me more, ‘letting me be me’. Anyway, that’s been my journey. Thanks for writing this blog, I appreciate the open hearted writing you share here.

    • Hi, Craig –

      I appreciate your stopping by!

      Thanks for sharing the hopeful idea that, as we relax and let our family members be as they are, it allows the relationship to be more connected in unexpected ways. That is a neat idea and one worth exploring.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

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