Remember this post?
There’s an ugly sequel. Right before Christmas, one of the girls “ran away from home” in a figurative sense. She’s still here, but not. The details aren’t important; actually they’re quite trivial in and of themselves. I think it was the cumulative effect of actions and reactions occurring over a period of years that finally broke the ties. One of them has been re-established, but it’s a slip knot, and the least amount of tugging on that thread will cause it to unravel again.
Big Sister is gone from our house. Kate and Little pulled away from Big after they dared to stand up to her, and were rewarded by a smack on their noses with a rolled up newspaper. Actually, it was more like a concrete pipe, but you get the general idea. Kate and Little have remained close throughout, leaning on each other, helping each other fill the hole that Big left when she bolted. Big and Little reconnected in early January, but that connection is the slip knot. Kate has known Big for over 10 years; her wounds go deeper.
Hubby and I have been Big Sister’s only effective parents since she was about 8, and our parenting evidently hasn’t been all that effective. We are still connected in FB world. Big has been pushing the envelope a bit out there, and has the potential of putting herself in danger of losing her job, among other things. This week she posted something that was inappropriate from a language standpoint: “I’m gonna cuss like a drunken sailor, for all the world to see, because I can. [my translation]” Hubby suggested that she tone it down, citing statistics of employers and prospective employers who regularly check their employees’ social networking sites. Her walls went up. Hubby had “made her feel bad about herself.” (No, sweetheart, you did that yourself.) A distant relative of Big’s backed Hubby up, saying that Hubby was really trying to look out for her because he cares for her. She said, “Sometimes the people who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear, are the ones who care the most about you.” This went back and forth a while, until Big asked the question, “What’s the big deal?”
This morning I found myself writing a message to Big, and I learned something about myself. Yeah, I already knew it, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves exactly who we are, how we got where we are, and most importantly, that we don’t have to stay where we are:
It’s a big deal because, obviously, there are people in your life who love you. Unless you’re omnipotent, you can’t know that anything you say or do is “not offensive to anyone.” Maybe something is offensive to someone, but they don’t tell you because they’re afraid of how you will react. This entire thread is evidence of that.
You’re looking for an “amen corner.” You want everyone to agree with you, all the time, and if they don’t then you interpret that disagreement as disapproval of you as a person. Kate tried to help you, and you struck at her, which caused her to strike at you in self-defense. She is still in self-defense mode. Look at the situation honestly and think about what has happened in the past, every time Kate has disagreed with you over the tiniest thing.
You have been raised as an only child. I know about that. I am an only child; I recognize the behavior patterns in you because I’ve LIVED THEM and continue to try to rise above them, and I’m 51 years old. This is a life-long learning process, and we’ll never get it right. The point is to TRY to listen to the people who truly love you and maybe let a word or two of what they’re saying get into your head and start rolling around. I don’t think I really learned this until I was 40, and it was my mom who pointed it out to me.
I know that, if you do read this, you won’t respond. At some point a decision has to be made, by all of us. I can’t stop loving you, even though I know that you probably wish I could, and would, do just that. I can’t stop loving you any more than I could stop loving Hubby, or Wubby (even though he has gone off in search of his own amen corner), or Kate. I’m sorry that your mom and dad and step-mom have failed you as parents, and they have. I can take some of that pain, help you look at it and understand it until you take a step toward putting it down. But you have to want to look at it honestly and try to understand it. Until you take that first step out of your comfort zone, no one who really loves you will be able to help you. And those folks who are still in your “amen” corner….are the ones who will trap you there, and they don’t even know they’re doing it. You think you have control over them; when you tell them to jump, they say “sure, how high and how far?” But they’re controlling you, because your subsequent behavior is a direct response to their action. Did they jump? Was it high enough, or far enough? Or, heaven forbid, did one of them say, “I don’t feel like jumping today.” Out comes the rolled up newspaper for that one.
I can guarantee you this: you can stay in the corner as long as you want, but eventually the folks that are in the corner with you will get tired of being there and they will move on.
And your corner will be empty, except for you. That, my darling girl, is NOT life. It is closer to death. I’m speaking from experience here, and it’s ugly, damned ugly. If you stay there long enough, death will start looking pretty good. And those thoughts are NOT acceptable in the eyes of God and the Universe and the people who continue to love you in spite of yourself and your actions toward them.
As I think about what I’m writing, I realize that I’m not talking to you at all; I’m talking to ME. I have my own thinking and accepting and moving out of the corner to do.
Someone said, “Unless you’ve had your heart broken, you don’t really know about love.” There’s truth in that statement.
I love you.
And my heart is broken for you.