Denial is terrible. Even when you are treated badly by those who are supposed to love you the most, there is that side of you that wants to think of all the good times, focus on the good, and forget the toxic behavior shown time and time again. Dear family, because you have decided to invalidate and dismiss my attempts at communication and all cries for help, I suppose the lot of you deserve the dirty laundry exposed, though anonymously. For even on Christmas, you could not even pretend to care .
On the ride home from a family trip to visit relatives, I keep reflecting on what happened, thinking, what have I done to deserve to be screwed over? I gave you all nice gifts, conformed to your "trendy" fashion as much as I could, did what I could to fit in. I decided to put away the quiet withdrawn version of myself and engage in conversation. I decided not to be boring... but I was "too loud". So perhaps I must be more self-aware of my tone and volume. That is a valid point, but why am I the only one being policed? I have been called a "brat", but what about the little monster, aka the youngest? I scold her for using swear words to my face and I am called "too sensitive". Is it too sensitive to ask for basic decency? What was the point of being taught decency to begin with if it's now irrelevant? I told my parents, using the word in the sentence, only to be shut up, scolded for using the word, and not believed. My mother told me it is "for the best" that I am excluded so that I don't "start drama", though I started nothing. My angry outbursts were reactive to her toxic behavior. Yes, I apologized to my sister and must be self-aware of my temper as well. It works both ways but temper or not, they will always have some excuse for their blatant disrespect. To them, leaving me out of fun things will always be "for the better".
Last year, I stayed behind from the annual family holiday for this reason, and because I had promised my former boyfriend I would spend Christmas with him. When everyone returned, they said they missed me, or at least my extended relatives had. I felt guilty and at times regretted staying behind, especially when a relative passed away without my seeing her one last time, especially after my breakup. (No good comes from family disapproving.) I thought that maybe something had changed. Maybe a weeklong absence would make them realize they were wrong in taking me for granted. But a year later, nothing has changed.
"You are family", my mother said when she tried to force me at the last minute to go on last year's holiday. "Christmas is about family". That is nothing but an empty platitude and a guilt trip. Family doesn't pick favorites. It doesn't exclude members, invalidate, or ignore them. I believe I made the right decision last year, to stay with the people who truly loved me. Now I cannot wait to return to my friends who love me unconditionally and enjoy my company.
Forget any platitudes you have heard this Christmas season about cherishing family. Family is overrated. In the version I know, it is nothing but cliques, favoritism, and everyone being out for themselves. It's about pretending everything is okay to keep up appearances. We don't owe anyone our time just because they are blood. You don't owe them gifts or sacrifices. Mine don't care for gifts anyway. In another year or two there may be no more family gift exchange. I've been trying to play this unconditionally, but how many chances must I give? I thought eating my birthday cake without me was the last straw but lying about there being no more room in the car so I wouldn't accompany them to our cousin's on Christmas is the last straw. My parents heard their perfect golden child snap and use bad language out of the pain and frustration but instead of getting the hint that something was wrong, they scolded me for poor behavior and condoned my sisters, insisting I deserved it. Meanwhile they do nothing about the youngest, the little monster they created! They offer no support, no comfort, no justice.
I suppose such comfort is for "the weak", though the side of me that is so tough and self-defensive is not in a healthy or safe state of mind. This side is in denial, in a toxic state of self reliance that is reluctant to ask for help. In another day or two, I'll be all forgiving, denying that my family is so bad. Just like with the cake incident where my father got me a new cake. Or when they did a "siblings day out" but there was no room in the car again. I was led on to think I was invited and discovered at the last minute that I was not. My parents took me out, as compensation. They always give me compensation, but I'm tired of compensation. There should be no reason to compensate. I'm tired of being excluded. They divide the family, pandering to certain members, then guilt me when I insist on doing my own things without them. They act all welcoming, or concerned for me, and I figure that maybe I was taking it all too personally. Then, the cycle starts anew and I'm cast out once again.
I haven't made a new year's resolution in years but I think this year, I'll make an effort to distance myself from this toxic family. I'm already moving out at the start of 2021 so that is a start. The trip, apartment's renovation, and changing jobs set things back a little. I will have to forgive my family but I don't think I can trust them again. Forgiveness doesn't mean you need to run back to anyone. If any of my readers can relate, I recommend taking the moral high ground. Don't return toxicity for toxicity. I'm using the tools I learned in counseling to keep my temper at bay. I am also learning how to be more aware of toxic behavior. It is evident by the effects. Just as exposure to physical toxicity, (certain chemicals in the air, for instance) can damage health, being consistently disrespected, isolated, and ignored can make you sick. Pain can make us act "crazy". This trip was supposed to be enjoyable but it has made me sick. Sure, I'll make an effort to control my temper and tone, but I cannot unsee my family's true colors. There is no reason to include everyone else, faults and all, meanwhile find excuses to pretend I don't exist. At least I tried with the lot of you.