What a trick. To beat and humiliate your baby throughout her formative years and then, after she is literally crippled by your hands, not just emotionally, but also with a brutal physical injury, you tell her she is too broken. To remind me I am other, to remind me I cannot function normally. To remind me I am in error, I am flawed, something is wrong with me; my posture, my body, my voice. This is not how you raise a person. This is not how you treat someone you care about. Were you aware of this, or do you let shitty people in your life still? To cultivate and then lay my dysfunction at my feet, and enjoy the illusion she played no part. What a trick. To enjoy the role of martyred mother, provoking me to perform as she requires, inciting tears or anger from me as she needs to complete each performance. What a trick. Her rageful, snarling violent beast is kept quiet in the company of others. The monster was mine alone to fear, and to run from in dreams for decades after I’d actually escaped her true clutches. You never escape that kind of abuse. It haunts you and exists in your marrow. It forms a false self, whatever the abuser requires you to be, whatever you require to survive. It is incremental, the slow awakening from victimization. When your whole identity is based on information from those who benefit from hurting you, well, you’re gonna have a fucking rough time fixing all that jazz in your head.
I have finally realized I don’t have to let people like this be in my life. Today I am free of these people. Today I am born without the intentional misjudgment and disregard for the essence of my tender spirit by those who, if they’d been healthy, should have loved this baby girl unconditionally.
To have celebrated the growth of me, a wild child creative who loved and felt the world with every moment. Because they would not see my beauty, I had not seen it. I absorbed their idea that I was worthless. Birthdays and all other milestones often forgotten. By the time I was in my 20’s I was no longer invited to family gatherings. I was told it was because my clothes were ugly and I was too fat. I was told my black clothes and nose studs were disgusting devil worshiping signs. Good God, I thought. Who are these people? Are we really related? Is this how I’m supposed to act? In my time here I’ve discovered, it is those who lack the most who attack the most. I was born into this culture of people, perhaps you were too, in your family, I mean, because the society at large is definitely sociopathic right now. These blood relatives think they are kind and giving. Surely they are to the outside world. They accumulated wealth via networking and schmoozing and fund raising; money is their favorite god, though they pretend toward more conventional religion. Charity is so important. As long as it’s not poor relatives. Gross. In my 20’s I deigned to ask for help. With several homes throughout the country, they refused me temporary shelter from a husband who knocked me down so hard I got a concussion and needed stitches. My doctor implored me to call anyone who might help me get away. I called them from his office, as his kind eyes watched, I was flatly rejected and then blamed for my husband finding me ‘wanting’. He seemed really nice, they say over the phone. Are you sure you can’t make it work? Roman Catholics don’t believe in divorce (even though they are both divorced) and I was homeless for months. I couldn’t find shelter unless I gave up my cats and I wasn’t going to do that. This, too was something they didn’t understand. Animals were gross. Almost as much as poor relatives. Part of t he problem is that I’ve never wanted to truly belong. Too restrictive, too many unnecessary rules, too haughty, catty and cruel. It’s my own damn fault I chose my mate poorly.
To belong means a whole other part of oneself must be shuttered and ignored. I can see it in my cousins, both blood and law. Children raised by these people are suffering like I did. They may feel the pressure, but they are still unaware of their unreasonable captivity. It is a powerful thing to belong. People do terrible things in the name of belonging. The most terrible is to do nothing. The inner life of belonging with a sociopathic group is prison, condemnation, constant sense of shame, failure and never being allowed to be ‘whole’ or simply to ‘be’. To my blood family my body and face are the only parts of me with potential value. Because I don’t starve myself or wear make-up, there is a lot wrong with me in their eyes. Realizations like this made it so much easier to let go of them. Finally I’ve found people who are like me. We hate bullshit, we love love. Simple. ‘Don’t be a dick.’ Sadly, you have to really look for these people. And you have to really be one of these people. Quiet, kind, intelligence are aspects we have to hide. We can only let those in who show without intention their good hearts. Lots of folks pretend to be kind, but they’re not being honest with themselves, at worst they’re intentionally being deceptive. There’s a lot of those and they’ll eat you alive. Being honest with oneself is a total drag, but so worth it. It’s taken me my whole life to get here, and I had to let these people go in order to do it. I let go of their voices in my head. I let go of their false judgments. It’s kind of amazing how much junk people leave in your brain. I realized I can choose only positive voices in my head. I learned I can choose what level of respect I require. I can choose what kind of friends I want. I can now choose my family. There is very little confusion about what I require from people now. It’s a minimum level of respect and anyone who does not live with traits of being basically honorable cannot be associated with me. Things I’d tolerated, like gossiping, teasing, are now absolutely not allowed in my life. If it makes me sad or feel bad or funny, that’s my gut saying NO. I am teaching my children these and other important lessons. It is my most important job: To give them the tools they need to feel good about themselves, to navigate the world with respect, gratitude and to honor our responsibility to serve with love and patience. I have worked very hard to not treat my children as I was treated. My children will never be beaten or raped. My children will never beat or rape. I will never tell my children that these violations are a part of life and should be tolerated. I am ready to accept my children’s thoughts and criticisms as valid input and our relationships are sacred to me. I recognize that it is my responsibility to change myself for the better in order to continue to have these healthy, thriving relationships. I will not behave in ways, ever, that would make my children do with me what I have had to do today. Who I once was, the person who I had to be in order to function as a member of my blood family, is no longer a part of who I am.
There are very basic ideas about connection, community, family and service that are minimum requirements. There are countless examples of how my blood family go beyond simple dysfunction and enter absolute apathy and lacking in all empathy. I wrote a book, it’s got a lot of great anecdotes about my bizarre upbringing. But I can give some examples here to help illustrate how my blood family is detrimental to it’s own members.
My blood family will give thousands to charity but refused me shelter and care when I faced homelessness. They flat-out denied the existence of my spinal cord injury at the hands of my mother. They called me a liar and emphatically denied the massive scar on my back was from anything but a ‘slipped disc’. When I tried to explain the doctors un-tethered four inches of my thoracic spinal cord and weren’t even going to touch the mess of slipped discs and damage to my actual spine, my aunt and uncle literally hung up as I was talking. My family refused to help me when I was beaten and raped. The first, second and third times. My mother told me to stop whining, ‘everyone gets raped’. The first time I was raped I was four years old. My grandmother blamed me for being too sexy. She actually suggested I was lying about wearing a a bathing suit and ‘that cute bathing suit was the problem.’ I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, but she admonished m e for correcting her later. Both my grandmother and my mother raised hands against me. My mother made it a regular habit, my grandmother only a few times. But both women believed to love was to criticize, belittle, berate, abuse, manipulate and triangulate. I was born into people who enjoyed hurting others and pretending they were kind. Sadly, I think this is more common than not, and that’s a scary thought. Certainly they are unaware of their own machinations of cruelty and would no doubt deny any such statements as pure hokey. So many of us are nestled in the ignorance that our society’s accepted apathy and lack of empathy are attitudes to aspire to, not indications of a spiritual identity crisis. Which it is. My mother, perhaps once an authentic tender, loving and truly kind soul, was a psychopath by the time I was born. No, to call her that does not please me. Most especially because I’ve had to spend my life unraveling her behaviors from my own, natural s elf. What is right, what is wrong? Is love really this painful duality? The view was skewed before I arrived. Over a decade ago my therapist insisted, after only a few sessions, that I must not allow my mother in my life for at least a year. In that first year I realized the cage of fear and self-harm I was living in my whole life. I knew I wasn’t like others, but you can’t know what your damage really is. After two years without her, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t suicidal. It was a revelation. To exist without the daily feeling of worthlessness. To not spend hours a day considering suicide. I let her back in after several years of her pushing me and doing so was a mistake. She couldn’t relate to me or my children without judging, criticizing, ignoring, kidnapping, lying, manipulating, violence, shaming and lying. And this is like, just a trip to the grocery store. It is a mournful thing to have to let go of your mother in order to heal, in orde r to keep your children safe. The family’s low opinion of me began early in my childhood. Mom needed to create an air of distrust around me in case I told anyone. Which I did, Several times. When I told outside the family people confronted my mom, but to no avail. Her rage and sharp tongue stopped any inquiry in it’s tracks. She could shame a baby. Indeed, I can tell you she has. Mom just double-downed on the smear campaign against her daughter. Inside the family everyone just said I was a liar. To be born an innocent and assumed a liar is a real mind-fuck. But it’s the way things are. People don’t want to admit how shitty and diabolical and petty they are to themselves. They enjoy it too much and why stop when you do it so well you get away with it every time. No, there is nothing I could say that would ever make them see or hear me as a real person. My freak flag is a red flag to my blood clan. My behavior was often erratic due to the abuse, and that ma de it easy to pin a lot on me that wasn’t true. As I watched the years go by and my health deteriorate it became clear no one in my blood family regarded me at all. My mother worked desperately hard to make it seem as if my spinal cord injury was some kind of fiction. She was successful. I recovered from two C-sections and a thoracic spinal cord un-tethering over the course of three years. Blood family barely noted the births, and ignored the spinal cord injury and operation completely. I went on to have several less invasive surgeries. I became monumentally ill. Blood family did not care, was no where to be found. I was alone, and had been most of my life. To pretend to be included was ridiculous. I allow them to use me as their token Bohemian Artist Facebook Friend, but to disparage and actually cause me harm at the same time? This was not only not family, these were enemies. These were the ones who cut the wounds, over and over, slicing neatly on my tender heart, ea ch year. I wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, successful enough. My work is sub par, they barely could hide their contempt at each new project, and cheered in my face if something failed. These were people who have not earned a place in my life even at a distance. I could not make this break until I knew, without a doubt, that to stay was compromising my soul. I want to include everyone in my life, I want peace, laughter, fun, magic. Why exclude anyone? I learned from my Shamans and Guides that it was time to cut some sand bags off my soaring spirit. To discard roles assigned to me but are not really me. The only role I was allowed in my blood family was as scapegoat, outcast, beating post, laughingstock, weird freak. As a woman with Female Aspbergers –undiagnosed until recently – every trespass against myself or others was a strike against my sense of justice. The Powers That Be never like being challenged or questioned. My uncle dismissed me years ago when I suggested, while his mother cried through a gin & tonic on her bedroom floor, that her drinking might be a real issue. My concern was unwelcome and he did not speak to me again during that trip except to say goodbye. He once overheard a call I made to audition for a club as a cage dancer. Years later he was relaying his observations at a family gathering and described me as calling johns to be a prostitute. My protestations that I just love dancing and could do it all night and get paid fell on deaf ears. It was decided, I was a whore. My very first memory of him was after a long drive to his Vermont cabin with my mom and grandmother. Trips with these women were impossibly stressful. Screaming, fighting, getting out of the car, getting lost. Absolutely unnecessary madness. But that was life with them. It was dangerous for me, and I ran and hid in his basement stairway to calm down. I overheard him asking my mother where I was. He said he hoped I wasn’t sitting on my damn lazy spoiled ass. I was about six. This is what he thought of me, and it only got more dismissive, demeaning and cruel, especially when he married a woman for whom appearance and social standing were of utmost importance. She and her daughters disliked me immediately and spent years making rude remarks about my appearance and work. She despised any ounce of fat, and would simultaneously insult her husband and me because she felt our weight deserved ridicule, in front of dozens of people. Class act. Far more influential than my mother, the true patriarch of the family, not one word, no matter how true, could be said against my uncle. No one cared what I’d experienced. Their exclusion of me is akin to the MSM blackout of Bernie. And for that I should feel accomplished. I am such a threat to the illusions of my blood family that I must be erased. So I’ve done good work here, even though it means I am officially the orphan I truly always was. My blood family w rote me off many years ago, perhaps even before I was born. Mom was already a black sheep, disregarded for her hippie outlook. She was pregnant out of wedlock. If I’d been a boy I’d had more value in the family. My boy cousin who experienced similar abuse at the hands of my mother’s other brother–not the patriarch but his younger brother– (Who my grandmother beat ‘black & blue’, a fact she often proudly shared) was adopted by the uncle who thought I was a whore. His son told me years later his younger brother was beaten savagely by his dad when he was a child. Still, boys were preferred. As just another vagina I was worthless in their eyes. As a loudmouth truth-teller I was dangerous. I’d like to think I served some kind of lesson for them, but I think they just plow ahead, winners all. Us vulnerable, easy-to-hurt kids grow up. But we don’t forget. Some of us never heal, lost and broken our whole lives. I refuse to let their actions take away my right to live a whole life. My right to stand tall as simply me. Not sure why people think it’s okay to rape and beat a child and that they’re going to get away with it. Well they will. They all did with me. My family simply did not believe my being raped and beaten were of any concern. The rapists weren’t people they knew, the beatings. Well. That turns out to just be family tradition. Did I want my children to be around these kinds of people? Sure, maybe they won’t hit them. But their attitude of dismissal, judgement, exclusion, triangulation. I don’t want any of that inside of me, why would I even associate with people that I know really think that way? Bad energy makes people sick. Makes everyone in the radius sick. The result of this ongoing abuse and neglect was that I developed a horrible case of C-PTSD. This means a lot of things that aren’t helpful in life. This means functioning for me is far more complex than for someone with a healthy mind, someone who knows they are loved, accepted, unconditionally. I decided today is the day to circle our wagons. Today is the day we let go of blood family who aren’t allies. Those who exert negative energy. Those who do not encourage. Who do not listen. Who can not hear. Those unwilling to love my children and me unconditionally. Those unwilling to admit to past mistakes and trespasses. Forgiveness cannot be enforced. I am only now learning what that really means. Because throughout all this, my mom told me she loved me more than anything. But you can’t beat someone, berate someone, for hours, for a lifetime, and then say you love them more than anything. Especially not a child. Hugs and kisses are only valuable if they aren’t accompanied by violence and abuse. Children need peaceful, loving, stable formative years. I did not have that, never, only when I was alone, in the woods. My childhood had a base-level of fear at all times. There could be an explosion of rage, attacks, terror, with no warning. Obey, placate, hide. Those were my choices. You can understand why, perhaps, my ideas of trust and relationships are too skewed to be useful. It is apparent, outside of my mother despising me for speaking up and for creating boundaries she cannot cross, no one in my blood family may even think of me. Perhaps, at times, a pawn to be used for their ridiculous power games. Or worse, to pretend to care for me to get free art. Some seem to like my art, but then again, it might just be another way to demean me, as they make sure to only display my work in their bathrooms and kitchens. I gave for years, because I love, I forgive, I want only inclusion, peace, magic, family, love. I gave always in the hope to be finally, loved and accepted. After a few decades I stopped waiting for them. I’ve stopped giving myself away because I realized I’m made of solid gold. Because I have let go of the blood family that ref used me all of those things, I am free to live for my beliefs without the judgment, limitations and cruelty my blood family has shown me. It is perhaps because of their actions that today no one can put me down, hurt me, change my path or convictions. Once you have lived as a prisoner because of who you simply are, there is never anything to fear again. So I tell all these little bad stories for context, but I don’t hold anyone to blame, and neither should you. We are all here for the lessons we signed up for. I cannot say that any of my blood family are ‘bad’ people. They, too, were born into sociopathy, judgment, mistreatment, misunderstanding. Even my mother is capable of great kindness and love. The price is just too high for me. I recognize they could not shun me if they did not feel such ties to the powers of exclusion themselves. So there is nothing to fix or blame. It all is as it is. They tried to love me as best they could, but I could not be the girl they needed me to be. I didn’t fit. I am now, finally, who I truly am. I fit very well, here. I am a good woman and I work everyday to create my little world in the peaceful, loving, kind service I want my life to be. I am humble but not weak. I am proud, strong and determined but I want to leave generous space for others to be whole. I want to watch the whole world bloom into a new consciousness. I want to help make that happen, and I can’t do it with these folks who keep saying I shouldn’t and I’m not worth it and blah blah blah. Sorry folks, you had your chance to love me! Today I celebrate my independence as a woman whole with love, forgiveness and autonomy. Today I celebrate standing firm in my beliefs, morals and convictions, without compromise for the comfort of those who could not bear to see me stand whole. To these people, I wish you love and light and a safe journey. Our time together has come to an end.
— Alexandra, age 44