Tuesday, March 16, 2004

More About Me Than You Care To Know!

Sometimes I have to ask myself why I make things so damn difficult. In a conversation with XXXX yesterday I got very sarcastic. This he did not like, granted the sarcasm was directed at me it did indirectly make him seem to be a bad guy, which he most definitely is not. He told me it was hurtful. He was right. I felt bad for having said what I said and apologized. Then XXXX put me on the spot and asked why I got sarcastic and hurtful. The tears started immediately. I said that it was just how I grew up, everyone being sarcastic. I couldn’t give him an answer right away. I had to think (and cry). Why do I get sarcastic? Fear. Fear of rejection. Make sense? No? Well didn’t really to me either until I thought about it more – it all became really clear later last night (long after the uncomfortable conversation ended). I was able to tell XXXX that yesterday though, fear of rejection. It’s my safety mechanism when I think someone is going to reject me or leave me, I get sarcastic to try to lessen the blow. He pointed out that it really doesn’t work, which is true, but I convinced myself over the years it does.

If you’re curious about my psyche, keep reading – here’s a little family history. I was always a shy, sensitive kid – I think I got it from my father, the sensitive part – now I look at my youngest, Cabbage Patch, and I see that she’s very sensitive, thankfully not shy but a little on the sensitive side (what a pain I must have been to my mother). My parents divorced when I was 6. I took it very hard, took it very personally and was very hurt by it. I didn’t see my father for many, many years – but that’s a story for a different day. My mother made the horrible decision to move us (me and my sister) in with her mother, our grandmother. My grandmother is not a sympathetic woman, nor is she an understanding woman. Empathetic, kind, giving or sweet are also words not used to describe her. What she is mostly is tyrannical, selfish, manipulative, paranoid, pompous and a cruel dictator. Or at least she was. She’s changed over the years. At any rate, the decision to move us from the stability and love of our father to the instability (and I mean that in ALL ways possible), poverty and emotional abandonment of my grandmother was a fool hardy and idiotic one. One that we (my sister and I) would pay for. My sister and I learned quickly that we were at the very bottom of the list of priorities. Truly. The cats were considered well before we were. I remember a time when we got to watch the cats have dinner while our bellies were growling. No money to feed us, but let’s not make the precious little kitties suffer. This was (is) my grandmother’s mentality. The comfort of her furry beasts came well before the comfort of her own flesh and blood. A hard lesson and mean lesson for a child to learn. The next year was the year I was injured in a car accident due to my uncle’s blind anger and idiocy. This left me with scars. Years later I discovered that instead of my grandmother, my aunt and my mother being overly concerned about the child who had nearly died, they were more worried about concocting a story to cover for my uncle. They were more worried that my uncle would be at fault for the accident! Good L*ord! He WAS at fault! As I said I found this out later – it’s amazing what one can learn from an old police accident report and from talking to one of the police officers who responded to the call. Anyway, when I went back to school I was shunned by the other kids because I had scars on my face. My sister who was always protective of me, became even more so, thus making her also more of an outcast than we had previously been. My grandmother extended no sympathy to me and even went so far as to attempt to cover my scars in an attempt to alleviate her embarrassment of me not being perfect in yet another way. What did I learn? I learned now that love and acceptance was conditional. My conditions were that I be pretty (like my sister), thin (like my sister) and smart (like my sister). I was constantly reminded that I was NOT like my sister and was therefore inferior and not worthy of their love or attention. This was quite painful. I never hated my sister for it, I just wanted to be like her. I cried at night to look normal and to have my daddy – he always loved me. (Note* I realized later in life that my sister had it just as hard as I did and they rode her just as much as they did me). If I was upset because kids teased me at school I was told not to wear my heart on my sleeve and get over it (mean, but in retrospect it did help me make it through the tough times), if I cried for my daddy I was told that he was a son-of-a-bitch and to shut the hell up. If I cried for my mother (who was hardly ever there) I was told to shut the fuck up and stop being a baby. That was life. No one was allowed to have any kind of sad feelings except the adults. No one was allowed to cry. Our hurt feelings were never to be acknowledged as they did not matter. Even our happiness was orchestrated and measured. If we were too happy then someone was sure to change that. The only time I was ever happy was when I was with just my sister – which was a lot since we were latch key kids by then. But our happiness was cautious at best. We lived with the knowledge that whenever the adults returned our life would return to the abuse and neglect we were used to. Depending on the mood of the adults we would either be chastised for something, beaten or told to be quiet and go play. In our house children were to be seen and not heard – actually children were not really even to be seen unless it would benefit the adults somehow, otherwise we were to stay the fuck out of sight, shut the fuck up and don’t make a fucking mess. We got used to it. No one cared what we felt so best not to feel it. No one cared what we said so best to stay quiet. No one wanted to see us so best to not be there. We played outside as much as we possibly could because it meant there was little chance of accidentally enraging the adults and bringing down the wrath of our grandmother upon us. We learned to not trust the adults. Their moods were fickle and quick changing.

When I was 9 my mother hooked up with who would become out step-father. He seemed nice enough, but I didn’t trust him too much, he was an adult after all. He turned out to be not so bad. (later he did something that forever damaged the small amount of trust I did have in him – but that’s another story) His moods were not as volatile as everyone else’s and he seemed genuinely concerned with our happiness. And for all of his short comings he was. He tried harder than anyone else to make us happy and to let us be kids. He let us talk and played games with us. He actually valued us. This was new. And best of all he took us from grandmother and the other adults. Mother became a bit of a different person, oh deep down she was still the same, but since she wasn’t constantly the target of her own mother she was much eaiser to be around. We never had an easy life, poverty was always nipping at our toes, but things were better without grandmother around. About this same time that mother hooked up with her soon to be husband, my aunt hooked up with her future husband. He frightened me, almost more than grandmother. He was gruff and loud and swore a lot. He was also extremely sarcastic and caustic. A compliment was always somehow an insult. My soon to be step-father was also sarcastic though not as harshly as my future uncle. I learned from them. They still insulted me and ran me down, something which I wasn’t supposed to defend myself about – except if done with sarcasm. Sarcasm was my saving grace. I was allowed to banter with the hateful adults if I was being sarcastic. That was considered cute and witty. Sarcasm became my shield from their mean comments. Not that their barbs and insults didn’t hurt because they still stung, I could at least now deflect the damage and maybe, just maybe inflict a bit back to them. For some reason these morons respected that.

As I grew up I held on to that sarcasm. I used it when ever I felt threatened. I used it when ever anyone got to close to me – we moved a lot, it was easier to be sarcastic and funny than to let people know it hurt to say good bye. Things were never permanent in my life – that was one of the few things I could count on, nothing is permanent, no one stuck around and I had to be responsible for myself (my sister was gone by now – I was hoofing it alone). So the sarcasm is what I had to help me through. Not a great way to cope but that’s all I had ever learned.

Counseling later in life helped with learning to be happy (I am a pretty damn happy person, albeit a bit paranoid, obsessive and skeptical, but very happy and optimistic for the most part).

Fast forward to now. I have a great guy as a lover. XXXX is absolutely wonderful. And that scares me. I have a lot of feelings for him. And that scares me. I love the man. And that terrifies me. Why? Because life is just not certain, the future is unsure, nothing is stationary… Okay, really? I worry that it won’t last, that he doesn’t love me, that he’ll find someone better that he likes more than me, that I’m not pretty enough or smart enough for him, that I’m not good enough, that I don’t deserve this euphoric feeling I get when I’m with him, that he’ll find out something about me and run like hell, that it’s all a dream and I’ll wake. Has he done anything to make me doubt his feelings or interest? No, quite the contrary. So why was I so damn sarcastic yesterday? Why did I say things to hurt him? I must have no social skills. I am so much trouble for this man, I honestly wouldn’t not blame him for calling things off – I don’t want him to, but I don’t know that I’d blame him.

So anyway, he doesn’t like my sarcasm and quite frankly after realizing how biting it really is, I’m not all that fond of it either. I need to work on stopping it. That and not being so paranoid with XXXX. Gotta take things one day at a time. Sigh

And that concludes the tour of Judy’s psyche, tune in next time when we explore her relationship with her mother and how that colors her own views of motherhood.

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