A couple days before Thanksgiving I began to wonder about the people that didn't have anywhere to go for dinner. The homeless, the family-less, the ones who couldn't afford to attend dinner with family far away. Even more so I was reminded of my own estrangement from my family. I was all too familiar with the feelings of isolation that holidays can bring for some of us. Even though I do have a wonderful husband, and 3 great kids to spend holidays with I still feel a tinge of sadness to know that it will be just us together celebrating without any other family, even though I do have parents, and a sibling that is alive in the same state.
It's been about 9 or 10 years now that I haven't celebrated any holidays, or birthdays with my side of the family. As time passed it turned from what used to be a festering, painful wound down to what now feels to be a dull ache. There's something about being nominated the black sheep, the unwanted, and wrong by your own parents that causes a deep down sense of self-doubt. It whispers from so far deep inside your psyche that the toxic voice gets indistinguishable from your own. They eventually turn into one in the same. You don't know why, but you feel out of place everywhere. You question your sanity, and worth as a person in everyday small ways that don't seem like criticism. It's just the way you perceive yourself, and your life. Every year this voice becomes closer to the surface, as your defenses fall, until one day you second guess it. "Wait," you say to yourself. "Do I think that? Is that my view about myself, or is that the way I was taught to see myself?" The hurt ego falls away to allow you to begin to get to know the you without all the pain in the way. Our fears get in the way of this process, but dealing with them is just part of the process. Being the scapegoat of the family often lends us a feeling of threat being around every corner. It can truly feel this way when you're a child in this type of environment. What kept us going, and surviving as children hinders us as adults. I know that I learned to identify anything out of place, or threatening in my environment as a way to protect myself. Problem is, is that this way of coping turned me into a negative radar. Always anxious, always preparing for the worst. My defense was my demise.
Time passing has helped this. I have actively worked on my self-esteem from a hundred different angles. Mostly unsuccessfully. Recently a med change has made a world of difference. My OCD issues have almost all the way turned off, literally like a light. I feel no shame in admitting this. It's not a personal flaw to benefit from psyche meds. This clearing of obsessive thoughts, and compulsions has left me with a more accurate vision of my life, and my self. I know the hard, soul breaking work that I have put into being a functional version of myself. This challenge has been life long. I don't care if someone else doesn't like it. I do want others to know that there is no shame in using meds as a tool to manage your emotional and mental health. Its not about trying, or not trying. No one has it "easier" because they're using a tool that greatly improves their health. For some of us there is no easy, or hard way. There is only is one way to cope, because no other has ever worked.
Part of letting go of this baggage, this label of unworthy is to accept that the closure you're looking for is not out there.There was a couple of articles (sorry, I didn't save them) that I read in the last year about how narcissistic parents don't love their kids. They literally don't have the capacity to do so. These articles led to me to a better understanding of the forces that were behind relationships in my family. You see, I always (consciously and unconsciously) wondered what it was about me that made my parents target me as the black sheep, the outsider. The long and short answer was/is that they never did love me. They can't. They don't love anyone. They just swing from moment to moment filling their lives with whoever will support their antics, and provide the supply of dysfunction they need. It wasn't anything I did, or was. It's not me that is unlovable. It's not me that is the problem. This may sound like the worst discovery ever, but it was far from it. I used to comb over my memories wondering when it happened. When was I no longer acceptable to them as their daughter. There was no moment. This was closure to me.
I guess the point to this post is to inspire some hope in those of you that are in the same position. With Christmas coming in about two weeks many estranged children of toxic parents feel extra vulnerable. My heart goes out to the lonely, and the ones that feel cut off from society, or family. It seems cliche to say that you're not alone, but you truly aren't. At least not in spirit. Things change as time goes by, Hearts mend, and love comes from unexpected places as we heal. Situations change. You don't have to carry the pain around with you, owning it as part of who you are. Chances are that if you were the only person/sibling to be outed from your family then you're likely the healthiest, least cooperative to the dysfunction. Remember that.