From my earliest days, my high sensitivity to sensory and emotional impact (and therefore differing needs) were identified as trouble-making, a betrayal, a burden, a lack of gratitude, shameful, punishable. I see now how I presented as the ideal scapegoat, the youngest, the most sensitive, the least able to abide by the optic. My Grandmother and Uncle frequently warning me how I should smile more and I would be prettier, why must I LOOK so miserable? These impositions were not born out of a concern for my peace, comfort, joy, mental health. Rather, requirements to appear happy were to fulfill the needs of others and to insure my belonging. My inability to do that—to serve in that way, caused the most amount of trouble for me. Our family lore will present this differently and that is OK. I share only my own experience here.
I dont super love Christmas music but, like trauma, song lyrics stick with you – and that inside knowing and memory just kicks in— and you sing along without even meaning to. This morning, for the first time, I noted these lyrics (which we sing without too much thought)–how relevant they are to my struggle and recovery. “Better not pout, better not cry.”
I now recognize my pain and discomfort from not only being deeply sensitive and, not knowing how to cope or manage the sustained overwhelm, compounded by panick over the price to be paid for failing to effectively mask– to pass for a comfortable, satisfied, secure child—reflective of a healthy home and loving environment. At a very unconscious level, I recognized and stressed that if I did not lighten tf up, I would pay the high and humiliating price of observable banishment, alienation, and shitty and few gifts.
My discomfort was not the problem but the symptom of unwellness in our family system. It is intensely painful to recall how my sister would gain traction off of me by seeing to it that I had something to fret- A belittling comment or cruel threat which only I could hear. She literally thrived in my despair- and insured for herself in this way that she may shine by comparison. She enjoyed privately setting me on fire and then also heroically show up as a first responder to point out and tend to the fire.
Today is in fact beautiful(and deeeply painful still) because I spend it with my best friend of fifty years am welcome to be exactly who and how I am. I am tormented though— as I recall not only “family” Christmases past, but also recent ones in which my sister and my sons’ father dedicated effort to arrangements which would alienate my sons from me. I can not imagine what they had hoped to come of their scheme- how they thought it would play out and with zero regard for the continued cost my sons get to pay– the fall out of their unholy alliance, and elsiting my sons in acts of betrayal to their mother. What did they think that would do for or teach my sons?
Who even does that- Woman survives high conflict marriage and divorce. Big Sister meets ex-husband post divorce. And promptly aligns with him to collectively diminish and erase her sister. There is no other way to spin that. Seriously. I wished I could forget and just smile so Santa could at last validate me with the gifts and the glory, reserved for the happy and smiling. Fuck that santa, though.Much Love,
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