writing down the sun

Why You’re Not Seeing More Of Me

Posted in relativity by annie on July 14, 2007

She comes over infrequently, but when she does, it’s usually marked by at least one naked insult. She’ll say it with a laugh, as if that makes it all right. I’m left with a choice I find discomfiting: do I tell her to shut the hell up? Or do I ignore the insult – act as if it never happened? What, exactly, is the best reaction to this woman and her disapproval?

I’m inclined not to blame her for the way she is. They’re pretty much all like this – her whole family. Only one – my mother – escaped that peculiarly virulent strain of heavy handed judgmentalism. The fact that they’re related to me no longer means much to me, since my mom’s death. I’ve been trying – somewhat ineffectually – to escape their clutches for some time now; Mom’s conciliatory presence and desperate need for family togetherness kept pulling me back in. Her death opened a door, in a way, to a future without them.

That, of course, is easier said than done. So, when sister #2, a particularly unwelcome variant, showed up on my doorstep unexpectedly a few months back (visiting sister #1), I was taken aback. All my post-funereal resolve evaporated. I could have opened the door, told her coolly but civilly that she wasn’t welcome here and let that be that. But I let her in. I talked to her. I showed her photographs. Hell, I hugged her.

This gives me no pleasure – me, the person who’s always trying to earn her dead mother’s respect by striving to be as kind as she was in life. I know the bigger thing – the kind thing – is to forgive them their trespasses and move on. But something in me needs to cut them out of my world to be whole. Rather like debriding a wound – removing an abscess – cutting out the infection. They’ve done enough damage, I think.

Then, I think, have they, really? Have they done any damage at all? They’re awful, to be sure. But did they leave a permanent mark and leave me worse off than before? Yes, to the former – not really, to the latter. Worse off – that would imply a lessening. And their transgressions haven’t lessened me – or my brother, from whom I discovered that the inferiority trip hadn’t started with me, after all.

Maybe I fear the part of me that’s actually hurt by the insults – that wants approval, approbation. That’s a part I’m not at all comfortable with – it’s a part that goes against everything I think I am.

I honestly don’t know what to do, except avoid the situation altogether.

And that’s why she’s not seeing more of me.