My self-improvement journey continues, in full transparency. Nothing less than full transparency is entertaining, and my hope for this blog is that if nothing else, you will be entertained by my attempts to make sense of shit.
This Christmas we ran away from home, away from hosting the in-laws, and two of my siblings. I didn’t want to deal with bullshit and pretentiousness.
Christmas comes with nostalgia though, right? I look back at what I wanted all the previous Christmases and what made them magical. My dad and his mother spent an ungodly amount of money on my gifts when I was a child. I would open them, be joyful, then get all dolled up in some frilly dress, so I could then be “seen and not heard” as the house filled with adults my dad and stepmom wished to impress. My stepmother would usually be overheard telling other mothers/relatives how “irresponsible” or “immature” I was. One year, she literally put coal in my stocking, because “you’re just always bad”…. I couldn’t have been ten years old yet. I cried and she told me it was just a joke, to get over it. I wasn’t able to get over anything until long after college. Thick skin doesn’t happen until scar tissue has had a chance to form.
Since my parents had joint custody, my biological mother kept me every other Christmas. If she was dating someone, or married to someone, they knew they could impress her by impressing me on Christmas. The whole day was about me, and her other children when they were born (and the older children, but they were adults already and it was just different). On Christmas, she wanted nothing more than to be with us all day. She didn’t care about anyone else. I have never felt more important than I did at my mom’s on Christmas. I miss her each Christmas. She’s dead now. (Don’t smoke, kids.)
However, I also remember calling my mom, hiding under dad’s desk, afraid of getting caught, and using our secret “Come get me, I’m not okay” phrase after my stepmom told me I ruined her marriage and walked out vowing to never come home, and hearing my mother say she was going to bed and that I’d be fine. I wasn’t fine. That was the first night I cut myself. I remember moving in with my mom and getting yelled at for interrupting her and my stepdad “which you don’t do when the door is closed” because my ceiling fan was literally on fire. I remember her refusing to see me and my son, because I wasn’t willing to let him stay overnight for days if she had to work during those days, and my kid siblings would be his primary caretaker. When I look at my children, so frequently I remember her telling me that if I wanted to come live with her, I’d need to get some courage and take that up with my dad because she was powerless. How much power do you have when you’re 9? 10? I told my dad several times I wanted to live with my mom, and he said I was ungrateful for how good I had it, and said “no”. I remember moving in with her for the most confusing year of my life, hearing her lie to me about the car repossession. “It broke down, we’ll get another one tonight”. I remember taking care of my younger siblings each night when she and my stepdad went out to get coffee. I was 17, and solely responsible for the bedtimes of a 5-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl. I wasn’t great at it. I remember her telling me that if I continued refusing to eat, she couldn’t afford therapy for anorexia, so she’d have to “ship me back off to dad’s”. I remember her telling me that my sexual assault was my fault. When I think about my mom, Tracy Bonham’s song Mother Mother plays in my head. Actually, the whole album (The Burdens of Being Upright) plays. It’s a good album. My life could be similarly titled “The Burdens of Being Upwrong”. I’ve never fit in, not in either home, not in peer groups, not anywhere except in high school among the boys that didn’t know how devoutly religious I was.
Christmas is about the kids. My kids had an amazing Christmas with a movie, a Christmas show at a theatre, dinner on a boat, and a hotel stay... in which they were seen AND heard all day. I want them to not grow up to be entitled brats, and I want them to grow up with confidence. Somehow, I feel like these things are mutually exclusive and handling Christmas confuses the fuck out of me. Tonight I went to Target, and someone left their coffee cup near the conveyer belt by the register. Since Starbucks is so kind to write names on cups these days, I wanted to shout “Megan, didn’t your mother teach you to clean up after yourself?” Will my kids clean up after themselves? Will they look down on people whose jobs are to keep clean the spaces we enjoy? Will they be snobs who treat servers at restaurants with no reverence or respect? Will they be like MEGAN???? What if Megan is a mom… asking herself if she is screwing up her kids just like me, and losing her cup in the haze?
This is the kind of thing Christmas does to me. I suppose this is better than watching my mother-in-law parent my children, insult my food, take over my home. This is better than watching my sister pretend she knows anything about my children, or pretend she has any interest. This is better than watching my brother on one of the few occasions he actually makes an effort to connect with them anymore, and wondering why they aren’t worth the effort to him on days other than Christmas or birthdays. Why wasn’t I worth the effort to my mother on days that weren’t Christmas? Why am I not worth the effort now to the siblings I have poured myself into? Why am I not worth it to my father who promised to move to my state and then backed out because “the land deal went south” (because apparently there’s only one lot available in my whole state) and decided on yet another far away state? Why the hell do I care how much others care or do not care about me?
In other news, I’ve been brushing my teeth around 10. Isn’t that something?