Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Tragedy of Family

Okay, so we weren't The Waltons. Not even close. My best friend, Geoff, who grew up in the same neighborhood I grew up in, had a family that very closely resembled "Ozzie and Harriett". Three nice kids, great mom, good dad, dinner at six. They were all close and they all loved and supported each other.

Enter my family. The Munsters. Depressive mom, absent father (even though he did live there when he wasn't lounging on his yacht or in harbors along Lake Michigan). Four sisters who to this day can't really abide each other. Maybe I should speak for myself. I can't abide my sisters. Thelma, depressive mother, spent the majority of her life screaming at us or crying. She loved to cause dissent among her daughters (misery, after all, does love company). I have concluded that the treatment for her bipolar disorder was unremarkable as well as unreliable in the 1950's and that my mother's nature was really just a failure of the psychiatric field at the time. I sure wish my sisters could get this.

Instead, these women whom I barely speak with, are all still stuck in that vicious cycle our childhood was. They like to fight, they like to make horribly judgmental comments, their lives spiral out of control, their children are out of control and they lie about everything. They are disloyal and disingenuous human beings. I don't know these women because to be around them is to relive a less than ideal childhood and feel all of the bad feelings that existed then. Walking away is symbolic of my need to survive my childhood.

I have survived my childhood, even made a fragile peace with it; but I cannot survive my sisters. That is a tragedy, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make for my own mental health. I would not wish ill will upon them, yet trials and tribulations seem to color their lives regularly. Perhaps they cannot make the leap from what was to what could be. Their "what was" is now their "what is". I sympathize with them, but I protect myself by isolating myself and the people I love from their viciousness.

I have only a small family left, husband, daughter, step-daughter, grandchildren. But we're loving and caring and we don't hurt and maim our way through each other's lives. For those that would, you're simply not invited into my life. I know this doesn't matter a whit to anyone but me. But ultimately, I have to live inside me, and I want to live in peace and keep the monsters from my childhood buried.

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