Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Tribe is NOT who the family I was born into

Every woman needs a tribe

I'm 50. I'm too old to keep trying to convince my parents to love me.  I guess it might be better said that I'm too old to keep trying to get them to like me.  I assume they love me on some level.  Either way I've spent too many decades trying to prove my worth to them.  I'm old enough to accept that it just won't happen.  My brain has known this truth for a very long time.  It's just taken my heart awhile to catch up.  Hearts are like that.  Formed in our early years the can be rigidly fixed on the lessons learned by people too small to know other truths.  Tiny people with tiny upturned eyes opened wide, eagerly absorbing love and lessons, or the lack there of, from parents and caretakers.  Tiny ears listening to every word. Tiny hearts recording every interaction.  Every moment shapes us.  No experience will be perfect.  There will be bumps and bruises, mistakes and misunderstandings.  Hopefully the good times and love are greater than the bad.

For me they weren't.

I wasn't abused.  I have no horror stories for you to hang your sympathies on.  I'm can not look back and tell you stories of beatings and torture.  What I can tell you is how it feels to be a child alone. Not an only child, I have a brother who we will get to later.  I was just a child alone who somehow raised herself.

Loneliness permeated every part of me.  It started from deep inside and worked its way through my being. It came from the insecurity of knowing I wasn't good enough and yet being given high expectations at the same time.  Knowing that I probably would never be good enough.  Mistake were met with withdrawal of affection.  It was a loneliness that no amount of friends could fix.  Especially since my friendships were often just formed on the surface.  I dreaded letting people into the real me.

I was also often physically alone.  To save money on a sitter I started coming home by myself at 7.  My brother was still at the sitters, but I was home alone from 2:30 until 6:30.  A vivid imagination is both a blessing and a curse for a child alone.  43 years later and I'm still a little convinced that there are vampires waiting just outside and every closed door hides a ghost.

I was an Army brat and that might have been my undoing, but it wasn't.  In the end it was what saved me.  Because we moved a lot I was exposed to many different places and cultures.  That fed my hunger for stimulation and experience.  It taught me to be open and that it's ok to be different.  Lessons I was not ever going to get at home.

For every day I've spent trying to please my parents I've spent at least 2 resenting them.  My head got sore from banging it against the wall that stands between me and their unconditional love. Love and respect was contingent on NOT having opinions and accepting their "constructive" criticism.  It was to be welcomed and standing up for myself always led to accusations of being the attacker.  After all fat people do smell bad and I would have more friends if I was thinner and prettier. I would never grow up to find a man if I didn't change my attitude.  If my brother could get all S+'s in Kindergarten, why wasn't I doing the same in 5th grade?  And so on.

That was my experience.  My brother saw a different side.  No matter what he does there is love and support.  Too much and I don't think it's any more real for him than for me.  Just different.  He has done some really awful things which eventually resulted in prison where he totally failed to learn anything about why he was there.  Still somehow there is always forgiveness and I was expected to join in the praise parade.  Not gonna lie.  I was jealous.  Super resentful. Why him?  Why was he better?  I was born first, wh did I come in second place?  It took me a very long time to realize that blaming my brother was unfair.  He wasn't any more responsible for it than I was.  In many ways he was harmed to a much greater degree.  Sure they didn't call him fat and remind him that he was unattractive and only sort of lovable.  Instead they made sure that he can't survive without them.  He's 45 with 6 kids via 4 women at least one of which he has never seen.  My parents only like 4 of them, so they only help him support those 4.  He's an occasionally employed alcoholic, but that's Obama's fault. (my mom really said that he was unemployed because of Obama) My parents are 70.  Sometime in the next 10 years they will die.  I don't expect my brother to survive 5 years after that.

I'll be ok.  My tribe will be there for me and my life will go on.  I was born into a family that didn't work out so I created a new family.  My tribe.  One that gives me the love and support I needed, not just to survive, but to thrive.  I've always been pretty good at the surviving part, but it took me until midlife to really thrive.

Now I have 4 kids that I love unconditionally. Even when they mess up.  Even when they have different opinions.  I have been married to their father for 30 years. It's not always perfect, but in the end he believes in me.  Often more than I believe in myself.  I have a job I love.  I'm not rich in money, but I always have what I need and most of the time I also have the things I just want.  

My parents are not part of my life these days.  They are on the outskirts, sometimes calling and trying to rope me back in but I'm not interested.  Neither are my kids.  My dad has seen my youngest daughter twice in her 18 years of life.  Liking her pictures on facebook does not make up for that.  Recently he attacked me on social media because I am a "libtard" and mean spirited Democrat.  My tribe had my back and comforted me privately while defending me publicly.  I'm not alone anymore.  Even when I'm all by myself.  That's nice.

My tribe is there.  They celebrate when I'm happy, comfort when I'm sad and call me out when I'm just full of it.  I found them by looking within and doing things.  Things that are true to ME, not true to who people say I'm supposed to be.  Some are people I'm related to, some are people I only know online.  Whoever they are and however I know them - I'm blessed to have each and every one of them in my life.

Find your tribe.  If you were born to them that's wonderful.  You're in a good starting place.  If you were born into a different situation then don't despair.  Your tribe is out there but you can only find them by finding yourself.
so that's how I'm restarting this blog.  I thought about deleting the older stuff but I'm far too lazy for that.  I have a lot to share and catch up on.  I've had a stroke and have diabetes, but I have also grown and changed a lot in the year since I last blogged. I think I"m ready to share.

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