Broken

The last week has been amazing in so many ways.  Things are falling into place.  F and I are working together really well.  Our bi-weekly finance discussion went so smoothly this week that we ended up thanking each other for working as a team and cooperating so well.  We laughed about things our crazy kids did.  I offered to do some things for him, he for me.  It was so….functional.  

My job is gearing down for the summer.  This is awesome, because it has been, at times, rather insane, with long days and intense work stresses.  I love my job, but even a job I love gets overwhelming with pressure sometimes.  I  also had a great weekend with so many friends around me that love me.

So everything is shiny and beautiful and perfect, right?

No.

I’ve been really down the last couple of days.  This is completely unlike me. I’m normally a super positive person.  I usually have to focus on something super sad to even cry when I want to.  (Unless I’m angry, I can cry very easily when pissed off).  Yesterday, for unknown reasons, my date ghosted and I ended up alone in the evening.  This isn’t that big of a deal. I like being alone with myself.  I’m great company for myself.  But the overwhelming sadness just wasn’t going away.  I asked A to go out for a drink, but he was busy.  This isn’t surprising, he’s always busy these days, and I’m trying to be cognizant of exactly how much I’m asking of him, which in recent weeks has been more than he can give because I haven’t been coping with life that well. I know that sometimes I need to find my support elsewhere, and working out exactly what I need to do to get what I need and, truthfully, even recognizing what I need, is a challenge.  

So, since I was utterly alone last night, I headed into our gorgeous river valley to feed the mosquitoes go for a walk.  I decided I was going to focus on the super sad things that have happened in my life in the last 5 months, to see which one was the one that was trying to make itself known.  I had 2 grandparents die.  My dad was diagnosed with cancer.  My sister attacked me unfairly in a family text conversation and we haven’t talked since.  D broke up with me via email.  I asked F for a separation and we have had near endless conflict for about 9 months. I figured if I was sad, I probably had one or more of these things still to deal with. What this meant is that I was completely overrun with despair. I walked and walked and stifled tears the whole way.  I was feeling dejected and unloved and unwanted and weak and overwhelmingly hurt.  I can’t explain how bad I felt, I haven’t ever felt the way I did last night.  I got back to my car, sat in the driver’s seat and cried.  Full on sobbing, ugly tears, break-down cried.  It hurt in my heart and my stomach and my head.  I cried for probably a good 20 minutes until F texted me to ask me if I was coming home soon because he wanted to get to W’s house.  I figured if I sat there much longer, someone would call the cops because they would be concerned for my safety, thinking I was about to jump in the river or something.  So, I drove home with tears in my eyes, just hoping I could hold it together while I said goodbye to F so that I didn’t have to explain to him that I was broken but didn’t know why.  

Well, that didn’t work.  I walked in and he immediately asked me if I was OK.  I said I didn’t want to talk about it and stood their crying silently as he talked about the day he and the kids had.  He looked up and realized what was happening and stopped talking and offered me a hug.  I declined and he asked if I was sure.  I took the hug.  It was the first proper hug he’s given me since early February.  It wasn’t what I needed, but it helped. It got me out in the yard to do some work before I went to bed and helped redirect me.

I was chatting with X and K during the evening as they both asked how I was doing and I was honest.  X said he had been thinking that he wondered how I did it all, and he concluded that I am Wonder Woman.  K said that he didn’t know how I held up as long as I did and that I’m superhero strong and a real lioness.  In my weakest moment, two people who I care about deeply said something about me being so strong.  I felt so vulnerable and so broken.  I cried even more then, but it helped to realize that people who actually know me see me as a strong person, and that it was OK that I was sad.

I think what happened, or what is happening, is that life has calmed down.  I’m no longer running on adrenaline, putting metaphorical fires out, bouncing from one stressful life event to the next.  I don’t have constant conflict in my life.  I’m not busy like I was a couple months ago.  I’ve had sufficient, and even abundant, down-time lately.  Dealing with the stresses in my life, on top of parenting my children, maintaining my career, boyfriends, friendships, and family obligations has been overwhelming the past months, and I was just operating on autopilot, because I didn’t have the luxury of taking time to process.  I think my subconscious decided that now that I have time, it was OK for me to feel all the feelings.  All those feelings came out all at once last night.  I broke.

This is all OK. Actually normal.  Of course I couldn’t hold it all together.  Who could?  

My friend, the one who came for my birthday, when I posted about my crying in a group we are in together with four of our mutual friends, said: “ It’s normal to feel some sadness. While there are some great things happening in your life, there is also some not so great things happening in your life. Sometimes it’s great to have a good cry.”

Rock reforms with the pressure of water.  Water carves canyons and creates beautiful creations simply by running over it.  I’m hoping that’s what my tears are doing, helping me reform and create something beautiful.  

 

Positive spin

The other day was a crazy day for me. Between F and Sister, I just wasn’t dealing with what life was handing me.  My mom called me in the evening and asked me if I thought my sister had lost it.  Why yes mom, yes I do.  Having talked to my friends, I’m not sure this is abnormal behaviour of if it’s just an extreme version of her normal though, in retrospect. 

There were a few things that happened because of my crazy sister and sharing with my people that stuck out for me.  In the best way possible.  I felt incredibly loved and supported.  A, D, G, and several other of my besties all were amazing.  

I was having a really hard time and trying to do my job and really struggling and I reached out to G in the midst of all my sister’s awfulness.  Here’s how our conversation went:

G1G2G3

I have a group of friends where I used to live who are among my best friends in the world. I’ve been leaning on them for so much support and when I shared what my sister with them, this is what happened:

friends 1friends 2friends 3friends 4

And then today, in a conversation about my mom asking if I think she’s losing it:

friends 5

Later in the day, I invited A out and he said ‘no’, which is a central theme lately because he’s so fucking busy, and somewhere in our exchange I realized that I was emotionally done.  As I was crying in my car, I told him I just couldn’t do the conversation we were having.  It wasn’t even an emotional conversation, but I was having some pretty emotional responses to it.  The day was kicking my ass and I wasn’t coping.  I pointed him in the direction of my last blog post to get the details.  I just couldn’t go through explaining it again.  While I was doing some retail therapy (OK, I actually hate shopping, but this girl absolutely needed some new work clothes and was in the mood to buy something that made me feel pretty after all the badness), I got his response:

A1A2

I had told D early in the day that I went to bed with horrificness from my sister in a family thread and woke up to even more, but he tends to get a little upset about the stress in my life and I didn’t want to bother him at work, so in the evening I sent it all to him.  Here’s how that conversation went:

D1D2D3D4D5D6

I spent a bit of time thinking during the day about what if my sister’s perception of me was accurate.  What if people think I’m a manipulative, mean-spirited, judgmental person? What if I really lack the self-awareness and the problem isn’t with her, but with me?  Having heard some awful assumptions about my motivations and behaviours from F, hearing sister say similar things was really hard for me.  How is it that two people who I’ve been so close to can say such similar awful things about me.  Some of it must be true, right?

Well ya.  Because I’m not perfect. I make mistakes.  I have said things in anger that were meant to hurt. I haven’t always taken the high road.  I haven’t always supported them in the way I should.  I own my mistakes. I apologized for them.  I’ve worked on bettering myself and my communication skills and my patience and I’ve forgiven over and over what they’ve done to me.  That’s the central theme.  I’ve forgiven them.  I’ve forgiven myself.  But they haven’t forgiven me.  I am held to these unattainable standards that aren’t communicated, and then blamed when I fail to achieve them.  They both seem to think that I should be doing all the work to change, with no awareness of their own failings.  

While I was thinking this last part through, I realized how much sister and F have in common.  Then I thought about my dad.  My dad is the prototype for my sister’s dysfunctional passive aggressive and often outright aggressive style.  The lack of self-awareness, avoiding taking responsibility, blaming others for problems, and horrible communication all comes from my dad.  My sister comes by it naturally.  It is both nature and nurture.  Apparently my daddy issues came out in my choice of husband too.  Seems I married a version of him.

Polyamory broke that mold for me.  I entered into relationships with men who know how to communicate.  Who take responsibility for their actions.  Who know how to prioritize the things that are important to them.  Men who can adult.  Somewhere in there, with all the functional, productive and generally easy communication, mutual respect, and connection, I no longer had the capacity to wade through F’s passive aggressive bullshit.  Polyamory broke me out of my daddy issues and years of dysfunction.  F and sister just aren’t handling the fact that I’m happy and can take care of myself.  

I can take care of myself.  But even better, I have a veritable army of people who have my back.  I have six amazing girlfriends who all sent me wonderful messages of support and love.  Who saw what was happening and offered intelligent perspective and genuinely kind and supportive comments.  I have two boyfriends who responded with support, love, compassion, kindness, and anger.  I have people so firmly in my court that they are actually angry at my sister for verbally assaulting me.  Those same people are also very aware of who I am and what type of support and encouragement I need.  Those same people are people I’m eternally grateful for and hope I can one day be even a small measure of support to them in the same way.  I am so very fortunate.

 

Sisterly support?

I may have eluded to the fact that my sister was the first person I confided in when F and I decided to be polyamorous.  Her reaction was horrible. She yelled, screamed, accused, and generally berated me for a week.  What I got from that was that she doesn’t think very much of me.  She thinks I’m a bad person. She thinks I treat her badly, that I’m a bully, that I judge her.  According to her, this all started one night when we were building a puzzle in my kitchen and I tried to move the puzzle to complete the edge. Apparently it was a metaphor for my dealings with everyone in my life.  According to her, I don’t care about the hard work of other people and I just push my way through them, not caring who I hurt in the process.  I certainly don’t think that’s the way I operate. Here’s the thing.  She got mad about that at least four months before she blew up at me.  She was living, for free, in my basement, while I paid for babysitters to go to work, and she undermined my babysitter daily. It was pretty awful.  I should have talked to her about what she was doing, but I was a little busy starting a new job and living my life while she took advantage of my generosity.

I deleted all the text conversations we had, because I couldn’t handle the awfulness.  I didn’t want to reread a long argument between her and I.  

At Easter, my sister was being wicked awesome with my kids.  They were making vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, and someone got the idea of trying to explode a bottle in the back yard.  She headed out to the backyard to mix things up, put on the cap, and ran away.  It became pressurized and didn’t explode.  She snuck up on the bottle and tried to get it to explode, opened the lid and squeezed out the liquid.  I videoed it and it was hilarious. It was so fun and awesome. The kids loved it, everyone was laughing, it was great family time.  I said I thought it was awesome and I was going to post it her Facebook wall, and she said “Then I’ll delete it.”  I posted the video to my Facebook and tagged her in it. I legitimately didn’t understand that she didn’t want it posted. I thought she was joking with me.  I thought it was an awesome family moment. She felt otherwise. Of course, instead of saying something, at dessert, she decided scream at me about how she’d been trying to remove the tag on Facebook for hours.  I just said “Oh, why didn’t you tell me you didn’t want it posted, I can take it down right now.”  She yelled that she had told me.  There was a back and forth that involved me saying that I have enough people in my life not actually saying what they need that I didn’t need her poor communication.  She told me that she “knows the only reason I posted that video is so that my friends and I could make fun of her.” She said that I had intentionally not posted pictures of her at my kids’ birthdays and Christmas and then chose to post something to embarrass her.   At that point I left the room.  I came back and said that she needs to get over herself, she’s not that important, my friends and I don’t talk about her, good or bad.  I told her that I hadn’t posted pictures of her because I either didn’t have them or the ones I had weren’t pictures she’d want me to post.

I had had a conversation with my mom about my will a few days before, and she suggested that I change the guardian of my children from my brother-in-law to my sister in the event of my death.  I said I wasn’t comfortable with my sister having the kids because her lifestyle isn’t conducive to having four kids.  My mom said that she would rise to the occasion in the event that it happened.  She was concerned that my brother-in-law is as passive aggressive as F.  Well, this was an example of my sister being even as passive aggressive.  I told my mom, after this exchange, that this was why my brother-in-law was preferable.  She just said “Well, don’t die.”  I love my mom. It must be so hard for her to see her kids doing this.  

And then in the last 24 hours it got worse.  

My daughter’s 5th birthday party was on Sunday.  I took pictures, and posted one to Instagram of my sister watching present opening.  Then this happened:

Screenshot_20170508-223611Screenshot_20170508-223627Screenshot_20170508-223632

This was between us on Instagram.  I decided that I didn’t need the abuse, deleted her off my social media.  It’s my space.  I don’t let people treat me badly in my space.  She took screen shots and put it in a Viber thread that contains my mom and my step-dad.   This is where it continues.

Screenshot_20170509-073302Screenshot_20170509-073309Screenshot_20170509-073317Screenshot_20170509-073323Screenshot_20170509-073329Screenshot_20170509-073339Screenshot_20170509-073346Screenshot_20170509-073354Screenshot_20170509-083735Screenshot_20170509-083741Screenshot_20170509-083749Screenshot_20170509-104810Screenshot_20170509-104817Screenshot_20170509-113450Screenshot_20170509-113458Screenshot_20170509-113504Screenshot_20170509-113512

I want to respond, but nothing good can come of it.  She’s passive aggressive, mean, and unaccountable for her actions.  She blames me for things that aren’t my fault.  But the things I would say if I thought responding would be reasonable are:

  1. I never intentionally cut you out of pictures or didn’t post any. You didn’t come to Christmas, and those pictures that I did have of you at other times are the types you wouldn’t want posted.  So I didn’t post them.
  2. I didn’t post that video to show a failure or embarrass you, I thought it was a great example of you being an awesome and fun auntie and of us having some good family time together.  It was so nice to have that laugh 24 hours after I asked F for a separation.
  3. I’ve never tried to control you or anyone else.  I’m glad you feel emotionally stable.  I liked you when you showed a small measure of compassion and care for your family and your friends.  I enjoyed being with you.  Fuck, I let you live for free in my basement for over a year with you hardly ever contributing.  Towards the end, I was paying a babysitter to take care of my kids while you slept in the basement, woke up, undermined said babysitter and left.
  4. You are terribly judgmental – it comes out in your reaction to my confiding in you about polyamory, in the way you talk about my parenting, how you criticize my 7-year-old when you think she needs a bath, or when she behaves like a 7-year-old does and wants a friend to herself and you call her a bully and refuse to spend any more quality time with her. It comes out in the negative things you say about natives, homeless people, professional people, and anyone who doesn’t believe in naturopathy and homeopathy.  It comes out when you criticise me for trusting science and not believing in your unproven, scientifically implausible, often times completely discounted natural medicine.  It comes out in the way you talk about your “friends”, their clothing, their choices, the things they say.  
  5. I didn’t decide “to set my husband up with other women”.  I am polyamorous.  I discussed things with him and we decided together.  Much like you, his version of history frequently changes, but polyamory is so much different from what you are talking about.  It’s really too bad you can’t understand.
  6. When you say racist things about Muslims and aboriginals, when you justify slavery in America, when you spout pro-Trump rhetoric, or right-wing conservative propaganda, in front of my kids and in my house, I will always respond. Me not agreeing with a belief you have is not me attacking you.  It’s me not agreeing with a belief you have.  I can love you but still think you are wrong.  It’s not gaslighting. It’s not criticism. It’s not abuse.  It’s not even an attack. It’s me disagreeing with your opinion.
  7. My attitude to you changed when you yelled at me, criticized me, called me a whore, and blamed me for things that I never did.  You spent an entire week telling me everything you have every perceived as a slight. Because I told you I was polyamorous.
  8. I have never asked you if I can post every single picture.  I did ask you when I took them and you lived with me. But I can’t win on this.  If I don’t post a picture, you accuse me of intentionally cropping you out, if I do post a picture, it’s not good enough.  
  9. I am not hurtful and mean spirited.  I never have been and I never will be.  Have I said things in anger that I shouldn’t have? Definitely.  Do I wish I hadn’t? Sure.  But I have never intentionally hurt anyone.  I’m sorry if you feel I have.
  10. I’ve never fought you on your feelings. You want me to delete something I post of you? Say so.  Don’t accuse me of doing things I haven’t done, and expect me to accept your abuse. I never said I didn’t care about how you feel about a picture you don’t like.  You just had to ask me to take it down. Nothing else needed to be said. I thought it was a good pic.
  11. You keep saying that I “intentionally cut you out of pictures”; “posted a failure video to make fun of you”; “post a picture you don’t like” to hurt you.  I literally don’t think about you enough to do any of those things.  First, I’m just not that intentional, and would never do something to hurt someone, and second, you just aren’t that big of a concern in my life.  You aren’t that important that I, or my group of friends, spend any amount of time talking about you and how to do things to you.  It’s very self-centered of you to think that we would.  So when I say “get over yourself”, that’s what I mean.
  12. I haven’t approached you since last summer. At all. Harshly or otherwise.  I most certainly haven’t been treating you badly your whole life.  If you think I have and you are blaming me for some of these things, you should probably reevaluate some of your perspectives.  But if you want to scapegoat me to escape responsibility, go ahead.
  13. You have never tried to fix anything.  You have definitely not tried “everything”. You have never come to me about anything. You have never communicated with me.  I guess if you feel that insulting, criticizing, and generally abusing me is communication, you have.  But I don’t know on what planet you think the way you talk to me would ever be effective in either getting me to have a basic understanding of the message you really want to send or getting me to change some perceived bad behaviour.
  14. I’m sorry I hurt your feelings. I said things in anger, and I shouldn’t have engaged you.  But it’s not fucking intentional and I certainly haven’t done the things you say I have.
  15. Quit making excuses about your language being too aggressive. You insult, criticise, and accuse. That’s not communication. That’s being an asshole.  I don’t care who you work with. It’s not OK.  .
  16. I want to have a sisterly relationship with you. I always have. Those 4 short years where we got along were great.  But somewhere along the way, communication broke down and I just can’t make the sacrifice to my self-esteem to bend over and do what  you seem to think I need to do to make things right.  I love you, but I can’t do this right now. I can’t take your abuse, criticism, accusations, or negative attitude. I need people who love me and support me around me. People who will actually communicate their needs and desires directly. People who will not make arbitrary rules and then get mad at me when I don’t know them and don’t follow them. I can’t. I can’t do this with you.
  17. I hope people out there who say they are my friends aren’t actually scared to talk to me.  But if they are, they aren’t my friends.  I had several people comment on what a colossal passive aggressive bitch you are, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?  
  18. I can’t do this to mom.  She is my rock. She is the person who accepts me without fail, and I won’t hurt her.  Please don’t do this to her.  But if you have to, don’t include me.

There’s probably more.  But honestly, I’m just hurt. And tired. I can’t deal with attacks on two fronts.  Have I made mistakes? Absolutely.  But I’m not the only one who has, I’m just the only one who acknowledges it. I need to take care of myself and my kids.  My sister is going to just have to continue throwing attacks that don’t get a response, because I need my energy to negotiate with F and work out a separation and be there for my kids.  While my sister doesn’t understand this, my boyfriends, friends, and other family do.  For them, I’m eternally grateful.