I am advertising for a family: Mildly dysfunctional is no limitation.
Xmas time up to and including this last week have been difficult for me because of series of events which I will narrate in short form. 1) My brother, who sexually abused me as a prepubescent over an extended period of time (a year?) found out after several years of my hiding my location of residence where I now lived (information given to him second hand by my mother). 2) I had to tell my mother about the sexual abuse, which caused some distancing; at the same time my brother became increasingly insistent to meet with me, sending emails which culminated with one which asked what or had I thought of him while being raped by four men later in life and that he was coming to this city to “meet me.” 3) My parent's solution to this was to “protect me” by inviting him and his family to stay with them during Xmas and have no contact with us for the week before and the week or so he was here. 4) This included going to extended family Xmas brunch to which I was invited (by an aunt and uncle who had previously said any room I entered with Linda, they would leave – they are evangelical); I asked for a moderator at the brunch, and my parents were sent an email saying that their daughter just “wasn’t worth the bother.” So I was never told the location of the meal; my parents and brother attended. 5) The day before my brother’s arrival, my mother, who had repeated said, “I don’t need…NO, I don’t want to ever know what happened.” Suddenly demanded to know, in explicit detail how my brother abused me (and for how long and often). With my brother arriving in hours and with no idea of how the info would be used and honestly, freaking out that my brother was going to be only blocks from where I live, I said it was not an appropriate time. My mother then contacted me again DURING the stay to demand that I immediately give the details, a thrust by thrust account. I said that only in a “safe space” and no, not during his visit, would that occur. 6) This week a date was sent because my mother in particular “needed” to know what had gone on. Before starting I asked her, “Do you believe I was sexually abused by xxxxxxx (my brother)” and she said yes.
The meeting ended up lasting three hours and the basic position of my parents was: The reason we didn’t talk to you for two months, didn’t see you at all, excluded you from family dinners and didn’t talk to you during the Xmas break was all for your own good. I made an analogy about being in elementary school and a bully knocks you down, and instead of helping you up, your best friend goes over and hangs with the bully, talking to them. I said, that is how I feel right now. My father said that I should know, that surely the ‘best friend’ would be mediating for my best long term interest. I should? Even though I am still on the ground and they are way over there? Yes. Oh.
They did not seem to understand that going through in detail the emotional and well as physical actions and costs of what my brother did to me had an effect. I stated at one point that “talking in detail about this is putting xxxxxxx (my brother) in this room, I FEEL him, behind me.” My father (in logical mode) was, “No, he isn’t in this room at all.” I repeated, “Just telling you these things makes him, for me, a physical presence and terrifying in THIS room.” I don’t think Poppycock! Or Balderdash! were used but it worked out the same. They would not verbally allow for the effect talking about the sexual abuse was having on me.
I told them that I did not blame them for not catching my brother in the act, however, the terror and control he held over me for years, the constant crossing of personal boundaries in everything from money to touch is something that occurred in the open and might be something we could talk about as a parenting issue……..? Silence. I moved on. My brother had admitted to my mother to “normal sexual experimentation as occurs between siblings” Which blew me away since how when one sibling is in full sexual adolescence and the other hasn’t reached puberty any ‘experimentation’ could be consensual or ‘normal?’ Also......he admitted it. My parents weren’t going to change significantly thier interaction with him, though they would not host his family because they found it “very crowded” and “intrusive.” My father felt the whole thing was working well because he had “several long talks with xxxxxx (my brother).” My Father confirmed that in the last six years my brother has moved in position from being sure that Linda and I are going to hell to now, to no longer being absolutely sure if we are automatically going to hell or not. This made the week my Father stopped talking to us and hosting them 'a success.' Even after knowing that my brother had escalated a series of emails about how much “I was hurting him” by not seeing him, including emails sent by my brother to me on my parent's computer during his visit. Still, from my father's viewpoint, deep talks, admiting that 'maybe not going to hell', ergo, "Success."
At the end, I do not know what they wanted the details for. I said, “This has cost me a great deal emotionally and I hope you got what you wanted and that it was worth it.” There was a sort of stone stare from both, not even a “we wish it had not happened” or “We love you.” So I said, “If you are going to continue to go to extended family events, please make it clear, whether invited or not, that I prefer not to eat with pedophiles.”
My mother’s face turned into one of panic and she said, “Who has he hurt? Who has he sexually abused?”
I stared and pointed to my chest. “Me!”
Relief swept across her face as she said, “At least no one was hurt.” And another statement to the same effect.
Linda helped me back to the study and they left and we went over what to us was a surprise. That my mother would so blatantly state that since my brother “only” sexually abused me, “at least no one was hurt.” Linda confirmed that after seeing my parents, that she did not believe that my parents would, even now, ensure my physical safety from my brother much less my emotional safety needs or boundaries. That, indeed, much of the meeting was simply because they had no control over him and could not make him tell them what they wanted to know, but they could with me. And that they believed in a way that this is the way I am; that abuse is just something that happens to me. A couple of different friends from people who have experienced abuse to abuse counselors explained that the statements were not so much “It is impossible to rape Elizabeth, in the way it is impossible to rape a whore” but more about their own life and self viewpoint; that as long as it stays ‘in the family’ then ‘no one need know’ or is hurt. The relief was that my brother had not done anything which could damage the family image (indeed, I am the one doing that by being lesbian and crippled).
But for a few days, I was in a bit of a state similar to needing cutting but I wanted to be raped, because, the people who I had expected to support or protect me had told me that effectively, that kind of stuff happening to me didn’t matter; that being raped or abused was who I was.
I know…now…that isn’t true, and though my parents both come from extremely dysfunctional backgrounds I simply cannot entrust my emotional support to them. During the meeting they were not acting as adults to adults or even parents to their children but more like children themselves. My father reacted by emotionally locking down and turning everything into a semantically debate; that since I had not said the exact correct words then I should not have expected his help, etc. My mother, in various different ways tried to become the ‘victim’, the person this had happened to, a year of sexual abuse was compared to my brother demanding she make him breakfast before she started crying, etc. Now, I love my biological parents and I always will. I appreciate the opportunities they gave me and how they fed me and did things which they believed were for my best interest. I will always appreciate that. My upbringing was however what many would consider beyond extreme. I was punished usually daily, not just for actions, but the words I used (not swearing but the tone of the sentence; was it in any way negative?), as well as facial expression and perceived thoughts I might be having. I have a host of medical conditions, none of which where found until after I left home because I was not taken to doctors; this includes the time we lived in Canada where medical treatment was free. Indeed, some of the things I was punished for, from physical corporal punishment to other more unusual methods, were actually medical conditions (things beyond my control). But that was then. My parents are trying, as best as they can, to accept that I am not deliberately being ill and that I am not faking nor doing this simply to draw attention to myself.
What happened when I was a child is one thing, the relationship I have with my parents today is another. And I will always be open to some sort of relationship with them. However, the simple fact is that I need emotional support. I am a person who works and continues to work to be free of the anchors within my mind I may have picked up. I am trying constantly to change and confront my demons, until they no longer exist. However, there are times I need support and times I need the reassurance of being part of a larger unit, a group that cares about my existence; from the day to day struggles to the larger picture of dreams and dangers. I need a family. In the same way Linda at times needs to lean on HER family. Linda and I have talked together and decided to begin to ask and advertise if there is anyone who would like to get to know me, or us in a way which would move toward becoming a family. This can range from simple email’s and phone calls to dinners, annual events, gift giving, I don’t know.
My brother is the alpha: he is male, he has created a grandchild, he is successful and he is externally what one expects: heterosexual and an associate minister as well as a career with a six figure income and a large house in the “right” kind of suburb. I can in some way understand how my parents need to keep that connection. But I also cannot imagine sitting down to a turkey dinner and staring in the face the child who sexually used and controlled your other child, has hurt them and refused to acknowledge their relationship and may never accept it, nor has any remorse for any of those actions. So, truth be told, I don’t know what it means to “have a family” or be with a family. The tradition in my extended family is to mock those who are ill or being sexually or physically abused (a sort of, what an idiot for getting in that situation).
So if you know someone who wants to take a risk on me (or us – with Linda), I don’t really know what a family means in a lot of ways; you might need to explain that to me, and the ground rules and the boundaries. You might need to understand that I have a SMALL issue with trust and that I may believe for some time that this is a set-up, that eventually you will judge me, hurt me and reject me (forever). Having said that, yes, I have a bit of baggage, but no more than most; I am witty and kind and I like people to be happy. I want people to find what makes them happy and I want to support them in that. So that’s it. I am not accepting that because it was successfully contained in “the family” that “nothing happened to me.” I am not accepting that it is “impossible to abuse Elizabeth because that is just her nature (to receive abuse).” And I am not accepting that if I keep chasing and trying to be what someone tells me I should be, that I will eventually get the support and love that humans need.
Linda, in reading this has reminded me that maybe there is someone/are people out there who themselves have a need, a void and WANT of a family to fill it, want a person who they can say to people; “That’s my daughter” (Or “adopted daughter”). Maybe we can fill each other’s need.
I am most likely dying, and if I live, I will have a shortened life span. I am in pain and I struggle with the implications of my disability. But that is what Linda is here for. Maybe you can see this as a way for a short term commitment; I could be like a pet, one you don’t have to keep for very long. Or maybe you can see this as a chance to get to know someone who has done and achieved, according to the world, important and amazing things, but who considers her RELATIONSHIP with Linda, and the love and care that brings to both of them to be her greatest accomplishment.
This has been a difficult and long thought out post to write, and I would please ask that this not be seen as a joke, or a laugh, or anything but what it is: a desire for a serious non-sexual relationship based on some sort of model where people care about each other and it is seen in both words and actions.
4 hours ago