From: (peg boucher murphy)
Subject: Re: Dealing with the enemy
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 00:27:29 GMT

ayana, this has been really helpful to read.  
i also want to thank all of the motsseurs who replied either here
or via pvt email if i haven't already responded.  and again if i
have.  :)  

In article <55c439$>, Ayana Craven  wrote:
>In article ,
>peg boucher murphy  wrote:
>[snip fucked-up-family details]
>>apparently, my childhood-and-on wishes to have *loving* parents aren't
>>dead.  here i was, with a teeny tiny alive (and growing) hope that my
>>mother actually gave a shit, and that there might be hope of a vaguely
>>normal relationship in the future!  i even had a dream where my mother 
>>showed up at my wedding!  it wasn't an especially *good* dream, but it
>>didn't feel *impossible*.  just shows how far i was deluding myself.  
>In some senses, I don't really know what this is like, to have some
>dream of *loving* parents.  I didn't learn until my dad died that I
>apparently still had some unknown piece of me that hoped (without
>any basis) for some kind of relationship with him.  I was honestly
>surprised to find that I still had some grieving to do, I thought
>I'd pretty much dealt with the fact that by any "normal" measure, I
>never had a father and never would (in the sense that a father would
>be an adult male person who took some responsibility/attention wrt
>a child).

when i was small, i remember my father playing with me.  i know 
that as a little girl, i adored him, and he liked to talk about 
how smart i was to other people.  i don't remember exactly when 
that changed because i was certainly in denial/self-blame for a 
long time.  when i finally acknowledged it to myself, i was probably
11 or 12.  for me, it definitely was a real loss.  
my mother was always colder and even as a fairly young child, i 
remember feeling like i was fighting for her love.  but it was 
still a loss, because we had a "picture perfect" family.  i wanted
to believe the illusion, i think.  

>The only peace I ever got with my mother was by dealing with her as
>not my mother, but as a person.  That happened on *my* terms,
>because early on I got out, and was not willing to have contact
>except on what I considered to be reasonable terms.

getting out is key, although i mentally "got out" before i physically
fled (at 17).  when i decided to think of to my mother as an emotional
cripple whom i could not help and act accordingly, it was much easier.  
especially since i still believe that to be true.  
then i moved 1000 miles away, and was too poor to be guilted into
visiting (and they didn't try very hard, anyway).  they had no interest 
in visiting me.  once i came out and got disowned, i thought it was
all over.  and i thought that -- grieving period aside -- my life 
would be saner for it.  

>That said, I don't know if it's possible to have any relationship
>with parents in this sort of situation without feeding that little
>corner that still dreams.  

this is what i am dealing with, now, i think.    

>It may help to look at what you get out
>of contact *besides* that "family" stuff -- if it's important to you
>that your kids know their grandparents and extended family, 

that's the only one.  and even that's been challenge, since they (the
kids) have found it quite upsetting that parents can totally turn 
their backs on a child.  (they have left-over abandonment issues over
their dad leaving.)  

>Forgive me for not being hopeful.

no, it is really good to hear from other people who have experienced
something like this, actually.  sometimes being realistic and talking
about surviving (even thriving) after this sort of sh*%@ is the best
kind of "hopeful".  

>This, on the other hand, is more possible, to my way of thinking.
>I've been able to make some peace with my siblings' choices, even
>though some of those choices had rather nasty repercussions for
>me.  If you can get a handle on where your lines get drawn -- what
>sorts of things would feel to you like betrayal or active malice,
>and what sorts of expediency you could put up with in light of
>their own lives and needs, then maybe you can talk to them about
>this, and ease some of the insecurity.  

well, i'm glad to hear that this might be possible.  i have started 
talking to two different sisters about some of this stuff.  both have
been able to hear at least some of what i've said -- so far.  it 
feels a bit like dangerous ground.  i have hopes for some communication
with the other two (sisters) as well, but haven't started yet.  

>A lot, I think, depends on
>age and circumstance, but I do think that if they matter to you, if
>having them as any sort of intimate part of your life matters, then
>talking about this would likely be worth the risk and effort.
>Their knowing that they matter to you makes a difference in how
>they deal with your parents around you.

this is really good to hear.  :)  i hope you're right.  

>And now that I've spouted off when I know nothing of the actual
>circumstances:  I was actually heartened by a lot of what happened
>in the last several years with my siblings.  My mother has become
>unable to live alone (Alzheimer's), and for a couple of years I was
>very much involved in trying to find acceptable solutions (and
>simply restore her physical health).  In the course of that effort,
>I spent more time with some of my siblings than I'd spent since I
>was a kid.  And over the course of those events, some of the events
>of our childhoods got discussed, and for the first time some of my
>siblings admitted that no, it was not exactly rosy.  

how meaningful was this for you?  
maybe we should go to email.  having a couple of sibs admit this
around me was just amazing for me...  heady stuff. 

>And the one or two sisters that I managed to hang on to even during the bad
>times mean that I'm not without blood family.  So I guess my point
>is that even if some of what your siblings end up doing to stay in
>your parents' good graces is pretty abhominable, there is still
>perhaps a chance that they'll grow up into decent people whom you'd
>like to have for family.

i'm not ready to write any of my sibs off yet -- the one who is most
abhorrent these days is very young (19) and clueless.  

>The most surprising thing for me of the last several years was
>finding the ways that my parents' insanity affected us all

>My more optimistic side is insisting that you may be surprised to find that
>your siblings value your presence in their lives more than you
>think, partly because you can validate their perceptions of how
>things are/were *not* okay, and that it's not just them.

this is really good to hear, ayana.  

>Ayana, youngest of 10, of whom she owns three, and considers two to
>be no relation whatsoever -- the rest are "extended"

-oldest of 7, of whom she *may* own two, two others in the running
for "family" as they are moving up from extended family, one "extended"
and one rather unknown.  
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