A F______ Tree?

This has been a tough past couple of days. My anxiety has been sky-high and I literally wish I could run away from everything… including myself.
This anxiety reared its ugly head when I sat to do a bit of therapy homework. A very simple piece actually. Write out a basic family tree. My grandparents, parents, and my siblings.

My first hurdle is that I froze when beginning to write “Family” before the word “Tree”. I don’t mean to be rude here but what I grew up in was not a family. It was a group of terrorized children being raised by a monster and an ostrich (head in the sand CONSTANTLY). We did not function as a family in almost any way. As siblings we cared for each other but each one of us was trying so hard just to survive that a true connection was nearly impossible. When my siblings shoved my sister and I out front during bad times, I felt anger towards them but when that fury was unleashed on them instead, I felt guilty that it was not me. If they had food, I felt envious but when I had food, I had to eat it alone. I never knew where the next meal would come from or when I would be deemed as “too fat”. These situations were caused by my mother (no lack of money) to create a system of complete control. We were either angry or shameful, having our most basic needs almost met or having our needs ignored. It was a house created on pure survival. Nothing else.
And the 3 sisters that I did feel a connection with? They are all gone. Stolen by suicide.
The rest of my siblings are addicted to drugs, alcohol, a mix or in prison.
Honestly? Who can blame them? They are just trying to survive.
I am sorry this is really yucky stuff but I don’t know how else to explain why the word “Family” just sticks in my throat when referring to them.

So what do you call it? I won’t write most of my suggestions as they are just not nice words. In the end, I labelled my homework “The Monsters Mash”.

Then I went to therapy and we discussed the family that I have created. So refreshing! My children who were loved from before they were even born. My husband who is my true soul mate. He treats me like gold and I try to treat him just as well. His family is the most amazing group of people you could ever meet. Kind, generous, accepting, loving, supportive… seriously amazing people. I also have a small group of incredible friends who have stuck by me no matter what. I love them like they are a part of my family too. My “Soul Sisters”.
I wouldn’t mind writing “My Family Tree” at the top of THIS group of people.

I am unsure of how I real feel now after that incredibly stressful attempt at a “Monsters Mash Tree”. I feel grateful for the family that I have now… truly you have no idea just how often I remind myself just how blessed I have been and I know it in my soul. I worked hard for that though.
I worked hard at becoming a good mother when my example of how to parent was “a tad skewed”.
Being a good wife takes daily thought and care because my ability to attach to anyone, even my amazing husband is greatly hampered by my complete lack of attachment growing up.
Understanding that I am actually a part of his family has taken me YEARS to believe. I waited for them to show their “true selves” because I had always watched my family put on such a perfect show. I just KNEW they would dump me like trash if I messed up. I also figured they just put up with me because I was their brothers wife and they had no choice. I hate even admitting that stuff but that is really how I saw the world. That was the world I was taught to see.
I have begun to trust that my friends will not leave me. This bit of trust is very hard to come by. As a child, we moved 32 times in 16 years. Every “best friend” that I had quickly became no more than a memory every few months. Believing that the rug won’t be pulled out from under my feet again or counting on anything to last is almost impossible to imagine. I try. I swear, I really try.
And now even the joy that this blog has brought to me… I wait to become dull or boring. I assume the stats will begin to go down eventually rather than the amazing journey upwards.
NONE of these thoughts were caused by anyone in today’s world. These thoughts were all burned in to who I grew up to be due to living in the Monsters Mash.

So I am sorry dear therapist but I know you will understand. You will not be getting a family tree until you ask for the family I have created myself. What I had before was not a family at all.

The really weird part of this all? I am sitting here once again very grateful for what I have now yet near tears for what I was never given. The questions just never seem to go away even though I already have the answers.
Who couldn’t they love me?
Why wasn’t I worthy of their time?
Why did they have me if all they intended to do was hurt me?
And back to the big one again… Why didn’t they love me?
The answer is simple… it had nothing to do with me. It was all about them and what they chose to do with their lives. It just spilled over on to me because I was born to them.

The hurt has begun to lessen. Not by much but I actually have so much good in my life now that I am constantly given examples of what love and family are really all about.
One day it won’t all feel so weird. It will feel more natural. I might not even feel like an alien visiting from a distant planet trying to learn your human ways.
I will get there. Eventually. I must have faith in that.
The people in my life today and this blog has proven to me that I am not alone and that helps me a lot so thank you.

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11 responses to “A F______ Tree?

  1. Thanks for sharing. It is interesting to look at our legacy and how it effected us. I am in that process now. I definitely had attachment issues growing up as well that still effect me today. I am so impressed how you have formed a new family given your experiences.

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    • Thank you Janet. It is shocking just how much it all effects us decades later. My new “family” has taken me over 2 decades to build. It’s been strange, unsettling, hard, confusing… and worth it. Enjoy your day!

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  2. Thank you for writing a very powerful post. My heart aches for you … And for all of us so wounded by our family’s history.

    In my family of origin tree, every person on both sides is in the disease of addiction. This includes cousins who are in their 20s and 30s. Oh, they’re all mostly functioning addicts, but the abuse hasn’t caught up with some of them yet.

    My past is NOT my story of the present or future. Thanks again Heather.

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    • I appreciate your words Sue. I suppose it can be called an addiction tree too? My Monsters Mash is only one suggestion. 😉
      You have come so far Sue and I know you have a ways to go but you are already different from your past. At least you can admit it, face it and you work on it. You’ve already begun to break that cycle. Hugs.

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  3. The amount of courage (not to mention the hard work) you must need to even function because of “the monster mash” is monumental Heather. One isolated incident of abuse in my early teens is still screwing me up decades later. You are a constant source of inspiration to me – and many others. Your “proper” family are very lucky to have you. Hugs.x

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    • Thank you Wendy. One of my Soul Sisters. ❤ You inspire me as well with your courage and ability to deal with incredible medical odds. Most days i can be okay with all the hard work it takes to have a better life and then on other days? It just pisses me right off. Thank you again for your amazing comments.

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  4. The fact that you have not only survived, but flourished despite your “non-family” speaks testaments to your strength and courage. And just as an aside, even if your blog stats do plummet (mine fluctuate), it means nothing. If you only help one person with your posts (and there’s no question you help a LOT more than that), it is worthwhile. You are making a positive difference in many people’s lives.

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    • Thank you so much Janet. It really means a lot coming from you. In this past week I have had 2 people contact/tell me that because of posts they read, they either got help or found hope. NOTHING means more than that. I know that you have the same effect on people. Keep blogging alongside those of us who want so dearly to make a positive difference. 🙂 You inspire me.

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  5. I liked your name the monster mash. I’m just sorry you had a family like that. No child deserves that. XX

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  6. Perfect name for your tree! NO ONE deserves any of that ever! So happy you have a new tree to grow from now… PS… I need a tissue 🙂

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