Many of us grew up watching classics like "Leave It To Beaver", "My Three Sons", "Donna Reed", "Ozzie & Harriet", "Father Knows Best", "Gidget"... you know, the ones with the perfect, loving families.
Unfortunately, very few of us actually LIVED in families that were that perfect... most were dysfunctional in some way or another & people often were hurt physically, psychologically or both.
Not every family is loving & supportive... some are competitive, jealous, even mean-spirited. It is to my greatest regret, that this describes the life I had growing up.
I was born to a couple who had been trying for a child for 5 years. It was my mother's dream to have a son... so much so, that she never even bothered choosing a feminine name. You can imagine her disappointment, after a life-threatening, traumatic 24-hour labor, to be presented with a girl. I was told that my aunt chose the re-spelling of the male name that was selected for me & my father was instrumental in caring for me for the first several weeks of my life. My mother, it appears, wanted very little to do with me.
As a child, I was dressed-up & taken out to show-off, but sent to my room continuously while at home. I was not allowed to have friends or play with other children, with the exception of my mother's best friend's kids, who were all much older. My father adored me, but he worked long hours, so I wasn't able to see him nearly as much as I wanted & needed. Then things changed, dramatically when I was seven... my mother miraculously became pregnant again! Although she was NOT happy about being an 'older' mother (at 34), she enjoyed this pregnancy & when my sister was born... it was as though there was another sun in the sky! Everything revolved around my sister... things I had asked for & was denied, she received. She was taken to dance classes, play dates, whatever she wanted, while I was told to either stay in my room or play outside in the back yard. I didn't mind - I was excited about having a sister & loved her, but mom would have nothing of that!
By this time, dad was working two jobs & our home life revolved around my sister. Although I was almost 8 years older, I had to dress like her & was not able to do anything unless she was involved. My mother continually showed her preference to my sister & I accepted that fact - while trying to understand why I was never good enough to be loved. As I got older, my mother began telling people stories about me... always in an attempt to embarrass or humiliate me. I never knew when or where I'd be attacked. The majority of the time, the stories were false, but as a child, who was I to argue with my parent? She also began telling these lies to my father, in an attempt to damage our relationship. Would you believe that at age 6, she started telling people that I was mentally retarded, when in truth, I had been tested as being exceptional. What a way to start first grade!
Needless to say, my teenage years were hell & I woke-up every day with a severe migraine from the stress. I had so many headaches, the doctors actually tested me for having a brain tumor when I was 16. Not only was my mother attacking me, verbally & emotionally, but my sister began following suit, with a vengance. There were too many instances of attacks to mention, but suffice it to say that once I finally moved away from home & cut-off communication with her, things began to get better.
In my late 20's I got married & had a beautiful daughter... and resumed my relationship with my mother & sister. My mother was enamoured with her granddaughter, while my sister resented her tremendously & constantly complained about the attention that the baby received. They both were a little better to me, but after a few years, the lies began again. I was a drug addict, I was unfaithful to my husband, I was a horrible mother, I was faking an injury from a car accident so I wouldn't have to do anything (I actually had 3 herniated discs in my upper neck), I spent all my husband's money, I was a horrible wife... the stories went on & on to anyone who would listen & pay attention to her.
Things went from bad to worse when after 18 years, I decided to file for divorce. My husband & I had a strained marriage & both wanted out. Our daughter was 17 & ok with us getting a divorce, so I filed. My mother immediately told me that she would dis-own me & that he would always be her 'son'. My sister also chimed-in, in spite of the fact that she was on her 3rd marriage by the time she was 30 years old.
My mom & sister did everything they could to make my divorce harder... including coming into my home (while I was at work) & taking things that were given to me after my father & grandmother's deaths! They even took to driving past my house at all hours to see if my car was home... unfortunately for them, I kept it parked in the garage most of the time! I worked two jobs... they accused me of going out & partying all the time. (BTW - I don't drink or party) Several months AFTER I filed & we were in divorce negotiations, I did meet someone & started seeing him when my daughter was with her dad. For the record... this man never stepped foot into my home until AFTER my divorce was final. But those things didn't matter to these two... my sister even forced her way into my home one night & tried to attack me. I had to call the local sheriff's department to remove her from the property, but she just laughed it off.
Through all of this uncalled-for drama, my mother & sister were always loving towards my daughter. In spite of her seeing my sister's attack on me, they just explained it away, making it sound like it was all my fault. I finally had to make a decision about my life & I choose to cut contact with the two of them, for my own mental well-being. Since my daughter was 17 at the time, I allowed her to make her own decisions... she chose to still have contact with them because they are 'family'.
Fast-forward 7 years & my daughter's wedding. Yes, they were invited. My mother & I have seen each other a few times over the past several years & always had very cordial conversations. I have not had any contact with my sister since the night the police removed her from my home. (BTW - I never pressed charges, hoping that she would change her ways)
At my daughter's wedding, neither my mother or sister would speak to me, although I did make attempts. They are now best friends with my ex, his family, & his current wife... all of whom they supposedly never liked while we were married. My sister & the ex's wife continually make comments & 'digs' towards me now on FaceBook & in any other way that they feel they can get away with it. Honestly, I've done everything I can to get along with them (while occasionally resenting it). Would you believe that the stepmom (who's been married to my ex for almost 2 years) was telling people that she was my daughter's mother at the wedding? My mother & sister were complaining, LOUDLY, about how horrible & disorganized the wedding was, AND left the reception very early. (YIPPEE!) BUT... they seem to have done their damage with my new son-in-law's family after only one weekend.
I have spent a lifetime being attacked by the two people who are left of my family. After my father passed away, over 20 years ago, they have become more blatant in their meanness, when I have never done anything to them. Of course for years I've asked myself why. How can a mother turn her back on a child, simply because they were the 'wrong' sex? Why did my sister always hate me, when she was given all the love, attention & opportunities that she ever wanted? Why does my daughter always choose to spend time with these people, knowing & seeing how they act towards me?
If I had the answers to these questions... I would be one amazing person! I've spent a lifetime trying to understand the lessons in having to deal with this extreme rejection from those closest to me. What I do know is that this has forced me to grow in ways that I never dreamed... there's a karma lesson there somewhere... that much is certain!
I've sworn that I won't allow them to get me down... that I'm going to continue on my path, creating a beautiful, loving family with friends & other relatives. They are my 'created family' one that is based on mutual respect & love. They are people that I choose to be with & who love & accept me for who I am. They are a blessing & at times, my sanity salvation! I don't know what I'd do without them... but know that I am VERY blessed to have them in my life.