Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moving Out

Growing up I pretty much hated my family.  I got on pretty well with my mom, better than the rest of my family, but my sisters (both younger) were within a year in age of each other and had decided I was weird and a person to be despised.  As for my dad, thinking back, I'm pretty sure that there were entire weeks that we didn't say more than a few words to each other.

I hated my dad for the majority of my life.  My mom will confirm that even when I was barely a year old that I hated my dad, and that I can't account for.  I can account for hating him most of the rest of the time though (the years I can actually remember).  He was critical.  He wanted to me to succeed (on his terms) and more importantly, he wanted me to agree with him.  I think me agreeing with anything he said would have meant a lot to him, but it got to the point where the only things that came out of his mouth were criticisms and the only thing that came out of mine were disagreements.  My dad did some pretty emotionally abusive bullshit, let me tell you, being told "You have no love in your heart" multiple times was something that I always carried in the back of my mind.  But for all the emotionally abusive things he said, I think I said just as many.  I was constantly being told I was a kid and my opinion didn't matter (sometimes literally in these words) and so I got to actually believing that my words couldn't possibly hurt my family (though generally I didn't apply this to anyone else, interestingly enough).

My sisters really are good kids now (ones in college and the other is a senior in high school, so they would resent me calling them kids).  I can't fairly say if they were good kids growing up though because my memories are generally so bitter.  Carla is the older of the two and she has severe learning disabilities and behavioral disorders.  When she was young enough that we still got along, I remember teaching her colors because my parents had temporarily given up in exasperation.  She didn't and, to some extent, still doesn't interact with other human beings well and she really did struggle in school so my parents honestly did have to pay her more attention.  She was even home schooled for awhile.

Shea as the younger one and was normally cheerful.  When Carla was really struggling early on in elementary school we got along because neither of us got attention, but as we got older Carla attached herself to Shea and they became practically like twins in their bond with each other.  Shea is pretty much the perfect person (at least on the surface): thin, athletic, charismatic, friendly, cheerful, but oh she can be cruel.  Shea was the instituter of the cruelty, but Carla was quick to chime in and had a worse temper and a meaner mouth.  Whoever says younger siblings can't get the better of older siblings is wrong, let me tell you.  And of course they'd always get away with it too, because they were younger by a fair amount and since we were still growing (and I hit my full growth at 10) so I was of course bigger.  It allowed them to say some awful things and I still have scars from Shea's nails.

As I said, my mom was the one who I got along with best.  She was generally sympathetic to me, even though I clearly didn't fit in with my family at all, and she gave me good advice.  My biggest arguments with mom didn't come until senior year when I finally found a friend group that I hung out with regularly.  And, as soon as I did, I was almost never home.  My family left for two weeks in October of my senior year to go to some major national soccer tournament for Shea and I stayed home and that was the time when I got to know my friends.  I got accustomed to never being home and my habits didn't change when my family got back.  My mom hated it.  Of my family, I was the closest to her and actually talked to her and for that year she pretty much lost me entirely.  On Christmas Eve she disowned me and the rest of my family pretty much said that the disowning was just my mom being upset, but still, it fucking hurt.

I want to say moving out didn't change everything, but I honestly think it did.  I was so angry as a child, and part of that was a quick temper, but I honestly believe more of it was not being treated as a person by my family.  I was a kid, my opinions didn't matter, despite how much research I did on the subjects I was arguing about (it was particularly bad in junior high and high school when I was actually arguing with them about things I had learned in school).  Moving out and going to college gave me time to chill, time to be myself, and time to grow accustomed to my opinions being respected.  I talked to my mom almost every day on the phone and did so because a) they never called and imposed on my freedom and b) the conversations were on my terms.

When I visited home my dad and I still fought some, but it was better.  And my sisters were out of the house so much (they can thank me for buying them that freedom with my hard fought arguments with my mom) that I rarely even saw them.  But things honestly were better and continued to get better.  I started to have actual conversations with my dad.  I can actually count the real conversations that we'd had before college on two hands.  And I started hugging him, which was really new to me.  My dad hit me a couple times as a child.  Slaps across the cheek mainly and I always hit back, so I knew how wrong it was for a parent to treat a child that way.  My mother was always completely mortified and unsure what to do when this happened.  But we had a touch barrier between us and that's mostly broken down and he actually feels comfortable hugging me.

It's so weird, having civil and even friendly conversations and interactions with all of my family now.  My dad is proud of me and my achievements, which I never ever expected to have happen.  My sisters respect me not only as a person, but also as the "big sister" in a way that they never did before.  And, my mom and my relationship is completely back to normal.  It's nice.  Thinking about it makes me happy, and completely supporting myself now (I actually paid for most of my college through my own account or through loans, so I was actually mostly supporting myself through college) has made me realize that all the: "You don't care or realize all the things we do for you" arguments I had with my parents are true.  I'll have to tell them that next time we talk.

As a side note (which will be brief because this post is already long) I also think that stage managing has made my patience and understanding of other people so much better.  I feel like a completely different person now (I am a different person now), a person who I'm much happier to be.  A person who still struggles with her temper and stubbornness, but one who knows and acknowledges those traits as potential problems.

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