There. I put it in black and white, and I survived. I was told I was loved, over and over again, so why do I realize now how STARVED for love I was - am? To be TOLD a thousand times that "you're beautiful, you're special, I love you" but never really to FEEL it, I always felt guilty that the words were never enough. I once had a college friend tell me, "You're so lucky. You come from a nice family with a nice house, a dog, the perfect life". And yet, I envied her because in the same conversation she said she was lucky because as a result of her parents' divorce when she was 12, she got to know each of them as individuals, as people with faults and fears and a relationship with her. Somewhere deep down, I knew that I had an overwhelming sadness at the realization that everything I knew was an illusion. The "perfect suburban picture" with nothing behind it. Then my mother filed for divorce after 30 years of marriage and my parents fought bitterly for over 3 years, complete with stalking and emotional torture and calls to the police. I wasn't living at home, but I was entrenched in their battle. And I've never really let myself be angry with them for it. Or sad for myself at the disintegration of my family, of the perfect bubble bursting. Nearly 20 years later (Oh my god ....) and my mother still refuses to be anywhere near my father, which for so long has made holidays and life events logistical nightmares. I really want to lash out and scream - how could they be so goddamn selfish? How could WE play along with their 'fight', essentially ENABLING them? Each of my parents plays the victim card oh so well. My mother is a control freak who is convinced everyone is after her and my father portrays himself as helpless. And I bounce back and forth between them. I never realized just how bad it was for me when they were together and it's a nightmare having two separate but equally dysfunctional camps so absorbed in themselves that I retreat and make myself conveniently "non-problematic" for them, meanwhile wasting away.
My husband, never having known my family as a whole unit, quickly assessed the dynamics between me and each of my parents and has essentially tortured me about it for all of our married life. He believes that I've failed us as a couple, as a family, because I've never held my parents accountable for helping us "get a step up", in other words, financially, so we could have a home. A part of me agrees with him, and a part of me feels completely guilty about not "making it on our own". So I sit and grit my teach while he chews me out, yet again, for not making it happen - I guess I must get something out of his torturing me because I don't change the dynamic. For so very long I suffer it and I ask why can't I get up the nerve to put it on the table with my parents? But truthfully, on the other hand I am really so angry with my husband for not taking me away from all this, like he promised me once upon a time ago ... I so clearly see HIS codependency, his enabling of my addiction to the screwed up relationships I have with each of my parents, to the miserably low self-esteem I wallow in.
How do I let go when he doesn't? How will we ever move forward, move on, move up, move out of our miniscule rented apartment into a real HOME? We barely cover expenses each month and we have nothing for our future -
And tonight, I finally called my father after not being able to deal with talking to him (several weeks ago I got up the nerve to ask him for help in buying a house we'd found and at first he said yes and then suddenly, he "talked to some people" and decided it wasn't wise to get involved - probably my brother, who inherited the family business, which we got nothing from - see where this is going?) And what does my father say? "I want to give you $5000, because I feel sorry for you." Why didn't I say to him what I was REALLY feeling just then? That his $5000 is worth nothing to me when I needed his help in guaranteeing the mortgage (which he can afford, it's not that HE doesn't have the money, he's been told he 'shouldn't take the risk'). But no, I walk myself through an entire scenario in my head - what a selfish, ungrateful daughter, not to accept his gift... But really, I feel like this sudden "gift", in lieu of helping when I'd asked for it (which was SOOooo not easy for me) is like 'shut up' money. He can walk off feeling all happy and satisfied that he "helped us out", like he's fulfilled some kind of duty.
How do I let go when I'm on the cusp of 50 and have NOTHING. Not even a sense of self-worth.