I’m me, not someone else

Me in Inverness, Scotland

I’m going to rant a little now.

My mother died in 2015. Our relationship was rocky. She was a narcissistic bully who tried so hard to make me afraid of the big bad world beyond our small town. She wanted me to tone down who I was, what I was, to meet her expectations. Her fears were to be mine, and I was never supposed to dare be anything beyond how she saw me.

My sister was the one that was going to change the world. I was supposed to stay there, be at her constant beck and call, cater to everything she needed, marry someone she approved of, and never dare dream of a life that took her out of the center of my universe.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

At one point, several years before she died, she emailed me and included a snide comment about wanting to know everything about ‘all her grandchildren’. She believed, since I didn’t call or email her weekly with EVERY detail of our lives, I was hiding stuff from her. Stuff she felt she had a right to know.

I took a day, thought about it, and wrote back. In that email, I let her know just how hurtful she was. How I was most parents’ wet dream – never been arrested, finished high school and college, didn’t get pregnant until after I got married, never did drugs, etc – but how it never was enough for her to say she was proud of me. I was writing, trying to embark on a career that made me excited and felt right, but that wasn’t enough. She constantly moved the bar of what I had to meet to make her happy.

I then explained that my kids don’t need to tell Grandma everything. One is very private, the other was a bit more open at that age. Both trusted me with things they knew would only get shared with their father/my husband, and I was going to keep that trust because I knew they’d need to have that level of trust in me later in life. If it went to Grandma, the entire extended family would know within a week.

I outlined, day by day, how boring our lives were. What our day to day lives were like. Invited her to come up, stay for 2 weeks, and find out for herself that we’re not secretly going to movie premieres weekly. She never responded to that email, or come for that visit. But there was a shift in our relationship.

Did it help? Yes and no. I was over 40 by then and a lot of the learned behavior I had around her, the walls I’d begun building before I was 10, couldn’t just evaporate overnight.

I am who I am. I exist to do what I want to do. I am not here just to make someone else feel better about their life.

Some people have told me I inspire them for some reason. I’m not entirely comfortable with that. I’m not perfect by any measuring stick. There’s things I’ve tried to do and thoroughly sucked at them. If you look at my life, how I live it, the morals and ethics I hold to, and find something that works for you, fine. Work that into YOUR life, however that may be.

I am not here so you can make me into some sort of project.

Friendships are great. I’ve got some friends who I see as family, that are as dear to me as my husband or kids. Sometimes those friendships get lopsided, though. When someone decides that means boundaries don’t apply to them…when they feel that the friendship entitles them to ignore requests I’ve made…that’s a problem.

I don’t lie, or at least strive not to. I’ve got an extensive vocabulary and know how to use it, so sometimes I’ll phrase something in a way that it gets my message across but isn’t so blunt as to be hurtful. For me, social media’s a place I rarely lie. What’s the point in pretending my life is amazing 24/7? It’s fake, and not me.

I’ve had days where I want to scream out of frustration. Others where I wanted to just cry in the corner and give up on almost everything I do that brings me joy just because it’s so damn hard to stay optimistic.

But I have never once lied about how my hands feel, how recovery is going, or anything like that.

Earlier today, someone I know called me out of the blue (boundary crossed) because they ‘needed to hear (my) voice and know directly from (me) that my hands were doing okay’.

WTAF?

Did they think I was lying on FB? Did they think I was going to tell them something different, share more than I have already about my recovery?

This is the type of crap my mother did. Because that call had nothing to do with me or what I needed (esp. since they crossed the set boundary of don’t call me I’ll call you if I can talk) and everything to do with making sure I knew that they were worried. That they cared. That they had questions that I ‘needed’ to answer.

I cut the call short, because I had stuff I needed to do. It was NOT a good time for me to spend 45 minutes on the phone. I rarely have that kind of time any more, and they’ve been told. At the end, they had to mention they’d sent me a link to something on FB and I could ‘do whatever I like with that’.

If you didn’t care what I did about the link, you wouldn’t have mentioned it.

Again, the focus of the call wasn’t me and my well-being. They knew I was doing fine. But they needed to insert themselves into my life and become a focal point. It was all about them trying to feel important in my world under the guise of caring about me.

My mother was a master at this. I know the signs of it, understand the motivation behind it. I buried her almost 6 years ago, and I am not letting another person have that kind of influence in my life.

Some friendships start out strong and then fade away. Others are a constant rock, one that survives even if you lose touch with them for decades at a time. Some die in a bonfire. A few are rooted in a deep trust and platonic love that lets you know that they’d be there, no questions asked, if your world flipped upside down in an instant.

And then there’s the ones that one person outgrows and the other isn’t willing to see it and back away.

BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm

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