It's been no secret lately that I've gone from the headstrong and outspoken "normal" me to more of a neurotic, nervous shell who has panic attacks and can't seem to ever de-claw and unwind. An obvious part of any de-stressing regime is learning to accept the things you can't change. I've been pondering over this all night (while unwisely driving around in a blizzard with watery eyes) and I've come to an impass.
It would be awesome if this was an internal problem all the way: if I knew that I personally was just the source of too much unbridled emotion, I would work on restraining that and expending it healthier ways. If I knew I was too bossy, or too mean, or too aloof, I would work on changing those things for the sake of it being my fault. Whenever I do notice something I don't like about myself I either work to change it, or work on accepting it (my ridiculous teeth or big shoe size) so either way I'm being productive about the problem.
In other words, though I have my "off" days I'm in general always trying to better myself to become the person I want to be--not what anybody else wants from me, but what I want for me.
Here's the impass: the underlying reason for my insecurity and the festering wound that was opened, (then lit on fire and had salt poured into it in 2011) has little to do with me, and the old phrase "don't worry about what you can't control" doesn't really work when the issues are with your family, and it's your entire life that's "stressing" you.
Though it's appreciated each and every time, I get so sick of hearing people tell me how strong I am. And how strong I've had to be since a very early age. They say it as though it was a choice, by the books I should be a drug case or a single parent on welfare and medication and with several children, or worse, dead, from either my own hand or mixing with the wrong crowd thanks to how I was raised. I am aware that how I overcame was a choice, but it doesn't feel like a choice. To other people, maybe they could've taken the victim route, but I had no intention of doing that. I still don't, and I know I never will. That doesn't make it a choice that I feel good about. What the hell was I supposed to do? I got beaten, screamed at, I had to jump in between family fights, I got starved and abandoned. Seriously, what the hell was I supposed to do other than leave? The word "choice" may be true, but that certainly doesn't make me feel empowered.
And every memory I could have is tainted with another bad memory. Any time I see snow, I think of the cozy winters we spent at home cutting our own Christmas trees and eating snow cream. And I think of my father, mercilessly beating us (his wife and kids) and destroying our presents and bellowing at the top of his lungs about how Jesus is a fairy tale. Every time I see a puppy and squeal with happiness I think of my dad punting my mother's dog into the air, or stomping his dog to death. Every time I think about the visits I had with my aunt or my grandmother I get a feeling of sadness because my parents cut ties with them while I was still so young. And neither of them got to know me, or I them, as well as I would've liked, for reasons I couldn't control.
I have a lot to be thankful for now and I'm thankful, unbelievably so, every day, but my goal is never to fit in with the majority of people--though I guess I do a pretty good job at it. I certainly seem normal, but you'll never hear of me spending the day with my sister or going shopping with my mom, or visiting my grandparent's property. My family is not a part of my life and even with the dysfunctional families my friends have, their family is a core part of their strength and existence.
What I have instead of a family, are a very spread-out, intimate network of people whom I love and consider family. Sometimes I see these people, some of them I don't get to see but we talk occasionally, and some of us don't talk but maybe once or twice a year, but our bond is just as strong. I'd not trade any of them for anything, and in a lot of ways they have benefits that family doesn't. But still, THEY have families (most of them are on great terms with their parents) and so even though they make it known I'm no stranger, I am not their blood relations, either. You can only be invited to Thanksgiving dinner so many times before you start to feel like a charity case.
And like I say, I have no intention of TRYING to fit in and that's why I don't like calling anyone my sister, brother, mother or father (whatever role they've stepped into) though I'm getting better about it, because I've come to find that some people like hearing that I think so highly of them. I just associate those family terms with people who are NOT a part of my life, and calling people that seems so superficial. Still, regardless of what I call them, my intentions are never to fill the void of shitty family with a faux-family. I also have no need to pretend like my family doesn't deserve to be called horrible. They do. My days of wanting acceptance from my biological family are long over. Not having it still hurts sometimes, but I make no moves to change their perception of me, because as I am right now is nowhere near good enough for them.
So I have a shitty family. I have negative memories that carry with into the most mundane things, because apparently I have the memory of an elephant. I can't change those memories, I can't change my family, and while I'M content with who I am, I'm very rarely content/at ease/at peace with the trauma that 1) plagued my early life and 2) got re-thrown in my face less than a year ago. It was bad enough to live through and get over that once. Twice is no easier. In many ways it's worse, but I'm thankful for the support that I do have, and all of my friends who are my family.
But how am I supposed to overcome something so entirely out of my control to change or forget?