Do you ever notice how much clearer things seem to over time?
That friend, you thought was so amazing, offering up helpful advice and inviting you out on friend dates, and generally someone you trusted without a thought, the one you thought “wow our kids are totally going to grow up together!” turned out to be a fraud, a total dud. How this has happened over and over and over again in your life because you can be so blatantly unaware of yourself around people and you want so badly for people to be good, all people to be good, that is your expectation, not theirs.
Your dog was sickly and really was sickly for months and months and the more you think about it the more you realize that likely the stomach ulcerations were already in place prior to the surgery you gave to him to help him which just led to his painful demise because you wanted to believe he was healthy. You wanted so badly to believe he was okay and if you would have stopped, stepped back for one moment, you might have given different information to the vet before the surgery, you might have been a different kind of advocate for your pet than you were.
Your spouse’s family seemed so perfect. Insanely, perfectly perfect. You even told your Mother-In-Law this one time on a long ass drive back from Regina to Winnipeg in the middle of winter and she said, truthfully I believe since she is no longer alive to ask her, “oh that is not true, we all have skeletons in our closets.” The reality is that no one has a perfect family no matter how they spin it and if you look closely enough everyone had a crack or break there. And it all about how we manage those cracks and breaks, it all about being honest with ourselves and those around us. If we hide too, pretend too much, it will serve us poorly and harm us in the end.
As time has passed, I am coming to see that it is not just my family that was broken and hurt but most families have some breaks and hurts. While this does not come as a complete surprise, I have not after all been living under a large rock for 38 years, it kind of kills the faith I used to cling to as a child that “some” families were normal. I yearned for that belief as a youngster and I believed that “one day I would have my very own normal family, not like my crazy family.”
The truth is that I am seeing more and more the hurt and pain that certain personalities can bring to the table. Toxic behavior is not acceptable and yet it is. I live with a toxic person at work daily; she can totally crush my world. She makes me sick to my stomach and yet I take it daily for the job and the money and because I am like that. I take toxic because I have always taken toxic. I simmer in toxic because I think it is stoic and right, that it will get better or pass. I am afraid to run away from that personality because they will get me a la the bogey man.
When I was young, I have a few recurring “dreams”. I used that word dream very loosely. I suppose nightmare would be a closer equivalent to the truth. I would dream nightly about a faceless man chasing me down. I would run and run in my dream and he would never catch me but I would wake up tired and drained. Another dream involved driving in a car on a bridge but the bridge was miles high and it was crumbling down into the water below. I would sit as quietly as I could in that car and hope that we would make it across my never ending crumbling dream bridge. That dream left me exhausted as well. The last dream had to do with being in a car and someone was coming for me but the illusive someone was not a good person. You know how it goes with bad dreams; I just knew the person was bad. I would sit in the car crying and waiting for the bad people to come get me and sometimes a trusted person would show up and peel out to take me away but I always woke up so I was left with this sense of dread after that particular dream. Did I get away? Who was that bad person? Why would I just sit there and wait and do nothing to help myself get away? WHY WAS I WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO SAVE ME?!
I have not thought about those three dreams in years. Oddly I had the crumbling road dream the night Santana died. Only this time I was driving and the road that was crumbling was one near our house and the whole dream consisted of me driving, trying to go forward and the road getting worse and worse. It was such a different perspective than the childhood dream. I was always in the passenger seat looking out, down from a great height at the crumbling bridge. This time I was in control of the car and trying to move forward.
When I was child, my mother made me see a therapist. I do not remember much about seeing that person. It is like a shadow of a memory, I think she was larger kindly woman, and she had to make my Mom leave the room to talk to me. My Mom did not like that at all. My Mom quickly stopped the sessions and, whether it is true or not, I think she did not like what the therapist told her about HERSELF after speaking with me. My mother was toxic to me, as was our family life. I could not escape her, I could not get out from under her control, I could not drive away because I was not able to (in the dream), and I was never really given the tools to drive away. I felt hounded often and unable to speak for myself because when I did it was twisted and turned and made to be evil and bad, “you rot kind” she would scream at me (Dutch for you rotten kid). She would wake me up and sit at my bedside to sob and tell me her problems as a kid. I had to pat her hand and tell her it would all be okay. Not an ideal situation if you ask me.
And so the dreams slowly ebbed away during my late teens when I moved to Michigan far away from her. I never really returned knowing that return meant back to the same old things. I know this all to be true because I kept journals about these instances, of course, hindsight shows me what I can see now and not than that her relationship with me was unhealthy and painful and it explains a lot about the person I have become and the person I was growing up. I include growing up right up to this moment by the way.
I do not want to teach my kids to just deal with and simmer in toxic. I want them to know they can effect change, that they have some control over their lives and they can trust us to do what is right. I want them to know that our home is a cozy warm happy place to be with trusting arms they can run to. I want to remove the toxic from my life, that is my goal. I need to learn to trust myself to make better decisions and listen more to my heart and head and I want to teach myself to see clearly before the relationship disintegrates and not just after when I am hurt and sad and feeling disillusioned about the whole thing. That is my promise and goal not just for me but for my family.