Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Only Words

Something was bothering me last night and I could not get the noise in my head to stop so that I could go to sleep, so I ended up staying up a lot later than I wanted to. One of the things that I was thinking about was how much it bothered me how my parents talk to people.

I had the opportunity to spend some time on Sunday with some of my Colorado friends, and got to listen to Andy, and bask in the glow of the lovely atmosphere that surrounded me as I sat there in their yard and enjoyed the company. My daughter was running around with the other kids, I was talking to other grownups and laughing and listening to the conversations, and it was all so pleasant and healthy and fun that I really had a warm, peaceful feeling inside. I thought, yes, this is what you went through all of it for; this is what you came back for.

My parents both have a snide, snipe-ey way of talking that is not only mean spirited, but I realize has made me feel on the defensive all of my life. Even when I think they are trying to be nice, they just can’t help getting some little dig in, or belittling something, or making you feel foolish and small. It sucks the life out of the room. I have so many problems with my folks that I can’t begin to explain them all, but this one comes across every time we communicate with each other. My father called me the other day to tell me that he was sending M a present. (Because his name in his handwriting on the package wouldn’t tell me that) and he asked me how the job hunting is going.

When I said I hadn’t started looking yet, he made a sound, and then he said “I guess you’re living off your looks!”

Yeah, we wrapped up the call after that.

It isn’t just that my father himself never did what I did – when he went to college, he only worked in the summers, and for the most part my mother supported them – that’s why my grandmother (his mom) raised me. Even when he went to get his Master’s, he took a sabbatical from his teaching job and concentrated on school for that whole year. He had zero to do with us kids, and let my mother do everything. Through all of his adult life, he sat down to meals someone else prepared, put on clothes someone else washed, and lived in a house that someone else took care of. Okay, he mowed the lawn, etc., but only until his kids were big enough to take over.

I have had a job since I was eleven years old. I have never taken a class, until last month, ever in my life, without also having a job at the same time. I saved my money very diligently over the past few years, while I was also paying for M’s daycare, paying for all of my University costs and also paying off my old student loans, paying off my car, and feeding and clothing myself and my baby by myself.

I chose to stop working at the end of June. It is now the end of the first week of September. For him to minimize my hard work and my discipline like that is just so hurtful and unnecessary, I can’t even express.

They say they are so proud of me, but I don’t feel it behind their words. There has always been the undercurrent that makes me feel bad. I am so glad to be at a distance again from them!

I developed some really bad habits growing up in their house, and one of them is my sarcasm. It started off with me just trying to be funny, to distract people from the violence and anger in our house, and to hide behind. It morphed along the way because I was not the pretty, submissive, compliant girl that the society I grew up in told me I was supposed to be. There are times that my mouth gets me in trouble, and I say things that are hurtful. When my target is a bully, or an arrogant asshole, or someone who is taking advantage of others, I don’t regret the caustic things I have said. I don’t mind being the one person in the room willing to say what everyone is thinking. But the times that I have let my mouth run to the point that I have made someone feel like my parents make me feel, I truly feel sorry.


  1. Just tell your Dad you a guy you know has been living on his looks since February, and he's no where near as good-looking as you, so you'll be ok.

    Just don't mention Cary by name. :-D

    I know what you mean about listening to your folks talk, though. My Mom likes to talk bad about people, but she always prefaces it with, "I know you hate it when I talk bad about people, but..." so I guess it's ok.

  2. The expression "living on your looks" sounds so sleazy... like being "kept." ick.

    Cary's secret is safe with me.

    I think anytime someone starts a statement with a disclaimer, it is bad news. "To tell the truth," "Nothing personal, but..." "No disrespect," Y'know?

  3. I hate statements with disclaimers. I could kill my husband every time he starts a sentence with "Mala wouldn't want me to tell you this but...." ARGH!!!! Seriously!!

    Anyway, at least you recognize it. That alone sets you so far apart!

    (and Frank's comment made me laugh so hard)

  4. Cary's been living on his looks???? I thought it was his clever way of posting things that others sent to him. Hmmm...I need to send more pictures.

    My husband and I have learned that we have to call out his crappy family's remarks whenever they make them. It's amazing how quickly people retreat when you call them out.

    Feel better, you are obviously a stronger person than most of us!

  5. holy crap- are you my older sister I never knew about?
    I know exactly exactly what you mean about the tone of your parents...even now, no matter what they SAY, I can hear what they actually MEAN behind the words...
    My mom goes on and on (now ) about how proud she is of me etc...but then in the same breath points out all the things I could be doing better...
    Just know that doing what's best for you and your daughter is the only thing that matters- and that you honestly should be proud of yourself...we all are :)

  6. Mala: Oh, that would make me crazy, indeed! If he KNOWS you don’t want hime to divulge something, then...!

    Kate: Cary’s looks change so often, I don’t know how his wife keeps up! *grin*
    When I call my folks on their remarks, I get to hear their crappy excuses. Really too sad and pathetic, really. So I treat them like toddlers, now, and just stop the conversation at that point. I wish I’d known how to do that when I was a kid. Really.

    Mary: If we could construct our families based on what really suited us and what fed our souls, none of us would have anything to write about! I wish I had a sibling like you! Could we work something out? :)

    Yeah, making a home for M and myself that is toxin-free is the best thing in the whole world!

  7. "I know I shouldn't say this, but..." Then just don't say it! Couldn't agree with you more! In my younger days, my dad made the comment, "your looks will only get you so far." WTF? Where have they gotten me? Sure got me that failed marriage and horrible divorce. But now that I'm remarried and "kept", I'm quite happy. ;)

  8. "Friends are God's way of apologizing to us for our families."

    I should have this tattooed on my ass LOL I'm sorry your family is like that but I'm glad you can see it and make a better life for M:)

  9. Samsmama: That's us, baby - cruising on our looks! *grin*

    OBMJ: M is the beneficiary of a LOT of experience!!!

  10. First of all, I'm so glad that you had a happy day with your friends and felt such peace and love and belonging. You have earned it, and it's nice to hear that you're basking in it!

    Secondly, I totally get the whole negative connotation/snide remark thing. It's interesting when we start to really hear what our parents are saying. That remark of your dad's was belittling, and I'm sure he didn't even mean it that way OR know how hurtful it was. That is what makes it all the more irritating.

    Mala's right, though - you recognize what they're doing, how it makes others feel, and how you have adopted some of the same tendencies. By acknowledging it, you can make changes in yourself; too bad we can't do a thing about the other people!


  11. Bev: You know that show "What Not to Wear"? I think my folks are a big What Not to Do, complete with the 360 degree mirror! Maybe in the long run, the mirror is the most instructive part...