Take Me Down (Six Underground)

My ex-stepmother’s been dead for roughly a week and some change. I don’t think I’ve talked about the viewing, or the next day.

The viewing was on September 13th, exactly a week ago. I took Husband with us, and we attended the last half hour, to minimize exposure to my stepmother’s family. I had some fear that her nephews or other people, the ones who only saw the best of her, would reproach me about not being her besty.

My sister and her husband weren’t expecting us, and it hadn’t occurred to me to alert them. So when I showed up, it was a surprise to them. My father was there, of course, but not with his new wife. He saw Husband and I, and the first thing out of his mouth was,”Why are you here?”

Props to me. I kept somewhat cool, and immediately responded,”Closure. And to support [Queen Legbeard’s half-sister].”

Sperm-donor moved in towards me, presumably to hug me. You know, that might sound okay to some folks, but I don’t like him assuming we have that kind of relationship. Until he and I can have a conversation where I can be heard and not told the old standard,”BUT I BOUGHT YOU THINGS” over and over. I tolerated him hugging me at my sister’s wedding rehearsal, but only because I didn’t have the balls to say “Please don’t touch me.” Which, props to me, I was able to tell him this time. My Husband, ever my amazing backup and not a fan of my father, got between me and him, and told him,”We’re not here for you, [Queen Legbeard’s father].”

My sister’s husband stepped in at this time and was able to defuse my father’s rage at not being allowed to force my boundaries, the way he does. Father had a bit of a meltdown, kneeling down at ex-stepmother’s coffin and going,”I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over.

After that, I was able to talk with my sister and her husband freely for a time. After sperm-donor went into another room, I was able to approach the coffin. My ex-stepmother was laying there, in a green Cartier suit. Everyone always made a fuss about how beautiful she was, blonde, blue eyed, with a massive bang that she always teased up high off her head. Now, she looked deflated, utterly still, her face seemingly fallen in. The effects of being absolutely stone dead.

When I went to the viewing, I carried my childhood diary with me. It’s a small, pink, floral book with a useless lock built onto it, presumably to keep it safe from being read. That lock was useless when I was growing up. Ex-stepmother always found ways to find it and read it, no matter where I hid it. I had no safe place for my emotions and no privacy. No matter how angry I made her with the diary’s contents, I kept writing in it because I had no other option, no other way to vent the “life” I was living. I was a burden child, an afterthought, not wanted, and they made that clear in every way, spoken and unspoken. The diary contained all of my bad memories.. And what better way to say goodbye to bad memories than to send them six underground with the greatest source of them?

So I wanted to put the diary into the coffin, to be buried with ex-stepmother. But I was so on edge, I didn’t have the guts. Not until the next day.

The funeral, which I did not attend, was the next day. Around 7:00PM that day, hours after the funeral, I located where the cemetery was and drove there. The sun was starting to go down, and no one was in the place but me. I drove around a bit, looking for a fresh grave, and located it. Diary, cigarettes, a small hand shovel, and a camping chair in hand, I went and sat by the grave.

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I sat there, and I talked to her grave. I unloaded all the venom inside of me. Got it all out. The least venomous words, the thing that rang the truest was,”I wish you’d been kinder to me. I wish you could have worked through your addiction, for [Queen Legbeard’s sister]’s sake.”

I burned down a cigarette, and stubbed it out on the grave. I kept the butt at hand. Then I took the small hand shovel and dug down a ways into the fresh earth. I’m glad it was so late in the day, because I’m not sure how altering a grave might look to onlookers. Once I had dug down a little (not too deep, because I was nervous of being seen) I took the small little book that was full of my childhood pain and self-loathing and pushed it down into the hole as far as it would go. I covered up the hole with the dirt I had scraped aside and said,”Let these bad memories rot along with you.”

After that, I tamped down the disturbed dirt with my shoe and walked off. I dumped my cigarette butt in a nearby trashcan, which was full of old memorials, plastic flowers and such that had been blown away from where they had been placed and been simply trashed by the groundskeeper. That was also morbid, in its own way. These grave offerings just tossed in the trash can.

Afterwards, I walked back to my car. The sun was just barely still over the horizon, and it had been a lovely, cool day. I put away the items I had brought with me and drove away, mildly worried that the diary, given my quick and haphazard digging, might come up when the groundskeepers tamped the grave down and put down sod.

I feel, over all, that burying the diary in the earth with her was the right choice. Putting it in her coffin would have been the best, but it’s still there with her, crumbling into dust. How long it took me to get over the self-hatred she instilled in me. The feelings of worthlessness. They’re still there, in some respects, but with her being dead I feel like it might be easier to work through the rest. When I left their “home” at age 16 and in the time until I graduated university (self-paid, at 24), I took a page from my mother’s book and acted like they’d never done anything wrong, because I was still at their mercy as an impoverished person. Bringing up any of the fucked up neglect and abuse would have been a sure-fire way to insure they’d never provide even the meager support they were willing to occasionally offer. Meager being old food from their garage freezer they didn’t want and old clothes, mostly.

Once I graduated and the events of May 30th, 2012 happened, I finally understood I didn’t have to pretend with them anymore. I could cut them out of my life, like a cancerous tumor cut from my body. The distance and lack of communication baffled them, because 1. They were saints and 2. I had acted dopey happy-go-lucky for years as a survival tactic before that. Not having to pretend to worship people who treated a child like a leech was great.. But I could still feel the weight of their ignorant, narcissistic expectations from afar, and through online messages they tried to send me. And ex-stepmother was even worse about it, sending me cringey messages on Facebook about how ungrateful I was and how she’d had to drive me places as a child, my god the suffering. But now she’s dead, and that’s one less person trying to force their bullshit upon me. Now, I only have to deal with my father’s bullshit. And that’s quite a relief.

Yet…

I had a dream a night or two after my stepmother’s death. I dreamed that my father had me as a prisoner, chained in a basement. He told me I couldn’t leave. I managed to escape, running upstairs. I begged for the people upstairs to call 911. They all looked around at each other. My father showed up, and smoothly said he was a former cop and that I was being unreasonable. Nobody interfered as he took me away with him, and got re-chained with bigger chains. I managed to slip the chains again, and this time managed to leave the building. I fled desperately, and everyone I asked for help didn’t believe me, or said they knew my dad-the-cop and he said it was fine. I found one woman who said she’d help me, but she was suspiciously glib. We went into a slum, and entered a weathered, abandoned wooden house. I found a box of drugs and kept them, so I could use them to barter for help. I heard my father coming from downstairs, so I went out an upstairs window onto a massive multi-level deck. The woman stayed behind and pointed out the window at me as I fled. I made it to the other side of the deck and down to the ground. There was a steep slope on the side of the property, and as I began to run down it, I woke up. I’m not sure I would have wanted the dream to continue.

That dream really requires no interpretation. It’s pretty much straight up anxiety that my father will never stop chasing me for his worship. That he thinks of me as some sort of errant sheep from his flock. Rebellious property. The good old refrain of “BUT I BOUGHT YOU STUFF” (barely, resentfully) he thinks will drown out years of neglect and physical & emotional abuse will fall on deaf ears, and as long as he relies on that I will not subject myself to him.

I’m glad my stepmother is gone. I will never say that out loud to anyone but my husband. And one day, my father will be as well. Here’s hoping he pulls his head from his rear before he does. I imagine he’s been looking at his colon so long, the bright light of day might dazzle him.

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Family Dinnerganza

Tonight I’m having dinner with my paternal aunt and cousin. I haven’t seen them since May of last year, at my sister’s wedding. My husband met them for the first time at said wedding. They came over to sit at his table and were chatting happily with Hubby when dear old sperm-donor came and made them go sit with him.

Well, Pops won’t be here tonight to interfere. I’d like for my husband to get to know some of the few people in my life who’ve done right by me. I haven’t seen them one-on-one in so long, and it’ll be nice. Catch up on each other’s life, and maybe get some advice to deal with my father. Who, in tune with his narcissistic personality, insists my childhood was perfect and he never did anything to me. Of course he didn’t do anything, he let my step-mother do it.

Also, pro-tip to all parents: Constantly complaining about your children needing food and a roof over their head doesn’t make them more appreciative of you. It just makes them feel like a burden.

Husband wants me to send my father a no-contact letter via certified mail. I’m afraid of consequences from that. But my preferred method of letting them send fruitless Facebook messages to my “Other Messages” inbox that I can’t see, or sending messages to my mother, will only work for so long as well. As long as they think they can contact me somehow, they won’t resort to showing up randomly at my house or doing anything drastic. But like I said, the “let them futilely send messages I might see” tactic won’t work for much longer. No contact or stringing them along, they might both end up with the whole “show up at Queen Legbeard’s place” tactic.

Daddy dearest was told to stay off our property, though. So, maybe he’ll just hang out on my sidewalk and wait for me to get home. Or go to my work. Or something.

I wish they’d go away and stay away. My stepmother, my father. My life without them has been so much better. There is no way in hell I’m going to have some sort of tender bullshit “reunion” thing. Everything is always on their terms. They don’t listen to me, I’m not a person to them, just some sort of disobedient extension of themselves.

I wish I could get ferociously angry the way they do. Just scream and holler and say whatever, the way they do. If I detect even the slightest hint of conflict, I freeze up. My heart starts pounding. I feel like I’m 10 again, being screamed into the ground by an unstable beauty queen.

Man. I wish my therapy appointment wouldn’t have been canceled last week. I really could have used talking to a third party about this. I really just don’t know what to do.

If I choose not to send the no-contact letter, I’m going to probably have to deal with Daddy Dearest in some way. I’m going to have to stand up to him, even with my heart pounding and my soul melting inside of me. Part of me wants to. Part of me wants to be a firm adult against his childish pettiness and tired bleating about how he bought me Christmas presents when I was three. Stand my ground. But I don’t know if I can.

I hope Aunt and Cousin can help, even a little.

God, I wish I was an orphan.

Blood is Thinner than Water

I discovered a new subreddit a few days ago called r/justnofamily. I had been familiar with r/justnomil, which is a sub supporting people with abusive mother-in-laws. But r/justnofamily feels like.. the right place for me.

I keep encountering people who don’t get it. Why you would cut off family. Family is everything, family is your blood, etcetera. I guess those people either had good, loving, supportive families or they accept their own abusive relationships.

I’m 32 years old. I’ve been VLC (very little contact) with my father and stepmother for about 5.5 years now. The triggering event was when my father goaded my vulnerable 17 year old sister into self-harm that sent her to the hospital. He loves control. He threatened to never let her see her loving, supportive boyfriend ever again. He threatened to dump her beloved cat in the boonies. It’s not the first time. His go-to is to try to take away anything you love, simply because you do not submit to and revere him. At this time, my stepmother’s descent into addiction was at its height, and my sister was essentially a slave, doing the housework, caring for their four dogs, and picking her passed-out mother up off the floor. When she expressed ideas about moving out and going to school, he made sure to tell her she and her boyfriend would never amount to anything and that they’d be on welfare.

I can honestly count, on one hand, the number of times he’s complimented or expressed any pride in me. Each time stands out, since it’s so rare. I can only assume it’s the same for her.

The crazy thing is that neither he nor my stepmother have any idea why I cut them off. My stepmother thinks it’s because she put me in drill team (cheerleading but with dancing) when I was younger. I just have to laugh, because otherwise I’d go insane.

The subreddit, r/justnofamily, has many stories of people who stood up and set boundaries with their horrible families. How wonderful, to see people who were firm and unmoved around their immature, narcissistic, screaming and unhinged relatives. I tend to retreat inside myself and shut down emotionally when screamed at. It’s the result of being relentlessly treated this way as a child. I didn’t know how to cope with it then, and I don’t know how to cope with it now.

But these stories give me hope that someday, I can.