A few years back I tried writing a story about my family. We’re a little quirky and I thought it would be fun to write down some of the stories of my youth. Mom recently told me some stories, or filled in some gaps, and it got me thinking about preserving some of the family’s history. I wrote stories about my mother and father, stories we loved to tell. I remembered all the crazy stuff we used to do, the funny situations we got ourselves into, and how imaginative we were. I thought writing a book about our lives might be interesting reading.
After writing about my parents, I turned to describing my siblings and our childhood relationship. As I wrote, trying to jot down all the ideas and experiences to flesh them out later, my mood changed. It got darker and darker because I remembered that my relationship with my siblings were not always happy ones. By recounting the past, I reopened old wounds. Here I was forty years later, and rehashing these old stories and memories made me feel awful. This was an exercise I should not have engaged. I didn’t realize that this exercise would affect me this way.
We were getting together at Christmas and I thought I would pick their brains about certain events and what they remembered from our youth. I also wanted their version of the stories, just in case I missed an important detail or maybe get fresh stories that I didn’t hear before.
But the more I wrote the more aggravated I became. Old wounds were felt again, old words resonated in my head again. Their past cruelty, or perceived cruelty put me in a depression. Obviously I wasn’t ready to write these feelings or stories down.
The problem is that I attempted this just before Christmas. We were all cool with one another. We love and support each other very much. Our relationship went from fighting siblings to highly supportive and loving women, mothers, and sisters. The bonds are very strong.
But after the above exercise, I no longer wanted to go to the party. I didn’t see the point of spending time with my siblings. I did go, but with a heavy heart and old resentments.
I noticed that whenever I joined in a group, the group would disperse within ten seconds. My presence seemed to be the deciding factor to go talk to someone else. WTF? You might say I was paranoid, but I wasn’t. It’s happened most of my life. We’ve all been through it. My sisters only half listened to me most of the time. Let me count the number of times that my sentence was cut mid sentence by their enthusiasm to speak to someone else. Someone they loved more. It cemented my mood.
As children, I was their adversary. I was their doormat. I was the geek, the nerd, and the ugly. “You are so ugly, no one wants you.” Their laughter echoed in my ears. The distant memories kept floating to the surface.
Why am I here at this party? Why do I come to any of them at all? I was not the popular sister. I was the moody shy one, the crybaby, and the overly sensitive sister. I admit I don’t have much of a sense of humor either and absolutely no patience. The stories made me re-evaluate my present standing within the family. And what I saw I didn’t like.
They wouldn’t miss me at all. They always say they do, because of course you miss family when they aren’t there during a traditional, somewhat mandatory family party. It’s like missing a piece of the puzzle; you need it to make the family unit feel complete.
But I fouled myself by remembering those childhood feelings, the emotions that they were able to evoke. The way they expertly pushed all of my buttons, by feeding my self-doubt and poor self esteem. Was there no solace even at home when I was a kid? No. The taunting was the same whether by the kids at school or by my siblings. There was no refuge.
Man was I a bummer at that party. Took me three months to get out of the funk when I thought of my siblings.
Some things are better left forgotten.