There have been times in the last year where different people have said how ‘lucky’ I am. My husband is my best friend (no, like… really my best friend) and I married into a large family full of kids, new cousins, amazing Aunts (and Uncle’s) and I am starting to slowly make new friends.
But there is something that makes me cringe when someone say’s “You’re lucky Lori”. Now if someone said “you’re blessed” I would agree. I am all about appreciating who and what I have in my life. I embrace how fortunate I am to have the people in my life that I do who are patient, inspiring, protective, loving, intelligent and kind. People are my blessing. I have always valued relationships far more than anything, including money because … I’ve had money and few quality relationships. Trust me, it was a very empty life.
Before my divorce I went to years of cognitive behavioral therapy. I still remember the therapist saying that my empathy was challenged, and I also remember sharing that with my Step Mother, who chose to try to eviscerate me with that. It didn’t mean that I was incapable of having empathy for others (quite the contrary). It meant that I wasn’t taught to have empathy through my life experience, which is fairly consistent with a kid who learns how to be independent and self-sustaining (even on the emotional level). When you don’t get what you need from your family you have two choices; become the person who self-destructs and uses that as an excuse for failure or someone who uses that rejection as a fuel source to succeed.
I didn’t come from “happy and loving” but I needed it and wanted it more than anything. I remember working seven days at week at the Gift Shop of the Nottawasaga Inn Resort just to make a tonne of money (and reduce the amount of time I was spending in our volatile house). In the last two years of high school I was making about $400 per week, and drinking about $150 of that in vodka at parties and on the sly. Having money didn’t make make happy. Food didn’t make me happy. Booze didn’t make me happy. My fancy Honda didn’t make me happy and I started to wonder if I was even capable of being happy, you know? It did not seem that either of my parents were truly happy people (married or divorced). If I wanted to see real joy, I’d have to borrow some from the families of my friends, who seemed to have the “love one another” thing down pat.
I don’t know how to accept kindness. That is an impairment I am aware of and I work at it every day. Accepting compliments are hard, and so I find a way to be self-effacing and deflect them whenever possible. I am proud of the strength I have demonstrated in huge adverse family, romantic and health crises. I am proud that I am a “giver” and not a taker. I am a little ashamed that I let my parents screw me over so many times, hoping each time that my gut instinct would be wrong about their selfishness. But maybe they didn’t like an independent, resourceful, determined and intelligent daughter right? I mean, that shit is every parents nightmare.
I hurt every day of my life trying to figure out why my parents treated me the way they did. Every single day it manifests itself in my actions and I catch myself. Someone says something to me, and I am always looking for the negative in it. I have to bounce things to Kevin to double check because I am no judge of personality, I get it wrong every time. After a lifetime of thinking no one would ever “do me wrong” if I consistently did right by them (you know that theory where you get what you give?) now it’s hard to see anyone in a non-malicious light. Guard is up, over analyzing what you say to me, what you say about others … and assessing you as a potential threat. I live in a zone now where I assume almost everyone is out to mess you up, and I’m like Tyson in the ring of new relationships.
With very few exceptions.
I don’t want to be the person who says “my parents messed me up” or “my divorce and first marriage messed me up” or “my cancer scare messed me up” or “the feuding extended family messed me up”. I mean, at what point do I look back and go “okay, it sucked… but you got through it” and move on emotionally?
I think it’s funny my sister thinks I am an extrovert. Got that act down to a science. Kevin, Diane, Christina… other people who have looked into my head and not run away screaming, they know the truth. Some people can see past masks, no matter how well constructed and they fascinate me. Which is also why I love them so much.
Today I rarely drink. Like almost never get drunk for a few reasons; alcohol is not the friend of diabetes and… I go to a sad place when I am drunk. The filters come off my mouth and my inner dialogue is vicious … and too freaking honest about the pain and confusion I still feel about being orphaned for being, what I and so many other people call “a very good daughter”.
This introvert parading about as an extrovert in business and in casual impressions sometimes sits on her back porch, and stares at the squirrels gathering pecans and wonders how a loving, loyal, peaceful, creative human being gets thrown into the blender when it comes to family. And when people ask me “how is your mother?’ or “how is your father?” I have to say “I really don’t know” and then wait for them to pause and stare at me like there is something terribly wrong with a woman who has a relationship with neither.
And then I say “I am the kid of two parents who always put themselves first. So I followed in their footsteps and put myself first, which is why I am not in contact with them anymore.” It really makes sense to me on a practical level. If you are going to act like you aren’t a parent, then why pretend at holiday’s and for public perception that you are one? With me removed… you can focus on what matters most in your life. Yourself.
Logan: “Do we have grandparents in Canada?”
Me: “Yes son, you do.”
Logan: “How come we haven’t met them yet?”
Me: “I think they are busy doing their own thing sweetheart.”
Logan: “They would probably like us if they met us. Do you think they miss you?”
Me: “Let’s play Minecraft.”
And then he hugged me. My intuitive tough guy gave me a big bear hug and then wrecked the trap door in my castle on Minecraft and filled my living room with lava. We roll like that.