Relative Strangers and Strange Relatives
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Love in the Third Degree.
Okay, given recent painful events, I really was in serious need of hearing something hilarious. So let me just lay it on the line because I’m out of patience.
I got a call tonight from my hometown about something someone said about me (from a relative’s spouse, but you’d probably never guess which one), and it made me laugh because it’s so funny to see how some people are intent on making everything about them when it has nothing to do with them.
Yes, I know, I’ve mentioned the universality (look it up) of humankind and how often I can be talking about something in my journal and a reader thinks it’s about them and it has nothing to do with them and I never would have dreamed anyone would think I’m talking about them, but we all have those traits that make us human and we all feel certain emotions and insecurities and anger and grief and yearnings that show how connected we really are as spiritual beings. Most people don’t read novels and think, “Hey, the author’s talking about me” …unless they know the author and then they start making assumptions.
(Do you really think other people can’t feel the same things you do? Are you even aware that other people feel, too? If I remember correctly, one of you lost your husband a few years ago—do you think you’re the only one who’s felt pain or does it help you to understand that everyone feels it that way, too, and everybody else hurts, too? Don’t you see how we’re all connected by common emotional experience? Everyone on the planet? Are you so wrapped in your own hatred/loneliness/isolation/pain/whatever it is that you don’t see that? Can’t you connect the dots and feel compassion for others or do you no longer feel that God is compassionate because you yourself have been hurt?)
You see, folks, I have these relatives I haven’t seen in…oh, I think I was 5 years old last time I saw one of them(yes, that’s 39 years ago, and I wouldn’t recognize her if I saw her) and the other? I don’t know. At least 20 years ago.
They do not know me now. What they know of me is what I openly publish about my own struggles, the things I share with anyone who cares to read my healing journal. I have various relatives who read my journal in secret and in the open. I don’t care and I don’t censor my healing journal because they don’t think I should address things from my past that have been harmful. That’s the whole purpose of my journal—to look at the shadows and look deeply and dispel them. On the other hand, it might be useful to some of them to know things that happened to me as a child because it might help them come to grips with what must be some equally scary memories for them. I mean, I distinctly remember being a small child and seeing one of them hurled across a room and into a wall by her angry parent and me hiding behind my mama’s skirts, scared to death that I was next. That’s a horrible thing to do to a child, and it wasn’t the only time I saw it, and it’s memories of that sort that I’ve spent years exorcising, whether other family members like that I talk openly about it or not. Hiding it did nothing to heal my wounds. I also remember hearing some disturbing adult conversations while I hid under the dining room table to keep from being yelled at or accused of anything, but I’ve never said what I heard and unless someone gives me reason to, I have no intentions of opening that particular closet, so they can stop stressing over it. If they even know about it.
Things have changed a lot over the years. I don’t have a relationship with these cousins, haven’t had a relationship with them in around 30 years and more, and I don’t care to. There are reasons for that. They don’t ever have to be in my life or me in theirs, and that’s okay by me because I lead a full life and I left behind the small-town mentality a long time ago. Unfortunately, I guess there’s nothing good on TV because they’re obsessed with MY life when they could certainly be out doing something with their own.
I’m not calling names. I have never called their names. Ever. That’s part of what’s so funny tonight. I’ll explain.
They’ve found my journal. They found it a while back. I know. I know the day they found it. I also know how often they’re on it because I have their IPs. I have records of every visit for months now, just in case I have to show it to a judge. These aren’t the normal just-checking-in readers who are so supportive. Let’s just say the traffic from them is…abnormally high.
You see, they’re pissed because I spoke my truth about some old wounds that did a lot of damage to me as a child and teenager. It was poison inside me that I purged through writing about it here, as I often do. Their grandmother treated them far differently from the way she treated me, and that’s a very good thing for them and probably provided them a lot of love and support they needed growing up. It wasn’t so for me, though. I got the opposite. I got hurt, pain, distance, and a lot of destructive ways of being from the person they loved. Their experience was different and valid for them. I recognize that. Mine is valid for me. They won’t recognize that.
They’re also pissed because I figured out a lot of family dynamics and how it related to my father being conceived out of wedlock in 1926 (probably November 1925). Their marriage license is a matter of record. So is Daddy’s birth. I haven’t taken out a freaking ad in the hometown paper to announce it. I’ve spoken of it only in my healing journal. I don’t really care who does and doesn’t have children while married and I’m not judging my father’s mother based on her pre-marital sex life. I’m assessing the situation based on how it affected my family and how it affected me, and I’ve been actively working on healing that. If it didn’t affect them, then it certainly doesn’t have the same sting it does for me and the sting for them is in being faced with their loved one living a different life than they’re willing to accept. I don’t care that she “had” to get married, just the emotional cruelty I endured as a child because of it and understanding—now, at this age—why she always seemed to hate me. That’s a matter of reclaiming my self-worth and undoing very old damage to me.
But instead of looking at their own issues and shedding some light on them, it’s far easier to turn scorpionic toward someone else who’s just working out her own issues and think it’s all about them.
So what was so hilarious? Around two weeks ago, a tragedy struck and my teen daughter took care of my journal for a few days because I was too devastated to stop throwing up. Some people from my past had been logging onto my site to the point where Shannon was uneasy about their obsessiveness (one person was on 80-plus times in one day alone before masking her IP). Shannon called their names. One of them, she says, answered back and signed her name.
However, Shannon would never have guessed that the two names she called, extremely common names, would be the same as some of our relatives’ names, an aunt she met at Daddy’s funeral and a cousin that she doesn’t know exists. But naturally, the relatives assumed they were being singled out and had been busted.
Omigods, that’s funny.