August 01, 2015

A Confession

I am a liar.

I'm a really good liar!

My mom taught me how to lie. In fact, my mother taught me to live a lie. She also taught me how to drive, how to fry chicken, how to crochet, to sew and that I was extremely damaged. She taught me to be ashamed of the truth and hide the true-me.

Growing up, my dad taught me critical thinking and that I could be anything I wanted to be with some hard work and dedication. He also taught me how to shoot, fish, drive a stick-shift, that education was important, how to cook the world's best lasagna and beef stroganoff!  He taught me other stuff, too, and continues to teach me to this day but he could never counter my mom's lessons on my brokenness.

Many of you know about the events in my family's lives that I was instructed to lie about, to pretend never happened, and taught to be ashamed of.  Truth was rarely welcome in my childhood home, in fact, we were often convinced to hide the truth from our own father. One very significant day of shame was the time a distracted woman drove her car into our car ( twice), causing my extremely shy little sister to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance.  Her collar bone was broken, she'd just been in a pretty incredible car accident, and had to make the trip to the hospital with strangers while Mom stayed behind with the police

When we returned home from the hospital, Mom made my sister hide in her bedroom until our mother could gradually and gently 'break the news' to Dad that we had been in a an awful accident and that the car was wrecked (not to mention that my little sister was injured in more ways than just the fractured collar bone).. My dad was not violent. He was probably hurt that he wasn't called and told that we needed him. I'll ask him about that next time I see him.

Can you imagine the shame a 9 year old feels when she thinks she has to hide her injuries from her own father?  If that accident had happened while I was a mother, the first call I would make is to my child's father to ask him to meet my daughter at the hospital or ride in the ambulance with her if possible.

We learned to be afraid of the truth.

We learned that 'we' weren't enough.

In high school, I would come home and Mom would ask me about my day. She always seemed so disappointed that I was just a kid, going to school, learning, then returning home. Boring. Her kid wasn't popular. Of course, what could you expect from a defective child?  So I started making up stories that would make her laugh, or at least make her smile. I tried to make her like me with my stories.

I learned that simple stories were not enough. Stories needed expansion. My imagination is bigger than life and I can spin a good story.

Somehow that carried on for some time.  I buried the true-me.

I fell in love but was always too afraid to share the true-me with him. He asked me to marry him, having fallen in love with the not-me.

I was over-the-moon excited to show Mom and Dad my ring and tell them I was getting married. Mom's first comment was, "Did you tell him about what happened to you? He may not want you if he knows what happened?"

Really? He might not love me if he finds out that I am damaged goods because I was raped when I was 10?  Is that what she thought?  I told him. He wanted me any way. But I chose a man who couldn't be faithful. I knew it because he had cheated on me even before we were married but I loved him with all my heart. I also didn't believe that I deserved to be loved. After all, I was a broken person. He hurt me for years and I kept thinking, if I forgive him this time, he will see how much I love him. But he only looked at me like I was a chump. Not his fault, it was all mine. I taught him how to treat me.

After 13 years, we separated. Not because of the cheating (which broke my heart) but because he let my kids watch a gathering of his drug buddies as they cleaned out a brick of pot and cut up some cocaine to divide amongst themselves.

Years later, he made a joke to our daughter, that every 13 years I go a little crazy.  I sometimes lay in bed and wonder what would have happened if my daughter had responded, "No, actually, Dad. Every 13 years she gets tired of the bull shit and walks away from it."

Over the years, I have told family stories, sometimes adding side-notes to  make the old stories more interesting, more entertaining. Now my family makes jokes about how I can spin a tail. Sometimes, I just forget the exact way things happened, so in the re-telling of an event I get the dialogue wrong or the order of things mixed up.

I've stopped spinning yarns. I try to keep my creative imagination to my writing. Over the past couple of years, I've discovered that I have become the butt of some pretty hurtful jokes.  That's okay. People say what they are going to say.

What I can say now, is that I am releasing the True-me. Bringing her out to the light and giving her a little love.  Yeah, she's got some wounds but she is not broken.  The True-me loves unconditionally. The True-me prays for those who have hurt me; I pray that the pain that causes them to strike out will heal.

The True-me loves my mother and father and knows that they did their best. The True-me is a wise, loving, nurturing woman who has some weaknesses and some challenges. I'm working on them.

The True-me has been released and she is not going back into the shadows.....ever!

The True-me is actually about half an inch taller than the Not-me and I like that.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, Toni! So good to meet you.
    And you always deserved to be known for yourself.


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