Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The backlash from sharing personal things...

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Oh the drama.  Last week, I posted a blog about shame and being nice.  I was quickly called out for not being nice.  

One of the final paragraphs of that blog discussed my history with shame:

I have been trying very hard to watch my thoughts and try to make them neutral at the very least.  I grew up in a church that bred judgmental behavior.  Even though I haven't gone to that church in 20 years, it was ingrained in me.  My mom was the worst offender.  She's gotten a lot better about it as I've gotten older and made it clear that I don't accept her judgments.  But I imagine she's just keeping her opinion to herself rather than changing her opinion altogether.   

This week, I received the following e-mail from my half-sister:

I guess the biggest issue I take with this e-mail is that I'm not 37 yet.  So, let me get this straight:  my sister is judging me for judging my mom because I felt like my mom was judging me for my entire life?  Yeah, I guess that's about right. 

Ahhh, to be 19 again, living at home and with no clue about how the real world works.  I wish I was there again.  Sure, juggling school and work was stressful but life was so much simpler then.  I don't begrudge my sister e-mailing me her hateful words.  I'm sure it was hard for her to see my mom's feelings hurt.  I do, however, wonder if it was my sister who showed that piece to my mom in the first place as my mom isn't the most tech-savvy person.  And no one likes to take responsibility for their own actions that cause pain, do they?  When I was a child, my mom would sneak into my diary to read my inner-most personal thoughts.  I have simply made it easier by now posting them in a public forum.  Anything I post, I am completely aware might get back to the person I am discussing, so I was not hiding this or any blog.  And if you think I get too personal with the thoughts I share, you should hear the thoughts I actually keep to myself.  But I digress... 

First, my apologies to my mother.  I did not mean to insinuate by that post that my mother was a horrible mother (or that we were having "new" issues...we have had somewhat of a "truce" if you want to call it that for the last few years).  Now, as an adult, I can fully admit that she did the best job she could with the skills she hadAs a child, I could not comprehend this.  She got pregnant with me very young, followed quickly by two brothers and a sister.  Growing up, weight was a hot topic in my household and I was never really good enough to many in the church since my dad was not a member (I was treated noticeably different by leaders of the church, which was pointed out to me by other church members.  I, and my other siblings, were half-breeds, who couldn't be trusted to make correct moral decisions since our "evil" father could influence us).  My feelings were and still are valid.  That is *my* reality.  I do not have to grow up, nor do I have to get over it.  I am sorry that it hurts my mom's feelings that I feel that way, but it is my truth.  It shaped who I am as an adult.  However, now as an adult, I am told to get over it.  I think guilt often causes people to have strong reactions.  But that is their pain to heal.  I cannot be held responsible for that.

At the same time, discussing the past does not mean you are not over what happened in the past.  As George Santayana said, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (commonly misquoted as: "Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it").  So, just because I sometimes touch upon my history for those who haven't had the opportunity to read every single blog post I've made over the last almost three years, doesn't mean I am currently sitting at home, crying and eating a gallon of ice cream over said previous issues.  I do struggle with many issues but I also very much know who I am.  I am in therapy and am dealing with my issues.  But issues aren't built overnight and they certainly won't go away that quickly either. 

For my sister to claim that my mom's heart was ripped out seems a bit disingenuous to me.  My mom and I have never had a close relationship, have twice stopped speaking for a significant amount of time and have spent time in therapy together.  My mom is very much aware of our issues.  I have not lived with my mom since I was 15 years old.  My sister was born when I was 16.  My sister and I have never lived together, nor do we spend any significant amounts of time together.  The purpose of these statements are only to point out: my sister doesn't know me, doesn't know my history, and got a completely different mom than I got.  She is certainly entitled to her opinion but I am not interested in what it is.  If she would like to start her own blog about what a stupid bitch sister she has, she is welcome to do that.  I realize for those who read my blog and know who my family is, it may be shocking that I made some insensitive comments about someone they actually know.  However, 99.9% of the people who read my blog, don't know me personally and don't know my mother or family.  I did not disclose any names, deleted my mom's comment that included her full name, and am therefore, just sharing a general experience with those who may find solace knowing there are others out there who have gone through a similar situation.  I received over 18,000 hits on my blog last month alone.  I also receive many messages from people telling me about their own life experiences.  I very much feel justified in sharing my personal truths if it helps others sort out theirs.  Also, writing is very cathartic for me.  This blog helps me heal the wounds that I clearly believe I have.  Whether anyone else believes I should be so injured is of no consequence. 

I am well aware that a portion of my mom's side of the family doesn't like me.  I have never asked her to defend me to them, so that was her choice.  I have not seen many of these people in years and expect (and hope) I will never see them again in my lifetime.  I cannot stand hypocrites, so there is no loss there.  I will childishly admit that I smile thinking how many are sitting on their high horses, going to church on Sundays, believing they are better than me and everyone else.  (Again, here we are all judging each other.  Apparently it is okay for them to judge me but not the other way around.)  Bring on judgment day...

So again, I apologize to my mom and my sister for whatever horrible evening they may have had reading my blog.  But I stand by my words and they are welcome to never visit this page again. 


  1. I have a similar relationship with my mother. My mother had me at a young age as well and her identity was wrapped up in being a mother. For me when i was a teenager I always felt like my mother had something she wanted to prove. That she could create a successful child despite the fact that she was a teen mother. So anytime I failed to live up to my mother standards she took it personal as if I was attacking her instead of recognizing that it was my own failure. My mother wanted to control every aspect of my life. She too would read my journals. My sister being eight years younger than I am has No understanding of our relationship. she judges me because she thinks I'm rude cruel callous and harsh. In reality I'm not. the problem is I don't allow my mother to domineer me I set firm boundaries and I stick by them. I also don't feel my mother is entitled to information or make decisions for me just because she is my mother. That doesn't sit well with my family culturally. Anyway long post just to let you know you are not alone.

    1. I am currently reading a book called Fat & Furious, which is about mother-daughter relationships. My teen years were obviously difficult with my mom, due to me just being a moody teenager and my making the transition to living with my dad, which infuriated her.

      As an adult, my bigger issues with her didn't start until I had gastric bypass and lost a bunch of weight. My mom said once that I turned into a bitch after I lost weight. I felt like I just finally started standing up for myself. So many people were walking all over me. So if that made me a bitch, whatever.

      I have another sister who is six years younger than me who also still has a lot of unresolved issues with my mom. I think her relationship with my mom is even more damaged. I think part of that is due to my realization that I can't depend on my mom for support and my sister still holds out hope that my mom will one day love her the way she wants to be loved. Not trying to put my mom (or sister) down but it *is* the way we grew up.

      There is definitely something about mother-daughter relationships that breed a lot of anger and issues. I know there is no easy answer to fix myself or my relationship with my mom but I feel like the way I am handling it is the only way I know how and that is to protect myself by limiting contact. :-/