Getting Your Sh*t Together

Storytime: When enough is enough: choosing YOU over toxicity

December 20, 2021 Cynthia Season 4 Episode 3
Getting Your Sh*t Together
Storytime: When enough is enough: choosing YOU over toxicity
Show Notes Transcript

**Trigger warning for language and some of the content**

Hey, all!

Trying something new and wanted to have a little storytime. I hope you stay with me. I want to talk about growth, boundaries, and how forward momentum comes in a variety of ways.

Let me know if you like these story-themed shows and I'll add them into the mix!

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Standing up for yourself.

This episode is about family. But first, quick question to my friends who don't come 
from the black community. Do y'all use the expression "blood is thicker than water"
Just curious because, man, if I wasn't spat out the womb with that expression
imprinted on my fucking psyche...I kid you not. Maybe it's a black southern 
"religious thing." But I digress...

Growing up, I had zero sense of self. I believe I talked about it in my intro, so 
you're new here. Check your girl out, in all my wacky random.

But anyway, no sense of self. I grew up in an environment that didn't encourage me.
Now, this isn't a bash fest against my parents. And trust, I had it out with my dad
quite a few times. And I even told him this, that I didn't feel safe to be myself.
I grew up walking on eggshells. My mom was temperamental and preferred my brother.
Truthfully, I think everyone in my family does because boys are "easy."

So, I tried to be the antithesis of that. I aimed to be so easy, so smooth. Safe. I think that's why I have this self-destructive rebellious streak. I was conditioned to believe the only way to love or be loved is to project a certain cynthia into the world, then I would regret it and start to resent the other person or situation.

I still run up against that thinking to this day, but I'm so much better than I was before. Now, I stand up for myself even when I'd instead do what I can to make others feel okay.

Recently, this was put to the test. My dad LOVE HIM, but he is so codependent. I
think I got a lot of how I relate to women from him. Especially how I treated my
mom. But my dad, if you see him, he's such a strong and formidable guy. Like he would
deadass stare at you, like bore into you, and it would be the MOST uncomfortable thing. He would do that to my brother and I's friends if they decided they could come over and do whatever they want and my dad quickly reminded them whose house it was. NO LIE.

My dad commands respect, and he doesn't wait until it's given. And I think, the more I say this..., the more I see myself in him. Especially at work, and I'd rather be respected than liked...but all that being said. That changes when it comes to how he deals with the women in his life. My dad is the only boy out of five siblings.

Growing up, he wanted my brother and me to have a relationship with him. And we tried, but you know, it wasn't the best for me. And this is where I will admit to some of my shit. Because accountability, right...

I've had a so-so relationship with my dad's side of the family. In fact, I would say most of them I don't like. They don't like me, but you know the whole...blood is thicker than water. The majority of them also didn't like my mom because in their mind (and I heard this verbatim from them), my mom took my dad away. BUT quiet as it's kept, let me use all the southern vernacular today -- MY DAD wanted to get away from them. He joined the military before he even knew of my mother -- they met at military college. SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO...but anyway, my dad is a boy, and on the Wright side...they're not as plentiful. Anyway, I just want to give you an idea of these mentalities on this side of the family.

My dad has a sister that's ten years older than me. Give or take. In her words,
she was my dad's best friend until I was born. (Yup, another true statement). 
For the sake of this story, let's call her Aunt K. Now, I grew up all over with dad and mom keeping my bro and I up in Maryland, so I didn't see my family in Georgia much. As a child, I probably saw them two or three times that I can remember.

One time, Chris and I went down to Georgia to stay with my Aunt K, and it 
was a mess. My aunt had a roommate. I don't think she had a job then. Her roomies'
boyfriend was always around, along with her younger brother. Who took a liking to 
me but couldn't stand Chris and made him do everything. And since Chris is the 
"golden child," he didn't take to it well. Granted, looking back -- the dude was
fucked up for that, but at the time, it felt nice to be someones favorite because
I felt like I never was. 

Anyway, I was a pre-teen then. But I idolized my Aunt K. She was funny, seemed
worldly, and came across as talented. So, as I said -- here I was, a pre-teen,
blossoming into a woman with no role models -- so I did what I thought was the right thing -- I stole some of her stuff. Like some of her chokers (it was the 90's but I guess it's back now), some cassette tapes, etc. I wanted to be like her, and this is all I knew what to do. I, OF COURSE, got found out -- and I was dragged by not just her but the entire family. Seriously, they gathered me in a room with them, and I was scolded. Now, I'm not saying that I shouldn't have gotten in trouble, but my dad's family TRIBES on public ridicule and put down. And knowing what I know now, my Aunt K probably took some joy in doing that to me. After all, that shows that I wasn't perfect, I was a fuck up, and she was raised better than I would ever be.

I only mentioned this competition angle (I refused to see it for a long time) until countless others, including my father, would say things alluding to my Aunt K, who was ten years older than me, feeling threatened by me.

Well, that story happened. I wrote apology letters to my aunt, they went ignored. I don't think I saw or talked to her again until they came up for my HS graduation. At the time, my mom wanted to "out" me for being queer, and my dad yelled at me not to embarrass him. So I spent the bulk of the week leading up to my graduation in tears. I also struggled with an eating disorder but got praised for my shape, so I chopped that up to a win. Again, presenting or projecting what I think others wanted to see. I was smart, I was pretty, and I was straight. Perfect daughter, niece, whatever.

Anyway, I made up with my aunt then. OR she felt it in her southern friend spirit enough to forgive me. She even mentioned that I should come live with her and the family in Atlanta after college. I was like...I was dunno. I wanted to live in NYC.

I hadn't been there ever at that time, but I just knew that's what I wanted. I loved RENT and everything about the concrete jungle, and wasn't that where all the gays and queers went?.... Although it took me longer to get here, I did, and I'm going on eleven years now. 
So, maybe I was right. 

Well, post-graduation, my dad wanted me to go to Atlanta. I didn't want to disappoint him, so I decided to go. So now I was living under the house with my Aunt K, my Aunt Z (who was going through a divorce, so she was outraged and bitter at the time), her child, my grand-dad
who was a quadriplegic and had round-the-clock nursing care. And then
there was me. I didn't have a job, I had a car, but that's it. 

At first, it was good, but it quickly just took a wrong turn. They treated me
like my cousin who was less than 10 and while I was 22/23 and still 
wet behind the ears, I felt stifled. I'm a very independent person, always
have been and will be -- I'm sure a lot of it is my survival defense 
kicking in. 

When things went south with my Aunt K., She pulled all my support. I couldn't eat food in the house. I had to get my own. I had a curfew. She had to talk to everyone I knew. It was just nuts. If I dared go outside of what she deemed fit, I was again dragged in public. Called a whore, slut, that she would slit my throat in my sleep. All I would be suitable for was to be some man's whore. 

And she would say this in front of my entire family. Just break me down.
She would use my stories of pain that I told her in confidence against me. Chris came to visit, and she spoiled him and ignored me. But Chris, being Chris, spent extra time with me and even slept in my room.

This was also around when my mom got sick and was dying. Here I am, losing her to cancer and not able to afford to go back to stay with her. I think my father forced Aunt K to pay for my ticket. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to go.

I lost a shit ton of weight from being starved, from the sadness of losing 
my mom, and just the stress of living there. Thankfully, I found a job, so I started making my own money and escaping that house. I had
a curfew, so I would stay out -- even if it was just sitting in my car 
with the lights off until I had to go inside. I would never be in before
curfew, and I would leave early before work to escape that place. And
no one said anything, not even my grand-dad. Not even my dad. Do you know who did? My mother. She was sick in her hospital bed, and I got her on the phone. She was grappling with her own shit, you feel me. But I remember one of the last times I talked to her, I didn't speak about what was happening, but she got quiet...I think she just knew. My mom had the
best intuition. She asked me how I was really doing in that house.
And I said, my usual -- it's okay. Then my mom was quiet, and the next thing she said was that the next time she talked to me that I better have
my ass out of that house. 

I moved that weekend. Didn't tell anyone, just packed up and started
loading up my car before anyone got up. By the time they all
gathered in the living room to watch TV, I had a couple of boxes.
My grandfather even asked me during one of my treks up and down the
stairs if I was moving because I wasn't going to say shit, and I
said "yes" and kept it moving. 

I left the house and them. I probably stepped foot in that house
twice after that while they all lived there. Both times my dad was there. 

I cut off all contact. My dad, over the years, has asked me
why I don't talk to Aunt K. See, my dad goes home to visit and wants
me to join him, and I'm like, I AM GOOD. I AM GOOD. And for a while, I 
think that bothered him, but once I escaped that place, there is no
way in hell I'm going back. I grew up mostly in agony, and I was tired
of repeating the pattern -- family or not. 

Flash forward to 2021, Thanksgiving -- my dad went down. He asked me, and I said no. He came back, and then 2-3 weeks later, I got a text from my Aunt K. Out of the blue, she had to say who she was because she wasn't saved in my phone.

Mind you, I got a text -- NOT a phone call. In the text, she mentioned
having a great time with my dad and that he was battling the distance between her and me silently, although it weighed heavily. And she wanted to make him happy (now), so she wanted to see if we could chat and heal our rift. Friends! I was floored and pissed and said nothing for a week. 

Not because of what happened because friends, all that shit happened
sixteen years ago. I'm not thinking about that. I let it go a long time ago.
I was willing to talk about it a long time ago. I healed the best way
I knew how and I'm fine. So her wanting to reopen that box because she
was ready and wanted to make my dad happy (now) was comical. 

Now, old me wanted to open that box. Say okay, let me meet her and be mature now that she's ready. But my spirit was on fire, and I was smacking myself over the head like, "girl, whatcha doing? She had time. This isn't about you and her mending things. This is about her wanting to look good in front of your dad. Now, in transparency, I had to hash this out with some folks to get out of my own head. So thank you, friends
for that.

So I ended up sending her a text. Saying thanks but no thanks, I healed and let that go long ago.

Then I blocked her. She's been blocked on social media, so I just completed the circle.

I'm going to tell my dad too. Maybe he would have had that conversation, but he ain't me and
I love myself too much now to ever walk back into that snake pit. 

Blood may be thicker than water, but blood isn't as plentiful and dries up quickly. I know, gross analogy 
but I hope you feel me. 

I know this isn't my usual fare, but I hope this helps someone out there when it comes to boundaries. It doesn't matter when or how old you just matters that you get there. And you honor you in the process.