Monday, November 16, 2009

Monster Monday

Today's post is not nearly as detailed as others. I do promise to get back in the groove of writing Monster Monday posts. Both for myself and for y'all. I have been overwhelmed (in a positive way) with the incredibly heartfelt responses these posts have elicited. I find it both a relief and a shock to learn that so many of y'all went through very similar experiences. I even found out that an IRL friend from high school, a girl who I hung out with all the time and was part of my every-day little clique and a very close friend, went through similar situations. And never once did either of us disclose this information to each other. I had no idea!

So on that note of friends not knowing, I thought it was high time to do my best to explain just why I never shared most of this information with friends. I have a large number of IRL friends who read my blog (or at least know it exists- I am not really sure how many actually read it regularly) and were unaware of much or all of this part of my past. I think everyone knows that I don't speak to my mother. But I rarely elaborate and they rarely ask. It's sort of agreed that we will leave it at that.

The easier to answer part of this explanation of why I don't share this with newer friends (by newer I mean if you met me after high school. Which I know is not "new" in most cases but that is still how I sort of separate people. C and AH. Childhood and After Highschool. My AH friends rarely get much information out of me usually because it honestly never comes up in conversation. I mean, never once at a Junior League meeting or a work event has anything related to this topic of conversation come up. I just don't think about it. The background conversation with AH friends is usually about where you grew up and where you work and went to college. The second part to the answer is that I spent my entire childhood aware of the sympathy/pity everyone felt towards me. Talking about how your mother doesn't love you is a rather big Debbie Downer conversation. I am very sensitive towards others feeling sorry for me. And really, how can you not if I tell you the stories? If you told me the stories, I would feel the same towards you. So even though I know it is out of a place of love, it still has me all worried that I will be that girl who only tells sad and depressing stories. Even more than that, I am so worried that talking about any of this will make friends feel uncomfortable. So while I don't purposely avoid the conversation, I don't initiate it either. And rarely is there a natural entry into such topics anyway. My life is not about my past. I don't hide it but it really just doesn't enter my mind on a daily basis. But then, I get years into a friendship and find myself never having discussed this part of my past. And then I feel all new worries that I am too late or that the friend will feel I hid a part of me. So the cycle of never bringing it up continues.

The reason many of my childhood friends don't know many of my stories is because I was convinced as a kid that my dirty family business was front page news. That everyone knew and felt pity towards me. I didn't want to dwell on it more than necessary. And I was always aware that certain friends were not allowed to see me outside of school because their parents disapproved of my family. As an adult, I am learning that some friends really didn't know all the gory details of my family drama. Though I honestly thought most of them knew. But didn't bring it up because hello, Debbie Downer. And really, why would we talk about that junk when we were bopping around the shopping malls and restaurants and gossiping. There were a tiny handful of people I trusted enough to talk about things with - two best friends and their mothers - and the rest I really internalized. To this day I do not enjoy being the center of attention and never wanted everyone to stare sadly (or at all) at me. Then again, I would find myself in the position of being long-time friends and never discussing this part of me.

The bottom line is that I never wanted to be defined by my mother and Satan. Though for the majority of my life, I very much felt that I was defined by them and our past together. It's really only in the last handful of years that I can look at myself as truly separate from them. Due in great part to unfortunately cutting out a few more people from my life. Which is incredibly sad and not at all what I wanted to see happen. But when Satan and his wife are calling me or stalking me or showing up on my doorstep as they did in the middle of the night when I lived in DC, it's hard to justify anything or anyone that might contribute to that. Even if the friends or family members did so out of a place of love.

I've surprised myself in finding a small moral in my babbling post today though. I think one can read this and hopefully realize that sharing yourself and your scary stories doesn't have to be terrible. I'm still not bringing my past up in conversation at a fun girls night out dinner or anything. But I realize from the sweet comments and emails that have come my way, that not everyone in the world will judge me harshly for things that happened to me or around me as a child. And that my very dear friends might have similar stories that they need to get off their chests too.

The most frequently asked question that comes my way is if I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders by sharing my background. To that I respond both yes and no. I am not sure what my motivation was to share with y'all, but it was not actually to relieve stress. I don't usually think much about a post before writing it. One Monday I just wrote. And I was so touched by the kind responses that I decided to make it a semi-regular thing. Semi-regular because I have been busy lately and don't always make it on here to post anything on Sunday night or Monday morning. I do however feel relieved that many of my In Real Life (meaning outside of the blog. Because I do actually think of and speak of y'all as if we knew each other in person. I frequently re-tell stories saying "Blah, blah, blah happened to my friend, so she did XYZ about it.") friends know more about me. Without it having come up in the middle of a dinner, thus bringing the mood down. So while an unplanned outcome, that has been a relief. But also a source of guilt as emails come in saying "I had no idea!"

So to all my IRL friends reading this, I never set out to keep secrets from y'all. I just never found a time to bring it up when I thought it to be appropriate. But thank you a million times over for your sweet emails and comments!

More stories in the weeks to come, I promise. I know lurid details are far more fascinating than my babbling explanation.


Rachel H. said...

I'm so glad that you shared...I think while it might be difficult, it's so helpful to get this kind of thing out in the open, even to IRL friends! It'll help them learn more about you and be more open and be there when you need them! :)

Susan R said...

PPC.......we need to talk girlfriend. No, not so you can divulge anything from the past, but it's amazing to know that you are not alone in situations such as these. And by you I mean me. You are wise not to let your past dictate who you will be. I think we have more in common than you might know.

Buford Betty said...

Oh please don't feel any guilt for not divulging all the gunk from your childhood to me or any of your other IRL friends. Like you said, when does that kind of stuff ever really come up? It's not just you - I mean who ever really tells their life story upon meeting someone or even later on into the friendship? We all get bits and pieces as friendships grow. I love that you're getting it out - I think it's great for you. And I love learning more about my bestest at the same time! xoxoxoxo


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