Noun. An outcast. “They were treated as social pariahs”.
Synonyms: Outcast; Persona non grata; leper; undesirable; unperson; nonperson.
I’ve been trying to stop obsessing over the soul-deep hurt I’m feeling at being cast out from my family, but it’s been getting harder and harder as this year has progressed.
The breaking point has been No. 2 Nephew’s engagement.
When my Mom passed away, things changed. We rebuilt the grapevine among the 3 remaining siblings, but it took time. I never doubted that I was still part of the family, though. Even though Mom had been everyone’s touchstone for connection.
Despite the fact that I know I make people dislike me and get on their nerves simply by being me, it never occurred to me that I was an expendable member of the family. I never doubted that I was still a valued member of my family, despite the physical distance between us. Even when my siblings made their own families.
I made sure to call, to write, to send gifts for occasions important to the family, and also to physically go and visit at least once a year or more, and to make time for significant occasions (births, graduations, showers, birthdays, vacations), as well as host them in California for a visit. On my time and at my expense. I was thoughtful and considerate, as I wanted to be sure to keep those most important of familial bonds tight and healthy.
I made my extended family a priority, and I am stymied as to how that could have changed in 2 short years (since I was last home in 2015).
For the 32 years that I have been on this coast, I did what I could to keep my budget aligned so that I could still be a part of my family long distance. Once I learned of the engagement, I was waiting all year for official notice of the shower, the wedding, and an invitation to what I consider to be a “family” event of the year. But, as this wedding is showing me, I’m no longer “family”.
They must have read the Trump rules of immigration and decided that I was not close “enough” in the bloodline to be considered “family”.
When my brother passed away, things were also weird. But, we all tried. I showed up. I made nice with my father. I did what I had to do to honor and respect my brother and his choices regarding our father, despite his passing, and it was ok for awhile.
Until it wasn’t.
Calls / voicemails left at the house went unreturned. Efforts to keep the connection with my sister-in-law and the boys fell by the wayside, and I chalked it up to her being busy and them being male, and less indoctrinated in the “shoulds” of polite behavior.
Silly, narcissistic me.
Upon receipt of a complete lack of welcome, I stopped dropping by their home when I was in town (last my last visit was in 2015). I can’t be polite and call ahead to let you know I’d like to see you and visit, if you won’t return my calls. I get it. Catch-22. Especially since the older son was trying to honor his father, my brother, by taking care of his Grandfather, my father, long-distance. The man with whom I’ve haven’t had a relationship since 1979 / 1980-ish, after formally cutting ties and giving him every opportunity in the intervening years to fix any one of the many breaches.
Even though I am very polite when we are thrown together.
Even though the things he has done are unconscionable.
Those are my bags to carry, since I chose to pack them, and I shoulder them alone, regardless of what the other members of the family choose to do regarding allowing this toxic person to remain in their lives.
I am an individual as well as being part of a larger whole, and I accept that each of us will make their own choices about who to keep in their lives and who to exclude. I never asked them choose between us, yet I sense the long, claw-like fist of Daddy Dearest reaching down the long years that separate us to poison another generation of familial bonds.
While I met up with my brother’s family at my Sister’s home for another nephew’s graduation in 2015, Baby Sis was mad about a lawsuit that I was launching against our father to settle the long-disputed gravesite. I’m used to Baby Sis’s fits of temper, and I figured that it was just her being dramatic as this dispute is something that has echoed through our family since 1965, when our middle brother died. And something I expect her to refrain from taking sides over as it’s my cross to bear and resolve, if possible.
It was a long, drawn out fight between our parents over yet another thing my father stole that my mother paid for, and which also had some skin in the game for me, since one of the four grave sites was meant for me. Me who was never supposed to live this long.
My mother was clear to choose me to handle her estate because she knew that I would honor my promises to her. Even though I lived 3,000 miles away and she had two other children in town. One of those promises involved resolving the long-disputed grave site.
When my brother died, I let it ride as I hoped to be able to outlive my father and avoid more drama.
However, in 2015, I was out of time to wait for events to play out as my Big Brother had passed away, I was confronted with the immediate knowledge of having a much shorter life expectation due to the COPD worsening.
So, I chose to act to try and resolve the outstanding issue. $5,000 out of my pocket, and the situation was aggravated vs. being resolved. The lawyer I hired promised I had a fightable argument, but instead was a shyster who took my money and made the drama worse.
I own it.
I couldn’t make any other decision as that was my promise to Mom; to try and fix Jimmy’s grave.
But, to now have it be 2017 and have it devolve from my Sister being coldly silent to being a family pariah? How the heck is that even possible? I have done nothing new. Nothing deserving of being an outcast. Being excluded from a “family” wedding is beyond my understanding.
Especially as this drama dates back to a theft between my father and mother, and I did nothing wrong in trying to right a wrong.
But, as my No. 2 Nephew is about to get married, the hurts are piling up.
I’ve tried my best to accept that it is the bride’s call about who is invited to the shower, to the wedding, etc. I’ve tried my best to accept that they were in town in California and never called or wrote me so that I could at least drive up and say, “hi”.
However, it’s become an obsession to understand why these people are all still connected to me on facebook, yet won’t return a call nor will they include me in their lives.
If you really think I’m toxic, wouldn’t you simply unfriend or block me? Why the games? Why the illusion that we still have a healthy connection?
If you’re mad at me, is it too much to ask that you say so, and say why?
If you, from your financially blessed viewpoint, think I couldn’t afford to participate due to my illness and tight budget, is it too much to ask to still be invited so that I could make my own choice?
To quote: “Family is the place where you’re supposed to be able to go and they have to take you in.” They don’t have to like it. They don’t have to make it comfortable. But, they are supposed to at least show up and try to participate. Or, tell you what you did wrong and why you are no longer welcome.
It’s heartbreaking to know that I have ALWAYS behaved well in public, and yet I am the being trimmed back from the family tree and wedding invitation list as if I was a neighbor and not family. Wiped away as if I never existed.
I understand toxic personalities, as I’ve had to deal with my own reactionary behavior and learn how to stop giving it power in my life. Moving 3,000 miles away from the drama certainly helped, however, it was never meant to cut me off from the good parts of my family tree.
It’s earth shaking to presume, however, that I’m being seen as the toxic personality. I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around what it is that I could have possibly done to be abusive to anyone else. Not after years and years of self-checking my behavior and words to ensure that I wasn’t dragging anyone else into the drama between my father and myself.
That stalemate will never resolve itself as he wishes I was dead, and yet I’m still here.
That stalemate should have stopped being an issue when I moved away, and yet he’s still obsessive about my refusal to accept his version of events over my own memories.
I haven’t discussed this topic with anyone besides my father, who is my nemesis and my abuser, and my sister, who has a whole set of her own family baggage to resolve on her own, when or if she’s ever ready to address the woman in her mirror. So, I’m just dumbstruck that the next generation of family members sees nothing wrong with cutting me out of their important family occasion, as if I was an imposter in claiming my position on the family tree.
I am glad I’m going away today on my own vacation so that I don’t have to see pictures of the wedding and know in full color that I am repellant. A pariah.
I know I’ll get over this.
I’m big on being resilient, especially when I don’t have any other choice.
I won’t hide my truth or change my own choices simply to get along. I will be cordial if my father and I ever meet, as I always am, but I won’t be loving and I won’t be friendly. I will not be forced to live his lies.
It’s been a long 3 months since I learned about the actual wedding date. It’s been hard to keep circling this topic in my mind, endlessly examining my own behavior to see if I’m doing something toxic to the next generation, only to come back to the frustration that it appears my abuser is winning in dividing and conquering us.