Marathon's over! WooHoo! Twinkie and I have now separated. Independence is in the air! I am cured of PTSD! How could you not love the little metaphorical porcupine that's lived under my skin, shredding my self-esteem for 63 years. She was a duplicate copy of my mother, haranguing me at every turn.
So now that she's (or I'm) not offender #1, my psyche is peaceful. Glowing. Soft. Can you understand that my peace of mind is worth more than sacrificing it, to get along with one particular sister? For four years I've avoided her. She knows every button to push, and boy, does she push. What would you do in the following situation? Something a little tamer than punch her?
Two months ago my family got together for our father's 103rd birthday. Afterwards, I was having a delightful conversation with my sister-in-law and brother, speculating about where and how the seeds of rejection may have been sown in our mother's character. Judy had produced a spectacular genealogy report I presented my Dad on his 103rd birthday, and this sparked the conversation.
" Could have been when our pregnant Catholic great grandmother had to leave her faith and join her lover's Protestant faith. That was the price of this servant girl marrying into her employer's family."
" You don't know!!!" My other sister retorted, then inserting her opinion that lovers, especially farmers, crossed the lines of faith in Northern Ireland all the time, and nothing bad came of it.
I explained my own reasoning calmly.
" You don't know!". Then her own opinion.
I explained myself again.
"You don't know!!!", then her opinion.
The conversation ground to a halt.
>>sigh<< Some people simply don't respond kindly when you stop playing lapdog and state your independent opinions. What would you do?
And another conversation four years ago. It was dawning on me that she needed me to play her lapdog. It cinched it. She had barely walked in the door, when she noticed a photograph of our great Aunt Flo on my counter.
"No it's not."
"Yes it is"
"No it's not."
Ten times we went round. I didn't back down.
"Well....Maybe that's a picture of Aunt Flo. But I don't remember her with gray hair. And who is she with?"
You'd moved out years earlier, when her hair had more color"
"I don't remember her with gray hair. You sure that's Aunt Flo?"
She's not been welcome at my house since, for that and another 'discussion' I won't share here...
Dear readers, could you give me some feedback how to call someone out on their rudeness? I need ideas so I can practice.
My counselor shared this story with me shortly after my sister's most recent outburst. It's a story about a porcupine family and how they deal with each other, by the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860 ). From my perspective, it is my family's story.
“On a cold winter’s day, a group of porcupines huddled together to stay warm and keep from freezing. But soon they felt one another’s quills and moved apart. When the need for warmth brought them closer together again, their quills again forced them apart. They were driven back and forth at the mercy of their discomforts until they found the distance from one another that provided both a maximum of warmth and a minimum of pain. In human beings, the emptiness and monotony of the isolated self produces a need for society. This brings people together, but their many offensive qualities and intolerable faults drive them apart again. The optimum distance that they finally find that permits them to coexist is embodied in politeness and good manners. Because of this distance between us, we can only partially satisfy our need for warmth, but at the same time, we are spared the stab of one another’s quills.” -Arthur Schopenhauer
Twinkie didn't come out of me easily. Do habits die without a fight? I've been in porcupine mode since I was three years old. Dang. Whole family has. Why do families operate this way? Did you know that each of a porcupine's 30,000 quills comes with backward facing barbs, barbs that snag and tear skin on their way out? Have you ever tried to extract a porcupine's quills from a dog's nose? A porcupine's quill enters flesh more smoothly than a hypodermic needle, yet requires four times the force to pull it out.
I'm kind of embarrassed, but this post wouldn't be through without sharing what condition the Developmental trauma left me in. I don't know what to call this new chapter, but more work is necessary.
I found out exactly what my diagnosis is ( or was ?) this week.
2.4% of the population suffer from this. It's one of the hardest Personality Disorders to treat. ( O.K. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is harder, for obvious reasons. Best not to elect one of those into office, but somebody's better than the other...)
"It is characterized by marked avoidance of both social situations and close interpersonal relationships due to an excessive fear of rejection by others. Persons with this disorder exhibit feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and mistrust toward others...
Many persons diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder have had painful early experiences of chronic parental criticism and rejection. The need to bond with the rejecting parents makes the avoidant person hungry for relationships but their longing gradually develops into a defensive shell of self-protection against repeated parental criticisms. Ridicule or rejection by peers further reinforces the young person's pattern of social withdrawal and contributes to their fear of social contact.
Read more: http://www.minddisorders.com/A-Br/Avoidant-personality-disorder.html#ixzz4DMbJsuW8
Wouldn't you say that someone with an Avoidant Personality Disorder acts like a porcupine? Not here. In real life! If the comment section remains blank, I'll know you're avoiding me.
Have a super Independence Day, all! Tomorrow, real Independence Day, I won't be here. I'm heading to central Connecticut to bicycle 34 miles through the historical towns created by our revolutionary forefathers, with some new friends.