We Call ‘Em Toxic People

Well, friends, I’ve talked a lot in the past about my older sister. Once upon a time, she was arrested for domestic violence against me. She got better. With therapy and medication, we both did, and we’ve had a much healthier relationship.

I’m sure you can sense the “but” coming.

And indeed it did. Because she’s been giving me the silent treatment for over a month, after I said something offensive (and I’m still not sure what). I’ve tried to apologize and explain further and further, but not only is it beating my head against a brick wall, I’ve realized that everything hasn’t been all sunshine and roses since we “got over” everything. No, I’ve spent this entire time still walking on eggshells to try and keep her happy. Even though our relationship, according to myself, has been so very great.

Take last Christmas, for example. She was trying to tie a mattress down in a truck bed, in the middle of an evening snowstorm, in a hoodie. She pulled me out of a vet appointment to help out. I offered her the snowboarding jacket I had in my trunk, but she wouldn’t take it, even though she was obviously cold, and got very snappy when I asked if she was sure. Snappier than she’s been with me since The Incident (aka the day she was arrested). And I was supposed to stay at her apartment that night!

So I told her to calm down, and I left. I finished taking care of my cats, and I drove back to her place, fully expecting to be locked out. But no, she wasn’t home yet. Second thought was that she went to her boyfriend’s place for the night so that she could ignore me. And because I’d pushed her so hard to take the stupid jacket (I shouldn’t have offered a second time), our relationship was strained, and it was all my fault. In short, I spent the evening flashing back to all the emotions of the times before The Incident, when I didn’t know what I could expect from her. Long story short(er), that night was the first cutting incident I’d had in years. And it turned out to be over nothing, as she came back a couple hours later, having stopped at DI, and wondering why I was sitting in the dark with my stuff half-packed. She had no idea, and treated me as kindly as normal for the rest of my visit.

As a precursor to this current incident, she got annoyed with me for thinking there was some deeper meaning behind a message she sent me, telling me I was invalidating her feelings. That’s when I lost it. After taking the time to calm down properly (I know better than to try to talk to her in the heat of the moment), I told her to remember that she was the one who abused me, and I can’t control my, for lack of a better word, triggers. She had been passive aggressive in the past, and my brain was still used to that. I told her it was invalidating to have your own former abuser tell you what to feel.

And thus, I have been shunned. Even on Thanksgiving, my parents were over at her place. My mother called and put me on speakerphone so everyone could say happy Thanksgiving. Everyone except my sister, who went into the other room so she didn’t have to talk to me.

Now, I realize, she hasn’t grown up nearly as much as I thought she had. She’s not the mature adult I can rely on. She’s not anyone I can rely on. She harped on me for suspecting something else going on, and then she proves me right. She’s being passive aggressive, and I can’t trust her. That hurts like hell, because I love my sister dearly. But maybe this time I’ll learn my lesson. I don’t need her. I have a fantastic support network: three amazing best friends, and the greatest boyfriend a girl could ask for. It’s time to truly detox my life (not that she’ll give me a choice, anyway), and stop being her doormat. We obviously can’t be close, if she’s going to be childish like this. And I’m better off without her.

My advice to anyone else out there who wants to forgive their abusers, or already has: yes, forgive them, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to them, and what they’re doing to you. Be wary. It takes a hell of a long time to regain trust, and for good reason. Don’t take their shit. You’re better than that, and you don’t need them, if they’re going to treat you badly.

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Kick Depression In The Butt

So, I’ve been seeing a counselor. That’s going well. I’m telling the Evil Depression Voices to shut their pie holes, because I’m awesome, and not nearly as worthless or incompetent as I try to tell myself that I am. Thanks to my counselor, of course. And my sister. I couldn’t do this crap on my own!

(Warning: several curse words will follow)

Tonight, my sister worked a double shift. And she texted me, because one of her coworkers was being a chauvinistic dick, it was a long, stressful day, and depression was giving her an emotional breakdown.

Me, I like to fix the problem. I’m not good at dealing with emotions. So, I tried just being a sounding board. Then I started slipping into my usual habit (telling her that she should come work with my department because it’s better management, etc). I apologized, but then she told me what she needed was a solution for tonight.

So, I did my absolute best, trying to give her the pep talks I give myself. Tonight, therefore, I’d like to give myself that same pep talk again.

Life is full of challenges, Mac. People can be assholes. If they don’t like the way you do things, tell them to suck it up. You are awesome. Sometimes you think you can’t handle it. Well, you can. No obstacle will ever be put in your path that you can’t demolish. You just gotta choose to do it.

You’ve already been through hell. What’s this? It’s nothing. Depression is being the drama queen. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill. Tell it to shut up. Because you’re tough. You’re strong. You’re awesome. You got this. Nobody can bring you down unless you choose to let them.

My pseudonym is Mac. I’ve stop fights in their tracks. I’ve climbed thirty-foot knotted ropes. I’ve run a zipline. I worked in a haunted house for five years, and never complained about any injuries I received. I rescued and continue to protect my cat, Moe. I’ve let go of the so-called love of my life more than once. I solve problems. I write and proofread. I am beautiful, smart, witty, and my cats adore me (as long as I feed them). I survived a narcissistic, hoarding mother. I survived an abusive sister. I survived bullying, self-harm, a batshit crazy aunt, and a friend’s suicide. I am strong. Depression and the day-to-day challenges of life ain’t got nothin’ on me!

Victim? Survivor? Nope. I’m a fighter, thank you very much.

Depression can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

Holiday Misery

It’s been a hard month. I can freely admit that. What made it worse? My two roommates being at their own homes for Christmas, and my parents coming and staying at my house. Christmas night, after a long day at work, I had to come home to deal with my parents getting in a fight, my mom yelling at our dogs for no reason, and all that. When I told her to chill out and not yell at the dogs (who weren’t doing anything, as usual), she said, “You weren’t on the receiving end, Mac. I was!” Here meaning the receiving end of my dad’s temper. Because she was being stupid, and he snapped at her.

But, because I just don’t care anymore, I replied, “Don’t even start that shit with me right now!”

So, I took the dogs into my room and changed clothes, all the while having to listen to my parents yelling. Flashback to many long nights in my childhood when those fights would scare the hell out of me. But I am not that little girl anymore. So I came out, and yelled louder.

But still, all this made for a very stressful, depression-triggering night. By the time we got to my sister’s house, where she had made dinner, I was ready to kill someone, and couldn’t help crying for no real reason. I’m fortunate to have such an awesome sister. She took me into her room, away from my parents, and let me talk it out, staying with me until I’d calmed down.

The next day, I couldn’t face going to work. My sister was working that night (she works at the same place in a different department), so my boss told her he was worried about me, and asked what was up. She told him about the family fiasco, to which he replied, “Well, tell her we’re her real family.”

Even as I write that, I’m tearing up a little. Those words mean so much to me. There are people out there who worry about me, and want the best for me. They have more right to claim familial ties to me than my mother ever did. And that was something I really needed to hear.

Of course, the month is still hard. I’m thinking a lot about Scott when I have nothing else to fill my mind. I can’t bear to even think about getting rid of anything that was his that he left at my house. Or anything he gave me, even if I never wanted it. Everything he gave me has become too sentimentally precious. The memories are sparse, but cherished. Almost sacred. And it hurts. A lot. I don’t want to remember the dead body I saw at his funeral. I want to remember the tall, gangly kid with the huge smile who joked about everything. But they’re too intertwined. It’s hard. Yes, I’ve been better since the funeral. But does a wound like that ever fully heal? And depression’s never going to make it easier.

But I’m getting better. Yes, sometimes it’s so hard I just want to give up. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m going to make it. But there are people who love me. If nothing else, I have to keep going for them. I am strong. I will protect them from knowing what this feels like.

That helps.

To My Sister

Beloved big sister,

We’ve been through hell together. Childhood? What childhood? We were too busy trying to cope with an insane mother. Trying to figure out why everything was our fault. What we were doing wrong. Of course, I was the golden child. I saw Mom’s good side. She was a better mother to me.

You tried to mother me. Heck, I needed it sometimes. You didn’t understand that Mom was better toward me. So, that led you, a child, to unintentionally be an abusive sibling. You led me into depression. But you know what? Most golden children grow up to be narcissists, themselves. So I’m grateful that you were there to balance me out. In all honesty.

I’ve always looked up to you, no matter how much I tried to deny it. You were strong and sassy and smart and pretty, and I wanted to be just like you. How times have changed. I’m happy being me.

You hurt me. I won’t ever deny that. A lot of my depression issues come from innocent comments you don’t even remember making. That’s okay. You helped me develop a spine. I can take insults, spit them right back, and shrug them off. I stopped caring whether or not I’m Mom’s good child. I’m an adult. She can’t punish me anymore—not that she’d have the guts to do it anyway. I’m stronger than she is.

Sis, I love you. I’m so grateful to you, being there for me through my discoveries with depression and especially with this problem with Scott. I’m glad you’re letting me make you watch anime. I’m glad you’re taking me climbing, and offering to hang out with me. I can’t live with you anymore, of course, but I love having you around. You’re so caring and now, that you’ve grown up, you’re the kind of mom figure I wish I had. Definitely the closest thing to a surrogate mother I have.

Thank you for everything you’ve done. I forgive you.

With love,

Mac

Effemiphobia: A Fear of Femininity and Weakness

My sister and I (mostly her) have discovered something. Our life is a lot like the TV show Supernatural, if you take away the supernatural elements, and genderflip everyone. Crazy, abusive parent? Check. Older sibling scapegoat who has to be the parent? Check. Younger, golden child sibling who has to be protected? Friggin’ check. Effemiphobia? You bet! Now, I’m not a big fan of the show, so a lot of this is what my sister tells me, but I’ve seen it in the episodes I have watched.

For as long as I can remember, my brain has been split into two parts. I was in middle school when I finally named them after my two male OCs (original characters) who they seemed to represent. There was the quiet, cold-tempered, intelligent chessmaster who despised all weakness (the cynic), and the kind, gentle peacemaker who just wanted everyone to be happy (the sensitive). My two personalities, as I described them. I knew I didn’t have multiple personalities, of course, but that was the best way to explain it. When I was experiencing negative emotion like anger, sadness, hurt, fear, whatever, I tried to emulate the first. Shut down my true feelings, raise an eyebrow and make a snarky remark. When the emotion was positive, I was the second, laughing at myself, making jokes at my own expense, slipping on ice and taking a bow. But sometimes, I fell through the cracks. I’d cry. I’d fly off in a rage. I’d scream when I saw a spider. And the cynic side tried to tear me apart, angrily telling me how stupid and weak I was, while the sensitive side cowered before that rage.

Depressed people have described feeling like they have two voices in their head. One, always berating them for the stupid things they’ve done, and the other, constantly apologizing for living and wondering what they could do to make things better. This was me in a nutshell, for most of my life.

The problem: why were they both male, in my mind?

In the past, I’ve described myself as a tomboy. But maybe that’s not altogether accurate. I’m not really the sporty type. I hate almost any sport that involves a ball, as a matter of fact. No, what I am is terrified of femininity. The trap of masculinity, as I’ve called it in the past.

So, yes, I’m a girl. Yes, I’m friggin’ effemiphobic. Dean Winchester’s line, “No chick flick moments,” might as well be my motto.

It’s a hard concept to explain. Effemiphobia is the word commonly used across the Internet (especially Tumblr), though it’s mainly used to describe men, especially gay men. It’s got nothing to do with misogyny. I don’t hate women. I am one. I don’t even hate femininity—forgive my language, but I’m fucking terrified of it. It’s a message I inhaled from my first teacher, Hollywood. Feminine women need a hero to rescue them, while they stand around looking terrified. Masculine women (and guys) are the ones who save the day, and kick the bad guy’s ass. Maybe it was also because I idolized my dad and action heroes, but the only feminine role models I really had were either damsels in distress or my mother and sister (who were both their own brands of crazy). Masculinity, to me, was sane. My dad was masculine. He was sane. He was smart. He was rational. My dad could fix things. My mom and sister knew how to mess them up, and let their feelings get in the way.

And the more masculine I acted, the more my dad acknowledged me. The more he wanted to spend time with me. The more I wanted to be his son, not his daughter. Anything was better than being my mother’s young lady. Because my batshit crazy mother wanted me to wear dresses all the time. She wanted me to be the proper young lady. Her golden child. Her perfect little girl. I rebelled. My sister is far more feminine than I’ll ever be, and that was not the way it started.

I have guilty pleasures in anything remotely romantic or soft. I love fluffy animals. I’m decent at amateur romance scenes. I love analyzing every romantic moment of my favorite movies. Heck, I love a good chick flick, and I’ll occasionally pick up chick lit. Sometimes, I just want to eat a salad and listen to music that’s described as girly.

But all that sucks. Know why? Every time I engage in one of these activities, I hate myself for it. I don’t want to be the romantic. I don’t want to cry when I see a mouse get killed. I want to consume the entire double bacon cheeseburger, and I’d drown it with beer if I drank. I watch horror movies, I read and write the most horrific, gruesome things I can devise. I can burp on queue. I bombard myself with action movies. Because they’re safe. They’re not weak. They’re not feminine. They make me strong.

I have a different perspective than any guy who’s effemiphobic, obviously. I can’t escape femininity completely. I can deny all the aspects of it I want to, but in the end, I’m still a girl, physically and mentally. I’m still attracted to men. I still want them to notice me. To find me attractive. But I’ve been told I’m beautiful more times than I can count. I’ve been told I’m awesome, smart, funny, cute, whatever. I’ve been told I’m soft, and I can’t stand to even think about that. The highest compliment I’ve ever received was being told by a guy that I was more of a man than he was. Because that made me strong. That meant I could protect myself, that I didn’t need anyone else to protect me. I need that assurance as surely as I need to breathe. I need to be strong. I need everyone to see that I’m strong.

But I’m still a girl. I wear flattering clothes and jewelry and makeup and fix my hair. I own a lot of shoes. I like to cook, and I love to dance. But I haven’t worn pink in years. Lace is disgusting.

It’s like constantly being at war with yourself. Wanting so badly to just be a guy, but at the same time, realizing how much that would suck. Wanting to enlist, but knowing you can’t get in because of depression. And even if I could make it in, I’d wash out during basic training due to depression. I know that. And I hate myself for it.

But, oh well. Life goes on. First step to fixing the problem is admitting that there is one, and I’ve come a long way toward fixing it already these past few years, even without having a word for it. I’m pretty happy being the way I am, honestly. Effemiphobia doesn’t control me. . . most of the time. And when it does, I just need to blow metaphorical raspberries at it, because I’m awesome. Right? Of course right!

Thank you for tuning in to the Rantings, Ramblings, Ravings and Musings of Mac. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Life on Anti-Depressants

Well, WordPress, I’ve been taking it easy since being put on drugs. Lazing around. Writing. Feeling a lot less moody than I normally do. Let me tell you guys, that’s been great. It’s a weight off my shoulders.

I’ve also talked to my sister. Actually sorted things out.

My sister, who admits she abused me, now. My sister, who was also diagnosed with depression. My sister, who’s found so much through counseling and fiction that I never would have thought of. It’s amazing. Things are actually working out between us. We can talk our problems over rationally.

And so many of the paranoias my mother imposed are crashing around my ears.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Arizona, where I’ve been visiting my mother’s parents with the rest of my family since Sunday. My mother told me she was abused by her own mom. That my grandma was a horrible, terrifying, abusive woman. I was shocked, of course, to discover that’s not the case, at all. Grandma just happens to get that my mother is a narcissistic, compulsively lying hoarder. My mother’s parents are fantastic people, who completely understand the problems of dealing with my mother and my aunt. I thought I didn’t have grandparents who loved me, honestly. This realization is shocking. And wonderful.

Also, I never realized just how far my mom went into making my sister the scapegoat. But, just recently, my sister told me a story. How, at the age of fourteen (when it typically happens at age twelve), she finally dared to apply for a temple recommend (need to follow specific Mormon rules to be eligible). She didn’t get one before because she thought she was such a horrible person. Because she believed what my mother told her. And when she brought that brand new recommend home, she showed it to Mom, trying to show her that she wasn’t worthless. You know what Mom did? Shoved her up against the wall and told her she’d lied to get that recommend. A fourteen-year-old. A kid.

I’ve heard things no little kid should ever have to hear. Mom and my sister, fighting. Or so I thought. But my sister was always just a kid. Only two years older than me. How could those noises I heard coming from her room ever be a real fight? Her screams? How could she possibly fight back, when my mother was the one with the power? I was only about six. I wanted to go solve the problem, but I was too scared to see. And when my mother came in to talk to me, her golden child, I believed what she told me. After all, Mother is God in the eyes of a child.

She lied to me. And I believed her.

Now, my sister is no saint. She was trying to protect me in her own way, but as a kid, she resented me for being the golden child, and went about protecting me all wrong. She’s a parentified child who thought that I needed looking after. But let’s face it. My mom was a much better mother to me, because I was her golden child. I didn’t see the dark side until I was older, really. But in my life, there were always those two opposing female forces, neither one of them completely trustworthy. Always telling me different stories. Thanks to all that, I’m a huge fence-sitter. Apathetic, for the most part. Peacemaker might as well be my middle name, because I will always see both sides of the issue, and trust no one completely.

Well, that’s the serious part of what I had to say. The rest of it? I could regale you with the fascinating tale of the dam we visited on our way to Arizona, and the storm of dam jokes that didn’t stop (and I was the queen—even after we left, I was on a dam roll!), but that might get tedious and repetitive. Or how about my sister’s dramatized impressions of my mom’s passive aggressiveness? Making jokes with grandma behind Mom’s back? Mom mispronouncing the word anise (“Oh. Anus!”), or any other number of little amusing things (an adventure at the Hard Rock Cafe!). But, once again, repetitive and boring, quite probably. Humor and light stuff is not the point of this blog, you know. We want darkness. Doom, death, dying, and depression. Not necessarily in that order.

So I’ll leave it at that for now.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be here all night, pretending I’m funny.

Pent-Up Anger Isn’t A Sleeping Aid

An insomniac night. Sleepless. Left to stand the watches of the night alone with my thoughts, as they roll through my mind in wave after wave of restlessness.

A good part of this insomnia is due to working a late shift. But there’s more to it than that. Always is.

Sister, oh Sister, wherefore art thou, Sister? Deny thy victimhood and refuse thy childishness. For what is in a child? That which we call thou by any other word may make me want to punch your teeth out just as much. And so Sister would were she not Sister called.

Sissy Darling is living with her ex-boyfriend’s family, free of charge, and seemingly treated like a princess. Me, I work full time, and pay all of my expenses myself. But I’m still supposed to safeguard my darling sister’s things that she left at the apartment we used to share. Which, apparently, is why she’s dodging the issue of giving her key back, no matter how much the landlord says he’s going to replace the lock and charge my dad for it.

My dad. Who got forced into retirement (though still basically supporting my sister and I) a few months ago. But Sissy doesn’t have a job. So she can’t pay for it herself. Poor little princess, lost in the big, cruel world! I think my heart just might break for her!

Well, maybe it would bleed a little, if she wasn’t blaming everything on me. How stupid of me for standing up to her. How could I possibly be so inconsiderate as to make her attack me with scissors? How dare I call the police and tell them lies to get her arrested? Why, is there anything in the world lower than this humble slave to her older sister?

Then she’s accusing me of stealing things. Breaking her DVD player. So, what does she do? Use her key to get in while I’m gone, and steal some of my things. Though the kindhearted princess was considerate enough to inform our parents of this.

I want her stuff out of my apartment. I want her gone. I don’t want to see her or have to put up with her anymore. Let her be someone else’s headache, for cryin’ out loud! And my landlord has been a saint about the entire thing—not pushing. But I want that key back, too. Maybe she wants to keep it for her own twisted security reasons, since she left so much of her crap here, but I have my own security problems. Somewhere in the distant back of my mind is an irrational fear that I’m going to have my throat slit by a pair of scissors in the middle of the night. Or that she’s going to feel free to keep playing klepto.

I know that if she doesn’t respond the next time I ask her about the key—or if she tells me to chill out and deal with it one more time—I’ll pay for the damn lock change myself, as well as the new keys to be cut, and earn that money back when I get rid of all the stuff she left.

At least, that’s what I tell myself I’m going to do.