Title this…The Rooms in My House
I think I should explain why self protection is more necessary for me than maybe some others.
You might find this funny but I’m a Ginger. I’m serious. A real redhead. People say ‘Oh! redheads are rare’. There are really quite a few redheads around, I see them all the time, and we are treated differently, I see that all the time too. Being treated like a ‘redheaded stepchild’ is the norm for many redheads, stepchild or not. I am currently a blond by choice as red hair turns to white eventually. I think of myself as a wizened redhead.
Redheads really have some super powers. We are acutely aware of the feelings of others because we ourselves are overly sensitive. Sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, rough textures, weird smells, strange tastes, pain, pressure, and the ability to pick up on the emotional state of everyone in the room make us a bit different. I would have been burned at the stake as a witch in centuries past for acknowledging what I know intuitively. Maybe redheaded people carry an intensity that invites others with thicker skin to pick on us. Bullies love redheads.
I’m also the adult child of a raging alcoholic ACOA. What made it worse than having your average raging alcoholic parent is that mine was mentally ill. The security that most children take for granted was randomly yanked away like the proverbial rug underneath my feet. I’m not going to get all descriptive about all of that. What I’m going to say here is how that childhood defines my behavior today.
I was a child in the sixties, born in Detroit, and raised in the suburbs. We moved many many times, sometimes in the middle of the night, and I was always adjusting to a new school and trying to make new friends while grieving for the old ones in the last neighborhood. Anxiety reigned! I missed many days of school. It sucked.
By the time I had my first child at 19 I had learned to protect myself, somewhat, not against pregnancy obviously(an irony I still muse over), but from the people around me. My childhood was a minefield filled with people who would hurt me if I didn’t watch myself. No one else had my back. I really had a desire to trust people but I had no idea what made a person trustworthy. I learned to appear tough so people might think twice about bothering me.
As the Adult Child Of an Alcoholic (an over-used phrase that begins to mean little as time passes), I have a protected persona that most people see as Donna. Most would be surprised to find that who they see is not really the tender side of me.
I have been long-suffering with many people who I have let into the foyer of my life, so to speak. I have had neighbors who were child abusers that I attempted to help see that there were different ways to love your children. Some did better, others didn’t change at all. When it became apparent no change was possible, I was done, but not before I called protective services. Watch me wave my hands over that situation like the ref in a prize fight. You are out!
I have been sexually assaulted as a child and a young adult. What I find strange is that although I have been in a monogamous relationship for 22 years, there are still men who are rife with sexual innuendo directed at me in the same way as they had all those years ago when I was single. You can’t make jokes about sex with them. To them it’s the same as being provocative. My sexuality is part of who I am but it’s not an invitation to abuse me. Perhaps the very act of speaking to men is considered an advance by men with no boundaries. To some we are not people as women but merely objects of self gratification. You are out!
Here on Facebook I have more people on my blocked list than my friends list. Hardly funny. I feel Facebook is a window into my life and the lives of others. If you can read this then I trust you on some level. If I find that you’ve been sharing my life with others I have blocked you will find yourself with nothing but old shit to rehash about me because you will be out!! If you aren’t sure who is on my blocked list then just be careful not to talk about me. It works for me.
I’ve been scapegoated in some of the weirdest ways by some Good’OL Milford boys and even my relatives. Done with that! If your husband messages me after you’ve gone to bed at night and you aren’t willing to figure it out and reel him in, both of you will be out!!! If you’ve made it to middle age and your still trying to abuse substances and me, you’re out!!! If you abuse a child, a pet, the elderly, you had better be careful around me. I have no patience for it.
I try not to take on lost causes anymore. If you aren’t willing to change then I can’t make you and anymore I don’t feel it’s my responsibility to inform you. I am done with that. Be how you are. Just don’t expect me to stand by and watch or nod with approval. When my space has been feeling pinched long enough, we are done. This is what I hope all ACOA come to eventually:The ability to move on. I am not the patron saint of lost causes and I don’t care if you’re my mother, my sister, my cousin, my neighbor, or I’ve known you half my life. Get real or get out! I can still love those people who are not involved in my life, and there are a few of those. It’s the only way I can be happy.
I have some really wonderful friends and family that really know me. I have let them into the living room of my life and to have coffee, one on one, at my dining room table. The only person that gets to the bedroom of my life is my husband. I have sincere emotional intimacy with my husband. I have been so fortunate in my life to have married the one person who has my back. He has a heart of gold. If you don’t know what that means, go to therapy like I did and figure out why. It’s earned and cultivated and it takes time, trust, and a hard look back, but it’s worth more than anything else you will ever have.
And lastly, if you wake up one day and can’t find me on FB you can check yourself…or not. I soak up the feelings of others and it overwhelms me at times. Sometimes you have to close the door on some people. I grieve those relationships but I have a bounty of really loving people in my life that I try to love back in the sincerest way. Exchange. I hope you understand. …but I can’t make you.
I study people. I think my worst trait is knowing the state of others emotions and insecurities. With that I know exactly how to get under someones skin. I admittedly have purposed to do that at times, if only for amusement. I can be very snarky. I learned it from a pro, my father. I have my own amends to make to a few of my own victims, still.