I should probably introduce you to the elephants in the room. Most of my family wasn't very good at talking about them, but they're starting to take up a lot of space and it's getting really squeezie here. And I have an opinion about elephants. If there's an elephant in the room, I'll invite them to sit down and join me. Let's do.
The elephants are:
Dearest: My maternal grandmother. Her name was Vadis. She suffered from
mental illness for as long as I can tell. She was never diagnosed by a
doctor and she never got help. She was both physically and emotionally
abusive to her children and her ailing Veteran husband. She is one of
the most wicked, mean, and toxic people I have ever known. She's dead.
Merrill: My maternal Grandfather, married to Gramma Dearest. He grew up
so poor that he and he and his brothers had no shoes and they literally
lived in an earth-birm house. That's fancy talk for: They lived in a
dirt hill. He died in 1981, probably to get away from his wife.
mother: She suffers from extreme anxiety, has an obsessive compulsive
personality, and was viciously abused physically and mentally by her
mother. She is emotionally sensitive. That must be where I get it. She's
done remarkably well considering.
Uncle Tom: My
mother's younger brother. A spoiled, greedy little punk who needed a
father to kick him in the ass. In his defense, Gramma Dearest did her
share of damage with him too with emotional abuse and manipulation.
Dorothy: She was my paternal grandmother. My dad's mother. She raised
my dad and his siblings on a farm in rural Minnesota. She was tough as
nails, but kind and gentle. She was a Christian. The kind who NEVER
jammed her beliefs down your throat. She led by example. She did kind
things, helped others, led an honest life.
Grampa Gus: He was born in Sweden a long-ass time ago. So he's dead too. A
lot of people in my family do that. He studied English and came over to
America through Ellis Island. His real name was John. I'm not sure why
he changed it. He was a carpenter and an alcoholic. There's more to this, but I don't want to totally scare you away. Yet.
father: He's a one-armed man. Seriously. He was in an industrial
accident when he was 27. His arm was severed and he had multiple other
injuries. He shouldn't have lived. He's just too damn stubborn to die
until he's good and ready. He can do more with one arm than most young
able-bodied men can. He's EXTREMELY stubborn. That must be where my
sister gets it. lol!
My sister: Chronologically, she's older. But we are almost identical. She is strong, to a point where she takes on more than she needs to. She is intelligent, educated, and successful in spite of her history. She's funny as hell, like me. Did I mention she's stubborn?
Me: Well, you may know me a little
already. I'm a 40 year old wife, mother, and former educator. I have a
sick and twisted sense of humor. I LOVE to make people laugh. I am also a
Libra. I don't believe in that Zodiac crap, but I am constantly
teetering on my fulcrum trying to keep my balance. So there must be
something to it. I talk WAY too much. Naturally, blogging, Twitter and
Facebook are my total saviors. I love to tell stories and write. Mostly,
I like to help people. So much so that it's sort of obnoxious.
Desi: He's been my absolute rock. When I think about the crap he's had to put up with because of me and my family, I really don't understand why he stuck around. We were married for 12 years before we had children so he didn't have the kids as an excuse. He is VERY calm and rather passive. This is incredibly important. If he was any LESS passive and more like me, we would probably kill each other.
Thing 1 and Thing 2: My daughters. The reasons why I am writing this. One of my biggest fears is that I will unintentionally raise them to repeat the behaviors my family has and set them up for a future of struggling. I am writing this to help remind myself that the cycle ends here. Today. With me. No more.
There are a few other elephants of less significance. I'll introduce them along the way as needed.