Family perceptions and growing up

I had dinner tonight with one of my sisters. Not the one I’m really close to but the other one. We connect deeply when together and have profound conflict at times when not or simply zero contact. It’s interesting. Anyways we were talking about a lot of stuff but towards the end she said to me that she has always perceived me as having a chip on my shoulder around not being accepted by our family. Stating that I was always loved. I felt my gut and chest tighten. My brow furrow. I was really wanting to hear her vs react and protect. My throat tighten with held back tears. Literally in the exact moment she had to leave to pick her son up from an event. We did acknowledge we need to continue the convo later. So I drove home feeling this all and pondering. I realize that while yes my family has always loved me – they have never known me. Growing up and even to a degree now they never ask(ed) about who I am, who I am becoming, what I am doing learning experiencing. So I felt loved but this superficial love of being part of the family cuz that’s what u do. Not loved because I was known and respected and accepted. Part of this has to do with my gender. As I was trying to explain to my sister all the times  / years I walked in being my gender non conforming self and feeling shamed by comments that I should dress differently. Be more feminine. Often these comments came from this particular sister who is very cis gendered. She did explore her sexuality spending ten years with a woman who she might still be with had she not died of cancer. Now married to a man and has two teenage boys. I am not sure she will ever get it. I am not sure a cis gendered person can ever get the hiding we have to do of our authentic selves – or at least half a century ago when I was born and growing up. There is a difference between being loved because u are a member of a family and being loved because you are known, respected and accepted. And yes I needed to find my way of learning to love respect and accept me before anyone else could. But my family did not pave an easy way to do that. So perhaps I had a chip on my shoulder. I truly felt more forlorn and agonizing not seeing any way to be me. Needing to hide to survive. My sister even pointed that out; I was the kid who hid behind the couch sucking their fingers when company came. We could get curious about why I felt I had to hide. Was it simply that I was shy and introverted? Or was it because I wasn’t able to be me so didn’t know how to be. Hiding was easier. So a chip… Or maybe a part of me fighting to be seen, to be allowed to be, to find someone close who wanted to know me and was ok helping me discover me, uncover me from all things I hid behind. 

This is relieving to write. Tightness relaxing. Still a little tearful but it feels like tears of life unfolding  now vs sorrow. If that makes sense. 

So interesting family and our divergent perceptions of reality. Each of us has our own experience and own truth of exact same events. But never can we know fully what the other experienced thru the lens of our own experience. We need to be willing to see life thru other lenses to grasp other perceptions and experiences of events. And yeah I would like this sister to wear my glasses for a while as I attempt to wear hers. I do not think she gets it. And perhaps if the convo wasn’t so abruptly ended maybe she would have. 

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6 Comments

  1. I’m so glad we had/are having this conversation. And while I certainly can’t know fully your experience I am empathetic to it and had we had more time last night I would have been able to hear more of your story and experience. But know, sweet sibling, my experience, while different in form, is not that different from yours. I, too, have been hidden most of my life and, at this ripe age of 51, am also relishing my exposure and the sunlight that is finally warming this chilly soul. I might have hidden behind my cisgendered beauty, which certainly in walking through this world is a more comfortable way to hide then behind a couch , but it’s been a fucked up ride too. More and more I recognize that my issue is not being recognized for who I am way beyond how I present myself. I was judged positively for my presentation, which created its own prison for my developing soul. As you were judged negatively for yours, which created a prison too. Do we have to compare one or the other being better or worse? It’s been a deeply painful process for me to shed my armour of beauty and peek out to get the real connections I long for. I want you to know me as much as you want me to know you. Remember when I read you and Jamie some poems years ago and Jamie was surprised that I was so deep!!! There you go, that’s the subtle but powerful suppression I have had to rise above. Not worse than yours by any stretch, but not necessarily any better. I hate this struggle as much as you do, and none of us siblings got the deep, soulful connections we all needed to blossom unfettered. I’m so sorry for your fettered heart and soul my wonderful sibling. I do love you and, as my poem that I sent to you a month or so ago (written really for you and for me) I am finally listening. I couldn’t as a kid, I couldn’t be the big sister you deserved then. Had I been I would have sat with you behind the couch and looked at your beautiful green eyes until you wept or smiled. I love you deeply and want to keep knowing you.
    This conversation is just the beginning.

    • Thank you. I tear up reading this. You too are a beautiful soul and I am grateful we are taking the time to connect. My hope is it will enable us to wholly open heartedly move into our wisdom years truly knowing each other and connecting deeply throughout. Thx for reading, your reply and the further unfolding of our connection.

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