Sunday, September 16, 2007

My Former Compliant Self

My own little notes to my adoptive parents have come back to haunt me.

I inherited their box of photos and I spent the evening sorting them out.

It was painful to see what I most often looked like in pictures. A huge, nervous fakey smile pasted on my face. One of those "appeasement" expressions worn by submissive chimps.

And then there were those carefully written notes to my a-parents over the years, some as recent as six years ago.

Those are even more interesting. And telling.

I tried so desperately hard to please them. To be the dutiful daughter. To be happy, happy, happy. I'd write how much I missed them. When I didn't. I moved as far away as I could because I couldn't stand to be around them. I'd write how much I was looking forward to seeing them again. When I dreaded it. And when we were finally together, what a misery it was.

For those of you new to my blog, my a-mother used cold punishing silences to get her way, called my first mother a "whore" and made me pretend I was biologically theirs and refused to answer questions about my past. My a-parents were ignorant and unintentionally cruel, both self-absorbed, my a-dad pathologically narcissistic. He is in an assisted living facility now and I'm told he talks non-stop, alienates everybody he meets almost immediately and is verbally abusive to the staff. This isn't just because he's old and has some dementia. He's always been that way. He never allowed me to finish a sentence. I was their emotional caretaker, not a daughter.

And yet, all those notes. Pretending to be the good, grateful, loving daughter.

The cost was mighty high. I paid for it in occasional bouts of depression, anxiety and hypochondria. And people pleasing. Oh God, the people pleasing. Just keeping THAT up is more exhausting than running a marathon. And useless, too.

It's been a long time now since I've written a note like that. Almost two years now. It's sad, but when I send my a-dad something, I don't even write a note. When I do, I leave out the "I miss you so much" part. It's not the truth. And he doesn't deserve it. He never did. Their "love" was purely conditional.

What is so weird to see is the HUGE difference between what I felt on the inside and what I tried to show to the world...my compliant, people pleasing, desperate self. I'm glad I buried her.

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11 Comments:

Blogger Eve said...

I'm sorry for your pain. I know (I think) what you mean about the compliant, good little child who is just trying to please (and appease), and just really wants to be loved. It's all very painful.

I used to write such notes as a child and leave them on my mother's pillow. It would be incredibly painful to have to read them today.

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