I have officially given away all of my pieces today. Everyone needed something from me and there’s nothing more to give. I feel exhausted and spent. I know some of it is hormonal and some of it comes from being out at an event last night.
My oldest tried to call me last night to “talk about some things” but I was busy. I am supposed to call him today. My parents wanted to facetime because although I talk to my father fairly regularly, it’s usually without my mom because it’s his podcast or that healthy relationships thing we do. He actually asked yesterday, but I had a lot to do. Initially I told him we should do it later, but then I changed my mind. Better to get it over with.
The conversation wasn’t terrible, but after about 45 minutes, it turned weird. We talked about what’s going on and all of that kind of chitchat at first. But then they started singing this thing at me that is from the 70s, I guess. Apparently when I was a toddler, I used to chime in with something they found hilarious. After they both sang it, they held their arms out like it was my turn to sing whatever goofy thing I sang when I was 2-3 years old. I know what it’s supposed to be because I have heard this story so many damn times it makes me sick. But today I just sat there and stared back. I am done. I am not 3 years old anymore and all of those cute things are from someone else that exists only in their memories now. That person is not really me.
When I told them I didn’t remember what to say, they acted disappointed and then asked about the Christmas song we used to sing around the same time. Again I told them that I don’t remember what they’re telling me I used to say. They were again disappointed and then my father started recounting all the words I used to say in a funny way. Like I learned those words and said them correctly initially, but once I said them funny everyone laughed and apparently I went through a phase of saying those words funny for awhile. AND THEN THEY ACTED DISAPPOINTED THAT I DO NOT REMEMBER SAYING THOSE WORDS. WTF??????????
Who in the world is stuck on their child as a 2-3 year old little kid?
I will tell you.
Parents who refused to acknowledge the child’s real personality that emerged at four and refused to act like they were told genderwise. Parents who didn’t want to see that their “daughter” was more like a boy. Parents who refused to see the domestic violence their children were witnessing every week day at their babysitter’s house. Parents who had to wrestle their child into a dress. Parents who didn’t care how mean or hurtful they were. Parents who prioritized their own needs and wants above their child’s. Parents who tried to stiff arm their child into becoming who they wanted that child to be.
I cannot tell you the number of times they have told me that they miss the version of me that loved the yellow dress with the little flowers and the matching hat. The version of me that they could control and dominate. The version of me that they dressed however they chose. The version of me that never really existed. Every time I think about how these kids were as toddlers, I realize that I dressed them in what I loved and thought was cute. They had no choice. Sometimes they would refuse to get dressed, but generally it was more about waking up and needing to get ready to get out the door. And once they were old enough to tell me they hated jeans, I listened. I stopped buying jeans. Once they told me they hated sweaters, I stopped buying sweaters. It’s literally that simple. You don’t just buy clothes you know your kid hates and force them on the kid. I am so over this bullshit with them. I AM NOT THE TODDLER VERSION OF ME. I haven’t been that person in DECADES.
But right now, what is most prevalent is the damage that I feel from knowing that right from the point that I chose those awesome Spiderman pajamas and blue striped shirts that I loved so much, I was nothing but a big disappointment to them. That when they think of me, they wish for me as a 2-3 year old. That the version of me who got good grades, played trumpet, ran track, did marching band, took AP classes, went to college, played soccer, lacrosse, and swam on the team, was a writer and editor on the college newspaper, was the college government treasurer, and got my grades up after an abysmal freshman year IS NOT ENOUGH. The real me is nothing but a huge disappointment who didn’t love ballet dancing or figure skating but tried really hard for them. This is why I have never felt good enough. Never. No matter how much good I did, they longed for a time when they could dictate who I was TO me, instead of listening to me tell them who I really was.
They still long for that time. When my youngest kid is years older than the version of me they long for, there is literally no hope that they will ever accept who I really am. The truth has been in front of them all this time and they have chosen to turn away from it, reject it, and trample on it. And I don’t mean IT, I mean me. They have turned away from me, rejected me, and trampled on me. They have shown me through their words and actions that I am not what they ever wanted. And that if they haven’t accepted what has been in front of them for decades, they never will.
And so I will retreat. Forever. They can’t come in. There is nothing they can do to make this better. If they can’t handle what was in front of them all this time than they can’t handle who I really am. They can’t handle me and so I won’t handle them.
Today begins my step away from them. Today I start shielding my heart from them 100%. I cannot let them in when I know that I am not what they want. When they choose to spend our time talking to each other by bringing up things from decades ago that I don’t even remember, they are telling me that the past is more important than the future. They know nothing about my hopes and dreams. But they sure know what I said as a toddler. In a bullshit yellow flowered dress.