I’m coming off of a not so great week – well, bad week to be exact. This past week BiL and SiL were in town visiting us. BiL (DH’s brother) met SiL in 2010 and since then DH and I have been getting to know her. The visits have been short and always with a lot of people around (other family and friends). Last year, we saw them during MiL’s funeral in October of 2012 and over the winter holidays. I started to see a pattern to develop in how I was feeling around her and this led to an enormous amount of anxiety to their visit.
Even with all the anxiety, I felt I was handling it okay, relatively. We had gone out to dinner two nights before with old friends who were in town for work and it was so great to hang out with people who didn’t make you feel shame or anything else. It just felt great to catch up with them and reminisce a bit.
I went into the upcoming visit with a really good feeling. It all crashed and burned, quickly. I didn’t even know it was happening. I found myself carrying on the first day like it was my imagination. Trying to talk myself out of my feelings. By the second day it was pointless. It was all too familiar.
My mother and MiL treated me this way. Their ability to make me feel like I wasn’t in the room, like I didn’t exist, was amazing. My SiL took over from where they left off. She didn’t look me in the eye when speaking to me nor did she speak directly to me. There were a few times when she referred to me in the third person when I was sitting across from her. When it happened, I had to do a double take. It was really a shock because only my MiL and mother had ever treated me this way.
Besides the lack of recognition from her, she controlled every aspect of the visit just as she had when we visited them. She was patronising and condensing because of course, she knows it all because she is a doctor. The part DH and I both loved – when they entered our apt – the first question – what is your WiFI password?. It didn’t take very long before they were on their mobile devices. And one would think it is important – nope. They were on Facebook – sitting in the living room with us, not talking. Since we see each other once or twice a year – of course connecting to your friends on your social network would be the natural thing to do.
I could go on but there is no need. My feelings of utter worthless made everything clear. I sat in the swampland the whole visit. I reacted in ways so I could scramble for my worth. I didn’t think through what was being said. I checked out, didn’t engage in conversation. I relied on my old stand-bys. I was dealing with too many subtle behaviours to see it coming at me all at once.
After 3 days I was tired of it. They left for Scotland for 3 days and would be back to our place before they went back to the US. In that time, I thought I would have a chance to recover and deal with this all. I was so wrong. I faced my language class with all new students. Two of which seemed to behave in a manner where they didn’t care for me. I had thought, well, not everyone likes you for whatever reason. It wasn’t something that I had thought was a big deal until I had my presentation. When I started speaking I looked at all the people in the room – eye to eye (5 total). As I continued to speak the two women who ‘seemed’ to not like me started doing other things during my presentation. One got on her mobile and the other looked everywhere else but at me and spent time taking fuzz off her sweater. Noticing this, I could tell I was losing my concentration and I wasn’t able to get my points across. After I was done, the class is supposed to have a debate. The woman who had been on her mobile said ‘this topic is not relevant and I can’t say anything about it because intelligence is not affected by technology – for me, the two are separate.’ (My topic was on how new technology influences our intelligence level – a topic I choose from BBC).
I had had it. I was done. I went home and just cried. I cried myself to sleep that night. It was too much. My SiL not recognising my existence and then to have 2 students discard my presentation. It was too much to take in in the span of 3 days.
And all the feelings from my mother came up and were confirmed by SiL’s behaviours and the 2 women from my class. My existence is worthless. It brought back all these old memories. Memories and feelings, that although I am aware of, are still very hard to deal with and feel. These were the very same feelings that could have led me down a path and they almost did. These were the same feelings that had led me to question whether or not I should continue to live?
It was a rough few days. I even questioned whether or not I should return to class. I was looking for ways to run and hide. I was looking for my escape. Maybe I collapsed from this, found myself dealing with old traumas and reacting in old familiar ways. As much as I saw the pattern in my mother, MiL, SiL and my new ‘friends’ at language class, I saw the pattern just as much within me. I can’t run and hide. That isn’t an option for me anymore. It may take some time to change how I respond to people like this in my life but I won’t numb, run and hide from how I feel. I won’t numb the feelings and say to myself and to others that it is okay to be treated like this. Because it isn’t. I have a right to show up to class because even if my presentation sucked according to a few people I am still worth it. Even if my disgusting SiL can’t look me in the eye, guess what, I will still show up and be there.
It took me a good 3 days after SiL and BiL left to realise this. I did nothing but lie on the couch for the last 3 days. Man, how exhausting it is.
Thank you for listening. Hugs, xxoo TR