Just when you thought it was safe

Just when you thought it was safe

I admit to a sense of relief when Jackie died. Not immediately, of course. I was shocked and it was unreal until the time I felt my legs give way as I stood from taking communion for the first time in 20 years. After we got home to Eugene, and exhaled for the first time in a week–well then it got weird.

I’m not ready yet to talk about that week–I will be soon because I was fully supported and encircled in the love of my chosen family, my friends– many of them from as far back as Junior High. Some a bit later, but no less protective and caring. When the fear hits, as of course it still does, I see their faces now, quickly and put the fear to rest.

But, and of course you knew there was a but… I had been thinking recently how I am finally free–not just of Jackie but of the horrible things she said and did to me. Of how she let me know just how pointless my existence was and how disappointed she was in me. I’m also free of my sister as well. This, more than Jackie, gives me pause, but there is nothing to be done for it. I hoped at one point she’d feel Jackie’s strangling grip slip away and want to build something separate and different, to help right some of Jackie’s wrongs inasmuch as she had the ability (and she did–as I said, she got everything –but she didn’t need to *keep* everything). But alas, money is more important than a shared history and I’m finding peace with that. And that I’ll not have to walk on eggshells anymore.

I guess my sister was Jackie’s handmaiden for too long and that has made her incomprehensible to me. I’d use other adjectives here but I’m mindful of what I’m about to say next.

I have thought that I’d be able to lay it all out. All the abuse. All the delusions. All the drinking and drugs. In great detail. With relish and specificity.

But there is one person in my life that is far far more important than me trumpeting all the parental and sororal indiscretions in the public square. That one person is my(our) daughter. I was unable to shield her from my childhood after Jackie’s death. That woman’s demise caused so much upheaval in my psyche (and the fact that my sister was head faking me (which I knew, but hoped for better) that I wasn’t able to continue pretending /protecting her entirely. Some things escaped, especially after the will information came out and my sister laughed her way to the bank. I hate that I wasn’t able to leave E with a rosy picture of her grandmother or aunt.

I tried so hard for Jackie and our daughter to have a relationship. I never left her alone with Jackie, or left her with my sister more than a very few times, but I took her over often or had my sister’s daughter over. We invited them for all holidays and birthdays. A number of times they embarrassed me, but thankfully E didn’t notice, she was too young. I hid everything to give E a grandmother and I don’t regret it. I do regret that she now has to reconcile her picture of her grandmother with what she knows of how I was raised.

She saw enough of the behavior during the week of the memorial to be stunned and have questions. I answered some.

I have to examine why I want to tell ALL the stories. Put all the ugliness on display. Part of it is because I had to hide it all for so long. I had to make sure the neighbors didn’t know (even when they did) or because I was repeatedly told that I had made it all up and that I was crazy. Part of it is because I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Those things were done TO me, I was a child. Part of it is I want to destroy Jackie’s reputation. I know Carl’s nurse and some other people thinks she’s just amazing and that I am full of Satan, but they don’t know shit. They just knows what they’ve been fed. And I’d like to offer an emetic.

I guess finally I just want my own narrative. Free of Jackie’s gaslighting. Free of C’s ‘but she loved you in her way’ and ‘you are just too emotional and such a victim’ bullcrap.

Cause I’m not a victim, I’m a fucking survivor. I’m strong and kind and loving and a damn fine mother with an amazing daughter. I’ve been married 20 years and we have the best cats on the planet. (Also your cats are the best cats too.) And one way or another all the words inside me that I’ve choked back all these years will find their way out. Maybe not in a list of indictments blurted in the public square, but somehow.

I gave up writing when she took something important from me. She’s gone now. I don’t know what comes next.