No matter how long, dark, and scary the night, the biggest monsters usually vanish when daylight shows her face. I’ve never been so happy to see the sun.

Last night was hell. I ended up with swollen sinus cavities from crying that hurt so bad I considered knocking myself out so I wouldn’t feel the pain. It was worse than labor pains, at least from what I can remember. I may have even had a migraine; I’m really not sure. I was nauseated and felt like I was going to throw up. The last time I ever remember feeling even close to this was about 10 years ago, when I was crumpled on the floor in the bathroom after a fight with my ex, and my head hurt so much I thought I was dying and needed to go to the hospital.

I slept with an icepack on my face; I use the term “slept” loosely.

When I fought with my ex, which was pretty often, at least I knew some of the patterns well enough not to be completely blind-sided. And since my life was pretty awful most of the time, the fighting was just part of my day.

But yesterday, my sister came out of nowhere with a scathing email, calling me an abuser because I told my mother I was hurt and disappointed that she “bailed out on me” for Thanksgiving. (Wendy didn’t like that verbiage and spent 20 minutes trying to convince me it wasn’t true.) Wendy’s email was disguised as a “helpful” email, intended to point out my defects and provide constructive criticism. (If you knew anything at all about my little sister’s background, you would find this laughable, as I did.) She said it took her an hour to write, because she didn’t want to “offend me.” I told her that when people say, “I don’t want to offend you, but…” it usually means what they have to say is offensive.

I called to discuss it with her, rather than engage in a cyberspace war-of-the-words. I began with an open mind; I take what people think of me to heart and I always mull it over to decide if I think there is any truth to it. I am always struggling to be a better person – live a better life – and so I do listen when people make judgments of me.

I honestly don’t think I was being abusive, and I said so. She proceeded to tell me that there is something wrong with me if I can’t see it, and that maybe one day I will be enlightened.

As I began to get defensive, she told me there must be some truth to it, or else I wouldn’t be getting upset. She insisted I was “seething with anger.” I said, no, I was not seething, but I was beginning to after this sneak attack of hers. She said, “No one can make you angry, Lisa. You do that all by yourself.”

Twilight zone.

As she psycho-analyzed me, and called me “Lisa Jo,” like a stern mother, I bit my tongue almost clear through. She tried to bully me into agreeing with her, and I called her on it. I told her that I think it’s okay for us to disagree, and that yelling about it wasn’t solving anything. She kept pushing. When I responded with “okay” to anything she said, just to stop the fighting, she accused me of being condescending and sarcastic. I was not going to win.

It was as if I was walking along, minding my own business, and a mugger jumped out of the shadows from nowhere and started to beat me.

Now, in all fairness, I have, over the years, been extremely condescending to my sister. I know it, and I’ve made a conscious effort to work on that flaw of mine. I have also apologized repeatedly to her for it.

She said she didn’t know me anymore. I said, that makes sense, because we talk only every few months on the phone and we live 700 miles away from each other. But yet, she presumes to know everything about me and about my life and my happiness or lack thereof. Stirring the pot a little more, she said she speaks with people around me that I don’t know about, and that she knows more about my life than I think she does. She claims that others have called her out of “concern” for me, but she refused to name them. There is only one person I can imagine who would have done that, and she has a brand new toaster oven at my partial expense.

I’m very confused today. When does being angry shift into abuse? Ironically, I felt as though she was being the abusive one.

I have been in the care of various therapists over the years, so I don’t think I’m dancing alone on an imaginary stage. I think I have my head together, at least most of the time. I have been told by experts in the field of domestic violence that some of my aggressive reactions to my abusers are perfectly normal and even healthy. I have been assured that I was a victim, not an abuser.

This isn’t the first time in recent years that my sister has attacked me like this. It’s the very reason I don’t have too many conversations with her anymore.

I called my mother and told her I was tired of these little triangles. The Thanksgiving issue was between my mother and myself. It really wasn’t Wendy’s business at all, but my mother went crying to her and read her my emails. The Queen Martyr. She knew exactly what Wendy would do. It was beautifully orchestrated.

I honestly think she was expecting me to offer her a plane ticket, but I did not. Wendy brought that up too – if I wanted Mom here so badly, why didn’t I use my points to get her a ticket? (The truth is that I didn’t really want my mother here so badly; I just don’t want to be alone on Thanksgiving, and she had offered to come.)

The more I see of all of this dysfunction, the more I realize that my father’s abuse was merely a small rash in my diseased home.

2 Comments on “I Don’t Want to Offend You, But…

  1. I appreciate who you are. The rough days and the good days. I feel like I’m reading about myself here some days.Oh how I can relate to your post about your friend. You came back a few days later so much wiser and stronger. It was great to read how you found a huge part of yourself growing and moving on. Thats how I felt. It was so worth that trail with my friend because I came out a better person also. Keep the great work up Lisa. vjb

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  2. vjb,Your comment gave me a nice pick-me-up today. Thank you. I was feeling anxious over some of my recent posts; like maybe I had gone too far – written to much – gotten too personal…But knowing that even one person in cyberspace can connect with me makes the vulnerability worth it. We’re all in this together. šŸ™‚ Thanks for your positive support.Lisa

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