“The Good Child” Syndrome

July 30, 2004 at 2:41 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve worked very hard this week on peeling the onion. It has been difficult. Having AZ back has helped this because now I can write to him again. (Its another story as to why I haven’t been, but anyway.) The birth of my niece also facilitated this journey.

The best way to explain what I have been feeling is best outlined by excerpts from first the 35 page handwritten letter and the 7 and 4 pages typewritten letters to AZ. The first he received on Tuesday, the next on Wednesday and I just dropped the last one in the mail not five minutes ago. Yeah, well, I started the 35 pager on Monday the 19th. Did I also mention the three e-mails?

I’ve spent my whole life saying, “I’ll do better, I’ll do better, I’ll do better.” When my mom would put me down or bring my brother into conversations, like what I did wasn’t ever good enough, I got that mind set, I will do better, I will do better, I will make them proud, I will be the good child, I will love harder, I will try harder, I will make better grades (gee, where do you go from A’s? Oh, A+’s) It wasn’t ambition. It was trying to please them, my mom and dad.

And I still have it. I’ll do better. I’ll make more money. I’ll be the good child. I’ll love harder. I will be the good child. I will be the good child. I will be the good child. I’m so fucking sick of being the good child. I don’t want to hurt my parents, especially my dad. But I’m so fucking sick of being the goddamn good child. I’m so fucking sick of listening to her and how she makes excuses for my brother. I hated the way they ganged up on me when I was a kid. He knew he could get by with more, so he did.

My brother and I haven’t had a conversation in like 4 years. Most of the time he acts like I’m not even there. And why do I put up with it? Because I’M THE GOOD CHILD!! Work with me here. Its always been MY JOB to mend fences and soothe the scratches and all that shit. That’s MY JOB in the family. I put up with all the shit. That’s always been MY JOB. Well, not anymore.

7/29 butt-fucking early in the a.m.

Anyway, I’m feeling much less evil than I was before. Mainly because I did pinpoint the axis of evil, the source of frustration and irritation which is the not necessarily this whole baby shit but the way my parents kiss my brother and sister-in-law’s asses. Then it dawned on me, doh! that my brother and sil treat my parents like shit and make them wonder what they ever did so bad as to be so low of their totem pole of life. I forgot that karmic law thing. So, as the world turns, we’re even.

7/29 late evening

Okay, let me get this baby stuff off my mind and finish up what I figured out. I did a lot of deep thinking and realized that although my family may have treated me like shit, they’re the ones who missed out. I used to think I missed so much being single and with my family so estranged from me. But it really wasn’t me.
I mean, I was there the whole time, every doctor visit, every ultrasound, every roll, bump, hiccup and kick. I was at my baby shower. No one from my family was. So who missed out? I have only two pictures of myself pregnant and one you can’t tell it because it was taken at Christmas. The other one is at a side angle with me sitting but I have no idea where it is. And that’s it… I’ve spent all this time being bogged down by what I felt I missed and now I’ve realized, it wasn’t me, it was them. They’re the ones who missed out and they have no one to blame for that but themselves.

July 30, 2004

That has opened a gateway for me to look at other situations in my life differently. Instead of constantly questioning why things have been the way they are, I’m looking at the situation and saying, “look at what they’re missing by treating me this way.” And look what I’m missing by not being able to fully be myself…

So… that’s what I have worked on this week.

I wrote the above at work this afternoon and on the way I home I realized that my brother married a woman exactly like my mother. I remembered the death of my Grandma and how at the age of 16, when she died, I really had no idea who she was. It started with my Grandpa looking at me and saying, “You are a lot like your grandmother.” This made me proud in one way and sad in another. My mother favored her family over my dad’s and made it a point, because she did not like my grandmother, to hold us away from them.

She talked about my grandparents poorly, especially my Grandma because she was messy and she swore and smoked and wasn’t a warm and fuzzy person. My Grandma yelled a lot but she was still my Grandma. Frankly, my mom was a lot like her in personality. So, my dad married his mom and my brother married his mom. I’m lucky that I do have some good memories of her and that I was finally wising up to my mom and made it a point to have contact with my dad’s parents. Unfortunately, right after I figured this out, my Grandma died of emphysema.

As far as karmic law goes, paybacks are a bitch. My dad didn’t stand up to my mom and insist that we spend as much time with his parents as we did hers. My memories of them are fleeting but still significant. That is another post entirely. Perhaps no one else sees the emergence of this pattern. I do. I can’t change it.

My mom and dad want me to play nice and be “the good child.” I haven’t done anything wrong. I have always been the one to try and made amends and put aside my thoughts and feelings to “keep peace” so we can pretend we have some sort of “normal” family. This is an illusion I refuse to feed anymore. I’ve tried in the past to faciliate relationships between myself and my brother and his family. I’ve been scorned and ignored. Just because my parents don’t have the guts to stand up to my brother and tell him that his actions and those of his wife hurt them is not my fault.

I miss not being able to participate fully in the lives of my brother and his progeny but it is not my doing. I have been ready and available. My brother and his wife choose to exclude people from their children’s lives who are good, solid folks who will love and support their children. The saddest part is the wave of disgust I feel from my sister-in-law as her boys run to me and Hyper-Boy, yelling our names when they see us, happy and smiling.

They know Aunt Inanna will pull them around the yard in the wagon, take them fishing and for walks in the woods. Aunt Inanna will kick the ball, show them the deer that hide in the shadows and point out the mushrooms and different kinds of trees and plants. J1, my oldest nephew, is the one I had spent the most effort seeing when he was a baby. I went to visit to spite my brother and his wife. With the birth of J2, 17 months later, that became more difficult. J2 hated me for the longest time. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. One day it was as though a switch was thrown and he realized who I was. Now, he’s my buddy.

I know things with Annie will probably be the same. I have faith that Annie, like her brothers, will eventually realize what her mother cannot. That we’re a good sort and we love them and want to spend time with them and learn who they are. The effort I make will be made toward a relationship with my niece and nephews. I am done with making an effort towards their parents because it has not been reciprocated, ever. I’m not the one missing out.


  1. Aimee said,

    You’re right, they are.

    I’m glad we get to reap their lost benefits.


  2. Trashman said,

    I’m on the outs with my twin brother. It’s my older brother that wants me to be the good child, fortunatley I have my Mothers support. Keep on keepin on.

  3. Zelda said,

    You know, there isn’t anything wrong with being the “good child” if you are doing it for yourself. Trying to be the good child for people who will never see you as such is such a life-sucking waste of energy.

    There seems to be quite a few black sheep bloggers. I should add myself to the list. As the eldest of eight girls, I was supposed to set the example. I did. Problem was that it was never quite good enough. So I finally just said fuck-it, and now I’m happy.

  4. Seeker said,

    Fishing, and gardening suck cock-eyed Gerbil ass… and in the words of the famous Forrest Gump “That’s all I really have to say about that”.

  5. Inanna said,

    Aimee — thank you! XOXO

    Trashman — Wow, estranged from your twin? That really stinks. I’m glad you have your mom’s support.

    Zelda — Oldest of EIGHT? So glad you are just who you are. And yes, doing things just for others is life-sucking.

    Seeker — I like fishing duuuuude.

  6. AJ said,

    Inanna: I’ve been sitting here after reading your last few posts regarding your relationship with your parents, brother and sister-in-law. I can identify with some coponents of your situation, but not with others. I have now deleted half of my comment for the third time and I think I have to admit that I don’t know what to tell you here.

    You’re in a tough situation. Family relationships can be the most perplexing kind imaginable.

    Be true to yourself. That’s what I wanted to say. Keep fighting Inanna…


  7. Esther said,

    I was always the only one that would drive long distances to attend family weddings/funerals/hospital visits. I got tired of it. This may not be the “good” attitude to have, but hey, I feel a lot better now that I get to be a little selfish and only go when I really want to. For me, it defeats the purpose to go if I resent every minute of being there.
    For me it means doing things that make me happy, in having memories I can cherish and not feel angry about.

  8. Cootera said,

    Inanna… wow. Sucks to be the good child, doesn’t it? What’s funny is that it changes over time. I used to be the good kid, then it switched to my sister. And I guess that’s where it’ll stay since she’s the married with children type.

    But darlin’, you have your son, you have your integrity and you have US!! **ding ding ding!!! You win a very special prize***

  9. Inanna said,

    AJ – Thanks. I’m trying.

    Esther — I read your comment and said, WOW. Yes, I would rather have memories that are nice and not forced or bitter.

    Ang — I have won the prize, my self-respect and my blog family!! Even if everyone doesn’t agree with what I’m doing, I do appreciate everyone’s input.

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