The Bullshit that led to Estrangement
If you know anything about my history of dealing with my dysfunctional family, then you know that it took me until the age of 27 to finally see the light and it was something that came with a price. After spending my adult life - even living on my own with my fiancé/husband - catering to my family's needs, which caused me to drop whatever I was doing at times and go out of my way... all because I wanted to avoid the inevitable guilt trip where I would literally be told I didn't love them if I said 'no'... I FINALLY hit a breaking point that made me put my foot down.
I later had gotten used to loaning out my vehicle just so that I could go to work and meet their needs at the same time -- which was something that I never got comfortable with, and despite trying to make that known, no one seemed to care. My final straw came in the form of my father getting my 3rd vehicle into an accident... and then blowing up at me and calling ME an asshole for finally stating I was done letting him borrow my car. Read on to find out about the shit-show that lead to the breakdown and me cutting these toxic relationships out of my life..
It was a pickle of a situation because it was actually my third vehicle, and the second one of mine that ended up amounting to scrap without me even knowing what happened to it. Being young and poor meant that I was buying cheap, used cars. My first vehicle was a "boat" that was a year older than I was, and it eventually got towed to the scrapyard once it was determined that it would have to be completely stripped and rebuilt in order to run again. I just wasn't invested enough to spend more money on it and I moved on to buying myself a used 2-door Sunfire. Considering that I was in my early 20s, it served it's purpose.. but before I could even finish paying off the loan on that one, I lent it to my father (while in training for a new job), and got the call that it broke down while being driven.
I was too young and dumb to ask questions, so upon being told that it would cost me at least as much as the car itself costed to fix it, I decided to leave it with the shop to do as they pleased. It was also revealed to me that the seller clocked back the odometer, so I didn't place blame, but it still bothered me to have been nowhere near the vehicle when it ran for the last time. So here I was, early twenties and having to move the remainder of that car loan onto my line of credit so that I could get another car loan - for what would be my third vehicle - and I'm sure you can imagine the amount of stress I was under.
But I figured that it was time to get something that costed more than $5000. Silly me let my father pick a gently used PT Cruiser that was for sale at a nearby dealership.. and I went for it. In the very least, I figured that I should get more life out of this one and I wasn't going to search far and wide because I needed to replace my vehicle ASAP. For years, my father relied on borrowing my vehicle because he didn't have his own (and my mother doesn't drive), and my husband doesn't drive due to his lack of depth perception - so the responsibility fell to me to have a vehicle across households; even despite the fact that we all didn't live in the same city.
The Cruiser seemed to work out fine... but only until that fateful day I mentioned at the beginning. While I was busy at work one day and it was being driven around, my father got into an accident with it. It wasn't just a slide-off-the-road, or accidentally-hit-a-post type of accident - it was a collision with another vehicle while both were moving. Due to reasons I can only speculate on, the police weren't called to the scene so no report was made. For starters, my father purposely picked me up from work late so as to not cause a scene - but since my boss had to wait for me to leave to lock up the office, he ended up witnessing and hearing it all anyway..
He allowed me to get into the car before even pointing out the damage or telling me that an accident had happened. And since he had already had hours to take measures to do a temporary cover-up of the back-end damage that was caused, he knew he had to tell me. But how would you expect ANYONE to react to being told "I got into an accident with your car"?! He was physically & visibly unharmed so of course I moved to the shock and dismay of the damage to the car itself. Upon pointing out that the back bumper had been peeled from one side to the other, and that there was a large dent in the rim of the back driver's side tire that left it crooked and slowly losing air, I lost it.
This was too much for me - someone who, to this day, prides themselves on having a clean criminal record and a 'no accidents' insurance bonus - to even think about. Upon calming down and trying to simply talk about it, I didn't get an explanation as to HOW it happened.. in fact, this was when I was told that the police were not called, and that I had nothing but the other driver's contact information to work with. GREAT! So I thought it was only reasonable for me to say "I'm not letting anyone borrow my car ever again". This was when he exploded, made the comment that I'm turning into an asshole like the rest of his family, and I was left shaking and unable to speak for the rest of the drive home...
Without even realizing it, that comment told me everything and more about all the things that I was blind to up until that point. Long story short about that vehicle: It didn't go through insurance for a variety of reasons, one being the recognition that my father wasn't covered. That was often a reasoning I used to try and get out of lending my car out, but it was a fact that always fell on deaf ears. Upon speaking to the other driver involved, he said my father's speeding was the cause of the accident (cutting him off), which of course, was the opposite of what my father ended up telling me - but considering the point of impact and the damage, it made sense.
The other driver told me that my father threatened him into taking blame and covering the costs of the accident, which resulted in days of arguing & headaches for me because he stated there was no reason for him to cover it, and he teetered on wanting to report my father to the police. So I was busy doing damage control before I could even get my car fixed. When the repairs finally happened, it was through a cheap refurb shop which made the car unsellable and completely worthless. (Fast forward a few years when I got a whopping $350 to trade it in towards car #4.) Along with no offers to help me, I couldn't even speak to my family while dealing with this. And yet, through this whole situation, I not only began to realize how much my father lied (in general), but wondered about his comment and what the real reason is that his family went for years without speaking to us... and through asking questions, a million doors started to open.
So this was the point where I went to therapy to finally speak up about my family issues, which in turn revealed the abuse and neglect that had been overlooked and excused.. leading me to finally talk about the molestation and so on. Looking for different approaches to the situation had me seeing different therapists - all of them told me that the best thing I can do is completely cut them off and begin to sort myself out. So I did. But the questions remained.. I never had the chance to develop a solid relationship with any family from his side because I was always told they were liars and the bad people; meanwhile, I began to wonder if that was actually their reason for not speaking to him/us.
The more I tried to pry with the few people I felt like reaching out to, the more that thought was confirmed.. but in doing so, I also started to hear false rumours about myself that reminded me I'm better off staying away. It appeared that since cutting my family off, they reached out to the estranged family members and started spreading rumours about me! All of the above story about my car stresses and the accident got turned into a new deluded story wherein I was said to have totalled my own vehicle and refused to pay the bank back. Hearing that alone made me want to laugh and cry at the same time, but it just further proves how delusional and toxic the family has become - people that heard the story believed it, and of course, the information spun off into other false rumours. As much as I wanted to straighten it all out, I realized that I would be fighting a losing battle trying to do so, and that my sanity & energy is better spent staying away.
Yet it's far from the first time that I've found out from others that I was blamed for things that I didn't do. Such is the lifeblood of narcissists - making up gossip about the innocent ones in an attempt to make themselves look better. At least, I can only imagine that's the objective there or else why is it even a thing? "Normal" families don't lie, backstab, and gossip about it all.. but the family I came from taught me that was normal from an early age. My brother still believes that I pushed him and caused him to crack his head when he was a toddler - only because that was what my parents decided to say. But the truth is that memory haunts me to this day... my parents weren't even in the room(!), and I was just being the big sister that I was, lovingly helping him climb up onto our toy-box because he wanted to see out the window above it.. and he slipped and hit his head on the corner of it.
It was an accident, but it became something that I could NEVER live down. And that's not even the first lie I've ever been told about myself. I have no doubt such incidents have been spun into so much more, but given what I know, it's hard to expect anything different. Ever since I stopped speaking to my parents, the lies that have come through the grapevine have been out of this world and have painted a picture that is completely contradictory to anything I've done, know, and who I truly am. I take solace in knowing this much...
The reality is that all my therapists, and even the police officers I dealt with, told me to expect this. Those that knew what it's like to break away from toxic, abusive families know and say that (1) estrangement is the best thing that can ever happen to you, and (2) there will be backlash brewed from jealousy & lies, which is why staying as far away as you can is essential to full recovery. It's hurtful, but it also ONLY reflects the people feeding it... and because I was blind through learning those behaviours at such a young age is just one reason why I grew up with a negative mentality of my own.
Some of the healthier members of my family now believe that I totalled a car that I never paid back, and that I'm running some pretty dark schemes of my own which involve dealing drugs and borrowing from every direction and refusing to pay it all back. Meanwhile, I've worked my ass off in legit ways, never even getting government/social assistance except for those situations where I was laid off or had a medically-certified leave of absence, and yet I have managed to keep my credit score above 700 with only 3 open items on it. If all they believed were true, then how could that be my reality? And how could I have bought a house with my husband, and have bought myself a brand new Mazda CX-5? (Car #4; I learned my lesson and stopped buying used cars!) LOL *facepalm* At the end of the day, I take it all with a grain of salt while completely ignoring it -- and reminding myself that ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS is that I live well, happily, and that the people that matter most know the truth about me!
|Ashley Tilson is a Holistic Trauma Recovery Specialist that helps victims of childhood abuse who are struggling with triggers and the inability to feel safely free and happy in their adult lives by breaking free from the past and healing their childhood self so they can begin to live the life they think they can only dream about!
Check out her website for more information.