I dream of a microcosmic world in which I can be completely myself- accepted in an uncensored format. But such a world does not exist, and so I chip away at my ugliness, endeavoring to present a pleasant persona to those whose approval I so cravenly desire- namely my family and friends. I don’t think that I have ever felt truly comfortable amongst my siblings, and even less so around my parents and other relatives. It is funny how such relationships work, and even stranger to note how they impact those developed later on in life. My earliest memories of my older sister involved feeling very much like an outcast. I can remember her telling me once “your friends can be my friends, but my friends can’t be your friends”. It didn’t seem to matter what I did or didn’t do…I remained in her eyes a “nuisance”, useful only for what service I could provide at any given moment. I suppose that many older/younger sister relationships are like that…but I have also seen many that are not. One of my favorite childhood books was Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women”. I related to Beth- because of her physical fragility and her spiritual strength- and I strove to be pure and pious, like her. I also found a kindred spirit in Jo- because of her tom boyishness. I really wanted to have such a family- to have such closeness with my sisters, to be able to share joys and sorrows with the same freedom that the March family enjoyed. My reality was much different. As a result, I lived vicariously in the pages of books such as “Jane Eyre” (Charlotte Bronte), “The Diary of Anne Frank”, and “The Chrysalids” (John Wyndam) to name just a few. I could rejoice with the triumphs of Jane Eyre as she challenged her aunt Reid- wishing that I had the courage to face my own step-mother’s indifference and rejection. The loneliness and isolation of “being different, an outsider”- a pain that is difficult to describe to people who come from the warmth of a nurturing environment, would become an ever recurring motif in the tapestry of my life. Is it possible to break free from such a prison? Oh there are those out there who would say that the confinement is self-inflicted. For those people, it is better to just stuff away the ocean of tears, pretend it doesn’t exist, move on and press forward so that they don’t have to be bothered by it. It doesn’t make the wound disappear, it just enables it to fester. My grief is real. Damn it- it is staring me in the face 24/7, and my family blithly goes on living their own lives- as they should. I am left with the recurring dreams, the waking with tears streaming down my face. The longing for a connection that will never happen…because everyone, after all, has their own life to live. My younger sister will protest that she loves me, but words lose their meaning when the giving is only in one direction. There is always an excuse to not connect. Always the assumption that ‘everyone else is more financially solvent’. I have a nephew who has probably grown up being told by his grandmother that I am not a good person, that I don’t care, that it is best to shut his heart to me. I have three other nephews, who have lives full of excitement…lives that I would love to be a part of…but the connections never happen…despite invitations,,,too busy for a crazy aunt who is more of an embarassment than someone worthy of getting to know. I have sons that I rarely see. Sons that I love too deeply for words, sons that I am proud of, and who I wish I could say that they were proud of me. But such love, such displays of affection as I am want to give, are received limply and out of obligation I suppose. I am too tired to care. Too tired to keep trying. I need my family, but as usual, there is no time for me. Lest it sound too “woe is me-ish” (God forbid), I must stop here. I could go on. But what is the use? Who would it benefit? Thank God no one reads this. I am tired of trying to be all things to all people…tired of feeling silenced and invisible around the people that I love the most. Why is it that the ones I have always loved are the ones who act so indifferently to me? Is this a generational curse? Why do I care so much about what others think, that I twist, turn, and reinvent myself again and again to be found acceptable? And yet I am on the outside looking in. Never feeling welcomed, never truly feeling like I ought to be there. Is this really what life is all about? Suck it up and move on? Maybe I need to say “screw you”- if you don’t like me, too bad. I’ll find family elsewhere- one fine day.