Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas is for Complaining

My Sister and I Trying To Look Like We Don't Want to Kill Ourselves

So it's Christmas and that means I was woken up at 8am by my horse-obsessed 11 year old cousin and told my outfit was ugly/inappropriate by my Grandmother 3,000 times and then drank my face off so that I was stumbling around in 4 inch heels by 1pm. Every single Christmas I have one of those epiphanies where I realize that everything I've unwrapped can't make up for the fact that the tension between my family members is unbearably palpable and my Grandmother just cannot keep herself from making negative comments about EVERYTHING and no matter how many gifts my mother buys us she will always get a disappointed look on her face when she hears what my step-grandparents have purchased. I live two lives. Last night at my mother's I was smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka and playing Wii and then I went home to my Dad's house and everyone was looking at old documents that my Grandmother brought and talking about our family tree while listening to shitty Christmas carols and I got dirty looks for smelling like smoke. This is how it was in high school. I could say "bitch" in front of my Mom when I was 15 and if I let it slip in front of my father his eyebrows got all scrunchy and his lips got thin like pencil lines. I'm still not really allowed to watch R rated movies at my Dad's house unless no one's around to hear or watch them.

It's not that he's religious, it's just that he's uptight, obscenely so. He wants everything to go perfectly, which is a quality he and I share, but it manifests itself in all its ugly glory when my Grandmother visits. My Grandmother is condescending and judgmental but she is subtle about it so that it takes a well-practiced ear to notice the verbal jabs she takes. It is never "You look ugly!" but instead "You would look a lot prettier if you'd get your hair out of your face. Why do you have to wear it like that?" It is so bad that my Aunt basically detests my Grandmother and treats her like shit to her face -- which has made this Christmas all the more merry! -- my Dad ignores or makes fun of her and my Uncle stays in Minnesota doing god knows what.

The funny and yet horrendously sad part is that my father tries very hard to not be like my Grandmother: to avoid the negative side comments, the judgments, the uptight demeanor. But he is just like her, albeit, a little more jovial and open, but really basically the same. It's frustrating for both of us; I detest him for treating me that way, and he detests himself for being unable to cease treating me that way. My Grandmother has no idea any of this occurs because she has no idea that she is awful! She believes she is the Saint of the family and everyone else is on the fast track to Hell, be it for our lack of commitment to Catholicism or short hemlines (GRAMMY SOMETIMES I WEAR SHIRTS AS DRESSES GET OVER IT) or foul mouths. Everything is offensive or dirty or shameful: my body, my overly active mind, my behaviors, my habits. My Dad knows that my Grandmother is essentially this horrible monster who eats away at your self-confidence (what little I have) until you are basically an empty, sullen shell, and yet he does not stand up for me. She made me cry this morning with one of her many comments about my appearance and all he did was try to comfort me and get me to stop crying. It's so difficult to explain this. I am hypersensitive, true, and still adjusting to being home, but it has taken years for me to get to this breaking point. There were times in high school I honestly thought I would kill my Grandmother because she was so frustrating and cruel without even realizing it. It comes in waves. Some days I can brush it off and laugh, but others I just cannot stand it. It is going to come to a point some time soon where I will just refuse to see her, because it is not worth it to me.

The shittiest part about it is that all I ever want to do is impress her and my Dad. Every single one of my accomplishments has been to prove than I am so much more than the fuck up I felt I was in high school, the girl who cried all the time and wouldn't get out of bed for four days and got caught drinking at 14. Blahblahblah, it's cliched I know but goddammit I just wish I could make them PROUD of me. My Dad is to some extent but I feel like I'm still always disappointing him in some way. If I could just quit smoking. If I could just go to school for Political Science and brush my hair and not be stoned all the time. But honestly I don't think even doing those things would make any difference to my Grandmother. I am a perfectionist but to her I will never ever be perfect; I will never come close.

So heh I guess this is my way of saying Merry Christmas and I love you all and I know your families are probably all just as fucked up as mine if not more so. Aren't the holidays wonderful!?!? :)

-Jess

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