A Face That Laughs Every Time I Fall 6


I had therapy this afternoon. As usual, I forgot that I had therapy today until I saw the appointment on the family appointment schedule/calendar. The appointment was going to be one where I discussed something that has been pestering me since I was a little kid. It was going to be one where I discussed something I’ve only mentioned to two or three people total in my life. Of course, therapy never seems to work out the way I plan on it working.

One main reason that I didn’t discuss that pestering issue is that Nana had called at about noon today. She’d told me that a certain relative had been talking to her about Thanksgiving. The relative asked if my parents and I were going to be at Thanksgiving dinner (lunch) on Thanksgiving Day. Nana said that of course we were going to be there. The relative then said that that meant she (and her family) would not be at that dinner and that they would have Thanksgiving some other time. I wasn’t too surprised by this, given the amount of drama that has been brewing related to it. I was okay with it, or so I thought.

Having them there in a “normal” year is a rather stressful thing for me anyway. I have internal fights and arguments in preparation for the day. I have panic attacks about what might happen if I mention certain things during dinner and cause an actual brawl. I stress out over how I might end up being belittled for my education (or “lack” thereof) or how I might see or hear them give someone (Nana, mom, or me) a difficult time about their use of pain medicine or some other relatively minor thing that ends up causing major family drama. So not having them there means that I won’t be feeling quite the same level of pre-Thanksgiving anxiety and stress. That should be a good thing.

It isn’t, though. I feel guilty. I feel like this drama is my fault, even though it wouldn’t have started if there weren’t issues with how the family functions to begin with. The drama has been there for a long time, even if it hadn’t been exposed. So I shouldn’t feel so horribly guilty about it, but I do. And I think that was the purpose of the boycott. Maybe that’s just my inherent paranoia, but it seems like this is a way to make me feel bad about the whole situation and to feel even less comfortable about my blog and my way of handling stress related to this kind of stuff.

It doesn’t really impact my decision about what I’ll talk about online, though. I will continue to talk about how I feel openly. I’ll do it even though it might be part of what drives a wedge between the two sides of my family. I’ll even do it knowing that there are still regular visitors from Oneonta and Guntersville/Arab/Boaz/Albertville, which I know must be them coming to check on me to see what I might be saying about them. (Yes, Analytics is still catching them checking out fuzzypinkslippers.com, my personal tumblr, my LJ, Hyperaware, and Blah Blah Biddy Blah. They may be visiting other sites of mine, which amps up my paranoia.)

Instead, it just makes me feel like it doesn’t matter that the problems with the family wouldn’t be discussed if I didn’t blog about it.  It makes me feel like my feelings about everything are insignificant.  And that is what I mainly talked about with my therapist.  Anytime I’m told not to talk about something or told, in general, to shut up or that someone doesn’t care, it triggers the internal belief that I am insignificant, which triggers the brutal depression and the worsening of social isolation.

It also makes me feel like I’m supposed to feel guilty about how I am tearing apart the family, even though I am not the one making the decision not to show up for Thanksgiving (for the third time in a decade) and I am not the one who is trying to make this about one part of the family being more important than another part. Knowing that family is extremely important to me and then trying to use it against me to make me feel guilty is about like handing a razor blade to a suicidal individual and challenging them to end their life.  It is using a known weapon and a known psychological stressor to manipulate one person into doing what you want, and that isn’t fair.

Between this ongoing drama with those family members and the repeating pattern of destructive interpersonal relationships, I broke down about how “people suck” and how I felt like I keep entering and perpetrating dysfunctional relationships because I get something out of being in those relationships.  (Almost twenty years of therapy and I just figured this out.)  She told me to look up the Karpman drama triangle, which I’ve added to examples of below:

Karpman drama triangle - ex 1
Karpman drama triangle - ex 2

So, I guess that internet theory about online drama perpetrators/victims being equally responsible for online drama also applies to real life.  I think, in many of the relationships, I am definitely continuing patterns of victim-like behavior and perpetrator-like behavior.  (Sometimes I trigger/accuse someone of doing something, which starts the whole cycle over again.)  My therapist compared the drama issue with something that foster kids do.  (She was a social worker with the agency we did foster care out of, and handled Stephanie’s case during part of Stephanie’s stay with us.)  Apparently, what I do is like what those kids do when they are so used to placements failing that they become convinced that a placement will fail and decide that they will make it fail so that they have some level of control over their lives.  I guess that makes sense.  I’ve always felt out of control when it comes to a lot of my life, so it would make sense that I would do something that causes me to not only be miserable, but also allows me to control when I am getting miserable.

I need to get out of that cycle.  I also need to form healthier attachments.  And more than all of that, I need to figure out a way to be happy.  I’m not talking about the little bursts of joy that any person might have during their life.  I need to find a way to have some kind of sustainable joy in life. I didn’t want to work on my mental health for years and I actually enjoyed periods of crippling depression because it was more predictable than happiness. I really need to change that mindset.  I need to learn how to deal with life and how to be happier.

So, I didn’t get to talk about one thing that may have been to blame for some (or many of my emotional issues), but I did get to talk about another.  It actually makes me feel grateful to the family member for reacting in a way that some close to me have referred to as being “immature” or “bitchy” because without that reaction, I might not have started working on one of my major psychological issues.  So, yay for that.  Maybe I should have more thoroughly pissed that person off much sooner.  I might have graduated from college.  I might have gotten married by now.  I might have felt happy.  Okay, maybe none of that would have happened, but it does make me wonder.


About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.


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