30 is the New 20 3

The day has finally arrived. I am thirty. So far it feels like any other day. I didn’t get to watch what I wanted on television. I was woken up early by Amy. Basically, same old same old. Oh, and one of the aunts who hates me still hates me. (Actually, all the aunts who hate me probably still do.) And this one didn’t hold back just because it happens to be my birthday.

Aunt Phyllis may love me, but Judy doesn't

Aunt Phyllis, who does seem to like me to some degree, posted a Happy Birthday greeting to me. Sweet, right? Well, her baby sister Judy1 couldn’t stand for that. Almost immediately, Judy had to speak out over the grave injustice that is recognizing my birthday. I think I’ve mentioned that Judy is a rather interesting figure in my family on here before. Yep, there was the time that she accused my parents and me of abusing my grandfather…when I was only 12 at the time of his death, and when she had refused to take him in for any length of time when we needed much-deserved respite from caring for his multiple ailments, including dementia. (Not to mention that he was an abusive and scary SOB.)

Phyllis is right, I didn’t know their father. He died about 7 years and 2 months before I was even born. I do know what my father and others have told me about their father. I also know what my grandfather used to claim, that he was his father’s whipping boy and that that was part of why he left home at the age of 15.2 As for their mom…I did meet their mother. She died when I was about 2 years old, so I don’t actually remember her. And what I know of her is also stuff that I was told.

But their brother, who Judy once tried to make sound like a saint, I knew him. I knew him well. I knew the man who liked to scare us with his guns. I knew the man who went to prison for being part of a car theft ring. I knew the man who called in a bomb threat to a media outlet. I knew the man who would tell me how I was ugly and how I would never be loved. And I knew the man who molested toddlers. I knew that man very well. Probably better than Judy ever did, since there was almost 20 years difference in their ages and they never lived in the same house as each other. I knew that man and I know that even with just anecdotes about his family that there had to be a certain kind of environment to produce that kind of individual. (And considering that his older brother Johnny was even more of a “character” in many ways, chances are pretty good that their home life wasn’t as idyllic as they remember it.)

At some point, there was something that happened in that family, because happy, healthy families do not end up the way the Morris family has ended up. And if you grow up to be so great of an adult that you hold things that didn’t even happen against someone who was between the ages of eight and twelve at the time that you think they happened, then something is messed up with you. Yeah, there are children who are shitty, but most of the time those shitty 8-12 year old kids turn into actual full-on criminals, instead of people who’ve only been written up for having tall grass.

I have one thing to say to my beloved Aunt Judy about her attitude and her crashing a birthday greeting to make some snarky remark:

You're tacky and I hate you.

Actually, what I said was a little wordier and, hopefully, more tactful:

Your brother was actually the one who talked about being abused by his/your father. I’ve never met your dad, since he died 7 years before I was born. All I know is what has been told to me by my grandfather, my father, and other family members. But the issues surrounding how your brother may or may not have been abused and any negative feelings that you may have toward me probably aren’t exactly appropriate to bring up on this sort of post. Judy, if you want to talk about how I’m a horrible human being or object to my existence in the world, why not wait until it isn’t my birthday?

I get that she thinks that her family was perfect. It’s sometimes difficult to accept that bad shit went down at some point in your life, especially in a family with such a vibrant history of pseudologia fantastica.3 It’s something that I’ve talked about in therapy a lot over the years. It’s something I’ve talked about on here before. I get it. I understand wanting to pretend that your childhood was perfect, but if her life was as perfect as she claims, then the whole family would not be as messed up as it is now.

And I get that she thinks that my talking about any of this is a bad thing. Anything that makes her feel the slightest bit uncomfortable is bad. It’s like when she was claiming that she came from a long line of Republicans. No, she didn’t. Back in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, her father was a Democrat. Back when southern Democrats were racist twats, her father supported them. And so did my grandfather. If he hadn’t been an über-conservative by his father, would he really have had this:

Aunt Phyllis may love me, but Judy doesn't4

The good thing about the objection being from Judy is that it doesn’t actually hurt my feelings. If it had been someone who I thought actually liked me, then that might have been upsetting. Also, if I hadn’t just spent about 18 hours Saturday and Sunday crying about how my life was a failure and how I would rather be dead, then this might have been more upsetting.5 Basically, I’ve made myself feel shittier than she could ever make me feel. (Not that that’s something to brag about.) I quit really caring what this woman thinks of me around the age that she said I was hurting her brother.6 The only thing I care about is the blatant narcissism of turning a perfectly nice remark into this opportunity for her to just attempt to bring me down.

And all of this drama just means that my life is staying the same way it was in my twenties. I guess that in order for life to change, I have to make it change.

UPDATE #1: She’s posted her response to my response.

  1. Judy is the sister who is a month younger than my dad’s sister; Judy was also better treated than her because Judy was the baby of the family. 

  2. When he left, Phyllis would have been about 5. Judith wasn’t born yet. 

  3. She could probably even say that I’m the one making stuff up. 

  4. It probably makes no sense why I would bring that particular button or politics up, but it actually was a big part of why she started making the comments about my family. In their discussion of politics, he told her that her father supported people like Wallace and was a mean man, and how he didn’t understand how she could pretend he was anything but. That was when she came back at him with some comments and she also made comments about how his dad would be appalled at how my dad was talking because he hadn’t been raised to be that way. This was around the time that I chimed in and said that her brother couldn’t have become the abusive asshole that he was if their family was as bright and happy and shiny as she suggested. And that was when she accused me of abuse. 

  5. There is no person in the world who can hate you more than you can hate yourself unless you live in a country with a dictator that wants to kill you. 

  6. If she was so convinced her brother was in danger, why did she flat out refuse to take him in? Why didn’t she try to find a better place for him? 

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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