In my family it has always been how other people perceive us. It has been about the looks and looking good to others. Putting on the “we’re a great family” persona in order to have my parents look like they are great and we have our shit together.
When someone finds out about our family, or the door gets opened and anything about our family is leaked out, it doesn’t go well. Usually, mom avoids, runs away, denies, accuses, etc. It got to the point many years ago that I was demanded to move back home, we left the church and weren’t even allowed to say certain peoples’ names in the house. Another time, before that, someone tried to express concern to my mother that I wasn’t eating and she was worried about an eating disorder (not like that would EVER happen….). Mom shut that lady out of our lives, and even 6 years later even her name starts a fight in the house. Even when I told mom that she had been right at the time and currently that I was struggling with food, she never wanted to hear about it and accused me of back talking and not defending my family.
If my mom told me the sky was purple, then by God it was purple. I was told “If somebody wants to know how many dogs we have you tell them to ASK YOUR MOTHER.” “If somebody wants to know what color my eyes are…YOU TELL THEM TO ASK YOUR MOTHER.”
It was always a struggle, I was the middle schooler who did the dishes, laundry, vacuumed, oh and fed my little brother in the high chair when he was a baby, gave him baths, and would put him in bed. When it came to other stuff, like going to a football game, the answer I would get was “I am the adult, you are the child, you are not going.” I was either the responsible practical adult, or the child, the inconsistency was awful.
Anyway, I am not saying all of this to sound like I am bashing my mother or my family. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be as stubborn, driven, responsible and independent as I am. I am saying this, because just like my mother, I want everyone to think I have my shit together and attempt to put up the curtain of being tough and having it all handled.
Unfortunately, even this mindset follows me into my therapy appointments. When asked how I am, I quizzically answer “Fine.” Like there is supposed to be wrong, I’m good, everything’s peachy. It bothers me, because I trust these people, want to look tough and strong, have my shit together, but yet it takes a half hour to get anywhere in a conversation because I am too busy trying to be tough and not need help, when we both know I do. Whenever anything went wrong growing up, it was either completely ignored, or mom ran from it. She would move, leave the church, be done with that person completely.
I am still a pro at avoiding certain topics, but also getting better at acknowledging that I do need help, I don’t have it all together and it is okay to be open about it.