One time when I was a young girl, my mother discovered me hiding in the hallway closet. When my mother asked why I was sitting in the dark all alone, I told her “No one is enjoying my existence.” She laughed at me for being so melodramatic, and told the story to my aunts and grandma, who agreed it was a hoot.
This tale was told and retold, and morphed into a just-so story that defined me. “Angie is dramatic.”; ” Angie is over the top.”; “Angie just wants attention.” Somehow “Angie is suffering from depression and needs treatment” never made the list. But I can remember not being allowed to react while my adult family members laughed at my desire to matter to someone.
For a long time sadness has come with a feeling of abandonment for me, and I didn’t know why. Now I think I do. I needed my mother to tell me she enjoyed my existence. I needed my family to be more gentle with my broken heart. But I got laughed at and labeled dramatic instead.
I don’t usually hold my family very responsible for their actions within the cult their mother/my grandmother founded. It’s easy for me to recognize them as victims of an abuser who would be hard to leave. But there are childhood moments of hurt that still get to me, wounds that never healed. Moments like being tickled by aunts while I screamed for them to stop, which they also thought was funny.
To this day, I try to minimize the importance of my feelings if I don’t think they’ll be well received. When I do take my own feelings seriously, I tend to think they’re excessive and over done. I’m afraid of being laughed at if I cry or if I say why I’m hurting. And that lack of outlet can make me seven years old hiding in a dark closet again.
Sometimes I just need to know if anyone is enjoying my existence.