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Stolen


Therapy can be a wonderful thing.  It helps you to identify themes and patterns in your life, your childhood, which have caused you significant emotional distress and how those threads and themes weave their way through the rest of your life.  It also helps you understand why the things in your present affect you in the way that they do, and the coping strategies you’ve built to help deal with these issues.

My mother is a kind and caring person, for the most part.  She is a nurse by training, and although that means nothing since I’ve met my share of maniacal and morally depraved nurses, it allows her to classify herself as sensitive to others, giving and warm.  She is also a thief.

I sat in therapy this morning dissecting the common threads that run through my life, and one that was most prevalent was the feeling that what is mine is not mine.  What is mine can be appropriated by whomever desires it, and there won’t be any consequences, and as much as I would like to defend my rights to my belongings, my cries will fall on deaf ears.  I am powerless to claim, defend, or hold onto what belongs to me.

My two grandmothers passed away when I was 20 years old.  My paternal grandmother died leaving a lot of items bequeathed to family members in her last will and testament.  To me she left all of her furnishings.  It was her dying wish that I be left these possessions, along with some jewelry.  At the age of 21, I moved out of the house.  My grandmother’s furniture, which was mostly in the style of Bombay Company Mahogany, was being housed in my parent’s basement, awaiting, I thought, the time when I would need it, and request it.  When I moved with my then boyfriend (now husband) to the big city, the need for furniture was there.  We had some things, which he’d acquired from having lived on his own, but I also wanted to contribute, and have something of mine to contribute – it only felt fair.  While the Bombay Style wouldn’t have meshed well with the furniture he had, it didn’t matter.  We just needed a place to sit, some occasional tables and a coffee table.  I asked for the furniture and was denied.  I was told that I was too young to take on such a big responsibility, and that we would likely have some careless friend who would put down a wet glass without a coaster, leaving a white ring on the pristine surface of the tables.  Since I’ve never been one to throw wild parties, or to have irresponsible beer-guzzling friends, it left me wondering if she had the right daughter in mind when she made those statements.  Had she confused me with some other daughter she had never had?  So the furniture sat, unused, in my parent’s basement.

Two years later, my parents sold our family home, and moved an hour east to a smaller town.  They sold many of the furnishings because they were downsizing to a smaller place.  With my brother and I both moving out, it was time to pare down the “Stuff” and de-clutter.  My mother sold sofas, chairs, tables, beds, mattresses, headboards, dressers, etc.  The money, I suppose, would go towards purchasing some new furniture for their new place.  Or maybe, as it turned out, they would simply use the furniture that was willed to me to furnish their new place.  And that, they did.  When questioned about it, my mother states “I am holding onto it for you”.  My version of the story is that she has appropriated what is mine, and is using it, not storing it, or keeping it.  Oh, and there is a white ring from where one of her irresponsible friends put down a wet glass.  Interesting indeed.

Within thirty days, my other grandmother passed.  She was older and more frail than the one who’d passed earlier, so she was less of a surprise, but it was nonetheless very painful to lose her, as I was closest to her.  When I’d been a young teenager, my school boyfriend had given me a puppy.  His mother bred puppies informally, and they had a litter of pups.  I brought her home and raised her for a year before my mother suggested that it might be a nice idea to let her live with my grandmother.  She would keep her company, give her a reason to get outside and talking to other neighbours.  I agreed, and aided with the transition.  When my grandmother died, the dog returned to living with me for the year, and my mother, perhaps in the loss of her mother, bonded with the dog, perhaps seeing it as a living reminder to her, in her loss.   When I made plans to move out, I had intended to take my dog with me and made that known.  I was denied.  The dog, as it was, would remain with my mother.  I can’t recall what her reasoning was, but as usual, it would be something that fit with her agenda.

My brother is two years older than me.  Being two years older, and a guy, he had a size and weight advantage, not to mention he intimidated me.   I used to babysit on the weekends, and had a part time job that paid me.  I used the money to buy clothes, or to finance trips to the movies with friends.  He would enter my room at will, take the money from my cash-drawer, and use it.  I often questioned him about it, and he feigned ignorance about anything being stolen – told me I couldn’t prove it.  My parents didn’t do much to stop the theft, and were fully supportive when I went down, on my own accord, to the hardware store to install a new door handle for my room with a lock. To make a long story short, he stole the key and made a copy for himself.  We went through three door handles.  What was mine was his, and I was powerless to do anything.

What was mine was his.  What was mine was also my mother’s.  What belonged to me?  Only my feelings belonged to me – and nobody wanted anything to do with those.

All of the above has the purpose of illustrating why this affair stings me so deeply.  It is, once again, a reopening of old wounds. What belongs to me is taken, appropriated as one’s own, and I am powerless to take back what is mine.  My husband was stolen, taken behind my back, and appropriated as someone else’s.  If not for the obvious reasons that betrayals like this hurt, it certainly strikes a deeper and a more painful chord when it touches on those very themes that impacted you emotionally as a child.  Now, not only are you struggling in the present, but the little girl inside of you is struggling to understand why she can’t have things without others claiming them as their own.  Why do people feel entitled to what is mine?  Why am I so unimportant that my possessions are negotiable?  The little girl inside of me wants her stuff back.  It was stolen.

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