Toxic Parents, Misanthropy and Feeling Off

I cannot explain it really, this feeling of being off.

Suffice to say, I do not think there is anything to be done about it, either pharmaceutically or therapeutically; rather, it is simply something I feel deep down inside from time to time. I am not now clinically depressed, but I have been and I truly understand the difference.

For most of my life, I have felt like an orphan, an outsider, who does not fit in anywhere. I have developed a remarkable ability to fake it most of the time, but that can be mentally fucking exhausting. I am a bizarre combination of an introvert and an extrovert. I love spending time and making connections with people, but I just as often enjoy being alone with a good book. Reading has been my escape for as long as I can remember.

The off times are hard to explain if you have not experienced them. It is a surrealistic dichotomy to feel at one moment like the coolest person in the room and then awash with intense feelings of inadequacy. In a dreamlike state, I traverse the labyrinth of ordinary interactions, sometimes feeling like the smartest person in the room and then the dumbest. I chastise myself for these irrational feelings of worthlessness, as it is weak and I abhor self-pity. I keep it inside and don’t even tell my wife, the closest person to me on the planet, for fear she will think less of me.

It is during these off periods when I choose to be alone with my introspection. I often find people tedious, annoying and even stupid. In fact, I consider myself to be a misanthrope. Look it up.

I read a book early into my college career, which was apropos to my experience with my parents. It’s called Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward. My parents were divorced when I was six years old, shortly after the birth of my brother. If I am being honest, I probably blamed him for that, though logically I know it was not his fault. We have never been close. Obviously, they contributed a great deal to my low self-esteem.

On many occasions throughout my life, my parents, who were emotionally distant and not really there for me at all, would be together for some event or the other. It was during these times I began to feel as if they did not like me, or at the very least, they did not know me or want to get to know me. They enjoyed tag-teaming me with embarrassing and hurtful barbs, feeding off one another with their biting, sarcastic words, often in the presence of other family members. More than once, I left the room in tears. No one ever came after me. That says a lot.

Sadly, my mother passed away nine years ago and things between us were left unresolved. I have come to grips with that. It is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it. When I am feeling my worst, I actually imagine she won and that it was her final insult. My father has taken to sending passive-aggressive text messages or emails and, most of the time, I have resolved not to engage, not to take the bait. I have thought of writing him a letter to tell him how I feel, how I have always felt, but I honestly think it would serve no purpose.

I sometimes wonder how much more successful and well-adjusted I could have been if I had parents who actually gave a fuck about me, but I long ago gave up on the dream of having June Cleaver as my mother. I did pretty well on my own, forming a support group of empowering people and, in all honesty, I do not know where I would be without them. They restore my faith in humanity.

It is a process to go through and I will get back to normal. Until then, I muddle through the everyday mundane tasks that make up one’s life and try to limit my contact with people as much as possible. If you do not see or hear from me or I do not engage from time to time, it is honestly more about me than it is about you. Please keep that in mind.

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