Almost 7 PM, and the tablet dung once, no loud beeping because the volume is down later in the day while playing games. Checking to see what the ding was finding it to be another attempt at a group video chat set up by Stevie with Don and Seth.

Closing the tablet quickly immediately relieved not to have heard the usual chirping which normally signals a happy video chat with our grand-daughter. No way could joining work. Stevie’s first attempt a few days ago jinxed sleep that night requiring a sleep aid. It set off internal alarm bells that no amount of self-talk calmed…danger, danger, danger.

There is yearning for family coupled with the inability to feel part of it even when invited. Musings as to why this sets off internal alarms are cloudy, but the soul’s need for safety won out even if my brain can’t reason why. Some clarity came. When others stand by silently while another hurts you, they are as culpable as the villain doing the damage.

All stood silently by while Tom degraded me in any way he felt like it, whenever he wanted throughout my life. Even in my fifties while everyone gathered at my table in an attempt to let bygones be gone, eating my food and drinking my coffee, slurs against me were made. Tom, looking up from his nose stuck in the paper, castigated my ineptness at buying this house with a realtor who was cutting corners in illegal ways.

Sneering, Tom commented on my stupidity snidely to Stevie openly in front of everyone, as if I were not there. Once again degrading me, and as usual, no one said a thing to support me. Stevie had stepped in to take over the mess and coordinate another realtor with the company to handle the rest of the sale.

Tom’s continual efforts to devalue me seemed to be a fun pastime for him. He is unashamed to exhibit his contempt. Instead of feeling badly for what he did to me as a child, he choose to cut me down. He’s an expert at it. Hacking at my character through the years broke me as much or more than than anything else.

There is nothing wrong with not knowing the intricacies of buying and selling a home since we did it only once forty years ago. Feelings of badness, wrongness, and being cast out, the feelings Tom continually injected into my days since the age of 8, were coupled this time with simmering rage. This would be the last effort at reconciliation.

This wasteland has been my life since Tom sexually abused me as a child until cutting off contact. The snide remarks, the sneering, the dirtiness of him spreading malevolence everywhere, in every family member who never spoke up yet continued their loyalty to him. It parallels the maliciousness in politics today, the two characters of Tom and the Donald so similar in vileness.

It’s not OK. I don’t need the rest of you now. Being in a group setting is toxic for me. One on one, OK. And loving from afar, because there is still love for all three, and great love stems from below when I feel safe to feel it, from afar, not in person or facetime. They feel as dangerous to me as the abusers.

So yearning continues for what won’t be. Instead I gather my friends who always feel safe and support me in ways family never could. Walking the meadow some grape vines are picked up from the pile Samuel left after trimming them.

While enjoying the outdoors even though drab, muddy, and bitterly cold, light brightens my footsteps while thinking of friends, twisting the grape vines into a wreath with each lap. Going out again later, another wreath was made as if walking with each friend holding her hand. The nicely made circle was held tightly after being formed imagining my friend right next to me as we laughed, shared, and enjoyed each other’s company.

A wreath, the circle of friendship, made for all four to be delivered with their craft kits for Sunday’s video chat, our monthly tradition for over 15 years. Safe family in friendship.   

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