Distractedly, lazily, I flip through the Gmail folders. The one of email sent to my sisters. And ignored. Or at least unanswered. If I had kept all those for my lifetime, the unanswered ones, I wonder how many times I could circle the earth if I printed them out and laid them end to end.

The last time I heard their voices, they left me in shocked surprise. One August night. Forgetting I was there on the phone, too, they fell into an argument.ย  I don’t remember the words I accidentally overheard before I lay the phone down and left the room to avoid hearing. Such derogatory comments about me “behind my back,” as if I were not a person but some inanimate object or subhuman with marginal intelligence and certainly no recognizable nor sympathetic human emotions or reactions.

More surprises, more unwanted revelations.

In retrospect, I should not have been surprised: first as a toddler, then as a child, and on and on again, even as an adult, I sat excluded, ignored and scorned in the backseat of the car, the two sisters and mom chatting self-absorbedly together. That was always how it was, and duteously I played the fool in the family story so my sisters could live with their own self-images — at my expense. Always at my expense.

I see that now. It took 54 years to see through the myth.

I scroll through the text messages that also went unanswered.

August: What you did made you emotionally dead to me. I don’t pity you in the least; I gave many opportunities for reconciliation which you overlooked. To me you are dead. There are no more opportunities. You brought it on yourselves.

September: I was condemned as your crucified Christ. I bore the punishment for your lies and misdeeds while you went scot-free. Dad never disavowed his support for martial punishment. You never had stripes from leather belts running down your back as a toddler.

October: Stuff happens. Forgiveness can be accepting a well-lived future because the past can’t be changed. Hopefully you can choose good travel companions down the road.

We had the church reserved for an October 20 wedding. We canceled the wedding to ensure they would not attend based on a former invitation.

Do scapegoats ever die? Is crucifixion ontological?

Reactive emotions washed over me in a torrent, overwhelming my self-restraint. There is always a time when the scapegoat, usually so desperately seeking acceptance, looks down and sees the wounds and feels the pain. And there is tortured incomprehension.

Scapegoats often have trouble drawing boundaries as they desperately try to make up the childhood deficit in love. They also may not effectively terminate relationships necessary to preserve their boundaries. They live in an indefinite pull of unfulfilled desires.

So thought they had become flattened paper doll images not easily rising to mind, in the back of the mind the thought that I should never gain their affection or respect, that they no longer would be leering at me from the sidelines did not really register. Just as we expect the dead to come back to life, so it has been.

In August they had released the beneficiary letter. When I indicated it required correction, they sent a text with an ugly card with the attorney’s phone number and email. They have not communicated since.

Early on I tore up any and all photographs I had and deleted electronic versions from all devices. I removed all gifts, cards, what have you from the house. It was too hurtful to look any more. I no longer needed to remind myself to sustain a lie by looking at these pillars of scornful sisterhood.

We had the church reserved for an October 20 wedding. We canceled the wedding to ensure they would not attend.

Via the trust they would judge relationships and potentially withhold my share arbitrarily and capriciously. Such a perverse trust provision. Of course, they drafted it. They did not deserve any information about me. Untrustworthy friends and family were blocked on Facebook.

I don’t get it, I never will. At this point, I am sorry I wasted so many years trying to placate their abuse and discounting, seeking approval with all I had.

Yes. October. Yes, my last communications were apologies, which is absurd other than it shows how distorted my values had become under their constant dominating scorn. I in fact should not have been apologizing for a single thing. Their behavior is on them.

But why did they have to go to such bizarre extremes to say good-bye at the end of our parents’ lives? On the one hand refusing to communicate, on the other threatening to exert control over my conduct and life through provisions of a trust they drew up?

It made no sense. It still makes no sense. I can only conclude they, like Sandra Day O’Connor, have succumbed to dementia.

I concluded they were, in fact, white trash, born and bred — as my parents definitely reinforced their cruel behavior by rewarding it. They couldn’t possibly be or do anything else. They had inadequate intelligence to overcome their self-indulgence. Yes, that’s how it’s always been.

But recognizing that doesn’t yet set me free.

Legal matters stretch out the breaking of the desiccated umbilical cord. Nine months, ten months, a year. I don’t know when the end arrives.

The eighty hour weeks wear on a person. The excitement of launching a strong October issue of BirbObserver fades as traffic declines after publication. The inspiration to publish two issues monthly requires resolved resistance.

Some run until they drop. They don’t know how to relax. That would be me. Always trying so hard to gain approval, to make up for the love withheld in infancy.