263/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. If you’ve read some of these gratitude blogs, you no doubt have realized that as a teen and younger child, I was bullied at school and in the neighbourhood. The only safe place I had was my house for the most part. There were times though when I was made fun of by family. Not my immediate family but extended. I had an aunt, who shall remain nameless, who constantly made fun of me for my weight, my awkward and late puberty, my effeminate behaviour, my studious nature, my appearance – generally anything about me she made fun of. When the odd “friend” or two would come to pick me up to take me to school or work, she would tell my mother that they were not good people and that I should not have female friends and my mom who was easily susceptible to family influence would heed her advice to my anger and frustration. I remember when my aunt would just burst into the washroom while I was in the shower to make fun of my weight or for me reading books while on the toilet – who does that? She did. She also denied my dad’s schizophrenia and would say that my mom and I were making up stories to keep him institutionalized. Wow! Who thinks that? She did. She also tormented me with mice. Because my mom had to work, my sister and I would be dropped at this aunt’s place and she lived in a run-down basement with a mouse infestation. She could not handle my ADHD behaviour and kept me in check by taking the mousetraps that had dead mice in them and threatening me with them by waving them in my face, or keeping them within reach to get me to behave. I was not allowed to say anything to my mom. Of course, I was terrified and have a phobia of rodents to this day. Yes, not only did I have bullies in the community, I had one in my family. At the time, I absolutely hated her as I couldn’t understand why she would do this to me but at this present time, I am not bitter and I hope it doesn’t sound that way although I have not spoken to her in years, I am almost sure she has no clue the trauma she caused me as a child. Just writing this reverse gratitude post is cathartic and she taught me a lot about people at a young age and that family is not always there for you/in your corner which is a lesson I’m glad I learned then as it has only made me stronger now – perhaps a lot more guarded but a lot more aware of how I put myself out there to others. I am now not that disappointed when things happen in my life such as my own separation or my siblings and I becoming estranged from one another as I understand dysfunctional dynamics because of my childhood. I have grown a great deal and become a stronger man because of all the things I have had to endure as a child and a crazy aunt was just one more thing in my unfathomable upbringing. I can’t say thank you – I can only thank myself for surviving you.