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After receiving yet another unwanted package from my estranged mother for my son, I am learning more about how the post office handles this type of thing. My mistake was not realizing that opened packages that are resealed need new postage. The unwanted item returned in the mail when I arrived home a few days afterward.

I wasn’t upset. I made a mistake, and I owned it. So, I grabbed the invoice, repackaged the item appropriately, and then set off to the post office before it opened to hit the self-service kiosk. While I was there, I made conversation with the gentleman who was sweeping the floor and preparing the post office for opening. I apologized for the extra work I was causing them by having to return and repost the things my mentally ill family was sending me.

He was remarkably kind, considering the horrible treatment the people at the post office endure at the hands of the customers. He was recounting how rude people can be and when I told him of my story, he admitted that his family was no different. He disclosed that he himself was estranged from his abusive family from the age of 14 and made the mistake of attempting to build a relationship with them when his children were born.

I noted how freely he shared these clearly painful memories with me, a complete stranger. It gave me a sense of solidarity with another survivor of abuse like me, how sad it is that there are so many of us out there, each plodding away in our lives, left to feel alone. This is what they do to us. They want us to feel this way, to keep us under control, to keep us in line, to give them our power. I left the post office feeling both stronger and sadder, because although I have worked so hard for this life that I’ve carved out for myself. I’m not about to let some sick person take it from me just because she shares my DNA.