This has been a roller coaster of a year for my family. Since March I have finished up some really cool cooking classes, learned to make rain barrels (I have 3!), seen some good movies (and some bad ones), had a TON road trips, some archery tournaments and had some really great times with the family.
And then there is the flip side of all of that.
I have had health issues and there have been several family members that are quite ill. I don’t ever expect that things will be perfect. The idea of that is an illusion that our society sells everyone from a very young age, and in my opinion its what contributes to people feeling so terrible about themselves. Social media doesn’t help because people don’t often see the perfect lives someone tells with pictures and think “hey its not real.”
Then someone dies.
I watched the shit show that emerged after a relatives death earlier this year and I just kept telling myself that I am NEVER getting into that again. EVER. Then one of my parents became critically ill. Because it was touch and go for a few days, it seemed to have triggered the “death freak out” response in multiple people and suddenly I was the target of ALL of it.
Sometimes, I can’t catch a break.
Initially, I did not handle it well. I willingly admit that. There was so much crying that I thought I would be perpetually dehydrated. Then I got angry. These were people, related to me or not, that knew nothing about my actual life. It was surface, “how are you doings” in passing, no real participation and feeling. After a couple of weeks trying to manage my feelings and how hurtful everything that was said actually felt, I woke up one day and pushed it aside. For some reason, I finally realized that there is so much these judgmental people don’t know or remember. They are projecting their OWN sickness onto me because they feel so awful. My favorite part was a phone conversation in which I was instructed to “not get upset and only talk about good memories with them.”
Bells when off.
Good memories? No, I never snuck out of the house, no I didn’t give up going to college to run away, nope, there are no good memories. What exists in my childhood space is watching multiple addictions, multiple abuses, embezzlement, arrests, drug use, one of my siblings being whipped in a late night drunk fit, cleaning up food slung all over the floor after a 2 AM fight, taking butcher knifes out of adults hands during 2 AM fights, hiding my siblings in my room so they can feel safe and go back to sleep during those middle of night fights. Or forcing me to bartend at 12 for all the adults with them. Or smoking weed with teenagers that KNEW ME that then went to school and told everyone and eventually trying to offer me drugs. Repeatedly. Or asking me to sit up in the middle of cocaine fits at 1 AM and just talk. Those are the memories. And when I think of THAT life it pisses me off because what I could have had…what was stolen from me. It also became glaringly obvious to me that a WHOLE lot of lies have been told to hide those things. People living in the same house don’t know the person I know. There has been so much time and effort put on spin of the who’s and what’s over the years that it is astonishing. The degree to which people are willing to judge you from what someone says is also devastating. There is a spider web constructed over a multitude of things and its beginning to unravel.
I see your sickness.
I have made a couple of trips to visit. Both of them made me sick when listening the all of the lies being passed around. How do people look you in the face and lie like its nothing? I feel nothing but sorrow for the people caught up in it. It is choking them and they can’t see it. But…I finally do.
Reality is real.
I reminded myself that the reason I have to limit my time in that house is because it makes me sick. Physically, emotionally, psychically sick to every fiber of my being. Do you know that feeling? It’s like your soul and your light are being sucked out of you as every barb, nasty comment and eye roll flies by. Sometimes it makes me wonder do they every think about how they make someone feel that they are supposed to love? That’s not love. It’s some sort of fucked up roll of crap they were handed by their parents paired with the deep need to control and suppress all the real issues while covering the lies they have told. So very toxic.
So I again remind myself.
I didn’t leave that house because being a “rebel” was more important than an education. Quite the opposite. So much dysfunction existed that I was never a matter of concern. I was not asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was not asked if I wanted to go to college. Back in the Jurassic Period, pre-internet, when you graduate, still a minor in an overseas location on a military base, your sponsor is 100% responsible for anything you will and will not do. Any communication or information that needs to be received. Any arrangements to visit a college, meet with a program director, etc. would have to be initiation by the person not the minor. While I left and entered one of several difficult and painful relationships I have had an an adult, I also left to get work experience and start college. I knew I had to leave or it would kill me. Literally. My first suicidal episode was when I was in the 9th grade and no one cared.
Going back and having so much in my face this summer, of what its perceived that I don’t do enough of or that I want to “take over things” was very triggering. It forced me to mentally inventory all of those things that were done to me or in my presence. It made me have to have conversations with family members and piece other things that I thought I knew but needed missing pieces. While I never thought I would enter into “self therapy” that ended up exactly what I have had to do the past few months. I know I can’t do anything about their misconceptions, the lies that were and ARE being told. I know I can’t do anything about the need to control things that some of them have, or the way the perceived obligation in some minds overrides everything that was ever done to me as a person. Its weird and its gross but I no longer let it be my problem when its their own sickness. They can be dysfunctional all they want but I don’t have to participate.
You don’t have to just TAKE something because they are family. If strangers did some of this stuff to you, you would IMMEDIATELY know it was inappropriate and/or call the cops. You can’t change someone’s sickness, only they can. Stop trying and give yourself the freedom to be happy. One of the things I am working on right now is remembering I can make that choice every morning. I don’t have to put up with the pain and anger. I can be happy. Really terrible things happen in life, that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a happy person. Money and position in society isn’t what makes a person a good person or a happy person. That comes from the inside. Trust me. I saw it this summer…all the privilege and nice “things” around and everyone was angry and toxic and miserable.
There are many, many great places for help, you just have to use them. These are some of the places I go for help:
A great resource for any mental illness and their care takers https://www.nami.org
The Bloggess is a force of nature and also a great resource for any one battling depression, she has so much great advice but also fearlessly shares her experiences http://thebloggess.com
Sometimes you just need a diversion http://cuteoverload.com
One Comment Add yours
I’m sad to hear that there’s so much personal experience in your understanding of how families lie and subject you to things no child should have to go through. You have always struck me as a wise person, no doubt because of your past, and nothing changes all of the lessons you’ve taken out of it. We never stop learning clearly, and I’m glad you’re always taking on the positive message with it!