I'm feeling pretty on edge right now, just messed up. Not a great way to feel on a Sunday night before a long work week (or anytime, I guess). Why are families so fucked up so much of the time? I had a decent weekend; I went to the beach, I talked with people over a beer, it was good. I called my Grandma, she was sad because she hasn't spoken to my brother in 3 years (I haven't in longer than that) and she was wondering if she should invite him to Michigan when she goes this year. I said, what could it hurt? At least that way he'll know we still care, we're still here. I occasionally reach out to him myself, never with any sign he's seen the message, but I keep doing it. Then my mom tells me, my grandma called and said when she'd tried to reach my brother, my dad answered and told her my brother isn't doing well and had been to the ER recently because of his drinking. A) Why the fuck would you tell a 97 year old woman that with no background info or preparation?? B) Instead of telling idk his MOTHER??? Or his sister?? C) the only reason he drinks so much is because he spends his days with a narcissistic abusive trainwreck of a human who hasn't managed to hold on to any of his other victims so...I was so mad (and a little tipsy from the beer). I almost called my dad, I haven't spoken to him in 5 years, but sometimes I get so angry I feel like I could do it, but I worry I will just resort to flight or freeze instead of fight, which has always been my MO in the past. I couldn't do that, so I called his sister, my aunt, who I have rarely spoken to since I accused my dad of abuse. I have never been so open with her, I told her how worried I was about my brother, I told her what living with my dad had been like and I point blank asked her if she believed what I was telling her. She hedged it, but she clearly doesn't, or at least doesn't want to. And I am sad to say that a part of why she doesn't is because of how I handled the situation (I don't blame myself - I was straight up in survival mode and making a compelling case to my relatives about why they should believe my allegations was not a major concern at the time) and also how my mom handled it. She didn't believe me at first and tried to convince me that it had been someone else, which she shared with my aunt and who knows who else? There is a lot to the story that my aunt told me that I had never heard from my mom, and things that were said that I never knew about or had any say in. My mom came around eventually, and it has been really hard for her to be out of contact with my brother, but hearing things from my aunt's perspective, it seems like she made things a lot worse. And I had escaped to another state at that point and did not have the mental strength to confront or convince anyone, and now it may be too late. My brother is still living with my dad, hearing his vicious lies and believing all of the awful things he's been told about himself, and us, and my aunt is too afraid to rock the boat and thinks my brother is 'on the right track' so we shouldn't pressure him to get in touch with his grandma or with any of us. I feel so powerless and like, why did I even call? Why do I keep trying to make things better in this situation that is so horrible??? And always, my go-to reaction is to blame myself - why did I even tell anyone about this? I probably did somehow make it up and it really never happened and I've ruined everyone's lives for nothing and even though it feels real and I truly believe that it happened, it probably didn't and I am just crazy and that is why people don't believe me and that is why my brother hates me. But, years of growing stronger (and getting lots of therapy) have helped me pause that reaction and point the blame where it truly belongs - this is all on my dad. I'm sure it sounds like a whole lot of unfair surly teenage-style angst to my aunt, but it really is his fault. He is the one who abused me, who abused my mother and my brother and made us feel worthless and unloved and stupid. He is the one who hurt us and then turned us into villains for leaving him. He is the one who dug his claws into my brother and stopped him from doing anything that would make him happy while all the while hiding that side of himself from his sisters and friends and anyone else who could stand the sight of him. He has torn this family apart, and as much time as I have wasted blaming myself I refuse to do it any longer. He is a manipulative, egotistical bastard and the fact that he can convince people that he isn't astounds me. But I shouldn't be surprised, really, And while my mom has made mistakes in how she has handled all of this, in the end, her love for me won out and that makes up for any extra hurt she caused, I think. My brother is a grown man now, and as much as it hurts to see that he is still in pain and still living in that awful place, I can't save him. I will always wish I had done more to help him, I can't stop that from happening. In the end, I did what I had to do to save myself and maybe it cost me my brother, but I honestly don't know what else I could have done. All I can do now is hope that he someday gets to the point I did when I left - the point where you realize that the person who is making you feel like you have no value, that you don't even want to live, that person is just a sad, fucked-up man and you don't owe him anything and you can have a life without him. God I hope my brother gets to that point. I hope he realizes that before its too late. I hope I someday will get to talk to him again, face to face, to hug him and to apologize for what I did and to have him apologize too, but most of all for us to realize that neither of us is to blame, and to both put that man in our past where he belongs so that we can have a future that we can both be a part of and be happy in.
About this blog
I've been working through a lot of things, and I love to journal and write to process my thoughts and attempt to untangle all of the feelings and beliefs and nonsense in my head...if I write anything I feel is worth sharing or at least making more permanent, I will add it here.
Entries in this blog
I've been feeling depressed lately. In the true, medical sense of things - I feel chemically imbalanced; fatigued, hopeless, withdrawn, with a physical feeling of heaviness, sadness, that I can't shake off. I start to cry over nothing, I constantly stifle inner dialogues that go something like "this will never get better," "it could, it will, maybe"..."no one loves you," "yes, they do.". I may be off about this - I haven't had my neurotransmitters tested lately, but I feel like this is a different kind of depression that what I feel in regards to my past experiences, trauma, etc.
It's hard to put into words, but I can tell the difference. I know I've definitely experienced both of these types of depression (brands? strains? Idk the proper terminology) at the same time, which let me tell you is all kinds of horrible, and I've experienced both separately. Thinking about this has led me down the rabbit hole of - what parts of my personality, my character, my cognitive functioning, even, have been impacted by trauma, and what parts are just the way I was wired? I realize it is impossible to tease any of that out - I will never know if I would still be anxious and depressed if I'd had a "normal" childhood, I'll never know a lot of things about who I would be without the experiences I've had, but nobody can. We are all this crazy mash-up of nature and nurture, and I feel like I tend to get hung up on one or the other. Sometimes I'll put it all on "nurture" and wax nostalgic about all the things I could have been, the person I would be (complete with natural confidence and zero trust issues) if I'd been raised in a different environment. And then I think, maybe that has very little to do with it - maybe I am the way I am because that is how I was born, and I could have been raised in a Park Avenue mansion or in a park by Charles Manson and I'd be more or less the same.
Most of the time, I know it is not that simple - the relationship between nature and nurture is complex and nuanced and we don't even understand how it works, really. I do know that sometimes I need to grieve for the person I 'could have been', and that feels right. And other times I need to believe that the essence of who I am, my soul, my personality, is what got me through the things that hurt me, and that I am who I am supposed to be, in spite of (and maybe even because of) what I've experienced. I'm going to try to reconcile these two sides, to stop trying to pin down if my feelings or reactions or tendencies are a reaction to past trauma or a result of my genetic makeup, and to embrace myself as a whole person. Depression, whatever the root cause, has been taking a toll on me, and I realize that I've been trying to pin down something to blame for it... Now that I've written this out, I feel like I can try to move forward into figuring out ways to help myself, instead.
Feeling accepted is one of the most important pieces to overall well-being, in my opinion. For the longest time, I was convinced that no one could ever accept me, not if they really knew me...I thought that I was broken, that I had some internal, innate part of me that was unloveable and unworthy of compassion or acceptance. I've slowly been changing that, layer by layer, and while there is definitely still a small core part of me that is always there to whisper those terrible thoughts to me, I've come a lot closer to believing that I am just as worthy of love and acceptance as any other human being. I don't hate myself anymore, and some days I like, and even LOVE myself. I feel like I have things to offer the world, and the more I put myself out there, the more I find that people respond positively to me. I decided a little while back that since people are going to judge you no matter what, and no one is universally liked/loved/accepted, they might as well judge the real me, and not whatever version of myself I thought they would be most likely to appreciate.
It has been a long road to make it even this far, and I know I have more work ahead of me. I just started trying to date in a way that is more than 1-2 dates and then getting scared and never speaking to the person again. I had been dating this guy, Dan, for about 2 months, and I am leaving town for a temporary job, so I knew we weren't going to be seeing much more of each other. That said, Dan was very forthright in his feelings for me - he told me all these lovely things, complimented me and went on and on about how I wasn't like anybody he'd met before, he'd never felt this way, blah blah blah...I usually responded with a very eloquent "Oh...kay" to all of that. As things progressed, I started sharing more of my story with Dan, mostly because I felt bad that he was getting so serious and I was holding him at arm's length (not to mention the awkward sex part), but also because I felt like here was a great, respectful guy who really liked me, and if I want to have a real relationship, I should be able to be honest, right? So, I told him things, and he was always understanding.
Then last night, we met up for a drink, and we started talking and I realized he was telling me many of the same stories he'd told before. I have a weirdly detailed memory for things people tell me, so I didn't let it get to me. He didn't remember things I'd told him, like about my high school or my thoughts on a certain religion or whatever else...again, small details, whatever, it's hard to keep track of things. But then he started asking me about my family, and my brother, and did I have any nieces or nephews? And all of these questions, and in my mind I was thinking WTF??? I had told him about how my brother hasn't spoken to me in years and how hard that was and how I felt so guilty for leaving him with my dad when I left. I told him things I don't tell many people, and I had felt vulnerable and weird about it but I did it and it felt like such a positive step. And then he just...forgot??? Friends have come up with theories that he's a secret alcoholic or has a brain tumor or is dating so many girls he can't keep the background info straight, but personally, I think it is just that he had a certain idea of a girl he wanted, and I fit enough of the boxes that he decided I was 'amazing' and 'not like anybody else he'd met' and whatever other nonsense he said, but all of that was just a projection...he wasn't really interested in ME, he didn't really care about my story or what made me who I am or what's important in my life. He just wanted somebody, and ignored anything that didn't fit with his own fantasy. And that really hurts. That small part of me that still believes every person who looks at me is thinking how gross I am, that silly part that I've all but silenced, that part keeps trying to wiggle it's way in to my brain and convince me that "well of course he didn't remember, of course he wasn't genuinely interested in your story - who would be? I knew it was too good to be true. No one would think you were amazing if they really knew you."
So far, I've been able to tell that part of my brain "ok, thanks for your opinion - but fuck off, that's not true." It is totally his problem that he can't remember a major detail of someone's life (someone he supposedly is all a-twitter about, even) and a definite red flag and a great reason to not get all melancholy about leaving. It sucks that the first guy I confided in about that stuff, the first guy I dated for any real length of time, dealt with things this way, but I still believe it was a really positive step and a good experience. And hopefully next time, the person I tell will take it with the weight and with the intention that I think is reasonable to expect. Regardless of that dummy, I accept myself more than I ever thought would be possible, and I love who I am and I am proud of my story and what I have accomplished.
Well you know what they say about the best laid plans... I have planned for so many things, I have wanted so much that never seems to come about. I wanted to get a certain job, I wanted to lose weight before a big trip, I wanted a boyfriend or at least a not disastrous sexual experience, and I wanted to live by the ocean. I wanted to learn to surf and marry a wealthy, funny, handsome, kind gentleman.
Whats more I wanted a dad I could love, one who would surprise me with pancakes and be supportive but protective of me with boys. One who would teach me how a man should treat a woman and not to be afraid of love or intimacy, of trusting people in general. I wanted friends who wouldn't leave when things were tough. I wanted an older brother who would tease me and teach me about cars and never think any boy was good enough for his baby sister. I wanted a mom who would be my friend second and my mother first, who would show me how to value myself and make good decisions... I wanted a lot of things but I think, what I have to believe anyway, is that I got what I needed instead. I have to hope that my life is happening the way it is supposed to, for reasons I don't know now and may never understand. But regardless, it is happening - things are growing in me, changing and adapting and reconfiguring. I may not have risen from my trauma like a Phoenix, but I sure as hell am making my way out of the ashes. And whatever I am, whatever I turn out to be, it will be worth it.