For a decade and a half I relied on an altered state of mind to bear with my life… drown out the emotions I was feeling. I was 16 when I started drinking. 18 when I started doing drugs. When I look back on all that wasted time I feel two things- self pity because life made me feel that hopeless, and gratitude that, despite my heavy drug use I never got addicted, drugs never got in the way of work or supporting myself (my sister would argue that I was a functioning addict. I never spent time in rehab). Sobriety has been a major part of my life for the past year, my biggest motivation being that I started school, and hangovers are wicked with age. The emotions that have come with sobriety, though… are awe inspiring. Anxiety. Bitterness. Hopelessness. Joy. Relaxation. Contentment. I feel things for people that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel before.
Resentment is a big one. Disregard is another. For my parents mostly. My dad was incredibly emotionally abusive growing up, he told me I was useless and good for nothing more than he told me he loved me. He threatened my life on a regular basis but typically followed through with lashings from a leather belt- a better option than my life. We made amends at 21 when he allowed me to confront him on his behavior. He didn’t try to excuse himself, he owned his shit and apologized which was enough at the time.
I don’t have many memories of my mom, though she was our primary caregiver. One emotion lingers- that she favored my siblings openly. I remember her telling my skinnier, prettier sister she was beautiful and loved, as she glared at me. She forced me to get a job at 15, pitch in for groceries, etc. While she handed everything to my sister on a silver platter… my brother was a mama’s boy. My parents separated when I was 18, and my mom kicked me out claiming she didn’t want to pay my rent… despite my three year employment at Superstore, and contribution to rent up until that point. Then she rented my sister a place, and supported her for three months. Talk about salt on the wound. She still denies it to this day, even with my two older siblings reminding her that she did, indeed, kick me out.
Disregard. It was a common them in my upbringing. I was molested by my grandpa. It was made known when I was 8… I have no idea when I started though- 3-8years old is a void in my memory. The court battle lasted two years and, when the restraining order was lifted, my entire family acted as if nothing happened, picked up where we left off and began visiting my grandparents for all the holidays.
My parents blatantly disregarded that this man tormented me (he abused my mom her whole life, and my sister as well), and forced me to share space with him. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around their twisted logic.
As an adult, I rarely see my family. My Dad is a sad, old, lonely and needy man… but the care really isn’t there. He has this ‘look what I can do’ approach to gaining approval, showing off what he has made or done or found… and most the time I don’t give a fuck. It’s like the roles have reversed. He had no comfort to offer me when I was a child showing off my works of art, or seeking love and affection… and now I have little for him. I love him because he has made an effort to be a better father, but I have no desire to feed his needs.
My Mom. I see her once a year, maybe. And we live in the same city. I just can’t be bothered to go out of my way.
The heaviness in my heart is felt mostly for my siblings. I resent that they have the family dynamics that were taken away from me when my Mom kicked me out. And I distanced myself because I was ashamed of mg drug use… my sister was in rehab for three years, so drug addiction is not an unfamiliar situation. But I wanted my family to think that I was better than that, that I would do fine on my own. And in a lot of ways I did. I graduated high school- and have pretty well been a professional student since… minus the three years that I spent managing a restaurant in a wilderness lodge, or traveling the continent.
I’ve been fine on my own.
But I don’t really have a family. I have people that I visit, but we don’t know each other anymore. That makes me sad. Incredibly sad. But there’s a bitterness too, that resentment that keeps me from allowing myself to make amends.