Sunday, November 14, 2010

"...the family disease of alcoholism... made us 'co-victims', those who take on the characteristics of the disease without ever taking a drink"*

Day 14: A letter to a hero who has let you down

I wasn't going to write this letter, but ... I didn't feel that I could skip it, since I'm trying to hold myself accountable for things. And then I thought, well, write about Obama, and how he's disappointed you as president (true), but there was no getting around the fact that if I wrote that letter (which I have composed many times in my head), it would just be a cop out: Obama is a great person, and while I want him to be an extraordinary leader, I've never considered him a hero of mine.

Instead, I decided to go exactly where I didn't want to go, and be glad to get it said here, where (almost) nobody who knows the people involved would read it. There are things I should have said that need saying, people in my life who I wish could've remained untarnished heroes to me.

The fact that growing older means seeing another side to things doesn't always mean you forget how it felt when you were younger. I don't even think it should. It's important that I remember that I once was a little girl who loved her daddy, and whose daddy hurt her very badly. A young woman who trusted that her big brother was smart enough to not stomp on her heart, and who was (unfortunately) proven wrong. A daughter who cared enough about her parents to tell them that they were ruining their relationships with everyone around them, even if those warnings were met with harshness and hurt. A friend who tried to point her friends in the right direction, but wound up watching as they stumbled the other way instead.

However, I'm going to preemptively apologize to you, the actual readers of this letter: It started off as one thing and sort of snowballed into something else. Instead of the one person I had intended to write the letter to, I wound up with a whole lot of heroes who had let me down, and they sort of made themselves known as I was going along. So the tense changes, and apparent contradictions, and utter... incomprehensibility of some portions of this letter are my own fault, but I chose to leave them in, because they meant something to me. I'm sorry if that makes it more difficult for all of you.

Dear ___________,

Let me start with this - perhaps, I understand better now, as an adult, the urge to slip into oblivion. The urge to just be numb, and not feel the pain that is life. I can understand that, and at the same time condemn you for doing it.

I can see now that there are things you may have done or that happened to you in your life that you would rather forget, however momentarily. I can even, with hindsight, see that it was those things, and not me, or my lack of something, that made you turn to the substance of your choice, no matter how it felt at the time.

But I can't ever forget that you made that choice, those choices. That you are continuing to make that choice, regardless of what I say or how I feel. That your choice took you away from me, or that it is putting space between us. An unending space, a gulf that I can't imagine ever being able to bridge or span or ford. And that I can't make you see that your choices are harmful to you and to those around you.

When I was a kid, you were ... everything. Two everythings. Three everythings. Four everythngs. All the people a little girl looks up to, the people who are supposed to do their best to look out for her, that she's supposed to be able to count on. And that four of my everythings would make the same choices, would, one by one, abandon me in a way that was heart-freezingly painful, would pick a substance over me (no matter that that isn't what you think/thought you were doing: it is what happened from my point of view) has been soul crushing.

I don't think I've made that clear enough in person, when I've had the chance, so here, let me repeat it (Yes, in the safety of this space that you will never read it, but at least it will be said): You crushed me.

You each did it individually, and that can not be overlooked, but the group of you together? Each making your own individual choices to turn away from our family and towards something ... else. Well, what that does to a girl, to a young woman, to a woman, you'll just never know.

Did you know it would end us? Did you know that it would ruin everything we had? If you had known, could you have chosen differently? How is it possible that, given all the examples, given the example of each other, you didn't know how badly it would hurt - not just me, but you, and all of us?

If a hero is someone you can look up to, there are still a lot of ways in which you all are heroic to me - your service, your support, your love, your example, your hearts, your willing hands, your quick minds - but it is that one way in which you have let me down that I have talked about today. I could sing your praises in a million different ways, but for today, just for this letter, I wanted you to know just how badly you let me down.

But I still love/d you, tarnish and all.

Love, NTE

*Adult Children of Alcoholics, World Service Organization, Inc.


Day 01 Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 Something you hope you never have to do.

Day 07 Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself


Crazed Nitwit said...

Yeah been there. Kinda as every experience is different.


Dawn said...

As I said to my Mother in one of the last conversations we had - You are my mother and it was Your job to protect me.

As an adult I can understand all the rationales and explanations, but as a child I had the right to be protected.

That's not blame, it's statement of fact.

Never That Easy said...

I'm sorry that this hit home with either one of you, but I'm so glad to know that somebody understands.