Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's that time of year again...

When everybody and their brother is doing 'end of the year'/'best of the year/'year in review' posts.

And who am I to buck tradition?

2013 was not nearly the shit show that 2012 was (although it certainly was the year a lot more curse words showed up regularly in my vocabulary), but it was the year when the hell of 2012 caught up with me.  (And a lot of other people, I think.)

So I spent the majority of the year swamped with a grief that was terrifying and incommunicable for me - I was constantly feeling that it shouldn't be this bad, or still this bad - and couldn't seem to explain to people just how bad it was, so I shut up about it. As is evidenced by the severe lack of pre-November posts on this blog: the smallest number since it's inception 8 years ago. It seems it's easier for me to write through illness and pain, and people dying and caring for the dying, and betrayal and hurt, than the feelings that all of those things leave in their wake.


I still can't explain how the first half of the year passed by so quickly, and how the second half of the year felt like I was waking up from a coma. Somewhere around my birthday, though, there was a shift, and I started to think "Ok, if I don't snap out of this soon, it's going to get really bad." So I made myself do some things that were good for me  - and I really mean made myself: getting out of the house seemed even more Herculean than ever, but I sometimes managed it.  And, slowly but surely, somethings started looking up.

For example, 2013 was the year I became a fledgling Whovian & Nerdfighter; It was the year I finally did some of the things I said I wanted to be doing - going book signings (some more successful than others); outings with grown-ups!; Investing a large sum of money (for me) in a camera that does (mostly) what I tell it to do!; Joining tumblr (and letting the reblogs begin!) & finding spoonies to connect with, locally and all over the world.

It was the year I stopped giving (so much of) a damn about what other people's expectations of me might be, and just embraced my inner geekiness to a level that still does not plumb the depths of my inner nerd-capabilities. (I dressed up on Halloween for trick-or-treaters! I bought a skirt with comic book print all over it to wear to Boston Comic-Con next year. I claimed my Hufflepuff-ness! I did Disney crafts and showed them to people! I made my niece and nephew watch The Hobbit (which they liked)!) I'm going to keep on going, and one of these days my family will be embarrassed to be seen with me because I am geeking out over something that I am probably too old to be geeking out over, and I will be proud of that.

2013 was the year I called the cops on my dad, after months of suffering his abuse (or letting my mom suffer his abuse) in silence: I did it because it was the right thing to do, and I don't care if a large portion of my family disagrees with me or thinks I should have handled it differently or is telling me I'm being to harsh with him now (by basically ignoring him) - I know I did the right thing then, and that ignoring him now is saving me from being hurt even further. So I'm going to keep doing what I have to do, and everybody else can just deal with how uncomfortable it makes them. There's a whole lot of discomfort coming up, if I'm any judge: I think my mom is truly done and that there's going to be a separation and house selling and change of circumstances for everybody very shortly. It's going to hurt all around, and everybody is going to have their own emotions to deal with, and I'm just going to do my best to be there for people without letting them trample my own feelings in the process. (Therein lies the trickery.)

2013 was also the year that I saw a baby born. Which was powerful in a way I thought people were exaggerating - having never given birth myself, or been present in the room at anyone's birth besides my own.  The idea that I spent time this year watching a new person show up on earth, to in fact be the first person to see him show up on earth is still unbelievable to me.  I almost can't explain how touching it was - and how much that whole experience, rife with my sister being a warrior princess who almost died and my other sister showing up in ways that ultimately cost her and just sitting in that room, in the dark, in the (pardon the pun) pregnant silence beforehand, while my sister gathered her resources and praised the Gods of Epidurals: Every painful moment and hard-earned bruise, every countdown from ten and impatient toe tapping; every bathroom light flickering off at opportune moments, and the instantaneous relief when the baby cried, when the nurse came back from surgery to tell us my sister was fine - I will relish Every. Single. Second. of that experience. Forever.

2013's theme word/phrase was "perhaps", and a lot of those perhaps-es were not what I expected.  A bunch of them came out of nowhere and mowed me down, left me to pick myself back up. A few of them were sparkling solitary moments of crystal clear perfection in an otherwise tornado of a life.

Those moments are what I'm trying to hold on to right now, as we all end out the year - Seeing the baby's head after a very long day; seeing my sister and her husband, fast asleep, while I held their little one and told him how much he was loved; watching NephTwo laugh in the line as we waited for Santa (on what he swears will be his last year); reading a blog post and laughing so hard I thought I'd choke; snuggling with Lil Girl right before she fell asleep and turned into a sleep ninja; the look of pure dread on Oldest Nephew's face when the waiters started singing 'happy birthday'; holding my mother's trembling hand as I played her patient during her CNA exam; SisterK's pixie cut and how it made her look like a grown-up, all of the sudden; SisterJ's laughter returning after a frighteningly long absence; the text from my brother telling me he'd gotten married; writing a book and learning way too much about the Spanish Flu; watching a friend get married - so far away! - over the internet, and marveling at the world we live in now; playing Apples to Apples with teenagers who didn't know what the Cold War or who Eddie Murphy was; chocolate fondue for my birthday - So many tiny, excellent moments in this whirlwind of a year that started out so bleak, and could have ended the same way.

I'm in for some changes, the New Year is sure to bring them, and 2014 is coming whether we're ready or not. So, just a quick 'thank you' to all of you who've helped make my 2013 so special - Spoonies, Twitter Friends, Tumblrarians, Nerdfighters, People I Blog Stalk, and my (wonderful, fantastic, couldn't have done it without you) everyday readers. Thank you, for sticking with me, for helping me see some things I wanted to avoid, and for sticking around through the gloomy times. 

Here's hoping 2014 is packing a whole lot of happiness in whatever punch it's preparing for us all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When creepy shit starts happening, the people who die are the ones who pretend it is not happening and who try to explain the creepy shit away and also the ones who try to convince others that they are crazy for believing in the creepy shit. The people who survive are usually the first ones to say “Hey, creepy shit, I’m not sure I entirely believe in you, but for right now I am going to take you seriously and act like you are real”*

My dad was married to SisterS' mom 37+ years ago, when she was a baby. They were only together five or six years, and he told me once that he knew it was over when, after his mother died, he was in a room crying and she just walked away, went to bed, and went to sleep.

"How could anybody be that heartless," he wondered to me as he was telling the story "if you love somebody, to just see them suffering and walk away, go to sleep?"  At the time, I agreed with him - although my step-sister's mom isn't a heartless witch or anything, it made me think about how against a person you'd have to be, how... cold to see somebody in pain and just... walk away.

That was before he taught me that walking away is sometimes the only thing you can do, the safest thing you can do, the only way to protect yourself.

He wouldn't see it that way - he very clearly thinks I am some version of the heartless witch I imagined his ex as all those years ago - but time and experience has taught me differently.  And still: I cannot be the completely heartless wench I want to be/probably should be in his case.  Too many times when I have been burned, I still feel sorry for him, to see him fall into the hole he has created for himself!  No matter that I have just been abused by this person, or if he has just finished berating me for a thing that leaves me with nettles sticking out of my heart, there is a part of me that is afraid of being the one who goes to sleep while someone else is sitting there suffering, and what being that person - in relation to someone who may even deserve it at that particular point in time - means about Me. As a person.  If you can turn your back on one person you love, can't you - given the right circumstances - turn your back on any of them? These aren't questions I have answers to... even if I know I'm not the one turning my back, that all the spaces I've put between us are there as protection, as barriers - mostly for my benefit, I admit - so that my heart doesn't keep getting crushed.    

I know he is hurting; I know he is using that hurt to hurt other people.  I can't bring myself to step in at the 'he is hurting' part, because I'm afraid it will turn into the 'hurting me/other people I love' part. It's learned behavior, I keep telling myself.  It's earned behavior.  It's not callous punishment or disregard for his feelings, even when I feel the most pissed off at him and think he might deserve one or both of those things - there is always some piece of me that remembers that once, he was a younger man, sitting at a table, grieving the loss of his mother, and his wife turned away.  That once he was a little boy whose father disappeared, and reappeared only to create havoc and bring misery. That, in his lifetime, it was reasonable to rage at people and expect it to translate into respect.

That, a long time ago now, when I was the one sitting grieving, and I realized my Daddy was gone, and that he was never going to be the man I needed him to me, I turned to my Dad (who was also not the man I needed him to be) and was told "he can't do any better, and you're just going to have to forgive him for it, because he doesn't get the chance to change it."

And knew in my heart that it was true for both of the men I have called my father.

I know it now, but it doesn't make living with him any easier. I don't know how to forgive ongoing hurts - I didn't then, and I don't now. Our current 'peace-ish' accord - which generally consists of us not talking all that much, and me sitting tensely while my parents 'discuss' things, keeping patrol for raised voices and insults, threats and unacceptable behavior - has been broken.  As always, I feel irrevocably, unforgivably broken.

It isn't as if he doesn't know I am doing those things, but it doesn't seem to stop him from raging when he feels it is his right. And, this past weekend, he felt he'd earned the right, yet again.

So I get to (yet again) have the fabulous experience of stepping between my parents to prevent things from getting physical. Of having to explain the situation to (grossly ignorant and so patronizing I wanted to punch them) police officers. Of getting all of my most sensitive buttons pushed - I am not his daughter; I will never have a meaningful relationship because I am a hardhearted, unforgiving bitch; I do not have the right to intrude into their 'discussion' because I am a child, and it is not my business; My mother is a cunt, and I'm just like her; I'm sick and weak and unlovable, and he should know because hasn't he been forced to put a roof over my lazy ass for my entire life, and gotten nothing in return? Of being kicked out of said house because I'm ungrateful and disrespectful and a bitch. (Not that I went anywhere, because... well, I don't really have any other options, but it's the thought that counts.) Of holding it together pretty well in the face of all of that, and then breaking down completely when he started to throw my siblings under the bus as well, because trampling me was not providing him with his desired response.

Of being ignored for every day since, for having the gall to call the cops, to say "That is e-fucking-nough." and "You have no right to treat people this way." And of knowing, eventually, that he'll come in here, with his half-assed apologies, and that I will be expected to forgive and forget. Two things that I have been unable to do - when it comes to him - for at least a decade. 

And so, I guess, it'll have to be my right to keep the walls up, to man the barricades.

To be the one who turns away, even if it makes me feel badly about myself.

Because it feels slightly less bad than the other option, which is allow myself to be attacked without standing up for myself, ever. To allow the people I love to be trampled without standing up for them, because he sees it as interfering and disrespectful.

To protect me is to be against him, at this point, and that's what he just can't seem to understand.

I wish I didn't understand it so goddamn well.

---- Captain Awkward's amazing analogy re: abuse and scary movies. Because I'm not going to be a casualty of this horror movie, if I can at all help it ---