Archive for category inner demons
I have been thinking a lot about the way I live within my own little world of “Me, Myself, & I.” At times I can be very painfully oblivious. Like so many others I selfishly wander around having the distorted outlook that somehow everything is about me.
I have a client in her 80’s who has Alzheimer’s. When I blog I refer to her as Ms, Lee. She was a teacher by profession. Ms’ Lee was born, and raised in Mississippi. Her mother was also a teacher, and her father was a pull-man porter for the railroad service. What makes Ms. Lee & her family so extraordinary is the fact that they were African-American citizens with careers in Mississippi during the 1920’s & 1930’s. No small accomplishment by any means.
Ms. Lee is declining on a daily basis, but her essence remains powerfully in tact. I have grown to both respect, and love her. When we are together I confide in her. This has become beneficial to us both. It helps to stimulate her mind by focusing on real situations. Ms. Lee naturally falls into the role of teacher, and I have the privilege of being the student of a highly educated beautiful soul. Her wisdom is timeless, and she possesses the ability to remind me in the most gentle manner that my way of viewing the the world is not the only way.
After Tarzan took his life I found myself in such a dark place. I questioned my every conversation with him. I went over every single scenario trying to figure out why I had not been able to see how much he was suffering. Why didn’t he confide in me the same way he did when something was going on with he and Jane? Ms. Lee continued to listen to me ramble on as though I had been somehow more hurt by Tarzan”s death than he had been. At that point I was still completely oblivious to my own behavior.
Then while staring directly into her eyes, I felt the warmth of her hand as it covered mine. Very softly she said “It hurts me to see you suffering so much. Maybe your friend had no words for his suffering.” The empathy that filled her powerful words immediately removed the “Me, Myself, & I” from mine.
It’s entirely too easy to get caught up in the whole “Me, Myself. & I” world. It’s also deeply humbling to realize that some things are not simply about us. “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
I can hardly believe it’s been two months since Tarzan’s funeral. The last thing I wrote about him was our discovering his alcoholism. His stay at rehab was followed by a blackout drinking binge after just four short days of sobriety. Tarzan returned to rehab again. I don’t believe he went back because he wanted to, I believe he went because we all begged him to try again.
When he returned home he was clearly not the Tarzan we all seemed to know. I think we just never knew him sober. He was not the kind of drinker who smelled of booze. He was always upbeat, and busy. No one in our little circle ever once had even a single clue that he had an issue prior to the incident before his first rehab stay.
Tarzan committed suicide two weeks after his return from his second rehab stay. It’s been two months since his funeral, and it still does not seem real.
Most of the time when your phone rings in the middle of the night your mind knows that something horrible is about to change your life. All I could hear was her uncontrollable crying while she tried to tell me that she just couldn’t breathe.She was panic-stricken, and she started to speak so rapidly that my still groggy mind could not keep up. I thought that her brother had died, so I asked her if she was at the hospital. She told me no, then I heard her shudder through the phone.
I asked her if she needed me to come, and once again she said no. Then she stopped crying, and asked me “How could she have done this to us?” I felt a sudden chill run through my body, and her sudden calmness was so much more frightening than her uncontrollable crying. I didn’t want to wake up Mr G-uno so I slipped out of bed, and went into the other room.The “She” that she spoke about was her mother.A woman who had married a man who had abused her children for almost a decade before she finally divorced him.
He was publicly a man of God, and a prominent man in his community. In his private life he was a monster who had tortured, and raped his step daughter, step son, and his own biological son who was several years younger than the other children. Like all abusers he had carefully chosen a weaker woman who he understood he could manipulate, and terrify into obeying his every command. She is the kind of woman who I suspect felt so unlovable that her mothering abilities had always taken a backseat to the man in her life.
I have never understood why her children did not walk away from their relationship with her years ago, or why they have continued to be a part of her life. I can only tell you as a mother myself I will never understand how she could have allowed the horrible things that happened to her children to go on for even a single day. She still pretends that she didn’t know her children were continuously raped, and tortured in their home on a nightly basis, Maybe her own mind will not let her comprehend the deplorable act of sacrificing her own children to this monster. I am not a psychiatrist, but I have seen the irreparable damage that her now adult children exhibit.I know that it is wrong to sit in judgement of another person, but I would be a liar if I told you that I don’t judge her, or the monster she married.
As horrible as the abuse was, I believe in my heart that the most severe damage was caused by knowing that their mother knew about the abuse they endured, and simply did nothing. After dinner he would pick the child that suited his monstrous desires as casually as one might pick a television show to watch after dinner. He would then instruct his wife not to disturb him. Then he would take the tearful child to the basement as the other children watched in terror knowing the horror their sibling was about to endure as the door to the basement closed.
As I sat on the couch in the dark with tears running down my face she waited for my answer to her question. A question that I had no answer for, because some questions can not be answered.
Drama everywhere I look these days. Jane could have never guessed that Tarzan’s secret daughter would have been the problem she wished for instead of his problem with alcohol. I myself come from a long line of alcoholics, and I truly didn’t see this elephant in the room. To be perfectly honest though I have been wrapped up in my own menopausal woes here lately. Like most addicts Tarzan is masterful at hiding his addiction.
I hold no superior judgement on this subject. Alcoholism is no different from having any other disease in my opinion. I would not judge a person harshly for having diabetes, or any other illness in spite of a rather horrifying childhood of having an alcoholic father.
Jane herself is no stranger to life with an alcoholic. Her story differs from mine though. Her mother died from sclerosis of the liver when she was just three years old. Her father did not drink so she really doesn’t have any experience with detecting the symptoms.
So you can imagine her great surprise of finding him passed out cold on his back doorstep completely unresponsive. Having him rushed to the hospital by ambulance, and having the doctor ask you how long has he had a problem with alcohol?
Jane’s response was that he does not have a problem with alcohol. The doctor looking at Jane with an expression of great belief replied that his blood work results showed otherwise. He then strongly suggested that rehab should be the next consideration.
I believe all of us go through various stages of our lives where we look up and suddenly think, “I HATE my life right now.”
I did that just before I got a divorce. I did the same when I hated the job and the town I lived in and just found out I was going to be a parent and moved a couple thousand miles back.
I had the same when Spawn was a few years old and my career was… well, really fucking boring and leaving me strapped. It was mindless, repetitive, and just when I was done and updating my resume, I received a call from a former boss who wanted to lure to me their current company. Not only would I be using more of my brain, it held a significant pay raise.
It was great too, for a while. But one of my co-workers was as mercurial as they come and I was often walking on eggshells. The work itself was great and I was learning a ton, but the environment… not so much. However, a friendly buyout that turned hostile takeover nixed that job for all of us. The best time I had there was when the mercurial one jumped ship early on and the rest of us just didn’t give a shit anymore.
I landed this job right as I was ending that one. The work itself is a mostly mindless again, but the pay, on paper, is better. What I get to take home though, is significantly less than it was at my last job and although I know the benefits are a part of that, I didn’t think they were that big of a chunk.
We’re given no authority over our own position, but then they complain that no one takes initiative. Neither owner can keep their hands out of the cookie jar when things are good, and don’t hesitate to jump your shit when they aren’t. Hell, the CFO’s mom just died last week and one of the owners commented to her yesterday “What the hell is wrong with you, you look like your dog died?” She broke down so badly she had to go home.
Right now, things aren’t so great and its all to do with that fact that when we’re in our busy profitable season, the owners couldn’t buy new toys fast enough, despite my boss continually telling them we would need to sock away what we could for the lean season. They assume no one has their grand vision, so any counsel is ignored.
This is also when I’m told my communication needs work. I’m the connection the outside world comes to when they want information and when things aren’t going so well, that communication increases by several fold. It means I have to come in and choose whether I’m going to do my job or just sit there and get back to people and I do balance both. But the bottom line is I’m never going to be able to make someone happy if I can’t give them what they were promised and that’s what they want me to do.
So I hate my job. I hate where I live. I hate that I hate both so much that I’m both restless and uninspired to do even the little things. I hate the debt I hold for a degree that has proven nothing but worthless and I feel that it will inhibit everything else I do for the rest of my life.
I want to move, I want to have a cafe, on the side of a cliff with a view to the ocean and I want it too fucking cold to see even a single surfer unless they are batshit insane.
But for not, I would settle for moving to the area where I hope my kid’s future school is and get a job that lets me take home the amount I was promised, or at least a significantly bigger portion than current.
I want to get just a little ahead instead of struggling so far behind.
I want to be inspired.
I want to be challenged mentally.
I feel like a corpse in motion.
The older of my little cousins, Knievel‘s half-sisters, texted me while here visiting from New York and asked what we were up to.
I managed to see this text one bright early Monday morning when I had to work (about 18-36 hours after it’d been sent, probably a speed record for me) but Spawn was out of school that day. So I pawned Spawn off as the sacrificial lamb of socializing with the promise I would meet them for dinner.
I know lunch and a movie happened but no clue what the rest involved, as is key with most of my family, we are scatterbrained, disorganized and chronically late. Even the more levelheaded and steadfast older sister is prone to this and lost their keys until about two hours after they were originally destined to arrive.
My aunt, their mom, even jokes that I’m the only one whoever shows up on time, but I’m still usually ten to fifteen minutes behind my goal. My other aunt, my mom’s oldest sister (Grand Jr.) is the worst. My uncle, their dad, used to tell his sister to be somewhere six hours of ahead of schedule just so she’d only be an hour or two late. Dinner is at six, Grand Jr. is told noon, and will probably arrive about 8 or 9 and be offended we started without her.
Spawn said they had fun but then immediately flopped in bed upon arriving home that night and was out in short order. I have no idea what wore them out so much, other than talking. Of course, the stoic and mostly silent Spawn would find that rather tiring, I suppose.
Spawn likes going out almost as much as I do.
I met up with both of my little cousins and my kid after work, at a place I’d never been before but the youngest worked currently, so I forced her to make recommendations. Every time I run into them, the youngest is working a different variety of jobs. But mom is still her financial source. I’m not sure how that works.
I know that the youngest has had to endure a couple intervention programs and some “get tough” camps of some sort while in their teens. I don’t really know why, my aunt is rather private about the details but only lightly covered some of it. The older sister was more forthcoming, but I’m sure a little embellishment might have played a factor, or it seemed to, considering her overall frustration with her sister.
I also know she is on medications. I’m sure ADHD is probably one, we seem to have a mix of that as well in that family. Another cousin was diagnosed with ADD well into his 40’s to which I just responded, “ha! you got caught.”
I’m well aware there is a reason I used to blast my music as loud as I could so I could concentrate on studying and I have trouble staying with a conversation at times and I’m chronically distracted. I just came up with my own methods of coping with it.
What I interpreted from the struggles the youngest has had was their father’s lack of impulse control has affected at least two of his daughters. However, unlike their older half-sister, their mom has been a pretty powerful force in redirecting it to something more constructive.
Their dad died when they were still pretty young. The older one was just old enough to start understanding enough to be pissed at him, while the younger keeps their dad firmly on a pedestal. I often regret, for their own sake, they couldn’t both have him on a pedestal. Even if its more than he deserves, they both deserve it very much.
See, my uncle was a drunk. A very functional, but at times, vile-mouthed drunk. When the older sister was an infant, he could slam down six beers in the fifteen minute drive it took to pick her up from daycare. He’d keep an 18-pack between the seats. It was so much a part of him, that it honestly never dawned on me that normal people don’t do this, so why was he? The amount of alcohol it would take for him to show he was even a little sluggish would have probably put most people in the hospital as a human pickle on a stomach pump.
He died of an accidental overdose. Apparently, over the years he’d started adding pills to the mix. He was too selfish and self-centered to have honestly had any notions of offing himself. It just wasn’t part of his character. But authorities, and insurance, were desperate to record it as such. I’m glad for their own sake, his family got it marked correctly.
Although he was a better man than he’d ever been, he was still the selfish being he’d always been. He loved his family, he did. This I saw in the little ways and he took great care of his girls when he could be bothered, but his own motivations would take precedence over all others often. My aunt wanted her corporate world, and he was to take over the domestic portion, that was their agreement. However, there was still a daycare, several au pairs, housekeepers and a slew of other people who had to cover the domestic portion over the years.
He still floated from one enterprise or another. Often one phased out in the weeks it took to see him again and he was onto something new, the only consistency was now his address. He had great ideas, but no execution and follow-through. When he died, he’d convinced Grand to put another mortgage against their house for about 25 thousand. Ironically, he was Grand’s favorite. Grand often accused their eldest son of owing them money, but it was mostly the youngest son doing the actually borrowing. We only found out a lot of that when Grand died and we had to go through the mountain of paperwork.
When I moved back to my home state, they were in the process of getting a divorce and he was sleeping in a houseboat out back, so he could still take care of the girls. This time, with no help. My aunt was a lot… darker… than she’d ever been. If my aunt had a slogan before then, it would have been “That’s Great!” She seem to have been poisoned with the bitter gloom of the clan. Without a word, I knew it was entirely his fault. All of that above, the pills and such, I found out much later.
Again, I felt guilty for having been related to him and not able to fix it. You’d think we were a Catholic bunch with the amount of times a day I can feel guilty over shit that has nothing to do with me, but that was a feature Grand tried to flourish in all of her brood… guilt. My uncle was immune, even when he should have been. At least, I’d never once seen any sign he’d ever felt bad about anything and even busted him once during this time, browsing personals on Yahoo of all things, while Grand and I were visiting them. I guess he felt guilty enough to shut it down when I came up behind him, but who wants to peruse a potential new partner while their parent is there and their marriage is falling apart? Was he wanting his wife to find it or did he just not care?
The last words I ever heard from this uncle were enough that I was done with him for good. I felt almost nothing when he died, felt guilty because of that too, just a happiness that the divorce hadn’t gone through so anything he might have had was unquestionably his family’s. My aunt wouldn’t deny her stepdaughter anything but it would have been a probate nightmare otherwise. I also worried that he might have left behind a financial disaster as well. But if anyone was skilled at eliminating that, it would also be my aunt.
I remember seeing the gloom fade, and she returned much to her usual self, perhaps a little worn out emotionally, but returned to the person that I’d always known and loved. She was the first adult I’d ever met that asked my opinion not sarcastically and sincerely wanted to know the answer. And listened. She took any obscure off-the-wall things I would throw at her and make me work through them, support them, making me alone solidify or alter my conclusions, without judgement.
I looked at these girls and I see a lot of her in them. I see the elements of my own family. The amusing but charming parts: the chronic distractedness, the sharp wit, the quick humor. I see their mom’s fierce determination, kind spirit, strength, and joy with life as well.
I’m trying desperately to catch up with all the items I’ve missed, I have been simply incapable of sitting down for even ten minutes and reading anything. I don’t know why.
Antsy, irritable might all begin to describe me, but mostly I just wanted to cut off everything. I lost my phone, it went dead for days at a time. I worked like an automaton and treated people much the same. I came home with only thoughts of hunger, then exhaustion.
I moved one day to the next with checklists in my head, no love or desire for anything.
I would say that under normal circumstances this would be the period when I would slide into the abyss of depression for a bit, go back on the meds, work the steps that pull me back out of it. Like accepting every 8th invitation whether I want to or not, for example, which is the only reason I had any interaction with the Yankee outside of work, pleasant as the experience was to my surprise.
I suppose having a kid is kind of a motivator for me to push away the darkness more strongly than I might otherwise. Considering we only have one another, we talk daily, we discuss everything, it tends to keep me more grounded and tethered to something. I realize this doesn’t work for everyone and I’m certainly not belittling that in any way when family has no effect on your darkness when it comes to call, but my kid is very much my totem.
In moments when I would otherwise not be able to stop it from pulling me under, I have the half-pint who reminds me why I’m not done fighting today. Maybe tomorrow. Or, maybe the day after.
For my G-uno, I was the one who brought the dysfunctional in-laws into my marriage. I never knew what a family could be like until I met my ex’s family. I’m still very connected to them, just as I’m very disconnected from my own. It is extremely painful to not be loved and accepted within your own family and to know that in every subtext of how they speak to you.
To be able to walk away from that, know them to be the poisonous element and still have faith in your own self as being a good person and not seeing yourself through their eyes, takes a strength a person just shouldn’t have to bear with people supposedly under the title of “loved ones.” My made family, the family I built from my teens on, G-uno and BFG very much included, shaped a lot of who I am today, gave me the strength to fight against a very twisted guardian and their brood.
We feel compelled to try to make and fix things. You and I especially like to fix. Maybe it is a Gemini thing.
But I will never be able to fix the person my gran made me out to be to their family, a spoiled and greedy orphan never satisfied with anything received and working poor gran’s fingers to the bone demanding more. This spilled over to my aunt and uncles and poisoned the mind of my cousin and his wife. They will always have that haughty smugness when I spend time with them that I don’t measure up enough to have been “gran’s favorite”.
I already knew that. I spent a great amount of effort trying not to be, repeatedly kicking that fucking pedestal anytime I saw it coming closer. To be in gran’s good graces would mean I was like them. That was the last thing I ever wanted to be.
I had an epiphany recently. I knew I married another version of gran, so I could have the same bullshit fights with different outcomes and I had to do a lot of soul searching to overcome that. But it went further than that. My ex manipulated me to be geographically isolated. Gran, being the manipulation master they were, managed to do it emotionally, mentally. They made sure I had no one in my family who saw me as I was. No one to confide in. No one. Except them.
When this hit me, I kind of wanted to dig gran up and just beat the hell out of them. It hurt, but it was their own selfishness that motivated every diabolical thing they did. They destroyed their own family, caused so much internal fighting and baseless hate that those of us generations later just want nothing to do with any of them, or one another, save for a small few.
So when a person, such as yourself, who has had nothing but selfless goals calls a lost cause a lost cause, why would you feel this in any way your fault? To be able to fix them, you’d have to think like they do, and in turn understand them, and take a risk of turning into that yourself. I couldn’t risk that, I try to carve that ability out of myself much in the way you battle the Kraken.
There is a point when self-preservation has to kick in and you have to give it up and escape. You don’t call it a bad thing if you’re not able to fight a bear with brass knuckles, its a fucking bear. You’re thankful you survived.