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I know, I know....

It's been a long time since I've been here. In all honesty, life has been busy at best, crushingly so at worst. And I've found myself in this wordless place--probably because I've found myself in a place that has had life and circumstances swirling so madly around me that there has been no space to think a thought, let alone craft a sentence worthy of anything but a Facebook status update.

It's been awful, frankly--and something that I've come to realize I can't continue, because without contemplation, without awareness, without making space, there is no real life.

Not one that I'm particularly interested in living, anyway.



....which is one of the many reasons I called the EAP and set up five more sessions with Frank. Because I need a quiet room where I can go and just BE--where I can go to try to sort out the mess that is my mind.

The most difficult thing, I think, is that life had been pretty wonderful for several years--and then a lot happened that was so excruciatingly NOT wonderful that I had gotten out of practice as to how to handle the not-wonderfulness. I tried a lot of my new-found weapons against the suck in order to overcome it--optimism, fortitude, forgiveness, positive thinking...and those things did indeed ward off the worst of it, so that I didn't drop as low as I could have, considering the tsunami of horror in which I found myself. But not entirely--not as much as I was hoping for. There were times when, in my secret heart, I indulged in a despair so complete and so overwhelming that all I wanted to do was hop into my bed and stay there for several years--when I almost HOPED that my brain would visibly snap right in half and the decision to either stay in the real world or be shipped off to some tiny theraputic island somewhere to lounge on a beach and sip prescription cocktails would be taken out of my hands...

Of course, there was my mother's sickness and death to cope with, and all the myriad sediment that kicked up in my mind. One of the more disturbing aspects of that was stirred up when people would come to me and, with all kindness and sympathy, tell me what a sweet woman my mother was--how wonderful she had always been to them. Which should have been comforting, right? Which should have brought back good memories of the wonderful things she had done for me, right? But all it managed--and manages even now--to do is make me think about all the strangers that my mother was wonderful to at the very same times that she was being a pure-d bitch to me. How she managed to pull together a modicum of kindness and sympathy for people who, in the grander scheme, really didn't matter, when she was incapable of doing the same thing for her firstborn. And the longer this went on, the angrier and more bitter I became.

These people smiling at me and telling me that she was wonderful, while at the same time I was remembering that her last semi-lucid words to me were, "You're a LIAR!", when I tried to calm her and tell her that the doctors were trying to help her.

Then there was that whole Aunt Clara thing to cope with, too.

After awhile, my father's condition deteriorated to the point that he stopped eating and stopped taking his medicine, and he would call me at 6 in the morning to tell me he had shit the bed because he just didn't feel like getting up to go to the bathroom, and he needed me to come and clean him and everything else up in the aftermath...

There was one night, I had a car accident--a stupid accident where some asshat woman hit me from behind as I sat at a red light. It was just one more thing, yanno? So while I'm standing in the Wawa parking lot, trying to sort things with the cop, my cell phone rings and it's my Dad. I tell him what happened and that I would call him back. After the administrative sorting with the police and a trip to the doctor's office, I call him back. And he wants me to come over. Going on 8:30, with no dinner in my belly, I ask him what he needs, and he says, "Nothing. I'd just like to see you."

And so, like an idiot, I go. And he spends most of the visit watching the television and not letting me fix him anything to eat.

And not once did he ask me anything about the accident, or if I'm OK.

This went on and on--and most days, I found myself waiting for a phone call, with my Dad on the other end, telling me what was the next thing he needed me to do for him, and to let me know that whatever it was, it wasn't nearly enough. I got the distinct impression that nothing would be good enough, short of my quitting my job and leaving my husband and my home and coming in to take over where my mother left off.

Christmas was coming. My house was full--Jobe and Leahanne are still here, waiting on the bureaucracy. Work was still demanding more and more attention, wrapped in the stress of impending layoffs and the disaster that such a thing happening to ME would entail. And on top of all the things I needed to do, there was a building resentment over the fact that everything that needed to be done was eating away more and more of what I wanted to do. And I'm not talking about frivolities here--I'm talking about things like spending time with my husband and taking care of my own house and my own friends and the people who were important to me. My personal priorities were completely overthrown, devoured by the imaginary needs of an old man who had lost every sense of decency and kindness and who became a giant sucking ball of willing and stubborn dependence, enslaving a person he couldn't see as a human being, let alone an adult child that he cared about.

My own life diminished to Facebook status updates, because I didn't have enough time for anything more than 140 characters.

And this all kind of backed up on me one afternoon, when I found myself unable to stop crying.

My first call was to the EAP, where I scared the shit out of some poor shmoo who answered the phone and heard me say, "I just want it to end. I just want it to STOP."

And the next call was to my father's doctor, to let him know, "I need help. I need it NOW."

And the next call was to my father, to tell him to get his ass out of bed and get ready to go to the doctor, because he was going RIGHT NOW.

He went to the doctor. The doctor sent him to the emergency room, with malnutrition, dehydration and a fecal impaction that was likely MONTHS old. ALL of which, I can tell you now, were direct results of his own stubbornness and his own insistence that he was going to become as ill as mother had been, so that he would get that same level of attention.

I'm not being mean here--he has said those things himself. He was manipulating me and life itself to get attention paid to him, and he didn't care what he had to do to get it. He didn't take care of himself because he didn't WANT to--he has said as much. And he got rewarded for that with getting my attention, no matter what it cost me.

He went to the hospital for a week, where it took TWO rounds of Go-Lytely to get the impaction cleared, and where the poor nurses were the ones who had to clean him up as he lay in bed and shit himself, and now he's at Manor Care, where he's getting attention paid, but where he still asks me, every day, when next I am coming up to see him.

And I had my first talk with Frank on Thursday.

And when I told him all of this--the stuff that happened when mother died, the stuff that Aunt Clara said, the stuff that my Dad has been doing--he said, "You have grown up, all your life, in an environment of conditional love. And it's clear you have spent a good chunk of the last six months, if not your whole life, struggling to get the love you DESERVE, but in the only way you know these people will even think about giving it to you--on the basis of what you do for them. But in the end, you have worked this hard, and you still haven't gotten it--because you are NOT a Christian, and you cannot BE who they want you to be, for all that you DO. And so it isn't good enough." He paused. "But it's only not good enough in their eyes, because they are the ones who don't know how to love you. That's not your fault. But what is your fault is depleting yourself in your delusion that one day, you will be good enough for them to love."

And the penny dropped.

It is my delusional idea that someday it's going to dawn on them that maybe I'm deserving of their love, if I dance fast enough. But the thing is, there is nothing that I can do that is more important than the fact that I cannot--I CANNOT--be a Christian. It isn't even a question of will anymore--it's just something that I cannot do. It is easier to think about their rejection of me than it would be to give in and play the game and sit my ass in church every Sunday and pretend.

But that doesn't mean that the rejection isn't excruciating, on so many levels.

It's excruciating because it causes them to treat me this way--but it's also excruciating to think of what it does to THEM. It's excruciating to see them so wounded and so crippled up by this virulent and hateful belief in the bleedin' freakin' Jesus. It is excruciating to see that this belief--this hateful, horrible belief--twists and bends and crushes every human relationship they have, including the ones they have with their children, who they're supposed to love. And THEN they're told to "be fruitful and multiply", so that the damage spreads far and wide, and infects more and more children with this absolutely killing and painful attitude that they are always, ALWAYS deficient, unless they completely subvert everything they are and submit to the system.

And you know, I can't remember one single verse in the Bible that commands parents to love their children--only that children are commanded to honor their parents. Which means that every child born into this sickness is born into slavery. And that is a horror to me, because what I know--I KNOW--in my heart is that this is the exact opposite of how things are supposed to be.

So the deal is that I've spent all this time trying to function within this sick paradigm by my own rules--the rules that tell me, in my own logic and in my own system of ethics, that you treat people well and as lovingly as you can, and you can open up a love in their hearts, not just for you, but for everyone.

But those rules don't apply when Jesus gets dragged into the picture.

Jesus tells them that they are right to shun and hate the very people who love them, so long as they don't toe the line and submit to The Book, which is what is to be loved above all else--even your own blood.

And the longer this goes on, the angrier I get.


So Frank says that my assignment for the week is to do as much good for myself as I can, and to love and defend myself the way I would love and defend a friend who is in the same position. To give myself the kind of advice as I would give them.

It's harder than you think.

Because, you see, I have been very carefully taught.

Comments

( 74 comments — Leave a comment )
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siliconshaman
Jan. 9th, 2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
*HUGE HUGS*

To quote: Freedom starts with saying "Fuck 'em!"

Christianity is a religion of slaves, and that attitude has been institutionalised into it. I'm sorry that your family decided to be such arses, it's pretty obvious who's the more adult person here though.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Honey--and forgive me my tardiness when I say, "Happy Birthday"! I did remember, and sent my silent best wishes to you, as I continue to do now.

And thanks for the HUGE HUGS--I need 'em! ;-)
(no subject) - siliconshaman - Jan. 9th, 2010 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
pagawne
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
Honey, you are loved, with no conditions. The really sick thing is the Jesus simply said "Love one another as I have loved you." He didn't put conditions on that love. He never taught hate and shunning, because it is *wrong*. So much of that came out of the Victorian era, and it is still doing damage to our society. I suspect your parents are in for a rude awakening when they are in a position for Jesus to actually talk back to them.

Hope things improve for you soonest. Hope Jobe and his friend can soon have their own place and you can have some peace and quiet.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
The thing that's hard for me to swallow, Paula, is that while I know in my heart that I am loved unconditionally, the very FIRST people who were supposed to love me that way--my parents, my family--have never done so. And while I know that there are those people in the world who love me dearly, it's hard to trust it when the people who were put on this planet to teach you what love is have given you such a completely twisted picture of what it's supposed to look like. And I know that a lot of what twists Christianity is manmade--a result of people changing what Christianity teaches to serve their own purposes and their own judgemental attitudes. But it is so prevalent, and so virulent...

Would that you, and others like you, could have a little word with them. But the truth is that I've seen them do it to you as well, so I know that you know what I'm talking about.

But when I think about what this has done in my own family, let alone what I have seen it do in the world, it just makes me heartsick.

Jobe and Leah have actually been a huge help, but I will say that patience with the smallness of the house is beginning to wear thin--there's only so much time you can spend tripping over each other before the frustration starts to show. With any luck at all, the state of South Carolina will get their act together and let them get home to where they belong.
(no subject) - fiannaharpar - Jan. 9th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anahata56 - Jan. 9th, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
bkwrrm_tx
Jan. 9th, 2010 03:51 pm (UTC)
Oh god. What a mess. You are one of the strongest, bravest women I know, and I know you'll get through this.

*hugs*
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
I think that being strong and brave are the things that have actually gotten me into this mess, truth be told...;-)

It's time when I need to be able to expect other people to be strong and brave.

As Frank said, "What makes it more important for you to know how to deal with life than it is for your father to deal with it? He's literally old enough to be your father--time to make him suck it up and not do it FOR him."

So yeah--I'll get through it--but so must HE. And I can't do it FOR him--it's his road to walk.
(no subject) - bkwrrm_tx - Jan. 9th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
silkensteel
Jan. 9th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
Isn't this odd? I was asking myself how you were doing yesterday, and how much I missed reading of your life - the good and the ill. Since the commute to just stop over with a jar of chili is kinda prohibitive. :)

I am so, so sorry that you had this happen. And yet, I remember where I was when my life crashed like that. I Know that I wouldn't have gotten to where I am now if stasis hadn't come crashing down. I found myself surrounded by the bloody, twitching parts of reality and had to clean it all up to see the true landscape.

I am also apologizing for not doing a better job of just staying in touch, of taking the lazy way out by waiting instead for you to type stuff.

Frank is a great therapist. He sees YOUR desired state instead of his subjective interpretation.

And now, from 2600 or so miles away, for what it's worth, what can I do to help? Heck, if you just need a chance to get away, fly out here and crash for a week or so on my couch. :)
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Don't apologize--there were times when I didn't necessarily want to hear what I had to say--which was one of the reasons I didn't share it sooner. And there really isn't much you can do to help except to be your own sweet and salty self--which I rely on more than you know.

And yeah--Frank IS a great therapist. There is something pretty wonderful about someone who won't let you off the hook, but at the same time is willing to validate your anger--especially when it's someone who has no personal investment in that anger. Someone objective who can look at a situation with no real skin in the game and who can say, "Yeah--that DOES suck."

The emotional twisties of familial relations are almost beyond navigating--and definitely beyond navigating without bleeding a bit. So if you're going to suck up the courage to finally make the journey, it's good to know that you have someone with a strong hand on the rudder, who will actually listen to where YOU want to go, but won't let you run yourself into the rocks.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 9th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
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saavik
Jan. 9th, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
{{{{{{{{{Belle}}}}}}}}}
Reading this brought tears to my eyes not least because what you have experienced is a pain that I have known all my life. I just want to say though that religion/Christianity is not the only thing that engenders such destructive beliefs.
My parents were never overtly religious, but their idea of what a daughter owed her parents was just as rigid and narrow.

In their eyes I owed them grandchildren, and dinner together every Sunday, and to live next door to them so that Dave and I could be within reach and resposive to their every whim. It didn't matter where my interests or abilities lay, if I did not allow them to live the life they wanted vicariously through me, I was a substandard child, ungrateful and unworthy.

Your experience mirrors mine to the point where I'm sitting here with tears running down my face as I write this.

I admire your spirit and your resilience in becoming the open, loving person that you are despite everything.

Love and hugs,
Margo
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
I think that this is the reason why I reject, violently, the idea of "unfriending" people on the basis of philosophical differences of opinion. I mean, if you have interested me or charmed me or intrigued me enough to be my "friend", then you will continue to be my friend even when I cannot agree with you.

I will fight with you, but the whole time I'm fighting, I'll love you. That doesn't change. You are my friend unconditionally.

I hate it when arguments get personal, because that's not a difference of opinion--that's an invalidation of the person and who they are, not what they believe.

In spite of all of this, I feel love for them--if I didn't, then I would be as bad as they are, right? They are my family. They belong to me, inevitably and irretrievably, forever and for always. But what I'm trying to figure out with Frank is how to love them with no expectations that they will ever love me, and how to keep that idea from eating me alive.
(no subject) - saavik - Jan. 9th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
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griffen
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
May I just say - I love you. Unconditionally. And I know that you'll get through this.

We should maybe talk sometime if you have the time and the spoons. *hugs*
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
I love you, too--for real.

And yes--sooner rather than later.
chelsearoad
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC)
JUST *HUGS*.

Actually, just one hug, that would be all-encompassing and say, "You are so loved. And so deserving of that love."
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Honey.

I thank my Deity, every day, for the blessing of friends. You are one of them.
(Deleted comment)
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dear.

And you know--we really have to rectify that "not knowing as well as we'd like to" thing...;-)!
lolleeroberts
Jan. 9th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
It is devastating to realize that the people who should love you without reservation do not, in fact, love you that way. Even if it's merely the overt realization of something you've felt subconsciously your entire life. Frankly, I have watched the hoops you jump through for your family with a sense of dismayed awe. I understand that on some level you are trying to treat them according to your morals, not theirs, but dayum.

And it speaks to how much we want our parents' love that we will try to contort ourselves into a shape they will accept, no matter what damage it causes us. And try, over and over again, to live up to those expectations, unless we find that we just cannot survive the process. In your case, the tipping point is being pagan and not the particularly virulent brand of Christianity they follow. For some, it's being gay, or liberal, or wanting to paint instead of study law, or move away and have a life of their own that doesn't involve being a parent's body slave.

Gah. Yeah, maybe I'm dealing with a few of these issues myself.

I love you, and always will. You're welcome here anytime. Big internet hug from Texas.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
It has become increasingly obvious to me, during this whole process, that my family's love is something I'll never get. My mother, literally, died disapproving of me, even as I proved to her, over and over, that I was the person who cared the most for her. I suppose there was something in her that believed that that was what was owed to her, but I tell you now, if it was, it was purely on the basis of the fact that she WAS my mother, and not my friend. And how pathetic is that for HER?

My mother allowed herself to die without ever knowing that what we could have had together could have been so much BETTER, if she had just let go of Jesus' hand for two minutes and taken mine.

I was there--I didn't see Jesus hanging out at her bedside as she ranted and hallucinated. And I don't think she saw him either. But I sure as hell was there. And sad to say, that didn't count for much where she was concerned--and once again, that's pathetic for HER.

I remember telling her one time how much I liked Jobe, and she said, "Of course you do--you're his mother." And I said, "No, I have to LOVE him because I'm his mother--liking him is purely on the basis of who we are as people."

She looked at me as if I had sprouted antenna. She just didn't get that at all--the idea that you could actually choose to like your child.

And I realize now that this is what I'm dealing with--with all of them. And it's like living with a bunch of people who don't even speak English--you can't even convey to them what it is you're talking about.

So no--no more hoop jumping. And if there is hoop jumping (and let's face it, it's become a habit at this point), it'll be because it's what I expect of myself, and not with the thought in my head that it's going to change the way they look at me, or feel about me.

And I'll do it as a pagan--not on any other terms.

It's devastating to deal with people like this, it really is--but the devastation is going to have to start reversing itself, because it really isn't MY loss--it's theirs.
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wolfette
Jan. 9th, 2010 06:46 pm (UTC)
{{{{Beth}}}}

From experience I suspect that it wouldn't matter if you'd dragged your ass to church every week and pretended or not - "conditional love" parents always find a reason to with-hold the approval from the unapproved child. Usually the child they have chosen to be their carer as they get old .... yes, it does seem to be that deliberate. It also starts early - by the end of grade school they've got the child programmed. Usually it's a daughter (sometimes a son, but not so often), often she's discouraged from getting boyfriends or husbands, or they 'sabotage' the marriage so that she ends up single in middle age, ready and waiting to dance to her parents' every whim .... and when they die, she's lost and without purpose. An interest in "the Church" is encouraged. I've watched the process many times - I can even spot it from a distance. (frex I would bet on "Subo" being such a "chosen carer child")

And *Jesus* tells them nothing of the sort - that's just the excuse they use. The Carer Child's siblings might reject everything the parents "uphold", yet somehow they can do no wrong.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
I guess my biggest betrayal of them is that I actually did choose to have a life of my own--one that I still want. But the Irish got it right when they said, "A son is your son till he takes him a wife/A daughter's a daughter for all of her life." Because, yeah, it is the daughter who takes this role, and yeah, the sons get excused from taking the duty time and time again, with a free ride all along the way.

My brother and his wife have done NOTHING for that old man since he came home from their house. NOTHING. And are they rejected, or made to feel guilty about that? Not in the least. But me? Oh, the guilt gets dragged out time and time again, over and over, whenever I speak to my father--and I have been told that I must speak to him at least once a day. I guess that's to remind me of my obligations....

But the thing is...I don't want to hate my parents. I don't want to hate my family. I don't want to resent their presence in my life. But the more they eat my life, the more resentment builds up. And how absolutely pathetic is it that they would rather have begrudging obligation from their children than a sufficient amount of their attention but with enough room to live their lives?

I just don't understand, at all, how this can possibly be a winning situation for them, let alone me...
(no subject) - hitchhiker - Jan. 9th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
ladyqkat
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
I have not read all of the comments (my attention span is very limited) but I do have one thing to ask you - except for the Christianity* thing, when did you take over my brain and my life?

I am still working on the anger bit and it has been nearly three years. Of course the fact that I can afford no medical care, let alone mental health care, could be a major part of the molassesy slowness of my recovery.

I think of you often and I knew you had some major, major issues to deal with concerning not only your parents but many of your blood relations as well. Like sordak, the_paulr is a good friend as well as spouse to have around. Neither one may be able to take the baggage from either of us, but their strength can help us carry it a bit further.

Libra-sister, even though we have never met in meat space, I do love you. You were a calming rock when I needed a bit of an anchor. I don't know if I can repay the favor, but I would like to try. ♥HUGS♥

*They had, even though they couldn't see it, other hooks to hang the conditions on.

Edited at 2010-01-09 08:03 pm (UTC)
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:47 pm (UTC)
One of the reasons for Frank is that I'm tired of dumping all of this on my husband's shoulders.

He deserves better than that.

But yes--I don't know if it's generational, or if it still happens, but this kind of relationship with parents seems to recur over and over again.
swisscelt
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
A very apt word, excruciating, and one that is of far greater value to describe the core of the situation than its pun-like attributes suggest. Not satisfied with the belief that this Jesus died for their sins, they seek to impose that punishment figuratively upon their relationships in a vain attempt to regain that high they felt when first they realized they could do damned near anything (at the risk of another pun or two) and still gain admission into the eternal carnival. The resulting pain they inflict is excruciating: It is like being hung up on a cross.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:43 pm (UTC)
It IS apt, isn't it? All about pain and bondage and punishment. Very interesting that so many Christians think of the cross as a place of extreme love--where God demonstrated love by punishing and imprisoning his own son. Perfect love, demonstrated in the sacrifice of the loved one, in pain, in punishment, in gore, in death.

Horrifying, isn't it? That they cannot think of perfect love in any way that is connected with anything healthy and full of life?

But Yahweh demands blood sacrifice, doesn't he? And he could choose NOT to demand it--there is no reason for him TO demand it. He just does--because that's how he rolls.

It's astonishing that this picture, this sacrifice, generates an almost idolatrous response in the hearts of Christians, when it is so random and so arbitrary and so cruel.

And I guess it's as good an excuse as any to encourage cruelty in Yahweh's followers--because that's how THEY want to roll.

It proves that they're following in his image.
saavik
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
Belle, reading your post and all the comments here is like looking at a hologram of my own life.
anahata56
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not so arrogant or insensitive to believe that this is only happening or HAS only happened to me. I think, unfortunately, that it's more common than we'd like to think.
(no subject) - saavik - Jan. 9th, 2010 09:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
thoughtsbykat
Jan. 9th, 2010 09:42 pm (UTC)
((Hugs)) I'm sorry that those that are supposed to love you unconditionally haven't been. Take care of yourself, that's the most important thing then take care of others.

I'm glad that you are posting here again.
jaxomsride
Jan. 10th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
I had wondered why you hadn't posted in a while.

Yeesh your Dad needs to grow up himself!

Belle look after yourself. It's not selfish to say "no" to him, it's pure self survival.
jaxomsride
Jan. 10th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
PS
I love you, but no, I don't expect anything in return, it comes without a price tag!
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