Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wondering How to Let Go

I've accepted the fact that nothing I do will change my parents or their behavior. My mom will always be depressed and self-hating and my father will always be an alcoholic until they choose to modify their own thoughts and behaviors. What I still have problems with is accepting my parents and their faults without getting sad or bitter or angry.

I realize they're human and both came from really really nasty upbringings that make mine look like a cakewalk. There's no way they're ever going to be perfect. I'm very thankful they did so much better for us than their parents did for them. In some ways they've done wonderful jobs: we always had food and shelter, we always got as many books from the used bookstore as we wanted, we got to go on awesome trips around the United States and to beaches and amusement parks. I know they're doing the best they can. So whyyy am I still so angry?

My father's still an alcoholic. For a few years he was sober, so I got in the habit of saying he "used to be" an alcoholic, but he still is. And he's drinking again.

Today's my mother's birthday. I called home to see if she was there to wish her a happy birthday, and my dad was drunk to the point he could hardly talk straight and will be passing out shortly. My mom, when I got ahold of her at work, sounded happy. It breaks my heart to know that she'll come home to a passed out, reeking husband who may or may not have made it to the bedroom. Have you ever seen someone passed out while sitting on a toilet with their pants around their ankles? It's funny… and yet, not.

So that makes me want to take a baseball bat to his head and beat some sense into the man. Buuut, it won't help any. I know logically that alcoholism is a disease and you can't just shake yourself out of it like you can't shake yourself out of deep depression. You gotta take steps and keep working at it and keep on top of it or it will swallow you again. And the steps my dad tries to take don't seem to work very well.

His doctors have tried putting him on every kind of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety pill I can think of. Paxil, prozac, zoloft, effexor… His body's reaction to those drugs turns him into a happy man who can't think and can't function, and then he STILL drinks. So instead of a cranky man who works part of the day efficiently and then gets smashed in the afternoon, you have a happy man who doesn't do anything but drink. And did you know that combining anti-depressants and alcohol is a very bad, unhealthy idea? Like, a potentially lethal idea?

Under it all, I think he's extremely stressed about life and hates himself. He's been to therapy many times and I don't know that any of it's helped. I can't seem to do anything for him except try to express love instead of anger. Keep the bridges open and whatnot. The anger only hurts me, so I'd like to let it go but don't know how.

I can't help but think that if things had been a little bit different, we would have been very good friends. My father and mother would have been a good, equal match instead of the conflict that is there. Sometimes he does nice things for her and sometimes he tells her she's fat and stupid and lazy. Thinking about the life that I think should have existed makes me bitter. Sad, bitter, and angry. It's like my mantra: depressed, frustrated, and angry about soooo many things.

I dunno. I just needed to vent. Nobody really wants to hear these things, so I'm dumping them here instead of somebody's IM window. I would like to be able to let go of my anger and replace it with compassion (even while I hold onto anger as a young child clings to a familiar, comfortable teddy bear that protects her from the world).

I keep waiting for the phone call that tells me my father's had a heart attack. He's moved on to Jack Daniel's, a step up from vodka (his previous drink of choice). I wonder and wonder and wonder if he's just trying to kill himself. His father didn't live to age 55, and I don't think my dad expects to, either. He can't have much of a liver left. He's combining drugs that don't mix well. He's drinking and driving. He's been taking trips to Hawaii every six months.

There's nothing I can do. So I dump it here, give a voice to the feelings and thoughts that I prefer not to think about before I bury them again and move on. It's not my problem. It's not my life. It's not my responsibility. It's not my fault. There's nothing I can do or should do to try to "fix" things.


Shay said...

not quite sure how to help you... you know my past. well.. some of it I guess. my abuser wasn't my dad or mom. It was my brother. In saying that, I can't really say how to react to your parents. But I do know (as I'm sure you know as well) that brooding on things that "could have been" isn't a way to grow compassion. It seems to me that you are still dealing with acceptance, and that can be a very hard step to make.

It is really truly amazing just how alike we are. We have both been abused, we can relate, and just so many other things we both have noticed.

There are certain steps that every survivor has to make. It is impossible to say I had a harder life than you did because that is just bull. Everyone deals with what is most hard for them. That is how we grow.

I can't teach you how to accept yourself, seeing as I don't know how to do that myself. And obviously it is impossible to "forgive and forget". Yes you can forgive, but forgetting is for God, it is impossible for us.

I don't know if any of this will help you, but I sure hope so. Just start out small. If you can't accept your dad as a whole right now, accept the little things. The good things you see in him. Go from there.

God sent us to the family that we were sent to, to stop the cycle of abuse. We were strong enough or he wouldn't have sent us to the particular place we are now. We are strong enough to withstand, and we chose to come here even knowing what we would go through. WE STILL CAME.

God may have said, "But Jessica, your father will be an alcoholic, and your mother and the rest of your family will suffer from it." You still came. He may have said to me, "But Shay (editing for my sake), your second son will die and you will be sexually used by more than one man." I still looked Him in the eye and insisted on coming.

You are strong enough. I am strong enough. Whatever the quote is, "He doesn't give us more than we can bear." I think that is a scripture... can't really remember. But that counts for everything. Anything that happens to us we can bear otherwise the Lord wouldn't have allowed it.

Yeah... I guess I'm done. I kind of went on a tangent huh? lol I told you I babble as I type. Uh... what was my point? Hmmm... oh yeah, acceptance. Just know that everything happens for a purpose. Maybe you were sent to your family to turn your father around. Who knows but God. In any case, don't give up on him yet. He's still here, so he still has a chance to change.

Just love him. Love him with all your might. He might just feel that through his drunkenness.

You are GREAT!!! ^_^

HailerStar said...

It becomes your problem because you love your family. But you are right, you cannot fix him and you're not responsible to. *That was a hard one for me to learn in my own family*
This is just my personal theory but I think the anger you feel, which is justified, comes from the grieving process. You grieve for a life that every child is entitled too which includes not only safety and shelter but also happiness and a sense of peace that SHOULD exist in the home. And that sense that your parents loved you enough to overcome their challenges *which hardly any of us ever get but I don't think that stops us wanting it*
You have a right to be angry and I think you are moving past anger, as evidenced by the fact that you can see your parents as people and not just parental figures. That you can sympathize with the lives they have had and even state the fact that they've done better for you than they had themselves growing up. You're seeing them as people and children of God, with their own conflicts and joys and demons. I just don't think you're moving past the anger as quickly as you'd like to. But if you were not working through it at all then you'd not even be to the point as seeing them objectively.
My uncle was a severe alcoholic. He ruined an engagement and a marriage because of it. He lost ties with most of the family. He hated my dad half the time and my dad was the only one who checked up on him to make sure he had food/shelter/ was still breathing. I think they drink to self medicate. I think Tony drank to escape bad things that happened in childhood and a society that shunned him *he had some type of learning disability that kept him from being able to learn to read ... it was never diagnosed because they had no names for such things when he was growing up*
Alcoholism is essentially escapism. Even therapy may not help unless you're willing to dig down to the core of the problem and face it. Maybe they drink so they don't feel broken by their experiences, put a band aid on a bleeding wound, and pretend they're just like everyone else.
If you never face what causes the pain then you'll never fix it either.
*Hugs* You see them as people. That's the first step to moving away from the anger. You are making more progress than you think. *It would just be easier if we could slay other peoples demons and light their darkness for them ... instead of standing at the end of the tunnel with a lantern in our hand and waiting*