Print Story things that never leave you
By aphrael (Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 12:41:06 AM EST) (all tags)
In a drunk diary the other night, someone mentioned that growing up poor never leaves you. I don't know if that's entirely true; maybe I wasn't poor enough, but I've tried very hard to structure my life so that I don't have to worry about money, because I just don't want to, and I resent it somewhat when circumstances mean that I have to.

But there are other things that never leave you.

I learned, maybe a year ago, that my father (whom I have never met)  beat my mother. I learned this in part through information obtained from a relative who took care of her while she was pregnant with me, who presumably learned it at that time.

I don't know for sure, because I very rarely had an adult conversation with my mother about emotions, and because she never talked about her past, but it seems likely that the scars from that stayed with her forever; she walked through a series of short term boyfriends, and three subsequent marriages to assholes (including a man whose niece has described as the most argumentative, unpleasant man she knows, and another man who I remember as having punched a hole in the kitchen wall in a fury upon finding out that my mom had only bought a six-pack of beer at the store rather than a twelve-pack) who were severely emotionally abusive. As far as I can tell, she never had a healthy romantic relationship of any sort, and she never managed to have real, lasting platonic friendships which she experienced as being emotionally intimate.

It must have sucked to be her.

I have no scars from her relationship with my father, because as I said I never met the man; I grew up the child of a single mother in the 1970s and 1980s (albeit she remarried when I was 7. and again when I was 13. and again when I was 17.)

But I bear scars nonetheless.

The most obvious scar is that I am terrified of abandonment. As a child, nobody stayed around - not my mother's boyfriends, nor her husbands, and on some level not even her, because her emotional pattern was that whenever she got out of a relationship, she would rely on me for emotional support, and then when she got into a new relationship, she would stop.

By extension: I am afraid of conflict. I can deal with work conflict, or stranger conflict, but for someone I know and care about to be angry at me? It scares me. In the presence of anger I want to curl up in a ball and hide until the anger passes - or I want to do anything I can to make the anger go away. If someone is angry, they might leave.

Related, I feel like it's my responsibility to make the people around me happy. If I'm not making them happy, they'll be angry, and they might leave.

Worse yet: if someone leaves, it's my fault. I wasn't good enough. I failed to keep them happy. If only I'd tried harder.

And if they leave me? Then I have no importance or value; my importance and value exist only in relation to my husband, my friends, and my family.

None of these are unusual pathologies in children of abusive relationships. I understand that. But knowledge doesn't dispel the feelings, and knowledge doesn't reduce the pain.

This has played out in really terrible ways in my marriage.

I've been seeing a therapist for nine months now - something I decided to do, despite being terrified of it, because it was clear that I needed help in order to stop hurting my marriage, and it's helped me admit to, and put words behind, problems that I've always known I've had; and to start working on them.

I should have done years ago.

But: it may be too late. I may be too hurt, and my husband may be too hurt.

And with that knowledge, I have no peace.

Those of you who read my facebook gratitude post know me to have averred, this has been one of the hardest years of my adult life; the preceding are but a small taste of why.


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things that never leave you | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)
lacking context, but wishing you all the best by marvin (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 01:25:46 AM EST
No Facebook.

What makes something unforgivable? Recognizing a problem acknowledging it, owning it, and working to fix it go a long ways in my books. There really isn't anything more you can do, apart from groveling, which is disgusting.

Internet hugs incoming. Whether I agree or disagree with you, I always try to respect your position, and invariably try to read your posts. Please don't be too hard on yourself - I admire your courage in facing your past.

not that much context by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #2 Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 01:31:13 AM EST
(a) thank you for the hugs and the kind words. :)

(b) being hard on myself is a difficult thing to avoid.

(c) the context is limited; i'm not going into details, yet. eventually i will, but now isn't the time.

(d) here's the FB post I referenced, for you and others who don't read it:

To my USian friends ----

I'm aware of the political issues around Thanksgiving, and I choose to ignore them, because whatever the origins of the holiday (either religious or representing the abuse of native Americans), I think it's an incredibly valuable tradition to have: a day to step back from my life and experience gratitude.

The last year's been a damned hard one for me - one of the, and quite possibly the, most painful and difficult of my adult life.

And yet I still find, today, that I am a lucky man, and I have much to be grateful for.

I am grateful that I am turning forty-one and have, as yet, escaped the existence of any real physical health issues.

I am grateful that I have a job which more than pays the bills and which is allowing me to pay off the loans for a law degree I may never use, while largely supporting a husband in graduate school and while saving some money.

I am grateful that I have skills which make me a productive employee.

I am grateful that I am, while far from the smartest person out there, comparatively reasonably smart.

I am grateful that there is tremendous beauty in the world and that I have the eyes to see it and the ears to hear it.

I am grateful that I live in a world with modern technological conveniences like toilet paper and running water.

I am grateful that I have access to a tremendous variety of food.

I am grateful that I have access to more information and entertainment, at the tip of my fingers, for a relative pittance, than most people of previous generations had access to over a lifetime.

And, more intimately: I am grateful for the friends that I have made, who love me and who allow me to love them. And I am particularly grateful for that smaller circle of friends who have carried me through a very dark time and who have allowed me to lean on them in ways that I could not have expected.

I am a lucky man.

Happy Thanksgiving.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
You... by ana (4.00 / 5) #3 Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 10:10:37 AM EST

Full stop.

Facing things that terrify you, in order to become a better person? That's the stuff heroes are made of. It is an honor to know you.

I now know what the noise that is usually spelled "lolwhut" sounds like. --Kellnerin

things that never leave you | 3 comments (3 topical, 0 hidden)