Sunday, April 17, 2005

Crazy painful days

The irony, to be told that I don't let people know how I am doing voluntarily, I just pull the panic cord when I am at, or near, my emotional breaking point. The irony, I find, is that no one ever inquires. Maybe they are scared of the potential answer. Maybe they have enough on their plate right now. Maybe they are too busy. Maybe they have forgotten. Maybe they simply don't care. Maybe they would rather talk about all the new and exciting toys that everyone around me is buying! Yes, perhaps that is it, they are having a blast, and I bum them out.

I am asked about the tower of cardboard boxes in my kitchen, "moving somewhere?"

"It's for the swap meet coming up in May" I reply

Yes, that is correct, I am selling my children's outgrown clothes, and excessive toys that they never play with, so that I may raise another months' preschool tuition. Counting down the days that my children are the age of public school, when I don't have to choose between school tuition for the month, a birthday present, or feeding the babes for the month. At this point, I am honestly accepting hand-me-down donations, so that I may include these items in my swap meet load.

But let's phone and see if we can take the eldest shopping, because she's four, and what great way to celebrate her birthday. Introduce her to the luxurious overabundance that I have no hope of being able to continue providing. Yes, let's arm her with another year's worth of "Mom, can I have this?" or "I'd like this new toy please" or my all time favourite "can we buy this for a school-time snack?"

Yes, because I have the money to buy a top of the line packaged licensed fruit snack for only $5 a box, to be shared with the other twenty kids in her preschool class.

I don't even have the money to buy her a preschool class photo package, but let's take her shopping. I'm sure she'd like that.

At this point, I will let up on my emotionally loaded rant, because I don't want it to cross the line into a spew of verbal abuse. Let it be noted, that I am restraining. I'll bet the husband would be shocked to read that I am restraining, I'll bet at this point in time, he doesn't believe I have the power or ability to restrain myself and my outbursts.

This just hasn't been an easy year for me, and it's only April, so either it will be a year of emotional static, or else I'm getting all the crap and crud out of my way early.

It all started to go down hill late December, an emotional mud slide right before Christmas. Watching two good friends lose their precious two month old baby, without any warning of illness, all within a fourty-eight hour period.

Why I have been so profoundly affected by their tragic loss, I cannot put into words.

She was not my child to mourn. Yes, she touched my heart, and yes, I will always remember her. But it was the devastating anguish of the heart-broken mother, that cracked the planet in two for me.

The randomness of it all, the guilt of having two perfectly healthy,
on some level, the jealousy that her "freedom" has potentially been returned, albeit at a very expensive price. My heart sags with shame as I dare admit that sordid conflicting feeling.

My mind, heart, and soul, of a woman, and a mother, will always echo the muffled sobs and moans of torment, her wailing for her loss.

To watch the friendship dissolve, watch them pack up and leave, on top of all the other heartbreak. For me, it has tangled, and grown into a knotted web of loss. Several times a day, I continue to think of them, and the mourning of the lost relationships reoccurs daily, like a scab growing tight, and ripped open again by the stretching of delicately tender new flesh. The discomfort, the quick painful reminder, the fading throb.

No more than three weeks later, at the most, I received the news that my biological father had passed away.

My husband, as well as myself, was shocked that my initial response to the news, were shouts of what may have appeared glee. In hindsight, I consider them more shouts of relief.

"Finally", I thought, "I will have closure with this man."

Oh the naivete. The irony! That after years of struggling to try and come to terms with my personal history, His death would rock my very foundation.

It has been said that ignorance is bliss. It's unfortunate, that during one's ignorance, we are blind to recognize the bliss, the contentment of the moment. Before reality crashes into our fragile bubble, and sinks the whole darn ship. I think I would have liked the opportunity to savour the blissful ignorance, for just a moment, before experiencing finger-clenching white knuckles, as I slowly loose my grip. Desperately clinging for dear life, as I hang off the ledge of mental wellness, the thunderous deafening roar of despair, grief and surrender surging and crashing on the shore far, far below.

I wonder how it will all end;if I will mysteriously summon the strength and courage to pull myself back up, or if I will simply tire, and plummet below, allowing myself to be consumed by my own demons.

I do not do well with hormones, I never have, I haven't had a period since May 2003. Add that to being a nursing mother, the hormones associated with that. Add to that my neurological chemical imbalance and faulty wiring. Add to that my own ineffective personal coping strategies. Shhh.... do you hear the faint ticking of the time bomb now?

Back to my unfortunate 2005...

I volunteered to coordinate a local community art show. Unfortuantely, I failed to consult my husband about this committment, and in hindsight, have learned a valuable lesson about marriage, compromise, and the blending of different lives.

For five months, I poured approximately two hundred volunteer hours, preparing for our monthly group meetings, ensuring all details were taken into consideration. Every spare minute, every second thought, was focused on this show.

I was fortunate that my husband was home during the days, and was able to step forward and pick up the slack with raising our children. He expressed a desire to see me resign from the position, given my personal circumstances this year. I, on the other hand, saw a phenomenal learning experience and fantastic addition to my curriculum-vitae, or artistic resume if you will. Not just that, but I was hoping that with the amount of personal pain I had been feeling, perhaps it would be a blessing to have a positive distraction to focus on.

In hindsight, now that the project is complete, I am simply exhausted. I am also devastated, that after all my time, effort, and focus, I was not able to sell one single painting! It is difficult not to feel discouraged.

Life has been tiresome this year...

I have been working closely with a suicide-prevention counsellor. I am tired of being a hurting unit. I am tired of being triggered watching my husband and daughter interract. I am tired of looking for things, dynamics, that do not exist. I am tired of wanting to be closer with my family, only to realize that they are constantly busy. I am tired of fighting the urge to return to smoking. I am tired of being flooded with painful new memories of the abuse I suffered at the hands of my biological father. I am tired of the energy it takes to wear my mask that fools you all. The spiritual drain of changing my chameleon camouflage. I am tired of supporting a wall, a dam if you will, that feels like it is going to burst any minute now.

I am amazed at how people are continually more than willing to rave about my work, when it is a hobby, or when they are given the pictures for free, or as a gift. Yet there is such profound silence when trying to sell the stuff and earn a creative living.

Once again, the gentle creative one, is feeling beaten down and discouraged.

There was alot of pressure at home to earn some money from the art show. First spoken words "how much did you sell?" hit my ego like a punch to the stomach. Hard not to feel like a failure and a loser.

Yet they all sure look pretty hanging on the living room wall. Oh, you need somewhere to store that painting, here, let me lend you a wall! Of course I can be of assistance.

So I sit here, with my step-father and elderly grandmother, as you go into the bedroom and read my eldest a book. Don't get me wrong, I love listening to you read books, it brings back happy memories, a pleasant change as of late.

But it is so frustrating, so overwhelming, so depressing to hear almost nothing aside from material acquisitions as of late. I am happy that a professional accountant has been able to do Grandma's taxes for her, he probably did Jeff's too, okay, I admit that is an assumption. But I have a lurking suspicion that it could be correct.

I am excited for my brother that just got a brand spanking new fully-loaded truck. How he can afford to keep it full of petro, I have no idea. But it is a struggle not to feel profound envy. I remember being so proud, so happy, so excited when I bought my Jeep. That financial albatross hung like a noose around my neck.

"Are you planning to live here for the next five years?" I remember being asked when I drove that puppy home.

I remember the offers of a stereo for my bare-bones Jeep for my birthday if I could just quit smoking, a goal that I, at that time, was absolutely unable to achieve.

Yet here I am so many years later, a non-smoker of nearly six years, some celebration would have been nice. I bring that up, because when I was told about my brother's new truck, I was told that of course he was able to afford it, it's not like he drinks of smokes or anything. It felt very much like a jab. Particularily when I am currently struggling so much to remain a non-smoker. When one has difficulty rolling over in the mornings to greet another new day, suddenly remaining a non-smoker is less of a priority. When if feels like your soul is being ground through a garbage disposal, when you wonder if you will manage not to self-destruct entirely, suddenly smoking seems like less of a fucking concern.

Have I mentioned what a hurting unit I have been as of late?

Strangely, since the passing of my father, it is as though the angst has been transferred to the rest of my family. They are the ones hurting me right now, and it seems as though it would be easier to drop off the face of the Earth. But, my children need grandparents. Not that they my children seethem at all regularily, but I believe that children need grandparents. I will not deprive my kids of that.

I am glad that my mother is finally receiving money from the legacy of the Clark name. It is a relief, after watching her proudly struggle for so many years.

It seems ironic again though, that she begins to receive monetary reclamation at the most financially lucrative stage of her life. Each time going to their house, getting to see a new fancy expensive toy, or furniture set, or this or that. It is nice too that my step-father is finally receiving a benefit of having taken us on so many years ago. I know that we must have been a financial burden. Fortunately though, there weren't too many extras, like exchange trips to school, or new clothes, because I preferred to dress like a grungy head-banger.

It has been, at time, a painful recognization and realization, that my youngest half-brother, has an entirely different family unit, and family dynamics, than anything I have ever known. At times, it has been a struggle not to allow my bitter jealousy emerge.

I wish I had been encouraged as he was.
I wish I had been born into a family of financial abundance like he was.
I wish I had been born to a loving attentive GENTLE father, like he was.
I wish I had the benefit of experiencing summer camps, programs and activities that were simply out of the question during my childhood.
I wish I could express these emotions, without my inner critic labelling them as whining. I don't want to sit here and play the pitiful poor-me victim game.

But every day, it is a struggle, not to repeat the sins of my father, onto my precious innocent children. And believe me, somedays, there isn't anything I'd like to do more than scream, growl, chase and terrorize my eldest. As was done to me. Let alone repeat the physical acts of violence endured. But I pride myself on my decision not to continue the cycle of generational trauma.

I wish I had half an idea what a personal battle it is, daily, to continue to commit to that choice. In all honesty, had I known then what I know now. I would have opted out of the entire child-rearing idea.

If only I had recognized then, how fucked up I really am.

Do you remember the angst of my adolescence? The screaming battles, the acting out? I remember being told that I was not going to cost you your marriage, that I would find myself in foster care before that ever happened.

Tough love is a real bitch.

Sometimes, I wonder why it was that I was the only one who got the tough love. At this point in my life, I think it's ironic, that the most traumatized, the most damaged unit of the whole bunch, was the one threatened to be shipped off and out. The weakest link who could be cut loose at any time.

Sometimes I wish it had really happened.

I have grown to accept, that I am never going to have the close loving relationship that I see my friends experience with their own families. I have my own range of conflicting emotions that I struggle to cope with. Everyone is all willing to offer support where they can, until my messy reality becomes to uncomfortable, and then everyone scatters again like birdseed on the wind.

It must be very difficult to have me as someone to live with. Poor Steve, and those beautiful healthy girls, I don't know what they have done to deserve having me as a parent.

So I continue putting one foot in front of the other, to do the very best I can in the immediate moment, to try and nurture their tender spirits. And pray that I don't do a real number on them both.

Somedays, I seriously wonder why Steve is still with me. But he is a man of integrity, and I know he doesn't like to quit anything. I'll bet you I am giving him a real test these days.

Somedays, I get tired of the struggle of life, and I just want to hibernate.

But I hope everyone is having fun playing with their new toys, and spending quality denial time with one another. As I do my very best not to let my wound fester.... to continue with counselling that I cannot afford, with benefits that I do not have. As I do my best to raise two beautiful girls that I cannot afford to raise, that I am not psycholgically equipped to raise.

Sometimes, it really feels it would just be easier to check out, and let the rest of you do it all for me.

Sometimes, I wonder if I was to meet another girl, who had been molested, beaten and emotionally battered by her biological father from the ages of birth to eleven, I wonder what she would be like?

Because I am truly sick and tired of being so fucked up, and carrying such a heavy load, all the while, watching everyone else seemingly thrive so prosperously.

I have really grown tired with this twisted game.