Irma Aftermath Day #2: The Real Story

So last night I was trying as coherently as I could to write a blog and to be honest with you there was a lot that I left out. Intentionally. Maybe I was embarrassed or just not quite sure what to make of it so here goes nothing.

I may have touched on a few of these topics but I didn’t really delve into them but I really should as it’s cathartic for me and maybe others can relate.

I did mention my grandparents have a pretty jacked up marriage and to clarify, I’m pretty sure there’s love there. Or they’re just too old to get divorced but I’ve made some very interesting conclusions about my family since I’ve gotten sober over this past year and a half or so. My grandparents for whatever reason cause chaos everywhere they go.

My dad and his brother can’t stand each other and it shows every which way from Sunday. I never really knew why until this hurricane. See, my brother and I never really saw eye to eye and it dawned on me just how much my grandparents judge my brother and how they make every attempt they can to drag me into it. I can tell my dad tries to stay out of it and by staying out of it I mean he tries to replace me, or throw me under the bus so he doesn’t have to deal with their problems.

Again, being stuck in the same house with the same people with little to no communication with the outside world can do a whole lot when it comes to connecting dots, and helping to create epiphanies. Things that were blurred or simply accepted as normal now seem absolutely unacceptable. The way my grandfather speaks to my grandmother is borderline abusive to put it lightly and me being a “sensitive,” person, I just can’t be in that environment. My dad for the first time ever actually stood up for my grandmother and told my grandfather to knock it off which I am sure you can guess how that went…not well…we were playing a simple card game and my grandfather was losing. That’s all it took. My grandmother had a good hand, my grandfather had a bad hand and he just went off.

I threw my cards down on the table, turned around and walked away. My grandfather made a big stink about how I was quitting and I just kept walking. I would’ve walked into the storm if I knew the winds would’ve picked me up and taken me to another state without breaking too many bones.

This isn’t a one time thing. This isn’t due to the stress of the storm, this is pervasive, continual, and accepted. It’s overlooked and it’s not something I am willing to accept any longer. The current and past explanation is that “they’re just old, that’s how they are,” is no longer an acceptable excuse and after a lot of thought, a cell phone session with my therapist (she was nice enough to do it via phone since I couldn’t make it to the coast) and on top of that, the AA meeting tonight was on resentments! Ha! I’ll get to that later though, I’ve decided I need to cut poisonous people out of my life. Or at least limit them. I cannot change them but I surely can cut them out.

Don’t I have that right? To better myself? See, I’ve always looked at my life as if it were a game of poker, or better a game of chess. If I make this move, life might make that move. When it came to family, my family are chess masters. They know if I do this, they’ll be able to do that. They are ultimately phenomenal at controlling me. They lure me back every time with guilt, with shame, with remorse and for the longest time I was ok with it because I was just fine feeling like shit. I was content to be miserable. Being miserable is an alright place to be because people feel sorry for you. It’s nice when people feel sorry for you, sympathy is a great tool. Unfortunately it’s easily mistaken for affection. When you’re like me, affection is everything.

Well, I don’t want sympathy anymore, I don’t want to be miserable anymore and I certainly don’t want to be controlled anymore. I’m not going to be played like a fiddle and after spending so much time with other families lately, seeing how they treat each other, I see just how corrupt mine is. I realize there is no perfect family, we talked about that a lot tonight at the AA meeting but poisonous families exist and the sad thing is, mine has no idea of it’s level of toxicity. The fact that I am now sober, a little wiser, a little more mature and a little more self-aware – puts things into perspective. It’s helped me realize what’s really important in life and watching my brother and his wife and how they treat their kids with such love and how they treat each other, it’s actually quite beautiful. Is it a show? I think not. I see their frustrations and I’ve talked to my brother, I know they have their issues. But never would they disrespect each other on such a grand scale as what I’ve seen over these past few days at my grandparents.

On the same note the way my dad treats me. I normally blame it on the chemo, I tell myself that he’s sick, he’s moody, he doesn’t feel well but in all reality he’s just always been this way. He’s unsympathetic,  insensitive, indifferent and lacks what I need the most. Just the least bit of affection, some attention, more than anything affirmation. He straight up told me he just won’t do that because it’s not in his nature. He wasn’t raised that way. That tells me he’s unable to change but I don’t believe in that because anybody has the ability to change but they choose not to.

So that tells me and maybe I’m wrong but that tells me that I’m not worth changing for because he knows what would help me while I try to help him as his caregiver but for him it’s not worth making the attempt.

Then at the meeting we talked about resentments. Son-of-a-bitch.

I hate it when we talk about resentments at meetings because it always comes back on us. The addict, the alcoholic. We have to constantly remind ourselves that we are merely actors in a big play called life but we WANT to be the directors and when the actors don’t do what we want we get upset. We get angry and we get frustrated. So, who’s really in control now? I see how I was raised, I was raised to play the same game. I was raised to be a chess master. It’s part of my addiction. Addicts are by nature control freaks, manipulative, deceitful and incredibly controlling and we typically don’t even realize it.

Well fuck a duck.

My grandparents via my dad created a monster. Me. But with time, little by little I began to realize the monster in me could be controlled. At first it needed to be sedated, drugged or drunk in order to control it but now, it needs enlightenment. It needs to be brought further and further into the light and it needs to see more and more so it can better understand why it is what it is, why it was made that way and how to stop it.

I’ve already started the journey. Hell, I’ve already been through the worst of it. Now it’s just slowly putting the pieces of the puzzle together and little bit little things begin to make sense.

Myrtle Beach was the beginning where I started to have little bits of information handed to me on a silver platter from my relatives about my family’s past. Then the fight my dad had with my uncle. Then the hurricane. All in just the course of one summer what was a complete mystery that I didn’t even know was a mystery was made as clear as day to me.

Ironic isn’t it? It took something that was so destructive, a force that wiped out entire towns and caused over 40 billion dollars in damage to help me realize the destructive force my family had on me.

I suppose in some odd way I should be thankful for Irma. As much misery and death as she has caused, I cannot run away from the fact that she has forever changed my life.

I won’t be able to see things the same way again and for that I am thankful, shamefully thankful I suppose but nonetheless thankful.

 

I am on and forever will be on a journey. What I know now will change tomorrow and what I knew yesterday may not be as relevant as the day before but what I do know at this very moment is that my life will never be the same.

C. Brooks

3 thoughts on “Irma Aftermath Day #2: The Real Story

  1. I think you have every right to cut ties with toxic/upsetting people. You can’t the family you’re born into and there are certain things that you (pretty much) have to do and deal with. That being said, no one deserves to be manipulated (especially by family/those you consider to be family). You shouldn’t have to live life like a chess game, addiction makes sure you do that enough as is.

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    1. I agree. It’s easier said than done though. Especially with my situation as a caregiver. I know what I NEED to do but it’s not necessarily what I CAN do at the moment. If I do it, my life will be a living hell. If I don’t do it, my life will be a living hell. There’s no real easy way out of it other than moving to a different college halfway across the state. I mean, I made a commitment to my father and I intend to keep it. I just need to learn how to accept the fact that I can’t change other people but I can change how I react to them and that I can stand up for myself. They obviously won’t like it, there will be fallout but at the same time, boundaries will slowly become the norm (hopefully) and then THEY will get to decide whether or not they will cut me out or they will adjust to my new way of living. Or at least that’s the plan lol

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  2. Alicia

    Enlightenment is often very painful, but useful, sometimes freeing, even as it hurts like hell. I’m sorry you’ve had to experience all this, (from your family situation to Irma), but glad you have come away with some puzzle pieces filled in, and the determination to do something about it. By all means we have the right to cut toxic people out of our lives, even if they’re family. Our culture has this idea that just because someone is our blood relative, we have an obligation to keep them in our lives, even be close to them. I don’t think we do. If they’re toxic for us, we don’t deserve that. I hope you’re able to do whatever it is you feel you need to with what you’ve learned. Maybe from your Dad’s perspective you’re not worth changing for, but I hope you know in yourself that you are. He just isn’t willing to, and that’s on him, not on you, or about your worthiness as a person. That one’s all him not being willing to break out of the pattern he was raised in. You are, you have, and I believe you will continue to. That’s more than many ever do, as you know better than me.

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