The hardest thing for me to do over the last few months has been to separate my expectations of other peoples’s expectations of what I should feel, from what I expect I should I feel, from what I think I feel, from what I feel. To unpack that,
- there are those who are quite to see me roll around in pain, so I should feel the pain in full;
- there are those who want me to let go, so I should ignore the pain;
- that where I should be happy and fulfilled, I’m instead hollow and angry and empty;
- and that I am exhausted because I can’t reconcile these states.
Like yeah, I live and breathe sorrow and shame for everyone I’ve hurt. Whenever I get in the mood to punish myself I have a draw full of shiny nails to hammer into the cross.
Before that, I was a child. My therapist and I are working through my father. So dad died in November 2003. When I saw him dead on the kitchen floor, I thought “oh, alright”, and went right back to my videos games. Between then and his funeral on the Friday I only wanted for him to go in the ground so I could get back to work. In the 15 years between I haven’t felt much more on the topic of my dad dying. That isn’t normal. It’s not normal to hear someone talk about their fathers as a figure they love and cherish, and wonder to myself “what’s wrong with this person?”
When I was 11 or 12, my dad tried to kill me. My mum and sister were both there. Mum and dad were having some stupid fight about some stupid thing, so of course my sister and I jumped into pull them apart. Whenever the topic of my dad comes up, they defend him with “that’s not who he was” and “you didn’t know him before he got bad.” These are all true things for the person to says them. In truth he wasn’t that bad to them. I guess? It was me flat on my back on the bed, him knelt on top of me, his hands around my throat, his eyes full of dead and hate. It’s beyond fucked up that this even happened, let alone that I go around for 25 years with the idea that this is a normal thing that dads do.
This is why I disassociate. I partition Outside Mark from Brain Mark, and Brain Mark from Heart Mark. This is why I’ll immediately cut out anyone who threatens to leave me vulnerable. It’s why I could date someone for months and not be able to tell them more than “I guess I like you.” The person I allow get close is the one who can hurt me. It’ll be them choking me next if I let down my guard. Whenever I was violent, I was violent with my dad’s hands around my throat. This does not excuse the awful things I’ve done myself. It anything, this underscores how my choices in the moment will stretch out to fill a life. One awful truth is that abuse in families endures across generations. They fuck you up, your mum and dad. I’m dad too.
Whatever I’ve did was what somebody else did to me first. If I’ve made someone, it’s because someone made me. Although I’ve tackled my behaviour and made as much right as I can, I won’t heal-feel inside-until I acknowledge how fucked up my life made me too. It’s heartbreaking to me that I am never let myself be happy or allow love. When the last person I dated told me “I love you”, my reaction was to say “oh, okay” and change topic. And then dump them a few weeks later because their unwanted love and affection threatened me.
What I want most from my life is to be able to be vulnerable. Although I can pour out everything random and awful, I can’t relax enough to be comfortable seen holdings hands in public. That I’m otherwise high-functioning makes me feel even more wrong inside. I’ve gotten my life in gear, I’m learning Dutch and hope to move in April and I’m training for a marathon later. I’ll see my kids in December for the first time since 2012. The more it goes right outside, the worse it gets inside. Every little old scar that therapy opens up to heal makes me feel a little more worse.
I won’t heal until I understand my emotions about me, and that without hedging them with what you want me to feel about me. This is painful on it’s own. My choices to cut out everyone and be alone make it worse.