Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just Another Day

Tomorrow is the 23rd Anniversary of my dad's death.

Some of these have passed me by without a thought.  Last year it really bugged me.  This year, it's more like a simple connection.  Oh, it's that day again.  Okay.

It was a suicide.  Dad was on a downward spiral for a long time.  He was an alcoholic and had brain damage from it, as well as a destroyed body.

The funeral was ugly and I'm still angry about the fallout from it.  That's what I remember more than his death.  I remember how my grandmother would corner my sister or myself and tell us how if we had loved him more he wouldn't have done it.  I remember how his sister acted like she had no idea there were problems.  The years of alcoholism weren't a clue.  Him suddenly showing up at my grandmother's doorstep unannounced to live with her wasn't a clue.  His deteriorated mental state wasn't a clue.  His ruined health wasn't a clue.  She acted like this was a huge shock and it was our fault for keeping it from her--lying to her about how great things were.  Actually, she said we lied to her, when we told her at the funeral that things were bad and we let it be known.  She claimed we never did any such thing.

So no, I don't think about how I lost somebody.  I think about how I watched my family unravel, crash, and catch fire.  I think about how his childhood friends came to his funeral and not a single one of them were shocked.

Suicides destroy families.  I've seen it before and I've lived it.  I haven't spoken to my dad's side of the family in years.  I had to divorce myself from them because they were so nasty towards my sister and I.  Every letter was full of venom.

I'll admit--I was a jerk.  I just stopped talking to them.  They sent me checks and I ignored them.  They sent me birthday cards and I ignored them.  I took the money, of course, but I said nothing.  Not a word.

My grandmother sent me a Christmas card telling me about how upset she was and how she just wanted to hear from me and I ignored her.  I was in my own private hell and just couldn't bring myself to contact her.  I was waging my own battles inside my head.

I feel terrible about how it all unraveled and came about.  When my grandmother died, I didn't go to the funeral.  She eventually died from alzheimer's and dementia.  I said nothing to my aunt.  Not even a condolence card.  Even when she sent me a check for my portion of the inheritance, I said nothing. Not a word.

I was angry, I'll admit, but there was something else.  I got tired of being the crazy one in the family. I got tired of being treated like The Joker.  I know I'm different.  I know there's some things not right with me.  But being treated like a violent mental patient all the time gets old.

It's not just my dad's side of the family who treats me like that.  Parts of my mom's side treat me like that, too.  I have two cousins I knew as babies.  I mean, I held them, fed them, and even changed one of their diapers.  Then, I didn't see them for 17 years.

Seventeen years later, they were at a family reunion.   There were other reunions between that time but I never went.  Most of those reunions I was never invited to or even told about.  I'd like to say it was because the family knew I was too broke to travel anywhere but that's not the whole reason.  As you can imagine, I'm a bit of a black sheep, and as I've said before, treated like a mentally deranged nutcase.

So, these two cousins were there.  I introduced myself to them and they both froze.  They froze and a look of terror spread across their faces.  They knew me.  They knew about me and I had a reputation. It was like they found themselves standing face-to-face with a serial killer or an alien in a public place.  They had to play it cool despite wanting to run away screaming.

Despite the bullshit I write on this blog, I've never killed anybody in my life.  Never.  I'm actually a very nice man who makes ice cream for his friends.  I like dogs and babies love me.  To be treated like a physical manifestation of all the horrific characters out of Hollywood really pissed me off. Worse, I knew where they got that fear--other family members.  Somebody told them a series of things about me and they believed them.

It was insulting.

But no, my ties to family are uneasy most of the time.  I'm often not told about weddings and various family events.  If I send them an e-mail, it usually gets ignored.  There are a couple of family members who still talk to me and for that I'm grateful.

But family is complicated and winters/early springs are very hard for me.

It's no secret I struggle with depression.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder--SAD.  Every winter I crash into a black hole.  It's a tail-spin I cannot pull out of until the seasons shift and I can get more sunlight.

I thought I had a good game plan to handle it this winter.  I damn near didn't make it out of the last one.  But, things didn't go according to plan and I took some structural damage I wasn't expecting.  It happens.

I don't believe in coincidence.  These things happened for a reason.  And now that I'm finding myself at this mile marker, I can honestly say I feel better despite all of the things going on right now.  I'm no longer angry at my dad for what he did.  I'm no longer angry at his sister and mother for blaming me for what he did.  It sucks that elements of my family treat me like a monster but that's just how it goes.

My mom always said living well is the best revenge.  If I keep doing what I'm doing, there will come a day when they will want to admit they're related to me.  Stranger things have happened.  And when that day comes, I will simply smile and let it go.  I'm fighting to keep certain patterns from repeating. I'm not my dad.  I'm trying so hard to avoid his pitfalls and to not do what he did.

The first thing--don't give up.  The rest will sort itself out as the days play out.  

No comments:

Post a Comment