Legacy

We’re not up for that.

The countless times I heard that phrase as a child. It started with disinterest. It became a lack of time. It became a lack of motivation. It became a lack of energy.

It was too hard to interact with the world, to interact with life, to interact with others. So much easier to shut it all out. I think my dad was really, really afraid.

I see his legacies still hanging as paintings in corners of my mind.

BIG

 

They’re lovely dreams, really. My dad just thought that because something was painted in technicolor, it was real. Or perhaps it’s just that he wanted them to be and was afraid of what real truly was.

Some days I don’t blame him, either. Living in a low-income apartment complex carries a certain amount of stress with it. Children throw rocks in the street for entertainment. Heroin needles are littered by the trash can. We were awakened in the middle of the night to drug busts, hysterical drunk women calling for taxis, and overdramatic boyfriends driving pickup trucks across the lawn. Murders happened first down the street in shocking drive-by fashion. Then one day an apartment is boarded up and you’re told it’s because someone murdered his wife/girlfriend. Posters for sexual predators are hung on light poles, and your sisters are followed home by strange men.

I can’t understand why we stayed so long. 10 years in the same apartment. 1997 – 2007. In the beginning, we were on food stamps. At the end, my dad made almost 100K a year. And yet he felt somehow trapped. Perhaps those paintings had become reality.

Or maybe it’s just that when you shut yourself away from life, from reality, the light can never reach you enough for you to grow. Energy disappears because you have nothing to innervate you.

I’ve gone through periods of anger at my dad for his fantasies of riches.

1.7 billion dollars, Dad? Really? And did you really have to maniacally twist my life around the stunted tree you were growing from the seeds of your delusion? Did you have to ruin my life for your dream? I had to listen to you every damn night for 10-15 years, talking about what coincidence that day “PROVED” that God was going to give us this money.

So many words became loaded with the bullets of your desperation. Persia. Imminent. 1.7. Montana. Any time Iran was in the news, I knew about it. Every Montana license plate or moving truck that drove past our car, becoming an endless blur of reasons. Riddling me with holes.

We were

We were all shot through with the emptiness by the times my sisters were shot in reality.

Maybe that’s gratuitous of me to say, but we were all slowly dying anyway. When your 16 year old sister is desperate to move to Virginia to live with her best friend, there’s a problem. When you’re slowly suffocating inside your life, there’s a problem. I lived in a glass box.

I heard “no” so often. No, it was a family day so I couldn’t go to a concert with my then-boyfriend. No, our family was busy so I couldn’t go hang out with this or that friend.

Louder were the silent “noes” inflicted. No friends nearby because church was 2 hours away and we were homeschooled. No boys because courtship was the name of the game. No speaking up because Dad was head of the house – ok… that wasn’t a silent no, it just became one after we spoke out one too many times and had to face wrath.

My parents slammed the door in the face of Life, a wragged wraith disguising the sorceressΒ beneath. They became the beast, but I was the one locked in the castle for years while the rose dropped petals and I waited for love to find me.

It’s legacy.

I still struggle to open the door.

I have flashes of insane rage at my dad for doing this to me. But somewhere down the line I calm down because I realize I’m still doing it. I am my father’s child, just as he was his father’s child.

My dad used to come home in the 1960’s, and no one was there to greet him. My grandma says he used to ride the streets on his bike trying to stay away from my grandpa. My aunt says the atmosphere at home was abusive. I don’t know what the truth is, but I know that my uncle is a sociopath and my dad has very obvious delusions.

So it’s no wonder that my dad carried this legacy on. The anger that he unleashed on us if we “crossed him” although it almost always was never our fault. The way he pushed away life as if he couldn’t bear it. He had never been able to. He had never been taught to. And reality gets very heavy sometimes. Especially when your dreams fail, and you have to eke out a living on food stamps for awhile after making 20K a month, as he had in his younger years.

He just closed his eyes and shut it all away. And in fear, he shut all of us away, too, lest we threaten his world with our unique version of earthquake. With our uniqueness in general. He disguised our prison with beautiful visions of future wealth, and they became our virtual reality.

I have learned well to shut out the light. I still do it. I was taught all the right phrases. “It’s too much for me right now.” Maybe though I’m just really, really afraid. Because I have learned how the pain of loss aches through your bones long after the loss has passed. To let light in means I might lose it soon.

Why do I feel such exhaustion? Maybe it’s not because I’m too tired to open the door. Maybe it’s precisely because the door is closed. Growing things can’t create food without the sun.

It’s been so long, though, and I was taught the ways of caged life so well that I struggle to learn what it means to live free. Liberated. I still stand behind the door feeling too tired to pull it open. Or that’s what I tell myself because that’s what I’ve learned to label it as. That’s the story I’ve learned about this dogged weariness.

I'm frozen in fear of even the beauty of

I’m not in constant anger at my dad anymore. Compassion is more often the norm. I have no desire for anything more than a shallow conversation with him, and I will never ask his advice. But I understand it now, the way that reality can feel like a stalker haunting your steps. I understand because I run away from it, too. Reality can equal hollow, endless loss.

I shut out good too, though. Just as the Universe extends its warm loving arms. I don’t know how to accept it because I’m always waiting for the backstab.

It’s legacy.

And I know it’s time I start a new one, for the sake of my future children. It’s what I continue to strive for. Backstab is no legacy to pass on.

But please hold me in the light, because some days it feels like too much for me to find on my own. Just know that I am trying.


 

An update to how I’m working through things with my dad now – It’s Complicated

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26 thoughts on “Legacy

  1. you don’t have to continue with the legacy though. the light that comes on the way through your journey can overtake the sadness and sorrow and you can begin to create a new one.

  2. Always holding you in the light that you were born to bask in, honey, the light which radiates from your soul, your words, your story. You are light, Laurie. And one day soon, you’ll see it. Xxx Stunningly beautiful writing. Thank you xxx

    1. Beautiful Sarah… thank you so much. I just want you to know that you inspire me continually… I don’t remember if I told you but I’m reading The Untethered Soul because of you, and it’s helped with these things immeasurably in the past couple of weeks. Thank you for holding me in the light. Means so much. Xx

  3. Perfect love casts out fear, and NO door is too strong to be overcome by it.

    There are days when love doesn’t feel like enough, but I’m realising, gradually, that as with many things, it doesn’t need to feel enough to be enough.

    You’ll make it through that doorway when you’re good and ready. The fact that you are railing against this legacy is evidence enough.

    1. Lizzi, thank you love. ❀ Slowly learning this lesson, but sometimes slow is better. It gets more fully learned. It's true, some days it doesn't feel like enough. But I will just keep believing that it IS. And the door will swing open finally and forever at some point here. πŸ™‚
      So grateful for you!

      1. I promise you – most of the days it’s all I can do to even give voice to that supposed truth – on those days it’s all I can do to acknowledge the love sent my way as worthwhile, not just some kind of hideous sham…other days I feel like I’m soaring, and as though I can accept that other people are not liars or fools, and that they must care for a reason. These things vacillate and I get it – truly, but what I hope (for both of us) is that gradually, the swings of the pendulum between light and dark will get shallower, and come to rest in the light..

  4. There’s a concept that my father-in-law introduced me to (I’m not sure where he got it). As we heal ourselves, we heal our legacy. As we seek, our answers constantly change. What we thought meant one thing takes on new meaning as we go through life. This open mindedness, if we can sustain it, somehow not only heals us but travels back in time (as we understand it in our limited way) and heals the past as well. Not just the past that we remember, but all pasts we’re connected to. We somehow have a role in healing our parents, their parents, their parents…and the legacy we thought we were left with changes. Therefore, the process of self growth is more than just self indulgent introspection, it’s a responsibility to the future and the past. We can heal our legacy. Amazing.

    I’ve experienced this myself, the way that people and events seem to shape shift and look different as I look at them differently. That’s not completely unexpected but I never expected to see healing in my parents as I healed myself. Somehow, even though I haven’t talked to them about most of my healing, it has touched them anyway. We are that deeply connected. We understand so little about time and space and God so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising but it’s freaking cool. πŸ™‚

    1. Karen, I love this. I love the idea that it heals both. I hope so much that it could, and will. I know that so far I’ve seen some of my own healing bring a bit of healing to my parents, too. I can only hope that could continue. It’s true though, time and space and God are all stunning and beautiful mysteries! And so deeply connected in such strange and mystical ways… I continue to be astounded. Yet another thing that helps me to seek healing for my own heart. The Buddhists talk about boddhisattvas – those who seek enlightenment in order that all beings might be enlightened; it is the same principle to me. Seeking healing in my heart that others might receive it as well.
      Thank you for your lovely words, as always I so deeply appreciate your clear truth. Haven’t forgotten about the email; probably will write it tomorrow now that my work week is done. πŸ™‚

  5. It’s a struggle every day to change the pattern – but you are worth it – and it can only make your future better! I was determined not to repeat the past with my kids and, for the most part, I think I did good. However, I’m still working on me so that I can be happier and make sure my future relationships are better than the past. It’s hard every day – but what is the alternative?

    1. That’s true, to me there is no alternative!! I have to believe in the end that the struggle is worth it. Not only for me but for the sake of others – future relationships, future children, even just future friends. πŸ™‚ Glad you came by, Jana! πŸ™‚

  6. Thank you for this. I too am struggling to come to terms with this concept of legacy, grappling with success and not wanting to pass down the negative traits to my future children. Karen @Mended Musings also thanks for sharing such inspirational words!

  7. Having gotten caught up in that same pattern and legacy for far too many years, I know this fear. But I also know we can beat it out. I’m glad that compassion has replaced anger for the most part… that’s a big part of it I think.

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