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 sorceress 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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This is Where I Say I’ve Had Enough

This is where I say I’ve had enough
and no one should ever feel the way that I feel now.
A walking open wound,
a trophy display of bruises
and I don’t believe that I’m getting any better, any better.
-Dashboard Confessional, Saints and Sailors

You know it’s bad when I’m quoting Dashboard Confessional in one of my posts. Going back to my “emo” high school days with all of THAT emotion.

I feel like I’ve been tricked by the Universe. Or perhaps, I’m just being led into a place of dealing with a very painful wound. The Universe/my Higher Power has a way of using certain situations to single out what needs work.

Remember how I wrote that post two posts back about my abandonment issues?

Well, they continue to come up. I’ve been trying to ignore it or something, thinking that maybe it’s just a one-time thing and it will pass. It hasn’t. Things have continued to happen that trigger me in the extreme. I’ve had so much pain going on that it’s been really tempting to find something to numb it. I finally just admitted that to my sponsor in a voicemail. And saying “I want to drink” was an extremely painful admission. I shouldn’t be weak.

titanic
(Source)

My head is screaming that I shouldn’t be so many things. There’s a post that’s been resounding in my head lately that Glennon Melton wrote over at Momastery. She talks about breaking out, about being who you are, about defrosting. I wish I could sit down with her and just ask, “How do you do that when, if you are a bit off kilter, the world looks at you cross-eyed and thinks you’re insane? How do you do that when your heart is in a meat tenderizer?”

Is it a coincidence that my word for this year, not by my choice but by some kind of Divine Guide, is audacity? Of all things. How does one have audacity, pray tell?

I see now that I shrink back in invisibility not because I want to be small but because I am so, so big. I am so big that I am afraid it will scare people and it will be too much and TOO big. I feel like I’m holding a firehose that will twist and turn in my hands out of control, too much water coming through. My inner self is so big I don’t know how to handle her. So I stuff her away because if I can’t handle her, how can other people?

And if she’s so big, what if she’s all big and dramatic and narcissistic like my dad? What then? Am I just like him in the end? Am I crazy?

I am terribly, terribly ashamed of my inner, overly dramatic self. She’s embarrassing.

I’m crying at my computer screen writing this, and I cringe writing that because that seems dramatic, too. But it’s true. My shame is overwhelming and I want to hide. I’ve just been laying on my bed for an hour trying to hide. I’m crying now because this crazy girl inside me is so ridiculously shameful. I’m screaming at her, “STOP! Just stop! Just quiet down! You are too loud. You are too big. You are too much of a bother and I wish you would just go away, maybe forever. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with you trying to escape all the time when you shouldn’t be let out at all. You’re too dangerous.

Most of all, my big, dramatic inner self is just going to drive other people away from me, in the end. So she needs to just go away now. She needs to become the quiet little nun in the back of the monastery, silent, serene, one with the Universe. Meditative. Keeping everything behind the sweet face that everyone knows. If everyone really knew how monstrously large she was inside, they would be afraid.

I am afraid. She’s going to destroy my life and leave me here all alone.

And another part of me inside is 7 years old. Laying face down on the grass near our townhouse, sobbing my heart out. “Amanda!” I’m crying. I tried getting her attention by crying loud enough that she could hear me up the hill. I couldn’t go up the hill to be with her and her friend because I wasn’t allowed to play up on the hill. And she picked her friend over me. Finally I cried loud enough that she came back and gave me a flower. I proceeded to throw myself down and cry some more. “She came back just to give me a flower and say goodbye to our friendship,” my seven year old mind said. I sobbed and sobbed but she didn’t return again. I was alone and no one wanted me. I knew I was being dramatic but I couldn’t stop.

I can’t unseparate my little, histrionic, overdramatic 7 year old from the big inside, beautiful artistic part of me, so they become completely snarled together. The terrified little girl grabs the firehose in an effort to get attention. Instead, it just goes everywhere and sprays everyone, and they all run away because they don’t want to get wet. She’s just a little girl so she doesn’t know how to direct it.

The adult me still struggles to untangle them because the 7 year old is still so afraid, and the adult still doesn’t know sometimes how to take care of that. Because adult me still never learned that people are sometimes more consistent than that and only run away because it’s wet and they don’t want to be wet, not because it’s strong and beautiful. The adult me also has a hard time figuring out still that the 7 year old just wants to be seen and just wants company. The adult still thinks sometimes that she’s the 7 year old, waiting for a rescuer to come. She forgets that she is actually the rescuer.

Okay. That’s my heart, out on a page. I’ve written myself out of the tangle in my head, now. At least for this moment. I can see now that I need an ocean full of compassion today for all my inner selves. The poor dears. No wonder when I asked for my Higher Power to show up, all They said is, “I’m so sorry, honey. I know this is hard.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t get snarled again later. That’s kind of life, sometimes. And this is my work right now, apparently – this issue within myself. It hasn’t stopped coming up, so I’m guessing this is where I’m supposed to be.

But I did find it interesting that when I went to find firehose pictures just now, many of them have TWO people holding the hose. Even when adults are holding it. Maybe hoses are not meant to be held alone.

firehose
(Source)

And when I went to get the link for Glennon’s recent post, I had to re-read it. And that told me that I’m at level one today and I need to pay attention and accept myself so I don’t go to level two. That I am not safe to others until I stop trying to kill my real self. (See the post here)¬†When I started reading all her other recent posts they told me how to do that… told me not to keep running from my broken heart. Told me that small women build cages for everyone she knows but the sage drops keys for the beautiful rowdy prisoners. Maybe little girl inside needs that key – bringing me back to the LAST post on this subject where I realized I am the key. How’s that for full circle?

I could just backspace this messy, stream of consciousness post but in the interest of honesty, I’m going to put it out there (even though that one part of me still says that’s pretty overdramatic). And if you read through all of that – thank you.