Making a first post.
I responded to a post just a moment earlier and then realized that that is not writing my own post.
Forever a quandary how to start. Something I notice about books and films is that starting seems to be more accomplishable than ending. I am truly somewhere in the middle. I did recently get married which is both a beginning and an end. That was two months ago, and as much as I enjoy my home and the presence and loving attention of my husband, it is slow moving this life we’ve chosen. That’s maturity and growing up I’m sure. I am 42 and never married before now. He’s 54 and was married for 17 years, and it was her decision to end the marriage. I got lucky, and he says the same about finding me. He’s a good guy, works 20 years with UPS, and has two kids, the youngest of which is 17 and the oldest 27. He was stepdad to the older son, though virtually his only father. Their family, the kids’ aunt in particular, his ex’s sister, argued with me about calling my husband a stepdad, as if I was the one causing distance in a family where drug addiction has effected mother and son. That was a piece in the family’s disruption. The mother became addicted to crystal meth and older son to heroin. It was not going to last. I met my husband six years ago, and we started dating in February 2008. His son had just turned 12, though I really didn’t get to know him until he was 15. At that point, he came to live with us. His dad and I had started living together in September 2008, and we moved into a two-bedroom apartment three years later so the son would have a home with us. Why don’t I mention names? It seems I’ve censored names about three times in writing thus far. By mentioning drug addiction, I feel there’s a certain amount of anonymity that goes with the shame of a challenging time. I am a recovering alcoholic of eight-plus years. I don’t feel shame about that, yet it seems the story is larger than just mine. Ultimately there is shame when it comes to not being able to tell a story of pride and accomplishments. In the response to a post that I wrote earlier, the one that I realized did not qualify as my own post, but a response, I shared how the son who lives with us is staying home from school today and has sequentially each year gone to Opportunities for Learning to get credit for courses he didn’t pass. Same story this year I’m pretty sure. This used to upset me. His dad would say that it’s his decision whether he graduates, and this blew my mind initially. I did meet his father in the recovery world, in Alcoholics Anonymous. I love my recovery; I came from a dysfunctional family in its own right, though lack of education was never a problem. We all graduated college, and my dad has a PhD in physics from Harvard. Dysfunctional came down to a cluttered home and sugar addiction, arguments about money when there needn’t be, and no friend of mine was allowed over, once my mother became too ashamed of the house being such a mess. I have an older brother and he’d invite neighbor friends over, and eventually a girlfriend when he was living at home after college. Myself, I moved to Chicago after graduating from Wellesley College, and when I wanted to make a trip home with my boyfriend, we stayed in some inns, and I’m not sure if we saw my parents. I had to have been 29 and he was 33, but the house was a mess, and I remember where we were alone, and not with my family. When we returned to Chicago from LA, eventually he would go back to Germany where he took a position teaching, and I would return to LA where I stayed with my family for five months. That was in September 2002, five years before I met Mike, and six before we moved in with each other. He was the first person who I lived with. I had helped my parents de-clutter their home in 2006, and in the process, I realized that I wanted to be with someone who didn’t debt and who didn’t clutter. My German ex did neither of these, but it was great to meet a man who too was free of these habits. I didn’t say anything about it when we were dating, but I think the clarity was there and the universe responded. I recognized in 2007 that I didn’t want to have kids; this had taken years, seven to be specific, of therapy in Chicago, and not really a conscious awareness that I was grappling with the issue, to resolve. My parents were both born in the early 1930’s which now seems really long ago, and they were effected by the Depression and the sense of deprivation that was characteristic of that time. They were not easy adults. I make my living doing massage, working at Massage Envy for most of my five-year career, and conversations arise that enrich my life there. One of these was a client who was struggling with her ailing mother. She suggested a book “Trapped in the Mirror.” (Can’t figure out how to underline it — I am not a teckie so it’s amazing I’m doing this blog thing at all.) The subtitle to this book is “Adult Children of Narcissistic Parents,” and it was a profound awakening for me. Mike says his ex was very hard on their son, the younger, in her narcissism. She made everything about her. This I really see through her addiction to meth. It took a few years, perhaps it was last year, that Mike admitted to me he’d gotten his GED and not graduated. He did go on to university later when UPS required a degree for promotion, and he did well, as I saw the transcript. The question now that I never thought I would arrive at is how do we release the shame? I didn’t see shame as such a critical factor, and yet it has been. From the time I grew up and my parents would argue every night, and my mother would criticize my father’s drinking habit, and she would shop endlessly at Pic n Save and fill the house with clutter, and when I rode horses, she would embark on stories out of nowhere about how when I was a baby I was allergic to milk and my bottom would be raw, and she’d set me in the sun to heal and there would be no context for the story she’d tell. It was an ever present earthquake trying to find your footing as there were these one to two people who would do what they could to fight for the ground under your feet. Shame? It was a given rather than a result and then a result leading to many more gifts of the same. And yet as I write this, it sounds like physical abuse, but I suppose that would be the house or the liquor, but there wasn’t that kind of punishing madness that goes on in many homes. Well, the kid’s in bed and he will have to find his own voice around the shame….. Why is it that as I write that, it feels like me? It’s not me. As Mike’s friend Troy at work sings on a video that is so catchy, “I feel good about me!” But that identifying I is not only me these days, it’s a marriage. His son asked last night if we were going to join his grandmother for Christmas. This is the mother’s family, who is Jewish, but they celebrate elements of Christmas. I am Episcopalian, and I had decided to resign from Christmas this year, regarding my own family. It’s interesting because the article I read this morning was about the trials of potty-training, and anyway that plays a part in my decision not doing Christmas with my family. My brother and I are distant as it is, having had strained relations all along. He and his wife have two boys, both the same age, though not identical. I rarely see them though we live but twenty minutes from each other. Last Christmas, on the rare day that I see them, my brother shames his son in front of me, saying, “How many eight-year-olds still wet their bed at night?” My nephew’s face drew total pain, given this is the one of the few times we see each other and my brother decides to piss on it like that. By April, when I made one last attempt to show up and participate, by way of stopping by a little league game my brother had offered as an option for connecting, and it was birthday time, my brother who was rushing to the other twin’s special Olympics event, chastised the one who played little league to get in the car, and that was my greeting. With that, I made a decision, that Christmas is out. I’ll still approach it as a spiritual opportunity, but not as a family event. It feels good to write this. I’ve decided that it is not a fit for me to join their family for dinner. I’m done. I want to go to church that evening, and I know my husband will join me. Thanks for reading; it feels wonderful to write.