It’s a new year again, and although it would be good for me to resolve to exercise more, I don’t have the physical or emotional energy. A resolution to find some additional contract work wouldn’t be bad for the bank account. Deciding to be social and at least leave the house once every day or two would probably be helpful as well. But those seem a little out of reach at the moment. So instead I’m resolving to lighten up on the language front and not say fuck so much. Hence the catchy title.
Next December I might just play grizzly bear and decide to hibernate. If I could sleep through my birthday and Christmas and New Year’s, I’m sure I’d be in better shape. I’m just not made to be merry.
This year for the holidays, my husband and I took a road trip southbound to my sister’s house in southern California. The road trip was fine, but long. My sister’s kids are a pleasure. It’s amusing to watch her two small dogs adapt to the presence of our two big dogs (they ended up great friends).
But it gets more complicated on Christmas eve when my sister and I drive out to the assisted living home where my dad has been living this year. We bring him back to her house for dinner. He’s thinner than the last time I saw him, more frail looking. Even with his cane, he’s unsteady on his feet.
And my thoughts start spinning:
Yes, he’s been irresponsible in his life, true, but he also had a lot of bad luck.
He’s not really so bad. All the worst of it, I made that up. Yes, he exposed me to a sexualized environment, to pornography. Yes, he communicated to me that women’s value was best measured by the size of her boobs or how sexy she looked in bed. But he didn’t actually touch me or do things to me. That’s just my imagination working overtime.
I have dreams, sleeping and waking dreams, and sometimes I can’t tell what is what, and it all feels painfully real. Everything bad I’ve thought about him, I’ve made that up.
What kind of daughter makes things up about her father? She must be sick. I must be sick.
I recognize this. It makes sense, I tell myself, that Doubt might come for a visit along with my dad. It’s hard to recognize this frail, sometimes confused older man as someone who might ever have molested a child. For a while, I can calm myself down, usually by sitting in the living room when my dad is in the kitchen, and vice versa. There are eleven people and four dogs running around the house, so I hope no one notices how I avoid him.
He’s an old man. I don’t seem him often. I could at least have the grace to sit and talk to him.
He’s been thoughtless but never mean to me. I shouldn’t be mean to him.
I hate him.
No, I love my dad. He used to be extroverted and funny, before he was in the car accident. It’s not his fault he had the car accident. I should remember all the times I enjoyed being with him. Now that he’s old, I can give him some happiness back.
It’s hard to manage the conflicting emotions. I poke around a bit to find out where my sister keeps her iron, but it’s in her walk-in closet which unfortunately doesn’t have an electrical outlet. I can’t even make an excuse that I need to iron my clothes, since it’s an informal gathering; I’m in leggings and a sweatshirt. A discrete little burn on my arm to calm things down sounds so appealing but doesn’t appear to be an option, fu–dang it.
He’s over the next day for Christmas, as well. I meditate in the morning, trying to find my center, the wise and healthy part of myself that can keep me steady. That part wanders in and out during the day however. I’m quiet while others play noisy games. They don’t imagine that I’m thinking about how it would be better to be dead, that I just don’t want to face the rest of my life with this yes he did-no he didn’t-I’m such a horrible person earworm stuck in my head.
My dad gets tired and asks to go home early; my other sister drives him back to his place. When he’s gone, I can breathe a bit better, and with enough alcohol, we get a hilarious if rather revolting game of Cards Against Humanity going with my two sisters, my brother-in-law, my husband, my other son and his girlfriend. (I have very mixed feelings about this game, actually–but I digress).
I’m listless and lazy for much of the visit. I’m not very helpful to my sister and brother-in-law at mealtimes or when there are errands to run, and I’m ashamed of myself for that. But fu-gosh darn it anyway, I just can’t summon up my best self or even enough energy to impersonate my best self.
I also notice, more than I usually do, my sisters’ issues. My one sister, a lovely, talented underachiever who openly says “I don’t like to reflect too much on my life,” went briefly to therapy, and when the therapist asked her, “Did your father sexually abuse you?” she quit. And she drinks, a lot. My other sister has a lot of anxiety, tremendous difficulty sleeping, and an ever-changing list of foods she decides she cannot eat. She will take all kinds of homeopathic remedies that don’t help and coffee enemas and has been, at various times, gluten free or grain free or egg free or dairy free and/or soy free and vegetarian, no she’ll eat fish, no she hates fish but chicken is okay… But she won’t go to therapy at all. I love them both dearly, but they are not okay, and they don’t want to talk about it.
We drive home, and in the car I make a schedule for a weekly routine that will have me exercise more, protect meditation time, and still have me working more than I have been over the past three months. I feel a little optimistic about the new year. After all, haven’t I made progress? I quit my job before it devoured me. I am kinder to myself, at least a lot of the time. I can better observe my thoughts.
But once I’m home and it’s freezing and we’re supposed to celebrate, the optimism fucking abandons me. (I’m still allowed a few swear words, when necessary). I think about the best way to kill myself, which I’ll probably never do but can’t stop thinking about. I plot out ways to hurt myself that my husband won’t notice. Today I couldn’t get out of bed until 1:30 in the afternoon.
E has been on vacation in New York, and though she said she was available by text or phone, I haven’t reached out to her at all. Maybe I wanted to prove something, though I’m not sure what. It’s been a little over two weeks, but I’ll see her tomorrow. I’m kind of looking forward to it, but I also know she can’t do anything.
This is just me. I’m a person who is depressed a lot, a person who can’t be sure of her own story. I’m a person who wishes she had parents who were grown ups and cared for her the way good parents do. (Note: my mother has not called me or reached out to me over the holidays at all. I called her on December 23, but that’s the last time we spoke.) I’m a person with wounds that don’t seem to want to heal DANG IT. I’m a person who can sometimes manage her pain but a lot of the time allows it to derail her.
Although I don’t feel that others are weak when they stay depressed, I wonder about myself. I wonder if I try hard enough.
Sorry, bit of a downer this post is turning out to be. Kind of like the dang holidays. Thank goodness we’re done with that shit for another year.