Get in My Head
It is day twelve for the zerotohero challenge, although it seems like it has been much longer than that. Today’s assignment is to publish a post based on one of the comments from yesterday that we left on blogs that were new to us.
First, a little background so I may explain just why I was so attracted to this post. I moved out of my parents house to live with my employers when I was 19 years old. I was fortunate enough to have a great couple to work for, that cared about me and the damage that I was enduring, living with my parents.
At the time, my mother was going through a period of severe alcoholism, and my father and I barely spoke to each other, due to past hurts and emotional scars. It was best for everyone that I leave.
When I finally began to return to their house from time to time, I was greeted by a very unpleasant truth. The animals in my parents’ household were, and had been, quite severely neglected. I couldn’t admit this painful fact to myself until I’d had enough distance and perspective to see what was really going on.
I dealt with the realization in my own way, and was able to adopt a cat that I love more than life itself.
That’s Fatty. She is amazing. Although our time together was short, I spoiled and loved the hell out of her, so I could feel better about the mistreatment of my parents’ pets.
A Life Change
I recently have gone through some pretty dramatic changes in my life, the way I live it, and how I see things. Trying to simplify, I accepted a generous offer from my parents to move back into their home. It was over two years later that I moved back in, just two months ago.
I knew there would be challenges, but I was unprepared for the mental and emotional toll it would take on me.
Upon moving in, I was appalled at the condition of the place. It was messy, smelly, dirty, and altogether unlivable, for me. I had become used to living in a clean and orderly environment.
So I started to clean, and clean, then clean some more. Was it my responsibility to clean? No. No one asked me to. But out of self-respect for me, and enough respect for my family, to want them to live in a clean place, I did so. It felt good. But no one really worked with me on this. Including my two younger brothers, 19 and 16.
I realized a lot about my parents, based on their attitudes and thoughts about the state of the house and my cleaning it. Things I couldn’t fully understand till now.
When I was younger, I used to refer to my house as Noah’s ark to people for a couple reasons. The first is that there has been a variety and number of animals there for a long time. The second is that my parents are very religious.
But there is a third thing about my parents, that I am now just beginning to grasp: they are not very advanced in matters of the heart. They are devoutly religious, as I said, but they are not what I would call spiritual. They also are not terribly evolved or mature when it comes to feelings, and emotional regulation.
This resulted in having three children that followed their example without knowing any better. I haven’t been a very good person to others at times. And this has manifested in a very abusive, cyclic, and repetitive relationship among the members of our family.
This time around it hasn’t been as bad as before. Screaming matches, silent treatment, and insults used to be the status quo. Now, they happen less frequently. Communication has improved by some, but not a lot.
The Truth Hurts
Although I have gone out of my way to keep the house clean, take care of the animals, and improve communications between family members, one huge obstacle is still in the way of peace: the past.
My parents have accused me of verbally abusing them I don’t know how many times. What they fail to accept is that it is a cycle of abuse, passed down to me from them, and then given back in turn.
Sometimes I do get out of line, but a lot of what they think is abuse is simply my willingness and desire to speak candidly and openly about things. I try to be honest with myself at all times now, and I say what is, as I feel it to be.
The problem is, my parents do not want to hear the truth. When I speak about the state they allowed the house to get in, the way they treat their animals, or simply the way their actions make me feel, I get accused of abuse.
My parents straight up deny anything and everything I say that disagrees with their own version of the world and the way it is. This makes me want too fight for the truth. To have my feelings be heard and validated. And when I fight for what I believe in, the arguments begin.
By questioning the care of the animals, I am told that I am abusive because I insinuate they are wrong. I am backed up by facts and information from websites, books, and authorities, yet I am wrong, because my conclusions do not equal my parents’ preconceived notions.
What to Do
Bluntly, their accusations and denials hurt like hell. For a long time I lived my life under their roof, knowing some things were wrong, and never being able to act against them. I was sheltered and never encouraged to be myself. Never taught to speak my feelings, because they might be wrong. Never allowed to defend myself without being an abuser.
And now I have come back years later, to try to help them and me. To attempt to dig to the bottom of all the problems and heal myself, while hopefully helping my parents to do the same.
But they are so staunchly against it. All the acts that I do for them are naught, if my words do not match what they want to hear and believe. My parents think I am “living in the past” by attempting to discern what when wrong then and how I could fix it now.
Everything becomes an argument between right and wrong. And I don’t even believe in those things. I think truth lives in the mind of the beholder, and even that my parents won’t agree with.
I want to leave soon, and explore the Appalachian Trail, to do good in the world, and feel like I am making a difference. I want to escape them, when just two short months ago I thought we could help each other to become better people.
But I am scared, scared they won’t take care of the animals while I’m gone. That the dishes won’t get done, the bathrooms won’t get cleaned.
I am letting them bring me down like they did so many years before, for so long.
I want to help them. But I don’t think I can. Maybe parents are only supposed to be in our lives for so long.
It is painful to think about the harm they have inflicted on both their pets and their children. But it is worse to imagine all the pain they bring on themselves routinely, by being so close-minded and unwilling to evolve.
The author of Can’t Fit in My Jeans nailed the pain of wanting something you love to be happy, but not knowing how to give that happiness. Talking about how thinking love is enough to make a dog happy, but afterward realizing it simply isn’t.
I guess I will just have to try to accept that fact and move on with my life. It hurts, because I really wanted to be part of a family that loves and supports each other.
But I haven’t really felt loved or supported by my parents, although they claim the opposite. If the bottom line is wanting that which we love to be happy, at least they will know I am able to be happy, if not with them, as I would prefer.
Yes, love hurts. It hurts worse than any other pain imaginable. Emotional pain is that which we cannot see, cannot physically fight. It is a pain that must be felt, and then let go of.
I can only wish my parents the best. I cannot change their lives for them. That is what I have to do for myself. I can only wish them the best of luck, and love them from afar.