Between all of the quirks of my family members I am a genetic minefield. Especially when it comes to my parents. It seems that I have inherited their worst qualities.
Let’s start with my mother. She is a woman who gave me everything and sacrificed so much to give me a better life. She can also be batshit insane sometimes. My parents divorced when I was 2-3 years of age and my mother had to be both the mother and “the man” in the family since my father was absent for most of my childhood. He did not disappear, he just was not there. She had to become more of a disciplinarian than a nurturer. That became even more so when my ADHD really kicked in full force. Except no one knew what it was and just assumed that I was not paying attention. If only I chose to pay attention everything would have been much better! As a result, our relationship is rather complicated and I suppose I might still be harbouring some resentment.
My mother is incredibly shy and uneasy around people she does not know well. She can be a bit of a loner at times. She has very few close friends. There is quite a bit of the victim complex in her personality. Check, check, and check! Got all those traits. Not her super-analytical mind, nor her enormous ability to concentrate. Not even her amazing cooking skills! Nope: misery and self-blame were my genetic inheritance. Of course, her life was certainly not a happy one. Her marriage to my father was an unqualified disaster, not the least because my pater familias is a compulsive liar or womaniser.
Speaking of which, here is my father: brilliant mind with no self-discipline. Like him, I am the king of instant gratification. Like him, I am always running late. His father (my paternal grandfather) was no picnic either. Brash, selfish, and completely full of himself, he was quite a character. And he brought up his first-born to be just as brash and as selfish and with a circus-like ability to blow smoke up his own and everyone else’s ass. My father is incredibly multi-talented: engineer, chemist, musician, artist, public speak, athlete, teacher… But all that potential remained for most part just that: a potential. I am not an cretin either. I have a high IQ, I am good with my hands and can fix pretty much anything. If I manage to concentrate on it now enough. Alas, it would seem that instead of inheriting my father’s easy brilliance, his musical talent, his ease with people and ability to easily talk to anyone and make them feel like a best friend within a few minutes, I got his gift for avoiding what needs to be done, his perpetual tardiness, his short attention span, and his hairy skin and male-pattern boldness.
I do not really know all that much about my paternal grandparents so that shall have to remain a mystery.
Growing up, I had spent a considerable amount of time with my maternal grandparents since we lived right near them, and later with them, right until my mother moved to the civilised world with me. My mother’s mother has passed most of her craziness to my mother along with mDNA. I did not get her particular brand of crazy, nor did I get her academic and professional brilliance, not her fantastic memory and writing skills, not even her spectacular culinary skills that dwarfed even those of my mother.
And finally my grandfather. The saint of a man, he was not the fastest thinking person. He did not have the easy brilliance of other family members who saw things clearly right away. Like him, I really need to examine and think about issues before I can intelligently discuss them. He was a poor student though, unlike yours truly, he actually managed to complete his higher education with distinction rather than not at all. He never threw anything out and useless crap would pile up and clatter up the storage area. One day I found I set of a cord and I was playing with it. I was quite young but I distinctly remember him freaking out and taking the “cord” away from me. Turns out it was an explosives cord used in film special effects (my grandfather’s profession) and to take down large trees. He was also a man who, despite his 40+ year marriage to my grandmother, was notoriously unlucky with women to the point of rivaling me in that department. His first wife (whom he never forgot and whose photo he kept in his desk – second shelf from the top, in the left-hand side column, underneath his professional commendations and work documents – his entire life) died in childbirth along with the baby. His second wife sent him divorce papers while he, a lowly machine gunner corporal, was lying in a hospital, somewhere between life and death, clutching to reality after being shot up so badly he never fully recovered. And then he met my grandmother, whom he adored and lived with for over 40 years until his death. Except like her sister, my grandmother was completely disinterested in sex. Those would have been very long 40 years but luckily for him, my grandfather was a good looking gent. Like myself, my grandfather could never say no to anyone. Unlike myself, women were always running after him.
They say “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” My family members seem to have gotten the genetic lemons and I am the lemonade they made. The distilled, concentrated goodness of genetic disappointment. Bottoms up!
I have been thinking about fear and the nature of that emotion. It has occurred to me that when it comes to human relationships and life in general, fear is not so much us hiding from things but rather hiding things from ourselves. This gives us an illusion of having control over our lives because we make the choices and call the shots. The sad reality however is that we are sometimes ruled by the things we are afraid to face so we pretend they aren’t there or that they are something else.
Unwittingly, I have become a master at that technique during the last 15-20 years of my life. That realisation has sent me into yet another panic attack. How could I have been so blind??? And then anger sets in: why didn’t anybody else see this and help me??? But the answer, of course, is because I have been putting on a façade for most of my life. Dealing with having a learning disability in a society that praised and deified uniformity and conformity required it. So no one then could see what was going on. I have walled myself off from everyone and thus made myself alone. I used to joke that I had developed my ability of being alone in a roomful of people into an art form. Only now I realise how detrimental that was. So even though I had eventually learned to overcome the loner mode, I have not simultaneously developed a way of dealing with the world. So something had to give and I began putting scary things into their own walls so that I wouldn’t have to deal or look at them.
There’s a terrifying aspect to this whole thing: when it comes to relationships, we see what we want to see because often enough we are unable to cope with the idea that the other person might not be that into us. And then, you get to break down and hopefully ask for help.
It had not occurred to me to do this before. A place that is so anonymous if it needs to be where I can scream the most inner things to the universe and still maintain my privacy? A comedian friend of mine, while pulling me out of what was fixing up to be a marathon drinking session in a dive bar, has told me to write what I’m feeling and write it out all the time. There’s no shame in this and no one, except a few people will ever read this. There’s a tremendous freedom in this. Eventually though, I will have to re move a cloak of anonymity either off of this blog and my true inner state. It will be me vanquishing another stage of fear by removing walls from myself and opening up myself to the world.
In the meantime, the minutia of writing this blog and being part of the WordPress community is helping but GODDAMN I am in so much pain every moment of every day! And I still dream of her.
As I sit on a bench on Duluth looking at people passing me by, it is impossible not to notice all the happy couples. Undoubtedly, there are other people as well but they are mere background noise, deemed unworthy of notice by my lovesick mind. The worst thing of all, though, is that you appear everywhere. We have not spoken since that dreadful night right before you left on your trip what was happening. Since then, it has become impossible not to think about you. Someone’s fleeting smile, a look over a shoulder… You are everywhere. Even though I know you are hundreds of miles away, every time my first thought is that you have come back. The forlorn hope, but that is what my existence has been reduced to. Like a soldier of old, I am throwing self unto the breach, hoping against all reason, that the prize will wait for me at the end. But all that I have is an empty burning pit in my stomach, and an image of you everywhere and in everything. In the all too short time we were together, you have become the one thing that made my world wonderful. You were the shining bright star in my dark cold the night and now that you are gone, I feel more lost than ever before. So now I must find myself and do it for real this time. Will you still be there? Will you be waiting for me at the other end of the tunnel? You won’t. You wouldn’t. This is the most important journey of my life and I must make it alone. A longing feeling: your gentle touch reaching out for me in the dark; just breeze ruffling the hairs on my hand. I wonder if you’ll ever see these writings? Will you understand? Becoming someone you could love and be proud of will take a lot of work. But will it have been for nought for you won’t be there in the end?
A damned fool! I fell so deeply for you and you didn’t even realise it. I would give everything for your kiss; to taste the sweetness of your lips, their gentle caress on my skin. I shall remember that feeling for as long as I live.
Alone. Lost. Adrift. I take the shallow breath and tread the water. Barely able to breathe, I amble toward a direction that I hope will lead to a wait out hoping that memory of you won’t weigh me down and take me under.