I was trying to find the perfect quote for today – something about change, but everything seemed to black and white. Life has to be shaken up to put you on the right path. Change is hard but just do it. Focus on the future, and stop fighting the past. All these acknowledge troubles waters in the past and present, but emphasize that the future holds the key to happiness. So much promise.
I had this perspective for quiet awhile, that life’s chaos was behind me and the more manageable “new Darla” had a bright future and could get through anything. I learned the important lesson though that we all tend to forget in the context of our own lives – history repeats itself.
Recently, I had a friend tell me that she believed that we spend our lives fighting a demon who just takes different faces and tries slightly different ways to get us to turn from God and destroy our souls. Not being a religious person myself, I had a slightly different perspective, but it is remarkably similar. We recreate the shitty situations of the past, in order to try to get them right this time. Thinking that if we can solve it this time, then it somehow heals all the old wounds and proves that we are stronger than the situation.
Unfortunately, I didn’t win. I don’t think there is a way to win – except to walk away from the situation.
So, instead of continuing to speak in broad generalizations, let’s do a quick catch up and re-introduction.
My name is Darla. I’m 33 years old now. I’m currently a redhead. I have a full time job at a University, where I spend most my time writing.
My mother believes her parents are currently living as birds in her backyard, creates art work out of Hostess Sno Balls, thinks events will have never happened if she throws out the newspaper, and strongly believes that she possesses superpowers that will bring about world peace. For all her love of peace and hippie-justice, she never pauses to resort to threats and violence toward family. While she refuses have a psychiatric evaluation, my closest guess is schizoaffective disorder, as there are symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that are not dependent upon the mood changes.
Her mother had several psychiatric stays during her life, but the excessive shock treatments made her a little hard to get to know by the time I was born. Her grandfather died in prison, in an old TB ward. Her father was cold and taught her how to use force to get her way.
My father is kind to a fault, worked until his body gave out to support his family, and now spends most days traveling back and forth to the VA hospital for his PTSD support groups and other doctors appointments. My view of him has changed significantly over the last couple years – from a fellow victim of my mother’s rage to someone who used me as a shield for himself, allowing it to happen and encouraging me to just try not to cry in front of her.
They are currently on the edge of being homeless. I get calls occasionally from my dad, telling me that they have no money, my mom beat him up, or that one or both of them is in the hospital again. I send my regrets and promptly file reports for Adult Protective Services as needed.
I moved out as a teenager and tried desperately to keep my distance as much as possible. Unfortunately, since I was a little early leaving the nest, I made some pretty bad decisions, including living with a boyfriend who was a drug dealing sociopath. According to him, he hit me because he didn’t know what else to do. It was a repeated failure in communication.
I then went on to marry a man who I swore up and down was nothing like my previous mistake. I ended up running away with my oldest son, leaving everything behind except the scars.
I found myself feeling whole again, rebuilding my brittle house of cards with stronger materials. I finished college and found a great job. I moved as far away as I could and started over. I became proud of myself and my accomplishments. I became a siren wrapped in a scientist wrapped in a hipster wrapped in cozy, warm motherhood. I was thriving. I was also self-medicating. Self-harming. Self – aflame in the desire to feel something different. I learned to smile and laugh and date and love being loved.
That is when I met my current husband. During a stupid, irrational, hormonal moment of being high entirely on my own sexuality, I fell in love with this man. It was a whirlwind. He moved in, we got married in a quickie ceremony in the backyard, and 10 seconds later – I was pregnant with son #2.
It’s hard to talk about this time, because to me – I wanted to badly for it to be perfect. For him to be my sanctuary and to finally have the white picket fence life I had never had growing up. I refused to argue or fight, under the guise that nothing was worth it. But it slowly crumbled, breaking into pieces along the way, but not recognizably dysfunctional until… well… until it was broken.
The happy life, where I had actually stopped my destructive cycle to try hard to play my part, was only the rose colored glasses I chose to wear. The fall was all the harder this time since it was from such a great height.
The other people in his life – lovers, friends I had never met, children he has never mentioned, girlfriends,… they were his life far more than me and our children. They were the dark cloud hanging over every dense and confusing conversation. So many lies that there was no truth.
I’ll skip the diagnoses, but there was no sudden stop when the current lifted but rather it’s like when you lift a rock and rats just keep running out from under it. They just kept running, and it still feels like it will never stop. My life became a series of metaphors to try to make him feel my pain, but it is no use. Each day, I was reminded or even told how little a part of his life I was. That I was merely the support to feed and clothe and pay for his joyrides. That it would never stop. This wasn’t a marriage but a parasitic infection.
And, then, he left. It stopped and I could breath. I felt relief.
Then, he called, texted, harassed. And, I gave in.
He has one year to prove that the rats were all dead and gone and the rock was no longer hiding anything. That was October. It’s been six months. And, the rat carcasses are still strewn across the field and I am still hiding on a chair, scared to come down because what if… what if….
So, that is were I am now. Trying to breath each day. Trying to start doing things that are for me again.
Today, a committee is making a decision on if I will be admitted into a graduate program, which will be a huge step in a great direction for me. Today, we have family therapy with husband, the oldest son, and myself. I made my lunch today – peanut butter and jelly, strawberries, and an orange. These are things that make me breath. Make me realize that today is better than yesterday.
But, I know tomorrow and the day after might not be better than today. Life isn’t about looking into the future and overcoming the past, but working on the present and just trying to remember to keep breathing.