Accidentally Appropriate

I was going to write this post today, about addiction and forgiveness, before my twitter feed filled up with judgements about Amy Winehouse and unfortunate "Rehab" jokes, and now it's unfortunately apropos and obviously my annoyance with twitter is going to seep in but I'm still going to write it, because I think it's important.

There's a point I reach in any new friendship when some important life details come out. Generally they come out when I vaguely mention being raised by my grandparents or sometimes when people ask why I have a hyphenated last name. Some of these things have been bluntly stated and constantly rehashed on this blog and some have been vaguely referred to, but so we're all on the same page:

  • My parents were never married. They were 19 and 21 years of age when I was born. Obviously, I was not an intentional pregnancy.
  • My mom has 15 years clean and sober (crack, in case you were wondering), I'm 25. You do the math.
  • My grandparents raised both me and my little brother. I was in 1st grade when I went to live with them, we picked him up from a foster home when he was around 6 months old. My mom used while she was pregnant.
  • My father died when I was 16. In a motorcycle accident. If you told me he was either stoned or coked up, I wouldn't even be the slightest bit shocked. (Oh hey, is it suddenly not tragic because he used drugs? I probably should've expected it and shouldn't miss him so much, right?)

At the end of explaning all of these things, the questions I get most often are either "So how is your relationship with your mom now?" or "How have you forgiven your mom?" and I confuse the hell out of people by saying "I have a pretty good relationship with my mom, it's not typical but neither are my relationships with anyone in my family". It's true, though. I love my mom. (Hi mom! Love you!!) She even has her own tab at the top of the blog for her guest post. As for the forgiveness? I guess I never thought I needed to.

Addiction is a complicated thing. The language of rehab and twelve step programs has been part of my vocabulary for as long as I can remember. There are plenty of people in recovery in my family and when almost everyone has a hand in raising you, that means from time to time you're going to be that kid with a coloring book in the back of a meeting. And as a child, when somebody tell you that your mother is "sick" or "has a disease" you take that pretty fucking literally, so I don't think it ever occured to me that my mother's addiction was something I was supposed to forgive her for or somewhere to place blame.

In middle school and high school when these questions would come up I always said that I wouldn't wish my childhood on anyone, but I wouldn't be who I was without it. And that's true. I don't think I would have half the personal strength or compassion that I do. And maybe the flip side of that is that I wouldn't struggle with codependency and abandonment issues, but I like knowing that if three year old me could get myself dressed and fed, twenty five year old me sure as hell can deal with most things life throws at her.

And as I got older, my father told me more about my mom as a teenager and told me she had told him when he was visiting that she was struggling with drugs again and needed help taking care of me. And I guess that helped me know that my mother always loved me and that she wanted what was best for me.

And now, I'm adult and I've taken the psych classes, I've worked in a group home with teenage addicts and I can't pretend to know what it's like to be an addict but I can tell you that the reasons people become addicts are myriad, as are the reasons people stay addicts and the reasons people get clean. Do I know exactly why my mom or dad started using? No. I know the lives they had. I know that I'm a statistic. Child of addicts that isn't an addict, there's not too many of us around. And I know that I've been so deep inside the bell jar for weeks that I've made a conscious effort to not drink because I felt the urge to start and never stop, so I'm not entirely unable to relate.

And it never occurred to me that I needed to forgive my mother, because I've heard my mother apologize and watched my mother cry and mostly I just love her and am thankful, so thankful that she had the strength to get clean, because not everyone does and sometimes I wonder if I would be if I were out both my parents.

Just, don't jump to conclusions. Don't decide somebody is a bad person because they had or have a drug problem. You don't know the choices they've had to make or the regrets they have. You don't know the abuses they've suffered or the mental illness they're coping with. You don't know if it was their parents, their pimp or their best friend who started them using and you don't know whether or not there was anyone there to help them stop. And chances are, there's somebody who loves them fiercely, no matter what and when you stigmatize addiction, you kind of stigmatize the non addicts who still love them, so please, educate yourself and maybe try some compassion.

I fell asleep reading

and dreamed of my father today, I don't know when I last did that.

He wasn't dead, he had just been missing.

My brain hadn't adjusted for time, so he still looked 38 instead of the 47 he would be. It will be weird when the image of his face is younger than mine.

His face was crisper than I've been able to conjure without a photo for years. There he was, sitting in front of me. Same blue eyes that lit up like I was his whole world, same smile.

"It's ok, Rabbit, I'm back"

And I woke up, too soon, sobbing and gulping for breath.

My weakness I feel I must finally show

Here's the many times established truth: I am a mess this time of year. That's it. That's all there is to it. Don't fuck with me, I'm grieving.

There are literally four people I trust enough to be around this time of year with my gaurd down. I counted. They're all in California and I don't like talking on the phone, so I'll be hiding from the world for the next few days because I can't actually manage to get my gaurd up. Say the wrong thing to me, look at me the wrong way, act distant in the slightest and I will actually burst into tears. And yes, I will know it's unreasonable. I will know it's me and not you and that just makes me feel worse.

And while I'm hiding in my room obsessively playing World of Warcraft, crying and forgetting to eat until I have to go back to work again, I'll be wishing that somebody would come cuddle me and bring me mashed potatoes (no matter how much I deny wanting human contact right now), because at least that is vaguely more realistic than wishing my father weren't dead.

Sleeping is giving in

I cried on my drive home last night and then I got in the shower and sobbed and sat curled up, head to knees, water as hot as I can stand it pouring over me and then I turned it off and sat there and cried some more and by 8:30 last night I was out like whatever the fuck things are out like but I can’t think of the stupid metaphor right now because I’m too busy not crying. Then I woke up at midnight thirty and cried myself back to sleep and woke up again at eight this morning and then again at ten and then I decided I needed to write because I needed my mind to just shut up for like 5 minutes if I was going to make it through the day.

Hi, my name’s Alana, and for about two weeks of every year I turn into a hysterical, insecure, depressed anorexic. And you think I’m joking or exaggerating, but I’m really not. All I want to do right now is take like 5 Benadryl and 3 shots of whiskey and sleep for five days and then it will be past my father’s birthday and my body/emotions won’t be fucking with me like this anymore and I guess really if I were all those things I would actually do that except how many calories are in 5 shots of whiskey? And THIS RAMBLING IS WHAT MY FUCKING BRAIN SOUNDS LIKE ALL THE TIME RIGHT NOW. So don’t expect much coherency from this post.

You’re probably thinking “Alana, your dad died six years ago, haven’t your figured out a way to deal with this yet?”.  Except your probably not, because you probably didn’t know that’s how long ago it was but I do and that’s what I’m thinking and that might be where the not eating comes in. Because I get angry at myself for turning into such a weak shivering mess and then it’s like I don’t deserve to eat if I can’t just get the fuck over it and I probably should lose 10 lbs anyways and yes I realize this is the most unhealthy thinking ever but I just can’t help it and I promise I will totally eat next week.

How do normal people deal with this? Because everyone deals with grief at some point and everyone loses someone really close to them and as far as I can tell not everyone is walking around like a giant raw open wound feeling like everything anyone says to them is sandpaper and struggling to not start sobbing constantly. Or maybe they are but they’re like me covering it up when there’s the possibility of anyone noticing. This also another one of those moments when I specifically wonder how normal twenty four year olds deal with this shit. I mean it sucked but when I was dating Jacob but I knew he had seen it all before, seen me uncontrollably sobbing and snotty and totally incapable of functioning and taking care of myself without somebody saying here eat this, do this because I was still grieving pretty hardcore when we started dating  and well, you know, six years and all that… So when I broke up with Jacob, I basically broke up with my best friend but that’s not where most people are when they’re my age and so they must have learned some other way of dealing with this and won’t somebody please let me in on the secret of how other twenty somethings deal with the pain of having lost a parent every year? And no, I don’t want to get drunk because a) I’ve seen how much that’s helped the douche not deal with a  fucking thing and b) nothing good comes of drinking when you’re unhappy or at least that seems true to me. Except I totally just want to drink and drink and drink myself into oblivion so I could just stop feeling for a minute. Or I want to just get into the car and drive until I can’t drive any further , until I’m too exhausted to see straight and just pull over and pass out in my car and repeat for the next five days because we all know you can totally drive faster than your emotions can follow. But I won’t do those things because I have school and work and my job is to always be responsible and always set a good example and neither of those things would be those things.

And yes, I dealt with this last year when I was dating the douche and we ended up bickering the entire weekend because I was being crazy clingy and insecure and had made the mistake of telling him why I was being crazy and insecure while he was drunk so he didn’t fucking remember a thing and just found it really annoying until I said something again when it actually was my father’s birthday and then he was really really sweet and wonderful for the whole day and the next day he drove down to Berkeley and dumped me time #1. Fucker. I really would’ve rather he skipped the sweetness and just told me that day.

So I’m a little wary of going up to Matt right now and being like “Hi, I’m a giant GIANT fucking emotional mess right now and can you please just feed me mashed potatoes and hold me and I’ll try not to cry too much but I can’t promise that I’ll be in any way my usual droll incessantly smiling self but I want to bake 500 batches of cookies or brownies or whatever you want because I just need to bake and please don’t get annoyed with my extreme insecurity right now because I’m really insecure about ever being anything less then totally confident and that’s basically like the most unattractive thing I’ve ever said but I’ll probably start crying and think that you don’t want to date me”.  And yes, I really am that crazy right now and that’s why my stronger impulse is to say “Hi, I think you’re wonderful but I just can’t see you for the next five days because I need to hole up in my room and not let anybody see me be insecure and crazy and I don’t know if I’m ready to cry in front of you” which also just makes me sound crazier. Of course, Matt’s going to read all this so it’s not like I’m doing a good job of hiding the crazy but I am doing a good job of not talking about all the relationship things that I feel insecure about but only because I’m so insanely over emotional except maybe I shouldn’t have just written that and yes I am aware there’s a delete key but obviously I almost never use it because I told myself I was not going to change what I would write just because Matt reads my blog.

My brain is a little quieter now. I think I can get out bed and face the day. Maybe sometime I’ll even stop crying.

Cowgirls Don't Cry

Dear Daddy,

It's your birthday in two weeks, you know what that means. Looking back every year this does get a little bit easier but it never feels that way when these anniversaries come around. I've found myself wishing I could call you and hear you say you love me, tell me I'm your whole world a lot lately. Some days I wish I could just go over to your house at the end of the day and be reminded what it feels like to be able to trust somebody so completely, love somebody so unabashedly and unconditionally and to know that in that person's eyes you can do no wrong.

I want to start riding again, I know you probably wish I had gotten back up on the steel horse sooner but I just couldn't do it. I needed to know that I wouldn't be too afraid and give up if I fell. You never wanted me to be the kind of woman that was afraid of failure or pain or that couldn't just brush it off and try again. I could always put on a brave face for you, I always knew how to hold it together. Some days I just don't know how to any more. I hope you're not disappointed.

Your birthday is on my day off again this year. I don't know if it's better or worse this way. Sometimes I think it might be better to have something to distract me but sometimes I don't think there's anyway I could focus at all. I'll probably drive out to the coast, like every year. Sometimes I wish I smoked just because sitting out at the beach and watching the sunset high as kite seems like a more fitting way to remember you than anything. Maybe I'll stop somewhere and have a Captain Morgan's and coke in your honor. Though seriously, Daddy, how did you drink that all that time? It's like drinking liquid candy. Will you be offended if I have whiskey instead?

Why'd you have to make me such a daddy's girl? This would all be so much easier if you hadn't. You know how much I hate crying.

Love love love,

Your Daughter.