old and tired

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I took needed time off from work today and I’m sure I will pay for it later. It was a good choice, though. My body feels middle-aged sometimes and I need to stop putting off my yoga goal.

My dad called both me and my brother to tell us he needed to take his dog to the vet tonight and it might mean putting her down. And it did. She had a good run. Mostly it is sad because he sounded so sad.

I really feel for my father and I hate those moments when I know he is in pain. He’s really proud. But he’s having a hard time.

I don’t like having to worry about my parents’ well-being, with money especially because I know how much it sucks and I can’t help and a big part of me resents that they aren’t more secure so that I could relax and not worry…

And then there’s all that baggage because I do blame my father for his past behavior and I sometimes wish we didn’t have a relationship so that again I wouldn’t have to worry.

Recently, I have been focused on the nastiness, the dark stuff that shaped me in weird uncomfortable ways and it’s fair to say I’ve forgotten a lot of good stuff.

My dad was the best dad on field trips. He is made sure I knew I was loved and beautiful and smart. I was not allowed to drive in the snow ever. I was not allowed on trampolines. All he cared about in the world, I think, were his children.

He made pancakes every morning for a long time because we liked them, but I got sick of them. I kept eating them because he seemed to enjoy doing it so much that I wanted to pretend that I liked them. That pretty much sums up our whole dynamic right there. I don’t want to let him down.

I’m so sorry that his (our) dog died and that he is alone.

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regrets

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It’s safe to say I’ve regained some sense today, as far as my current lovesickness goes. I’m caught up at work and feeling even more impressed with myself than usual. Fleas are about to be hunted.

 

 

A week ago I drove up to spend the night at my mom’s. We had a nice visit. And I had a nice 3 hour drive to reflect on things on my home. I felt pretty raw. As much as I thought that I have dealt with my upbringing and my complicated feelings toward each of my parents, there is certainly a lot there to unpack.

I maybe haven’t explicitly gone into this, but basically, my father has difficulty managing his anger. (More accurately, he makes no apparent attempt to manage his anger.) He, still, is angry a lot. I think he probably has very valid reasons for carrying around so much rage. It is also clear to me that some fucked up combination of brain chemicals contributes to this issue for him. Until my mother separated from him permanently (after at least seven attempts), she was the target of most of this anger. He never really hit her, so in his own mind, he was not a violent person. But please take my word for it, if my father corners you and screams at you, replete with a fine mist of spit droplets flying at your face, it is a violent experience. It isn’t yelling. It is something else, a physical, observable and visceral transformation in him that I will never be able to explain fully to someone who hasn’t seen it. Nobody does angry like my father. If there was an award for most intimidating husband who Has Never Laid A Hand On a Woman, he would win it. There was no limit on the words he would use to make my mother feel small, stupid, and scared. Sometimes things would be fine and he would be calm but rage was always a possibility. Calm nights were nice, but I don’t think I ever stopped feeling the anxiety of trying to anticipate the next blow up.

When you are born and raised in an environment where you feel a lack of safety and security, there are a lot of different ways to react and adapt to that, healthy/unhealthy. I did more than walk on eggshells. At some point in my early childhood I realized I had some power over my environment. My dad loved me so much. I was his little girl. His first biological child. I was inclined to perform and be adorable and please authority figures. He was all about me and I knew it. I thought I could keep him happy and keep things calm if I pandered to him. My job became being delightful. THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR DAD TAMER 24/7! CAPTAIN DISTRACTION OF ADORABLE KIDITUDE!

The time before he came home from work was the worst part of my day. I dreaded the thought of my father walking through the door. Then he would walk through the door and I would fucking run to him and demonstrate how thrilled I was he was home. It was crucial in my mind that I pretend to be as excited as humanly possible to see him, because this was the first line of defense against all that scary behavior I knew he was capable of. It didn’t always work. There was a cloud sometimes that might or might not develop into something. The worse mood he seemed to be in, the more I turned on the charm.

I wonder even now sometimes if my insides match my outsides. I try.

I have been aware of this coping skill and the weird, conflicted feelings and resentments that I have developed because of it. It’s fucked up. It’s so fucked up. I didn’t purely love him the way you should love your parent, that is the truth of it as far as I can tell, but I pretended and I pretended really well that I did. I didn’t want to be Daddy’s Girl.

[That’s not to say that I never enjoyed spending time with him, because on top of everything else, he was fun, loving toward me and my brother, funny, and seemed to know everything. Plus, most of the time, I knew I was not going to get yelled it. I was in his favor, given all the campaigning I did. I knew how to avoid pissing him off, like we all had learned to the best of our abilities.]

The thing that somehow I never saw in all of this was my mom’s perspective on things. Which was, here is a man who terrorizes me on a regular basis whom I can not really escape from and he is my daughter’s favorite person.

I can’t remember a time I wasn’t desperate for my mother’s affection. I clung to her and I wanted so badly for her to validate me. She couldn’t. She was fighting her own battle anyhow. She was poor and overwhelmed and depressed. The worst thing, though, the thing that is killing me is that she felt like I was on his side. And for a very long time, I don’t think she stopped thinking that.

I’m heartbroken about that. And I’m angry about that. I feel cheated out of the relationship that I wanted so badly to have with her as a child. It’s not her fault, and I don’t know how much time I spent thinking that it was.

My mother told me last week she remembers sitting in counseling with me, when I was about 11 or 12, feeling attacked and frustrated, while the counselor asked her to look at me, because I was sobbing. The counselor said, “Look at her, she is in pain. You need to tell her that you love her.” Fundamentally, my mom could not understand that then. I don’t remember that particular counseling appointment but I remember that I was in pain, because that is a good way to characterize most of that time of my life. She couldn’t see that, because most of the time I could only express my own feelings in anger. She was a safe person for me to be angry with. And I was angry all the fucking time. I don’t remember that appointment, and I don’t remember if she was able to look at me and say “I love you” in that moment. Or not.

dec. 27 – oopsie

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Hmm, about that Holidailies business… Lack of posting was not for lack of fun.

I’ve had quality Christmas merriment with every member of my family. I baked. I failed to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol as is requisite but nothing bad happened as a result. My nephew and sister are still here and he is the cutest toddler alive, nay, the cutest toddler that has ever lived. He’s sweet and even Hamlet wants to hang around him.

Our family has its fair share of baggage but all the get together-ing was pretty peaceful this year. The issues that do exist are not really my issues, they’re for other people to address with each other (or not) and not for me to agonize over.

I got enough material goods to satisfy my hungry consumerism beast, and my father gave his offspring cash in lieu of presents which I sorely needed this week to make up for my overreaching hostess instinct.

The weather right now is apparently really shitty from Massachusetts to Maine but it’s been fine here.

2012 was simply having a wonderful Christmas time level Christmas. The best. My brother insisted that our mother not be allowed to put his picture on Facebook, so I did her a favor and masked him in one of our pictures so she could post a group shot without violating his privacy. Which gave me an idea, naturally. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I'm the plump lady on the left.

I’m the plump lady on the left.

I haven’t had any further romantic adventures what with the holidays and house guests. I’ve gotten nervous about this guy that I met after Thanksgiving (great first date guy), as inevitably my fascinating love life is a prime conversation topic around these parts – inquiring maternal minds want to know! – and I’ve given the basic rundown more than once. It’s not anything serious yet. He lives in Town, NH. He is 25. etc etc But the mom, the sister, these are people that I’m open with and I’ve been forced to admit out loud that I’m quite smitten. That I’m not sure how he feels. That we aren’t at the point that any relationship-y conversations feel appropriate yet.

We might never get to that point. I think that it would be more obvious to me if he were having the head and the pants feelings (thanks, Captain Awkward). There haven’t been signs of him being enamored with me. So no way in hell am I going to pin any hopes anywhere. Well…I’ll hope at least that he’ll initiate things and continue showing some interest and continue being appealing.

When this baby stops cramping my style, we shall see.

holiday times

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Christmas was quiet but nice. Things didn’t exactly go as planned and I saw about 40% of the family (2 out of 5 family members, that is) I expected to see. I saw my lovely friends and that helps make up for other things.

My laptop decided to stop functioning in a way that’s difficult to repair so, thanks to my Amazon store card with a horrible interest rate, I now have a new (slimmer and shinier) computer to play with. It had to be done. Also, I plan to pay it off soon with no interest, if the cost of heat doesn’t eat up my tax refund this year.

Well, this is a thrill-a-minute post, isn’t it?

I have been quite bummed for a few weeks about my sister and a yucky decision she is in the process of making but it’s nothing I can control so all those feelings just aren’t helpful. She’s putting distance between us (quite literally) and between me and my nephew and that I’ve spent these months bonding with him and reconnecting with her makes this absolutely…heartbreaking.

2011 will go down as the year my heart got broken a lot. And you know, that’s ok, it really is. I feel at peace. Most of the time I feel pretty content. The Mountain Goats were a great support.

 

 

The Mountain Goats “This Year” from A Bruntel on Vimeo.

holidays

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I really don’t know many people who get more fucking excited about Christmas than I do. But – even in the past, when I wasn’t a spinster and such – it’s always brought on a lot of loneliness too. I don’t feel very YAYCHRISTMAS!. My family is making it hard for me to feel YAYFAMILY!. A tiny part of me is pretty miserable, and tonight that part is totally winning.

sex double negative

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I haven’t found away to write about what’s bothering me so instead I’ll bitch about something that only bothers me a bit.

Last night, I had a really great night with my mom and sister, just chatting and laughing as we are wont to do. I have always been as open as possible with my mother, because we are so comfortable with each other and because sometimes it’s just fun to talk about inappropriate things. (Really, I am not a person who values being appropriate very much.) I am perhaps unusually uninhibited around her. She knows that I’m a fan of casual sex. We’ve discussed in detail why it is in keeping with my moral code. So my sister brought up some rather recent romantic adventures of mine and we giggled and it was fun and after our hysterics died down, my mother sighed and simply said, “I wish you and Rob hadn’t broken up.”

The implication of that statement wasn’t an I’m sorry your relationship ended and that it caused you pain because you are my daughter and I love you and wanted you to be happy deal, rather the message was I’m disappointed that you aren’t getting married because instead you are back to whoring it up and it makes me have to worry about your soul.

Well. That’s a bummer.

It’s not like it doesn’t come from a loving place. When I was in college on break and would make plans to meet somebody new she was sometimes worried about my safety. (I certainly didn’t involve her in the details of my personal life but she lived with me and was aware of my comings and goings to some extent. For the record, I was safe.) Being a zealot devout Catholic, she really does think that I’m sinning and putting myself in spiritual jeopardy. The capitol C church is pretty fucking clear about what you should and should not do with your private parts.

I want to live honestly. I want her to recognize that I’m just fine despite breaking rules that she thinks make me a broken woman. I want her to be able laugh about wild things like we do without experiencing a pang of guilt or shame afterward. I don’t feel ashamed. I’m a healthy, sex positive individual and I love that. I just wish I hadn’t had to get to this proud, comfortable, unabashed place all by myself.

I don’t like to make her uncomfortable (er, at least not in this instance). I wasn’t deliberately trying to push her boundaries. We were just having fun and we took an almost imperceptible detour into Sadland because my mom and I are so very different. She did love Rob but I suspect that the biggest reason for that was she believed he was “good” for me.

I’m grateful that I broke away from the conservative attitudes of my family of origin and I love the anecdotes I get to tell people about how truly wacky they are – it’s the best of both worlds, really. And I am lucky enough to have other people in my life who love and support me and embrace my sexcapades. I just wish my mom could be one of them.

I wish, when she found out that I was having sex with Donald Adams the summer before my freshman year of high school that she had been able to say, “Holy shit! Well, let’s get you some damn birth control ASAP!” or some such thing, and told me all about why she was not ok with it, instead of calling my father in hysterics and revealing every confidence so that they could panic about the loss of my virginity together. I wish, when I was 10 or so, instead of introducing me to the “true” autobiography of a girl who “miraculously” survived having been aborted, she would have been able to explain to me that abortion is a complex and personal issue, and told me that my body is capable of amazing things but that it is mine.

And sometimes, I wish she could experience the freedom that I feel, because she deserves that too.

And if I have a daughter, I just hope someday I don’t find myself having to say, “Don’t listen to Mimi, Jesus doesn’t care if you masturbate.”

chugging along

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Today I received a paycheck for the day that never happened.

I’m hosting a mini-Thanksgiving this year, which is super exciting actually. I’m putting a lot of energy into the holidays but I’m especially energetic about this because I haven’t been able to even attend a real Thanksgiving for a few years due to work. And, rather than trying to feel comfortable with Rob’s extended family and their adorable but perplexing mid-meal dish-washing and Italian over-preparation of food and extreme politeness, which I’ll contend with come Christmas, I’ll be spending it with some close friends, including my sister.

She’s knocked up by the way. It’s great on its own, the prospect of FINALLY having a baby around for me to play with. Of course, it’s nice for her also and technically it will be her offspring, I recognize that. I’m not a complete narcissist. I just think I’m better off because I get to be the Aunt and put in very little effort for oodles of baby reward. So yes, it’s good news, but there are strings attached. Let’s just say I’m hoping that a) douche is not a genetic trait and b) she is not making the painful mistake of thinking that a baby and some good old fashioned love is magically enough to fix a toxic relationship. I’ve been struggling to be both supportive and honest. I’m not sure that’s entirely possible. There’s not much I can do anyhow, as I’m not allowed to live Other People’s Lives for them. On the bright side, 28 weeks to BABY!

The cats are getting along well and it is frickin’ beautiful. Since getting the kitten, I thought they were all friends but apparently not, because in the past few weeks they have taken it to another level. Somebody is licking somebody else in this house round the clock!

And I should know because I’m unemployed and a witness to much cat activity. I have nothing better to do.