Therapy is interesting. I’m finding that a huge part of me comes directly from my parents and the things that made them “them.” That their parents’ stuff got passed down just like my freckles and Papa’s nose. As I unravel the things that I am, I am unraveling all their things, too. And I’m learning a lot about the things people don’t say. A lot of it is seen, but never spoken. A lot of it, I can articulate now that I have decades of living behind me. But, back then, when I was five or twelve, they were just secrets and confusing contradictions I didn’t quite get.
Being the child of an alcoholic is not easy. You know it affects you, and sometimes, you know exactly how it affects you. But then, there are those things that come up that surprise you. Those things that you thought you somehow bypassed, and then you realized you just numbed it out of consciousness–just like him–in your own way that didn’t involve Budweiser.
But I’m finding out the truth. The things they never told me, but the things I should have known. And all I can be is sad for them. All I can do is speak my own truth and not worry about offending them.
Because they’re not here, and I’m the one that survived.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that I’m doing better. Like I feel like I’m getting the point of self-care and exercising it. It’s still a struggle, but I’m making the choices more often. I feel sorta proud of that.
Sometimes, emotions come–and I realize they’re not mine. Being an empath is hard. Sometimes, I’ll notice an anger that comes from some place long buried–always redirected in some way that makes no sense. I get angry a lot, but I think–maybe–as uncomfortable as it makes me–it’s my way of finally letting go of the anger I inherited. The anger that got redirected to me. It must’ve been hard to be an alcoholic with a kid that was an emotional sponge. Or maybe, it was like winning the lottery.
Talking about my parents every week is difficult. My parents are with me all the time, and I talk about them all the time–in different ways–but this is different. It’s not happy reminiscing. It’s detective work where my survival’s on the line.
It’s hard because it feels like betrayal, but not speaking my truth would be betraying me. I won’t lie for them.
It’s hard because they were good people and good parents despite my often negative experience of them. And–even when they neglected me? I’d trade all of this for five minutes of that. Just because I miss them so much.
My father is always around me. He hides my keys. He scares my cats. When I most need to laugh, he’ll play some kind of unexplainable prank. And I will always smile and know it’s him.
Yesterday, after therapy, I felt him near me. This time, it felt like an emotional hug–like he was telling me I did a good job, and he was proud.
Just a feeling. I may be crazy, but that’s what I felt. And I feel it often.
It made me cry. The hardest I have in a while.
And I let it wash over me and pour out of me. And then, an opportunity rose up that allowed me to support someone.
And I did. Not by being strong or pretending I had answers. But just by saying, “You know–me, too.”
I’ve struggled so much with this friend. But I realized I’d been sitting in judgment. I had my wall up. And finally, this person heard me.
It felt so good to do that…to share that piece of me and watch my struggle help heal someone else. Or at least start the wheel turning.
In that moment, a thought I’ve had recently came back.
Yes, I should be a therapist. A year ago, who I was probably did need to be protected. Maybe it would have taken too much.
But I’m healing, and the version of me that isn’t mired in the past is the exact type of person people need. I think I might need it, too. Those other things will, and can, still happen. But this–that thought I had years ago was not wrong. I just wasn’t right yet.
So, I’m running with that thought–pursuing that degree, creating options, and trying.
That’s the only way you’ll ever surprise yourself.