What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Original post 5/2014
We do things for people we love not for those who do not deserve love.
I woke today with a tug, my introspective mood. I save difficult post for days like this. It’s not depression or sadness more logical than emotional. Dissociation is a conversation my therapist and I have talked about for 15 years. When I talk about child abuse at the hands of my mother and stepfather my mood is flat.
One of the ways I survived was putting each memory in a box to deal with later. After awhile some memories fade. Other’s are yearly reminders. My mother still sends Birthday and Christmas cards. About 15 years ago she sent a Birthday card triggering the last blow. She basically said “I’m not the only person with problems get over it.” Nothing ever changes, everything is about her. I had not thought about my mother yet would send thank you notes for Christmas gifts.
I didn’t think about it, just on auto pilot. This Birthday card was different, it pissed me off almost to almost losing it which I rarely do. I took the card to my next therapy appointment. I sit down and Diane knew something was very wrong. I handed her the card and the inscription written in the book. Diane was a cool therapist, she knew me well. She could tell the anger was building and ask what was my next step. I throw them in trash and send her a thank you card.
She pulled my reins in and asked why I would thank my Mother for kicking me in the gut. She helped me see I was being polite, acting the way my grandparents taught me. Diane turned around throwing them in trash saying my mother didn’t deserve me. Did I want to send a card? Was I doing the expected? I realized two things: I would no longer have contact with my mother, not open the cards, throw them with the $25 check in the trash. She helped me see I was in my own chains.
I felt much lighter after making that decision. The other lesson learned: I’m not flying auto pilot anymore. I thought about the waisted energy and looked forward to my liberated self. I didn’t have any contact with her again until my brother’s wedding. Years had past, the older me asked, I would not look back and know I missed his wedding because of her. It was uncomfortable seeing my other grandmother and her. I answered the obligatory “fine” then turned my chair so she could see my back. It sent the message, I was not interested in talking. Flash forward to May 22, 2014. Karma. My mother told me at least once a day how stupid I was. I laughed when I receive notice my Andy Warhol “So Smart” shipped today.
My father sexually abused me, estranged from the age of 14. We saw each other some holiday gathers. My father was belligerent, anything could push him to out of control crazy. He would get so worked up, my grandmother would tell him to go outside. The smallest detail could get him to a point of making him sick.
I now realize this behavior was part of his mental illness. He was my grandmother’s only child, in many ways she still treated him like a child. I didn’t learn how sick my father was until he committed suicide in 1992. Ten years before his death, one of his roommate’s committed suicide in the bedroom he rented with my dads gun.
My dad was distraught and my grandmother didn’t want him to clean the room. She called me at work to tell me what happened and they were going over. Here is where the two situations are dramatically different. Horrified at the thought of my grandmother cleaning up the blood. I said I would meet them there. My grandfather tried to redirect my father’s thoughts. We cleaned and packed his room for family.
Cleaning after a suicide brings many emotions out. My grandmother and I worked without talking, it didn’t occur to me that he could have HIV/AIDS. It was a couple of days when my brain thawed, the question crossed my mind. My grandmother cleaned houses to have money, She wanted me to have nicer clothes for school. She knew how to clean anything from house cleaning.
We had to decide what to do with the mattress. Answer’s don’t roll out to questions like this. We could not leave it in the house, my grandfather took the blood soaked mattress to the curb for city to pick up. The image of neighborhood kids playing seeing the blood, ate at me but I had bigger things to do. I brought black trash bags in for his belongings. It was difficult going thru his dresser, I found 14 pennies which took my mind to a dark place. This person was alive yesterday and today his parents are picking up three trash bags, all their son owned. I fixated on the 14 pennies. He didn’t have any money in wallet, was 14 pennies what it came to? Is all that’s left of this person’s life, three trash bags? The thought of handing trash bags to his parents bothered me for days. Was this it? Someone’s life could come down to three trash bags.
I thought about how any times I attempted suicide. My mind switched to what I would leave behind. I don’t want my family to see? After the brain thawed, I started going thru my house throwing items in the trash. Mainly my journals, my grandparents did not know about the sexual abuse and they would go to their graves not knowing.
For a time I was outside of my body, the only way to describe is dissociation. I knew if my grandmother knew it would upset her. The same way we dealt with my father’s death. I believe this is one of the reason it took me 7 years to grieve before packing the feelings away.
I realized this was unconditional love coming from me. Arriving at the house after my father shot himself, I wanted to see the bathroom. In the bathroom was proof he is dead. I knew having a closed casket would cause my grandmother more pain than I could understand. Thinking I could handle anything, same as today. I’d planned to tell her I forgot something once we got outside. Then open the bathroom. She was to smart for that, she said if you’re going in I’m going with you. There was no way I would let her in the bathroom. I think any parent would break beyond repair seeing their childs brains on the wall. My love for my grandmother came before my wish. I knew it would be difficult to reconcile death with a closed casket.
I stopped by after work to get her mind on something else. It didn’t make it less painful just a reprieve from the pain. I never let her see me cry or it would set her off. The long grieving process was in part due to pushing feelings down for my grandmother.
Some people never give or get unconditional love. I’m blessed with unconditional love with my grandparents. With anyone. Love has everything to do with it.