Wednesday, February 29, 2012

They say "The 1st Year Is the Hardest"

Saturday will be the one year anniversary of your death. I'll go back to your home to celebrate your life with a bonfire and free flowing alcohol with your partner, your neighbors, and a few other select people you loved. Of course, without you to unite everyone and quash bad blood, not everyone I wish could be there will be. You were amazing at bringing people together, making families and friendships where there might not have even been acquaintanceships. Even within our own family, your level-headedness and ability to empathize with even the most different person kept us together. When I wanted to be a sullen, anti-social teenager, you never stopped shepparding me back into the fold.

More often than not, my family strife came from my step-father and I's inability to effectively communicate. But your knowledge of all of the players in the situation, your ability to find just the right way to tell me how to get my head out of my ass, and your spot-on advice on what would work best for me to fix what I'd done wrong while, if possible, getting what I wanted... well, it saved me. Saved us.

Selfishly, all I can think of is how much I need you now for this. Before you passed, my lack of paid employment had a reason. I was taking care of you. Then, I got some slack to grieve. But Mom went back to work right away. Even after 3 months and a grieving support group, I couldn't run a simple errand without crying. The months of therapy since have mostly helped contain that, but they've also helped me develop all these coping skills. Or at least that's how I feel. I've tried to make up for what I lack in cooking ability and having paid employment with trying to do as much of the cleaning as possible, with running errands, with doing all the laundry, and with trying not to pick or be drawn into fights about politics with my step-dad. But apparently he still thinks I'm a hysterical shrieking harpy who's mood changes faster than the weather in our Midsized Midwestern City. Finally, yesterday, I snapped, which only served to prove him right, at least in his eyes.

I know I should have sat down and really analyzed the skill that I could use best in this situation, written down step by step what I was going to present as the issue(s.) I should have had fucking multi-colored 3x5 cards. And I should have taken a magical pill that would prevent me from crying when I got mad or upset or sad and that forced me to keep eye contact, instead of looking down at the floor to catch my thoughts. But I didn't. And I lost. Leaving for the night to get some space on the issue turned into me running away. Asking him to say something or listen at all, even after he himself said he didn't like that there was no communication in the household, was me trying to change him and he's just not going to change. The real problem is that I just feel too much, think too much, and want too much. In my therapy, we call this invalidating, and, as you can probably guess, it's not a positive term.

The homework my therapist gave me was to do the thinking-work and paper-work with the skills I should have used, so I can have a better grasp on the issues, assert myself, reinforce why these changes might be a good thing, etc. Obviously, it's a good idea. But I really wish I could just have picked up the phone tonight, told you what happened, which you probably already heard from my mom in a phone conversation during her lunch break, and you would have been able to just whip up the perfectly suited advice for me to handle the situation with my step-dad in a manner where we could both feel like we won. Hell, I would have called you last night before I went off with my guns half-cocked, and you would have given me that advice then and the situation wouldn't have ended up fucked up and with me being told it was still my fault, like I was back to being 15 again. And I'd be able to escape to your house as soon as I had a couple days off, to get some space, some perspective, and to cool off. I really could have used a good night of drinking and bitching with you. I have a few lovely friends who are kind enough to let me crash on their couch for a night, but they're not family, so they don't know my folks and can't call telling them to get this shit settled so I will get off their couch and back to my parents' basement.

But you aren't here and I'm at a loss as to how to fix this on my own in a way where I get any part of what I want without having to give away everything. And you could explain why I'm always in these situations with (straight) men, where I have to change completely to be satisfactory but they don't have to do anything. I can give up dating them, but I can't really stop one of them from being my step-father.

I just miss you so much. Everyday there's something else I want to tell you, show you, let you listen to, something I'd love to hear your opinion on, some bit of family history I can't quite remember and wish you were here to ask. The last two weeks in my group therapy, we focused on "Radical Acceptance." I've gotten to where I can tolerate that you are gone. But I haven't been able to accept it yet. Despite what therapy says about how radically accepting something isn't saying that it was ok, that it was what we wanted to happen, that it wasn't a bad thing, kinda like Oprah's opinions about forgiveness, I don't feel that is true, like radically accepting your death would erase how cosmically unfair it was, still is. It'll mean I don't still need you, but I feel like I need you more every day.

I hope you know how very very much I miss you.

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