Wednesday, August 25, 2010

30 Days of Truth - Day 4

Breathe. Just Breathe.

Why are these prompts so hard? I spent quite a bit of time today with my head running in circles about what I'd choose for tonight's post. At first I felt I knew what I was going to write about (my Dad). I know if it were up to him, he'd be the subject of this post. But for some reason even though I know I eventually need to write about him, the forgiveness aspect just didn't fit. As I was sprawled out on my couch trying to survive the heat, it hit me.

Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

I need to forgive my brothers. I'm not quite sure how to do it, but I do.

Like all families, mine had it's problems. There was a few years of my childhood that were like one of those Lifetime movies - abuse, alcoholism/drugs, and a man so obsessed with my mother he would have gladly hurt anyone in his path to get to her. You know the deal, right? Those movies didn't come from nowhere. Each family has it's own dark spots that you could make a movie about.

Yet it's not those years I'm writing about. When we came out of those darkest of dark years, my family was broken. You see, the the first 6 years of my life were almost like a storybook...or at least a show on ABC Family (happily married parents with 4 blissful children living in a Christian home). Then there was 4 years of pure hell on earth. When we got to the other side of it, my mom was a shell of the woman she once was. She was clinically depressed, addicted to drugs & alcohol, and completely unable to function. My dad, he'd already bailed. He couldn't handle it. So we were left with 4 kids struggling to survive. My brothers were 17 and 16. I was 10. My little sister was 8.

For a year or so we did our best to get by, to try and salvage our family but it was a mess. When my oldest brother got close to 18, he left. He didn't even stick around until his 18th birthday...he just left. And as soon as the younger of the two turned 18, he split too. And for a few years, they didn't look back. I was left at 12 years old trying to hold together a family that was in shambles. My mom was not only addicted to drugs, she'd become a dealer. Despite doing so in an unorthodox way, she did her best to provide for and protect my little sister & me. She'd set up systems with people to meet our needs. A pizza man would come by to bring us food in exchange for drugs. A cab driver took us to school so he could get his stash free. A guy delivered us sandwiches a few times a week for a free sack of weed. Everything else, I handled. At 12, I tried my best to be the parent I knew she couldn't be, but that both my sister and I desperately needed.

I'm sure you're probably wondering why this isn't about my mom, but I've long since forgiven her. A year later, we moved from So Cal to Nor Cal so we could try and start fresh. My mom got into AA & NA and tried to get herself clean. The next few years were still really rough while she learned to function again (stay clean, get a job, pay rent on time). We were frequently homeless - we lived on couches of other recovering addicts or stayed in seedy motels for 3 weeks a month (because that's as long as we could afford) and then spent the last week of the month living in our car until mom would get paid again. We showered at friend's houses or cleaned up in the bathrooms of the places she'd go to AA meetings. Through it all my mom fought to keep improving and try and rebuild our life. I've forgiven her because despite all the craziness she put us through, she fought her way back. In September she will have been clean and sober for 20 years and she spends every day trying to make her amends for the wrongs she's done.

Back to my brothers. I resent my brothers for leaving. Despite knowing their little sisters were alone in this situation, they took off. Brothers who had I'd always thought would be there to protect me. Starting at 12 years old I had the strength to stand up and try and help my little sister and my mom navigate the craziness that was our lives. I made sure my little sister went to school, that my mom ate, that we were all kept as safe as possible even though we were surrounded by shady characters. Yet my brothers were both technically adults when they left. For years I've struggled to understand how an "adult" could just leave two children (and little girls at that) in such a dangerous situation. We were their little sisters and they didn't even look back. They didn't check on us to see if we were okay. Nothing.

I need to forgive them. It's taken me a long time, but I know they were broken too and doing the best they could to survive. I know they left to protect themselves because they didn't know how to handle the situation. I know they didn't have the same maternal instinct that I had. However, I still resent them for leaving because I wouldn't have done the same even if I had the option. I resent knowing that as adults now, if their children were in the situation my sister and I were in, they'd do anything they could to protect them yet they didn't protect us. I know they love us but it hurts. I'm trying to let go of the pain and abandonment I felt. I'm trying to accept that although they were 18, they were children too.

I'm beginning to forgive...but I'm not fully there yet. I know that someday I'll be able to really forgive them and truly let go of resentment. I pray that day comes soon.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Not that this is anything new, but seriously at how much I love, admire, and respect you.