Life after the house fire became like the movie Groundhog Day. Every day was the same and I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel. I had no family to call and vent my grief as the only member still alive was my sister. Through constant interference not of our own doing we had not spoken in a few years. I just couldn’t seem to pick up the phone and make the first move because I was stupid.
Life was filled with menial things like picking out wallpaper and hand painting a lot of trim. The firemen had given us a couple of boxes that were decorated like Christmas presents. They had not wanted the kids to be upset so they had wrapped up the perished pets as gifts. Since it was in the dead of winter I could not bury them so I made a tiny raft and sent them down the river.
The last pet standing was Snoopy who was an emotional mess and he now slept his life away. The dog knew things were out of his control like I did and had lost his friends in the fire so he literally gave up. I would go upstairs every few hours and coax him down to eat or go outside. But most of the time I just hugged him and cried.
When you have a relationship with a person who is not reliable you cannot let yourself fall in Love with a capital L. There are caring feelings and lots of fun but protecting your heart from the inevitable break has to part of the plan for the relationship. The big loves of my life have all been precarious. I knew going into them that there was danger. The test is to let someone into your inner family circle and be proud of your relationship. If that is not possible society says you should ditch them.
I started this story last Saturday after I took pictures of homes that are now red and yellow tagged and about to slide down one of the hills in San Pablo, CA. For 21 days it has rained and anyone living on a precarious slope in the Bay Area knows the dangers. One of the homes that is red tagged was actually built on the same spot that a former residence in 1973 tumbled down to its final fate. How people can build on hills or on fault lines just for a view in this area boggles my mind.
As I drove by and watched neighbours help each other load belongings into U Hauls I understood the feelings that everyone had. Fifteen years ago my home had been ravaged by fire and I too sat there looking at destruction that I did not have any control over. I cannot begin to tell you how one feels when devastation hits your inner core as you watch something you loved vanish in a few fleeting hours.
It was a cold January day and the kids were flooding the rink outside when I noticed our German shepherd, Snoopy racing in from the greenhouse with a huge plume of black smoke trailing him. If there is an emergency I am not the one to send to an EMT unit as I panic easily. I screamed for someone to call 911 and we simply thought a hose spraying a steady stream of water into the basement window was enough to contain the fire.
If you have ever had someone you care about attempt or even commit suicide, you know how terrible the ordeal can be. It is worse than a regular death. There is little closure. It is a situation where no one ever truly wins and those left behind spend the rest of their lives trying not to blame themselves for what they did or didn’t do. I have some good friends in the blogosphere who speak extensively about their past suicide attempts and I have a story or two of my own. This is not about me or them.
I have spent a lot of time taking care of sick relatives. Last month I was housesitting for a relative who had to have surgery. I was able to juggle running errands for both her and me, visiting her at the hospital, and still work, however only after a few days of her being in the hospital, things started to snowball. My uncle, from my story, “The Men Who Sleep on Park Benches,” was admitted to the same hospital after he was found in the motel he’s living with slit wrists.
Last night before I went to sleep I asked God to help me figure out to do about the source of my guilt. I have eliminated most of my guilt over the years but still have trouble justifying the fact that I am estranged from my grandmother. As you know may know, my uncle has torn the family apart with his endless dysfunction but it’s not just that. Growing up I was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to favoritism in the family. Despite this status, she still had enough manipulation and nastiness to go around. She is one of those people whom strangers love and wonder why her family doesn’t talk to her because she’s so nice to them.
Despite the long list of justification I had for not really talking to her anymore I still felt guilty. I am not the type of person who can do mean or hurtful things to a person even when they treated me abusively. The reason I stayed away was to protect myself: I couldn’t take the way she made me feel when I was around her. Even if I did something nice or thoughtful she was so mean that I always left her home feeling bad. I didn’t need people like her and my uncle in my life. Somehow, I still felt guilty for this choice.
When one is on the receiving end of continuous verbal and emotional assaults, it becomes difficult to tell metaphorically “where one side ends and the other begins.” That’s because when we’re in the midst of an abusive relationship, it’s easy to lose track of what is abuse and what isn’t. That is often because the person who gets to decide what is verbal abuse and what isn’t is the abuser.
I received a copy of “Victory Over Verbal Abuse,” by Patricia Evans. From the moment I opened it, the words made perfect sense and brought me to a new cognitive level of viewing the social interactions around me. A letter inside the book poses the question, “When is a cutting remark abusive and when is it merely callous?” Continue reading
The idea of living in a house, a place where I will likely be for a few decades with a man I am legally obligated to has never been my idea of happiness. It would likely evolve into the tragedy that was the movie “Revolutionary Road.”
In movies and in life, I know the boys always feel like they’re losing their buddy, whenever one of their friends get married, while women seem to rejoice and celebrate the event. All I know is that I have lost more friends to weddings than to traffic accidents, alcohol, or anything else for that matter. As I watch my friends lives change outwardly, families pulsating and growing, finances ebbing and flowing, I have remained outwardly one of the most static characters in my own life. On the inside I have changed but haven’t coupled up or even had the desire for children.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about weddings, in between going to them. I know if I got married and there was even a handful of people as unenthusiastic as myself sitting in the audience I would consider elopement. Why must we all attend these events? I know they need witnesses and maybe a wedding is a means to prove something to the other person- professing your love in front of a large audience and all.