Saturday, May 6, 2017

Changing things within.

You know... I've changed a lot in some aspects and in others, very little.  I guess it depends on who you ask, when and if the person you ask is able to really see objectively.  That's the challenge at the end of the day... seeing people as they are as well as the world we live in without biased thinking clouding up what is real.  I know I am a loner and prefer to do as many things possible on my own as I can.  I also know that I have a habit of taking on big projects that cannot possibly be done by myself and that makes for difficult times to say the least.  I do crave companionship at certain times but often don't know what to do with it when I have it.  Being difficult is something I specialize in without really trying.

Moving home clarified a lot of things for me.  Dealing with all that was going on was a big factor because too many people I knew for well over 20 years had turned into people I wouldn't be around if we had just met.  It was another traumatic ordeal that still took a lot of time to process even though I had an intellectual understanding of what I was dealing with, the emotional healing took more time.  It made me look at all the relationships that I had going on, even the ones where we weren't close any longer, except for a brief message or so.  While I may prefer to be alone more often than not, I did reach out and try to keep in touch with those people in my past to see how they were doing and to catch up.  Again more often than not they were too busy dealing with their own traumas and burdens to respond.  I understood that all too well.  Life has a way of taking over and people who are not in your daily life just kind of fade away.  But it never stopped me from thinking about them from time to time.

So with the the move home I decided to let go of people from my past.  Like the Hinson family, anyone associated with Scott with the exception of our neighbor Karen, until she lost her battle with cancer late last year and few other friends that I hadn't spoke to in a long while.  Some of the reasons were simple self preservation and others, I didn't want to feel like I was a bother to them or was just plain nosy when I asked questions about their life.  But Trey's death not only changed how people saw me or how they responded to me if they responded at all, it changed how I saw them as well.  I can only guess that I made them uncomfortable even though I could still empathize with what they were going through.  A few would vent about things then follow it up with, I know it pales in comparison to what you've been through, and then the awkward silence followed again by my reassurances that their problems where just as important to me as if Trey was still here.  But at the time, I don't think that made much of a difference in their eyes.  

While Trey's death was the largest catalyst in one of many that caused shifts in my thinking, world views and life in general, it was the gigantic push to make me really start examining why and how did we get here.  What started as a very personal search for answers didn't even start immediately just because of the enormity of the loss of Trey and the loss of myself during those first few years.  I didn't realize it much at the time because losing myself was so unimportant.  I ceased to matter to myself.  There was no more hope for the future and I was just ready to go.  Every day was just a matter of going through the motions to get the bare minimum done so I could retreat back into this inner world that was filled with loss, pain, guilt, memories, questions and the ever present hope that I would just go to sleep one night and not wake up so I could be with him again and away from this world which I now despised with every fiber of my being.  I didn't know how long these feelings would last because it felt like there was no turning back but rationally I knew that with time these feelings would subside.

Some of you may think this was unhealthy as did the few now ex friends at the time but it was the only way I knew how to deal with the reality of a loss so staggering that it made any and all previous heartaches look like a walk in the park in comparison.  During those other times when I was hurting the only thing that helped was sitting alone with the pain and giving it free rein to run its course.  Acknowledging each and every thought and emotion whether it made sense or was valid was the only way I had for even trying to deal with all the changes Trey's death had brought.  Dealing with most people had always drained me of energy and at that time I simply had no more to give.  I wasn't mean, cruel or heartless, I was just done even trying to pretend that I was okay and interested in the day to day activities that seemed so pointless to me at that time.  Did that make me a bad friend or family member? I'm sure it did and to some degree I regret that.  But looking back on the types of relationships that I was in, I realized how superficial, conditional and emotionally draining they were.  I may not have understood what a healthy relationship was but I had loads of experience in unhealthy relationships and was more than ready to just be alone so I could try and make some sense of the new normal that I was in.

Was this selfish?  Absolutely.  I mean I knew and understood that especially my family were having as difficult time as I was just in their own way.  I was powerless to help them anymore than I could help myself because they weren't ready to deal with it at all during this stage of the first year when pushing through the business of death. Then trying to find a peaceful resolution to the problem of my parents unhappy marriage while delaying the time I needed to process everything, I came to the realization that nothing I could or would do would ever be right or enough when it came to them.  Turns out I was only half way right.  I have wrote before that my family imploded after Trey died, but I didn't write what my involvement in it was or at least the whole thing.  That first year for me was nothing but pushing myself to get as much done as possible because I knew I wanted a long break from the responsibilities of owning a house, the near constant drama and the continuation of being the peacemaker with my family.  I had hoped that when we started construction on the house the end result would be that mom would have another place to live with the option of coming home if she chose and dad would be able to live his final days here in relative comfort leaving me the choice to finally do what I needed to do which was to go be on my own for a while without having to worry about them and feel guilty because of it.  Well it didn't work out like that way as many of you know because of Don the Con (aka Rosco) with my dad and because of a beach trip in 2012 with my mom. 

By this time 4 years had passed since Trey had died and I had just started my journey of trying to find those answers of why and how did we end up here.  I had begun to read many things about spirituality and books on psychological behaviors in an effort to understand why I am the way I am. To understand that I also needed to understand why other people were the way they were and why was I either attracted to them or vice versa.  After sitting with the pain for about 2 and a half years it had eased somewhat or at least enough to let me begin a journey that I had hoped would lead me out of a constant hell I was in emotionally and physically.  The situation where I was living was just starting to turn unbearable and mom wanted to go to the beach for a week, so I set up the arrangements and we went.  I still don't know why we bothered to go because she couldn't do very much and just wanted to stay in the hotel room the entire time.  I mean we could have just skipped the expense of the trip and stayed at home to have the conversation that happened there.  The long and short of it was mom kept asking the same questions she had asked for many years looking for a different answer.  She was looking for me to tell her she made the right decisions about her and Trey's life, to agree with her about my father and to absolve her from any wrong doing when it came to those decisions.  I on the other hand knew that each and every one of us had a hand in the events leading us to Trey's death and would not placate her constant but unbelievably unrealistic recollections of the past where we all were to blame except for herself.  

I was trying to talk to her about problems in my life that were happening right then and it was as if it was of no concern to her, which in reality it wasn't.  I had known that for a very long while and yet I kept trying to connect with her.  She had stopped making decisions a long time ago yet would complain how miserable her life was.  I didn't understand how if a person was so miserable why they didn't at least try to make some changes to alleviate as much of their own suffering as possible.  I'm the opposite, I like solutions to problems so that I can have as much peace of mind as possible but I did understand that sometimes you need to take a break from things to deal and regroup.  So when everything I had held back over the years while I was being the peacemaker bubbled up to the surface and when she pushed for the answers she wanted to hear, not the truth, I unloaded how I truly felt about everything.  Probably not effectively because in an emotionally charged discussion I tend to skip around unlike being able to write things down in a way that makes sense and gets my full point across.  Mom deflected much of what I said and her most notable response was one I had heard many times... "But what about me?"  We were talking about her and some of the things she could have done to make her own life a bit easier at least in some ways but they did require effort on her part.  She then accused me of doing some things in the past, which I admitted to the ones I did do and expressed regret but I also was clear about the ones I didn't do.  During the conversation I got so mad I punched the wall and she said you've got you dad in you, you know?  I said of course I do because I have 50% of his DNA and that seems to be one of her big issues with me.  I know, I had crossed a line that day but I had had enough of holding back my true feelings, thoughts and needs.  I said my peace and later in writing through a FB message to get my point across and made peace with the fact that it would make absolutely no difference in then end.  Mom was the way she was and there was nothing that would change her point of view or her life.  I had just made the hardest decision of that time which was to separate myself from the hope of having a semi normal relationship with her and there was another grieving process that came with that as well.   

Was I right in telling her the truth about how I felt? Depends on who you ask.  Did it feel right? No it didn't, it was very difficult to tell her but it was something I needed to do.  Do I have regrets about it? No not about telling the truth, my regrets are for not telling her sooner because if I had done so it may have been the beginning of a change for both of us which could have lead to a different relationship.  If any of you have read any of this blog then you will see a theme here.  I do walk away from many relationships where I feel it is either unhealthy or a dead end.  Why?  I feel like I've wasted enough time with people who aren't willing to work on there own issues, themselves or care enough about me to work on whatever relationship we my have.  I just don't have the energy to be the lone person who does most of the work which I feel is important.  Through my readings I have learned that it's okay to walk away from spiritually and emotionally draining people who can't or won't take responsibility for themselves.  You can not save them and I can not enable them to keep hurting themselves or me.  But relationships with our parents are different in they are still your family no matter what may go on.  So while my relationship with my mom is strained at best, I still love her and will do what I can to help her but I will not be getting my hopes up again.  

Moving home to be with dad in the last year and a half of his life was something I needed to do for various reasons but I can tell you it wasn't something I wanted to do.  Now, I can tell you that it was the best thing that could have happened.  Getting to spend time with him without my mom around helped me see him a bit more clearly.  Dad wasn't a saint by any means but he was more open with his mistakes and regrets and the talks we had cleared the air.  I hope it gave him some peace before he died because I understood more now about why he was the way he was.  I think what surprised me most was his willingness to help other people when they needed it the most. Especially me when I first got home when it came to little things.  And he didn't expect very much in return although I made sure things were as easy for him as I could.  I didn't mind cooking, cleaning and shopping for him.  And for me that was saying something because I didn't really like to do those things for myself.  It just came naturally.  Although were we both struggling with our own issues and problems the simplicity of our relationship was something we both desperately needed although I didn't even know it at the time.  Dad gave me a place where I could just be and that was the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.    

I understand that most relationships are complicated and require compromise.  I was usually willing to try the complicated and wasn't deterred by the work that was involved because nothing worth having comes without work.  But the relationship I had with Dad during the last few months of his life showed me that it doesn't always have to be complicated and there was a way to work things out to the best of our ability.  It was easy to admit I made mistakes when I left him alone with Don the Con and refused his calls for four years.  We were both able to forgive each other because we both recognized where we went wrong and admitted it.  We forgave each other without even saying it or I'm sorry. It was clear in our actions that we had come to a place of acceptance.  Now there were still a lot of little things that didn't get worked out but the big ones where addressed and it seemed to work for both of us.  I also understand that during his final days dad was grappling with the end of life regrets, decisions, worries and probably the fear of dying itself.  I feel that had a lot to do with our willingness to forgive the past for both of us.  

After we got Dads diagnosis, I did send mom a message on FB asking her about what she wanted to do with house, wills and other things around the end of June 2014 which got no response and later another message stating that I didn't want to push her but there was some serious stuff going on around here.  If she wanted to respond or know more she should call but I never heard a word from her.  So dad and I made the decision to not tell her that he was dying.  And things went on like that until about 2 or 3 weeks before the end when he asked me one night to go ahead and call mom.  I told him I would in the morning because it was too late to do it then but when we woke up the next morning he had changed his mind and told me not to.  I made sure that was what he wanted because I would have called her right then.  I knew that no matter what had happened between them he still loved her and missed her very much.  It still bothers me to this day that he wasn't able to say what he need to say to her and maybe it's my fault for not just outright calling her.  I know I was being selfish to some degree because during those last few weeks Dad was declining and Hospice was here more often with more and more instructions on what needed to be done.  I don't know what I would've done without my friend Nic who came here to check on Dad when I was at work and to help me with some of the more physical aspects of moving dad when he couldn't move himself.  During all this time I was stressed, worried and facing the loss of my Dad which was hard enough.  I just couldn't deal with mom being here unless that was what he would've wanted and then I would have gotten through it I guess.  

It wasn't until he had passed that I called mom to tell her the news and she was shocked of course and asked why I hadn't called her before.  I had almost told her if she really wanted to know she should've called after my message but I didn't.  Then she asked if she could come here for the night.  I reluctantly agreed and she came for 2 days instead.  We talked of inconsequential things most of the time but when she asked one of those questions she didn't really want to know the answer to, I just changed the subject or when she brought up the past with her and dad, I would cut her off.  I had heard all I could from her point of view and didn't want to hear it again.  The only thing of relevance I brought up was a question about why she continued her relationship with my ex friend Scott after every thing that had happened and she stated, "I like Scott and he hasn't done anything to me so why not?"  I tried to explain that if someone like that had treated someone I loved they way he did, I definitely would have walked away at the very least but she didn't agree.  She also volunteered a few tid bits of information concerning things about what my Grandmother had done with her will.  Later after Grandma had died I learned that had also turned out to be false and again she claimed that she had never stated such things.  Earlier though, when my heat and air unit went out she did loan me the money to get a new one which I am grateful for.  While I don't know of the specific motives for either of these opposite actions, I do know the general ideas as to why, because of my reading.  It doesn't always help but at least now I have some answers that I can work with as well as tools to use to help me deal with the way she is.    

It took a while to get used to being in the house I grew up in alone.  It just felt weird after Dad passed, seeing his things and Trey's room too.  But Dad's death was in some ways easier than Trey's because I could prepare for it and we had our chance to say goodbye.  On that Saturday morning I talked to him off and on for about an hour and a half while he was unconscious hoping that he could at least hear my voice if not the words.  I wanted him to know that whatever was on the other side, he'd be able to handle it and the peace he need so desperately would finally be with him.  I told him the only judgement he would face would be his own and that this life was nothing but a place for lessons to be learned.  I asked him to let go of any hatred he may have had in his heart because that was something that could be problematic later on.  I asked him if he would tell Trey I love him for me and I love you Deddy... no matter what... I love you.  As soon as I got up to get his next dose of meds he decided it was time to go.  

To be able to spend those last hours with him is something I will never forget but the most important thing for me was to know that he didn't have to suffer any more mental anguish and that he could be free.  Our acceptance and forgiveness of each other was a freeing thing and it has stayed with me since.  It took a while to get things settled after his death and to find a balance between work and getting things done around the house that had been neglected for far to long.  I had rented out the camper in an effort to make a few extra dollars and ended up having to sell it for next to nothing because by then it needed way more work to repair the damage that had been done to it after the last renters moved out.  The death of another dream became a relief in time.  I knew that my time of being on the road had passed and my new life here had began.  Later I had talked with someone from work who was going to bring his mom here to live and I told him I'm looking for another roommate.  His mom called me and she came up about a month later.  It's been well over a year now and things are good between us.  It's simple and of course no drama.  

When I got the call that Grandma had broke her hip and then a few weeks later that she was dying, I made several trips down to see her.  Mom had called Billy (moms half brother) to come down to take care of her and handle everything.  In a rare admission of one of her key issues, while still not acknowledging the consequences, she stated that she called Billy because she was tired of making decisions and it was his time to handle it.  And she meant it too because she rarely came out of her room the entire time.  I did talk to her some but made a point to get out there and at least be around the family.  I don't know why but I still felt like and outsider to a certain degree, through no fault of any of the family.  Maybe it was the fact that I didn't know some of them very well and hadn't tried.  During my visits and those last few weeks it again left like we were losing another part of our history and knew that would be the last time the family got together as a whole.  When I was down, there were different family members there each time save for Billy and mom.  I was apprehensive about seeing Billy because when I first moved home I needed help and wrote him a long detailed message which he read but didn't response to.  After 3 months had passed I sent him another message telling him that I was sorry to put him in that position but it not only bothered me that he ignored me completely but that was one of the major problems I saw with this family.  Emotional distance when it mattered the most, the lack of honestly and openness and the fact that he needn't worry about me asking him for or about anything again.  In true family fashion nothing was brought up and that was that.  On the day of Grandma's funeral I was surprised that Mom decided she would not go as were many others in the extended family.  She cited she didn't want the added stress and it would be harder for her to breathe.  

At the funeral I saw many relatives that I hadn't seen in ages and a few remembered who I was but I confess I had a hard time telling who was who.  I got asked a lot about why Mom wasn't there and for the most part I just stated she didn't feel good and left it at that.  The one exception was one of my cousins who is very sweet and engaged in her whole family asked me.  We had a few moments to speak of things and I gave her the cliff note version.  She was genuinely concerned about moms state of mind and our health as a family.  How can I explain a life time of dysfunction in 5 minutes or less?  In response to an offer to help I did tell her that her and her family seemed normal and I didn't know what to do with normal.  Later that day a great Aunt asked me how I was doing and then asked me to not become a hermit like Mom.  I just hugged her and assured her I do get out of the house for more than just work but I am doing fine at the moment.  Another cousins wife told me that I needed to get ready for my next adventure and when I asked what that may be, she said taking care of Mom.  I didn't respond to that because again the explanation would've taken a long while.  In reality I have asked Mom several times what she planned on doing when Grandma passes and to date the only response I get is "Can you check on how much it's going to cost to have me cremated?"  I'm still not sure what she wants to do in the interim but I have offered to help with anything I can.  All she needs to do is make a decision and call me when she needs something.  Indecision is a decision in and of itself and I am not going to force her to anything.  While I have accepted my Mom and forgiven her as well, it's not the same as it was with Dad and will probably need more work as time goes on and other things happen.  

For myself I am still grappling with the questions as to why am I still here and what more do I have to do and learn to complete this lesson plan.  I can tell you this, I have fallen behind on the reading and searching after coming home.  I needed time to absorb what was already taken in but since I've been home I try to maintain some clarity and contentment.  It is a little easier for me to not get so invested in other peoples issues and I can listen to them without becoming sucked into the vortex of the energy drain.  I know a lot of folks are looking for easy or simple solutions to the problems they face and there are very few of those solutions available that don't involve some other form of hard work in another area of their life to compensate.  After I'd been home for a while my friend Nic commented to me that I had changed a lot from when we were kids.  When asked how so (and I'm seriously paraphrasing here) she said "You used to be a lot more outspoken and would take on a lot of these miserable, lying, cheating people with everything you had."  Nic on the other hand was pretty quiet until her late teens early twenties when she started to take on her own types of people like that.  To this day she will try and win that battle that I told her was unwinnable because you can argue with the brick walls all you want but at the end of the day it was still a brick wall and you're still standing in the same location as you were when you started.  Some times you just have to recognize people for what they are and move on because wasting time and energy with then takes it away from your own life.  You don't have to like it but you would be much better off using that same passion for things and people that matter.  So now many people may look at my life as rather boring and that's okay, because boring is exactly what I needed for a while.  I needed to recharge my batteries and save my energy for the people who matter and that's one positive change that I've been able to make.         

In my readings I've learned that it is critically important to know thyself and because positive change can only come when we recognize who we really are and our subconscious desires or issues.  I am coming to grips with the fact that I love conditionally with everyone except Trey and that has caused many problems in my relationships with people.  In my earlier years I like many others was looking for love from many of the wrong people but never really learned how to feel the love even when it was given from an unexpected source.  I have learned that to love is to have knowledge, to have knowledge is to have light and to have light is to love but it has been a struggle for me to have been and be a person who has learned that too many people just can't hear or accept the truth especially about things that are as subjective as feelings.  External consideration is very important when having relationships while recognizing and neutralizing internal considerations.  It was my internal considerations that caused me to hold back many of my true feelings about others until I felt pushed over some invisible line, then would explode with the power of a small volcano.  This was not healthy no matter if it felt good at the time or not and it only caused more feelings of frustration, guilt and sometimes shame.  

Internal considerations is a form of selfishness and I was a lot more selfish than I realized.  Expecting people to be something that fit into my ideas of what they should be or to realize their own potential when they weren't ready, capable or even interested was something I've had to recognize and handle on a case by case basis.  Managing my expectations is still a challenge but at least with these tools and more practice I have a better chance of success.  Writing things out, even if I don't post them is my way of working out my frustrations with people or situations without sending it and of course without speaking to the person about everything I feel.  Now this doesn't mean that I'm not going to be honest if asked about one of these touchy subjects, but it does allow me to try and answer their question in a way that conveys my true feelings and with due consideration to theirs.  It has also allowed me to try and strengthen the bonds with the people I care about today.  It is not an easy practice and there is still a lot of room for improvement, but it's a start.