I came back to a disjointed family.
It feels like my own fault for never seeing any cracks in my family’s relationship. As a child, my parents tried so hard to shelter me from their inter-personal problems. I remember having so many McDonald’s Happy Meal toys. Why? Because my dad was a fast food worker earning side cash while he got a degree, after failing out of college and joining the Army. But I really didn’t realize that until now. I always have eaten home-cooked meals. Why? Because my mom wouldn’t be able to work a job with her lack of high school education and lower back arthritis- arthritis caused by overworking, abuse, and lack of nutrition as a child. But I didn’t know that until very recently. My parents overcame enormous adversity only to hit a brick wall now. My rose-colored glasses have shattered.
I think my dad is becoming an alcoholic.
He goes through a handle of whiskey in almost two days. I don’t know much about alcohol, but I know that’s a fucking lot. The predisposition for alcoholism was always in his blood. I think he’s aware of what he is doing to himself, but he doesn’t want to stop. I think he keeps drinking until he feels like he can sleep at night.
Because of his PTSD.
He’s an Army veteran. He went to Afghanistan. He served his time. He saw some shit. But I can’t disclose any more details because I don’t know what he experienced overseas. He never told me. I’m his daughter that he needs to protect from his own fears. He can’t sleep at night. Waking up every hour, nightmares, sweating.
We cycle back to the drinking.
It helps. Of course it does. It numbs his senses, eliminates fears, slows the thinking down, makes him drowsy. But my dad is smart. He is self-aware of his actions. My dad would rather tear himself and the people he loves apart because of this sickness. It is that unbearable. I can’t imagine that pain and I hope not to experience it in my lifetime. There has to be a healthier way to deal with this trauma. I wish he was aware of how much love is surrounding him.
I think my mom is depressed.
She is such a strong woman. Instead of alcohol, my mom hides her pain through work. Clean the dishes, sweep the floors, wipe the countertops, wash the laundry. My mom, over sixty years old, is housekeeping and cooking for over six individuals at any given time. She doesn’t stop. The house is pristine and she does it all by herself. And then cooks a meal from scratch and cleans all the dishes while you eat. Then proceeds to eat lesser food for herself only afterwards. She has never known any different.
Because she was abused as a child.
I asked my mom once, after she screamed she was tired of cleaning and cooking, that she can always take a break. She replied that she can’t, it’s stuck in her brain to do everything as fast as possible. Her mom, a grandmother I had never met, would beat her if any chore was left undone for over ten minutes. My mom would go to grade school and middle school several hours late because she had to do her assigned chores and cook for the family. When she would return home, most likely another beating would occur.
We cycle back to the depression.
In the bedroom, we had a single, serious discussion. I cried. My mom said, “Sometimes, I wonder why my life is like this.” She wiped her own tears. She would look at her current life and think, “This is all I do. I have nothing.” She stopped spending money on herself when I came into the picture. And I took it all without even blinking. I told her then, “I’m where I am right now because you raised me. I know what I know because you raised me like this.”
I want to give back to my parents.
The clock is ticking. I’m only nineteen. What the fuck do I know?
I have yet to earn an actual cent in my own name. I can cook a sub-par omelet. I can somewhat parallel park my sedan. As much wisdom I have yet to gain, my voice deserves to be heard.
I am the only member of this family willing to confront these problems head on.
I’m tired of the bullshit. The lack of communication in my family is appalling. No one wants to tell me my own family history. I’m positive that words can heal, either spoken or being listened to. A heavy burden is light when carried by many shoulders. My mother and father both carry a weight in their hearts they want no other to feel.
Because it hurts to release those chains that constrict us.
But I am more than willing, as the proud child of these two people, to take a little pain into my own heart and mind. Scars will remain but the wound will have closed. We can be happy.
I don’t think my mom is actually going to be around much longer. She’s tired. Older than her age. Physically broken. I want her to be happy when she leaves me. I want my dad to see her leave happy. And be happy to have loved a woman like that. And then when my dad leaves, I can be happy to have sent my parents away better than when they arrived.