Love is Complicated

This is a hard one for me to write and I’m wavering before hitting publish even this morning. As I wrote last month, December is a hard month for me because of the people I’ve lost. One of them being my father. He died on December 30th. My father was an alcoholic. These memories hurt as much as they are fond. I love him and the memories of him dearly. I have mostly fond memories of my father. I loved him despite the abusive household I grew up in. I’m not talking about getting spanked at two. I’m not talking about the countless coffee cups and whiskey glasses I had thrown at my head, and nimbly dodged because that was just another day in my life. I’m not talking about the severe beating my mother got when my father came home drunk one night when they were newly married and I wasn’t yet born. It never happened again, but it did happen. I’m not talking about the verbal abuse that ran rampant in my house every single day. I have scars my father gave me when I was eighteen. I had to hide bruises when putting on a swimsuit for practice because of the beatings I received, because my parents assumed I was being promiscuous because I switched dating partners too often, and they didn’t even know about the same-sex ones. There is no doubt in my mind my sister killed herself because of this abuse. There is no doubt in my mind my older sister still lives and breathes this cult life because it was brainwashed into her so hard through abuse, mental anguish, and fear.

There are a lot of alcoholics in my family. Nearly every adult I grew up with drank to excess. My grandmother was a recovering alcoholic, who was paralyzed from the chest down because of a drunk driving accident. Family parties consisted of most of the adults drunk, my mother being the exception. For these reasons and many more, I write a lot of characters who have had terrible upbringings. I write damaged characters who overcome those things. No one comes from a perfect family. I’m sure we all have things we need extensive therapy for (I kid) but for me, it’s cathartic like all my writing. I struggle with these things and work them out in my head in the form of fiction. If you have read Forsaken, you can see a lot of the way I was raised in that book. When I was told it was a little unrealistic for some people’s tastes, I wanted to tell the person I could take them to a place like it today. That there are many places still in this day and age where kids are raised in religious isolation bordering on cult environments, and actual cults operating, where children have no idea what the rest of the world is like because of how sheltered they are. My own sister told me she didn’t want me around her children because she only wanted them exposed to clear gender roles while they are so impressionable.

People also tend to forget the bad and only remember the good in people who have died. We forgive too much and forget a lot. I see this in my mother, she will tell me to my face my father never hit me. She also swears he was a good Catholic when he was a Christian Scientist and will tell anyone who will listen he barely drank. If barely drinking is pouring jack in his coffee every morning, sure, we’ll let her believe what she wants because it isn’t worth fighting over. I don’t know what I would do with my father if he were alive today. I don’t know if he would accept me if he knew I was genderqueer. I honestly don’t know how he’d react to any of it. I was his favorite so I escaped so much of his temper, but not enough to not leave scars. Had he lived longer maybe I wouldn’t still have this childlike love for him I hold to this day. I think I put him on a pedestal because of the combative relationship I have with my mother.

IMG_0404.PNGAnd yet I sit here and would tell you my father was good to me.I’ve had to work hard to stay in healthy relationships and leave people who treat me in ways all too familiar. I’ve given people way too many chances with these things. Too many times to hurt me before I walk away, and I forgive too easily. I try and fix addicts in my life. I try to love them for who they are, but sometimes that’s not always good for our mental health. There are people who are simply not good for us, who would use us and bleed us dry, and that dead weight we need to strip before it drowns us.

I don’t regret any of these things I’ve lived through. I’m glad I survived, unlike my sister. I’m glad I had these experiences because they have made me empathetic. They’ve made me strive to be better. And they’ve made me who I am. I like who I am. I’m proud of who I’ve become and am still working to become. Self-reflection is key, and I write a lot to self reflect. Some of those things get turned into blogs or character feelings, and some get abounded in the hundreds of documents that sit on my hard drive that no one else will ever read. Words are magic, they can attract energy to us, and they can haunt us long after they are said, and sometimes they only need to be said out loud or typed to release them so they don’t have power over us anymore. So I speak to you dear stranger, here are some of my words as offerings. This is permission to release something you are feeling. Release the dead weight in your life. Or maybe just realize feelings are complicated and it’s okay to still love someone we know wasn’t the best to us.

5 thoughts on “Love is Complicated

  1. I wish I wasn’t sitting on a crowded Starbucks right now. Your words felt like a literal punch to the chest. I is a person in my life who abused myself and my sisters. He is still alive and I still see him daily when I visit my family. We have never discussed it. No one knew about it until many decades afterward. When it did come out my mother said those crushing words, “Why didn’t you say anything?”. Why indeed? When you’re not even a teenager yet and the authority figure in your life does something so incomprehensible, you are in a state of shock.You pray, futilely, that he won’t do it again. And then you shut down. You become an expert of compartmentalism. When you think you have it secured away, something or someone springs the lock and your meticulously crafted fortress is breached.
    I actually dreamt yesterday that I confronted him, spewing all those vile emotions at him, watching him shrink back from me. Then I woke up crying knowing that I never would.

  2. I can’t begin to imagine all that you have lived through. I am super close to my parents and had an idealic childhood. But I do appreciate I am super lucky and know most people don’t have it so good. My old children have suffered with depression and their own acceptance of being queer (even though we have always fully accepted and supported them). I thank you for sharing your own experiences and am glad you have outlet for processing your thoughts. I think the reason I have been drawn to queer romance books and queer youtubers is because they seem more real (they have struggled and overcome) and aren’t so petty/shallow as a lot of people. Hope this makes sense.

  3. J.R., so sorry your life was so hard, something you didn’t deserve. I guess it gave you lots of characters to write about, but wish your imagination could have been enough. Thank you gor sharing your pain. I don’t care what people do when alone with their partner, love is better than hate.

  4. I had a similar upbringing like yours and I wish it really could have been a story and reality but unfortunately growing up can get a bit dark. I love my father and I am proud of him for turning his life around but my older sibling has taken a lot longer than me to forgive him. You are so strong and I would hope your father would see that today.

  5. This just hit me like a punch to the gut. I grew up in an extremely similar situation that I escaped only just a few years ago and am still healing from. I’m so glad you survived all of the trauma whether it was meant to hurt or not. I feel odd saying the word survived but that’s what I had to do growing up inside of a cult myself. Where you lied to stay safe and half way sane. I recently married a man who loves me and is empathetic but doesn’t understand family trauma the same way as I experienced it. Please keep writing about your experiences. It may seem unrealistic to some but to others like myself it’s like a life preserver. That I can be queer, survive and then still find love.

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