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.
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.