Chopping Down the Family Tree of Misery…

Just when I think that old gnawing discomfort caused by mentally reviewing the past has finally gone away…something else occurs to bring it back to the forefront. It may never be done because there is just too much misery to go around and too many players who failed to get the memo that we were planning to improve ourselves and our lives.

That something else, which recently occurred was tragic, saddening and completely preventable. It came out of the blue and if I had been asked whether I thought such a thing could happen I would say, no, even though anything awful is highly possible with my family. I’m still processing why it came about at all and remain puzzled as to how I even talk about it because no matter how I word it I will always, forever, be part of the problem with this one. To say I didn’t know things were so bad is a lie and to say there wasn’t anything I could have done different is just the same old lip service we apply to every negative cloud following us.

Misery does indeed love company

A little over a week ago one of my adult nephews died. The circumstances remain uncertain and they probably always will remain so because his father, my oldest brother, chose not to have an autopsy and the local coroner hastily called this senseless death “natural causes.” Case closed. We have no way of knowing one way or another what really happened but I do know for sure that it was, in part, a death caused by emotional and mental neglect with 100% certainty. The death of our father was expected and, if you’ve read any of my other work, that event was greeted with relief but this? This loss was shocking because of my nephew’s young age and also because it took so long for anyone to even notice he was dead.

I feel like I need to provide a bit of back-story here but honestly, I have very little additional information to provide. You see, I didn’t know this nephew very well and had only been around him maybe a handful of times over his sad, short life. None of this was his fault, it was entirely my fault for not trying harder to be present in his world. I fell into the “judging” trap that my family so despised from outsiders yet they gleefully heaped judgment high within family ranks without hesitation. Tearing each other down is a familial pastime after all and the sins of the parents get readily transferred to any offspring in this ragged clan. It’s not an excuse. It’s a huge part of one of our many problems.

Because of our less than warm relationship with our oldest brother the negative feelings felt for him impacted the way we interacted with his children, our nephews. It was one side of the family against the other even though we were all just as damaged inside. It made no sense but here we are now, standing amongst the rubble of yet another life destroyed by generational anger, abuse and neglect of soul. To an outsider we would appear cruel but to us it was just “normal” behavior. “Oh, you won’t talk to me? Well, I will just shun your whole family!” We reap what we sow…still.

We were not normal then and we aren’t normal now…

To the point on why it took so long for my nephew to be found: one has to understand that peculiar deficiency in humanity we all inherited from the Grand Patriarch, my recently deceased abusive father. Indifference. We all, at one point or another in our lives were indifferent to the suffering each one of us experienced. Granted, some hurt and got hurt more than others but the inability to express that pain in real-time or recognize it in each other is but one of the many side effects of abuse that went unnoticed for decades.

And so, because we were brought up in “every man for himself” mode we don’t always see how disturbing it may be to fathom someone’s son, nephew, cousin, and grandson going to bed one night, passing away and then not being discovered until 24 hours (even possibly 48 hours) later. To care so little as to simply not see the importance of checking in, paying attention or, giving a damn.

I see it now.

The horror is setting in.

To be so broken yet unable to see the multiple layers of cracks and sharp edges ready to cut and maim.

Sickeningly broken.

I don’t know the exact events that led up to my nephew’s passing and I won’t speculate on his life because I wasn’t part of it. Also, neither my brother nor my mother will speak to me about it because I am effectively dead to them as well. I DO know that this occurred as a continuation of the misery perpetuated by this particular DNA chain, a tragic chain that needs to be broken, reconstructed and fortified with kindness, patience and love. This didn’t have to happen and I know I don’t bare all of the blame but I still feel leveled by the extent of damage one man started and the unfortunate progeny who continue to carry on his harmful legacy. To say our experiences combined had nothing to do with this particular loss would be foolhardy because pain begets pain and until it’s healed it won’t stop.

Please, let it stop!

It must stop for my nephew’s sake and for every other potential casualty of this family tree strewn with hollow, disease ridden limbs. Let the suffering stop here and now because we can be better than this.

We MUST be better than this!

© 2021-2022 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Friend, where have you gone?

I lost you somewhere along life’s path.

We used to talk.

We used to laugh.

Now, we don’t communicate at all.

Where have you gone?

Over the past 5 or 6 years I have noticed a disturbing personal trend. People I was once able to have meaningful conversations with gradually began to wall themselves off emotionally and intellectually. Many have become so unrecognizable that it takes my breath away just thinking about how quickly they declined. It was as if they had to frantically protect themselves from some perceived threat, a threat they felt I was creating each time we talked apparently. Was I? I can’t get a straight answer so I may never know for sure.

In trying to coax the truth out, getting at the real source of their fears, without resorting to bile filled retorts, I hit a nerve. Over and over I hit that nerve without even knowing that I had but, they were keeping score it seems. For that, I am sorry. It was never my intention to cause internal strife or conflict for you, within you or between you and other acquaintances we had in common. And, while I know that I am not the sole cause of the obvious pain you may be feeling now, I will take the blame. I want to help you heal.

If you will let me.

And, just so we are clear, per my last post about not wanting to “be good” with those who lashed out over political differences by being threatening…this isn’t the same. This is more like a need to host an intervention of sorts. This is a desire to reach out to someone that I feel is struggling mentally, someone who got so caught up in the fervor of political divisiveness and felt that taking sides meant cutting ties with anyone who disagreed with them no matter what. It took a bit but I now respect their decision to cut off ties. I get it now. My firm stance was intimidating and, again I’m guessing, they came to the realization that I will no longer back down and defer to “the man speaking” because I have a right to speak as well. I know who I am now but, it seems they haven’t found their true self yet. I’ll be here waiting when they get that figured out.

Now, back to my internal dialogue with my former friend; this is just a guess, so pardon me if I am wrong but, I feel as if the anxiety, turmoil and anger you exhibit started long ago. Long before you even knew I existed. I feel, and again, this is just a hunch, that somewhere along the way to adulthood you were let down multiple times. Maybe, it was a parent who betrayed your trust. A father who held himself up as a Man of God but, merely a man none the less who failed miserably in the area of fidelity and honor. A mere man who would not own his mistakes. A mere man who set a miserable example. Maybe it was a mother who, despite her best efforts, never held that Man of God accountable for what he put you and your siblings through. I could always be way off the mark so take my words as an amateurish attempt at trying to understand your apparent torment and nothing remotely resembling mockery. I don’t like to see people hurt, especially people I was once so fond of.

So, when did we first start to go wrong? I know I should have made more of an attempt to visit, call, email or text over the years and I tried but, I don’t think that was it. What began as our usual back and forth banter, just like old times, suddenly turned into biting barbs designed to land flat, emotionless and seemingly heartless. Where did you go? Is the person I once knew still in there, somewhere trying to break free from cynicism and paranoia? Do you need help? I have offered it multiples times only to be rebuffed with an LOL, a curt, “No thank you, I’m fine”. I know ALL about the “I’m fine” response and am pretty certain it’s not fine, you are not fine and we are not fine. You are talking to the Queen of I’m Fine who resided in the Land of Not Fine for 20+ years. I recognize the distress call.

How can we repair this damage? I’m not certain we will ever get back to where we once were and that might not even be wise but, I want a new connection with you. An adult connecting with another adult and not two emotionally damaged kids, lashing out at everyone and misunderstanding everything meant to be tongue-in-cheek. We used to have fun but now…we don’t. Where did you go? Am I allowed to come and find you? I really don’t know what to do with this uneasy feeling but that isn’t your fault. I’m the one who apparently still feels deeply and still has the ability to care but, even so, if the answer is NO I can take it.

I am strong.

But, I want you to be strong too.

That is all.

© 2020-2021 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Oh, Sister of Mine?

When people ask me about my family of origin I pause and take a deep breath. “How much time do you have?” I ask. It’s never a matter of rambling on about all the amazing memories I have (or had) with family, it’s a matter of, “How much do I tell?”

Do I talk about the feelings of despair, the urgent need to get as far away from my childhood home and town as possible or, do I simply compose a quick verbal synopsis? Even that would be a task destined for failure since there is zero possibility of a speedy deposition because anger, pain and darkness go too deep and have traveled too many generations to be given just a cursory glance. This is a disease that must be examined with the keen eye of a scientist or, at minimum, with the paranoid skepticism of a rabid conspiracy theorist.

“Show me your proof.”

“It’s all made up!”

“You have an agenda!”

Who doesn’t, pal?

I wish I had made up everything I felt compelled to share about my childhood and the people enlisted to birth me and then failed to raise me properly. I wish I had made up the interactions with my many siblings that drained the rose color from my preferred view of the world. The dream of a life I felt excited about as a five year-old was the same one ground to dust at eight by a brother who acted entitled to be doing so without explanation or recourse.

If only I could recall, rewind, rework and then reissue my life. But, I can’t and it must stand as a work unto itself with no revisions because truth is truth no matter how dirty and the lies of others, desperate to silence you, have no power anymore. That, right there, is what sparks the greatest fear in former oppressors, instigators and apologists. I will TELL. I will say it ALL. And, my truth will follow them to the depths of every self-imposed hellscape they find themselves in or into any carefully curated tale of a supposed “life well-lived” they may attempt to create.

It’s the price we all pay for pretending.

But, what happens when the pretenders stop and stand still within their game? What happens when the camera, the one meant to capture a staged joyous moment, starts documenting reality at every press of the button? Sure, we can smile for the camera but we have no control over the image projecting from our eyes. They are the real keepers of truth after all.

I entitled this “Oh, Sister of Mine?” for a specific reason and to document a specific hurt. I have two sisters, born from the same parents and both subjected to the same dysfunction (at varying degrees) I was yet each approaches their wounds very differently. One chose the stance of a pacifist or rather, a “compartmentalizer” and the other, further down the pedigree chart, chose to morph into a volatile cat o’ nine tails ready to inflict as much mental punishment as humanly possible on anyone she decides to level. Did I see that coming my way? No. Am I really surprised in hindsight? Again, no. Some people learn from their pain and some carry it with them like a weapon to be used whenever they need self-soothing. It was just a matter of time.

Now, here’s the rub. From time to time I see strategically posted vignettes of their “and a fun time was had by all” soap opera. It hurts, initially, that I have been purposely cut out of their lives but, in a way, I also see it as needed medicine. The depiction of how their lives easily go on without being invited to share in any joy or pain can feel scalding but, it is also the hurt I need to heal, if that makes sense? The more I see of these surface only interactions the better I feel about my decision to untangle from the diseased spiderweb. I can’t go back to pretending anymore. I won’t go back there yet, at the same time I am irritatingly human enough to still long for closeness and also feel bad for all of them.

https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/people-are-revealing-truth-behind-their-happy-looking-social-media-posts-its-heartbreaking.html

And by ALL I mean ALL, even the parents and other siblings who worked so hard to grind my soul into the ground. I wish things were different but, they are not and they never will be. That wish is now released to the wind. It floats away, along with pieces of my regret and anger, to be replaced by a satisfying self-awareness I never even knew I could posses. By “self-awareness” I mean I own up to my faults, my lies, my rage now with zero shame or embarrassment.

It’s never embarrassing to be authentic.

The TRUE shame is in continuing to willfully live that lie.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Farewell to friendship in the age of Trump

Goodbye spirited debate! So long teasing! Forget about it, polite conversation! Take a hike kindness. You’re done! Finished! Finito! Every attempt at online interaction now is fraught with misunderstanding, defensiveness and paranoia. What did you say about me? What did you mean by that?!? You are so naive, ignorant, liberal, conservative, arrogant, brainwashed, deplorable, gullible…on and on and on. You are either one of US or one of THEM!

Wait…what?

Now, to get to the heart of this blog confession; I was recently unfriended and blocked on social media by someone I have known since high school. While this isn’t the first former school chum to unfriend me this one certainly was the most surprising. Now, granted, we haven’t physically seen one another in over 20 years and every attempt I have made to connect, face-to-face, since 1997 has been rebuffed but, I’m confident when I say I tried! I called, texted and messaged, all out of genuine concern for a friend I wanted to keep in my life because I had fond memories of them from a time period when things weren’t as complicated.

We used to be really good friends…once…a long time ago.

Everything is complicated now! And mostly because people make it complicated for themselves.

It all began with a series of half satirical, half personal opinion posts about the Orange Scourge. Then, it involved replies on other friend’s posts and then my own response to said former friend who was clearly trying to either elicit an affirmation of his world view or a negative response to posting a blurb about how those still “fearful” of getting Covid-19 should just stay home while everyone “brave” and “patriotic” goes back to work. This is the same person who would regularly pop into comment feeds with harshly cold comments bereft of empathy and dripping with condescension and then when rebuffed would also try to disengage by saying, “Oh, I guess I don’t understand how social media works”, “I thought we could have a discussion but I guess I was wrong!” But, wait! You claim to be a sort-of Libertarian scholar so don’t you know it ALL? Tell us more Professor! Psst….THAT’S sarcasm by the way.

Yes, yes you do understand how dropping a shitty comment into the middle of friends bantering back and forth will be received. Yes, you do understand that the people you are crap-bombing are all outspoken women who are very adept at expressing their views and who don’t appreciate being talked down to. Yes, you knew this and yet chose to proceed because…you knew exactly what you were doing. The need for attention, whether it’s positive or negative is still with you even after all these years. Such is the way of the perpetual adolescent, demanding attention and then feigning dismay when things take a disturbing turn. Not my fault! Uh, huh…sure. If not yours then whose?

And, so I felt compelled to respond with a truthful statement that indeed, I shall stay home because I am lucky enough to have an employer that values my safety and one who can allow me to work from home. I acknowledge that I am very fortunate and appreciative of how my life has turned out. It seemed to be a benign enough proclamation until other comments involved telling the fearful, in this person’s view, to file for unemployment if they felt too scared to work. Not. That. Simple. For an all knowing Libertarian I’m shocked they don’t realize that if a stay at home order is lifted then the unemployment payments stop. If an employee decides to continue staying home they can either: 1) Burn up their sick and vacation time or: 2) Get fired for being insubordinate if they still refuse to come to work and risk getting or spreading Covid-19. If the second option occurs you can bet that the unemployment benefits process will start all over leaving the “fearful” without money coming in for a period of time combined with the indisputable knowledge that profits are more important than human lives. *Edit: The most likely scenario will be the reasonably concerned employee will balk at returning and the unsympathetic employer will consider that an, “I quit” which equals-no unemployment.

The former friend’s response? “Well, YOU just stay home and you’ll be safe…” Is there a sarcasm font? No? You’ll just have to read that in your best sarcastic and dismissive tone. You understand what sarcasm sounds like right? Some are confused as to what that is apparently (cough, cough…Trump) and after receiving a reply that a snotty, privileged Karen would give I read it to really mean, “And…all the rest of us patriots, unafraid of some silly virus and unwilling to give up our freedom (to infect) will move about the world touching and coughing on everything while you stay holed up in fear.”

The actual typed words may seem harmless on the surface but I know this game well. I recognize the short response, the clipped phrasing of impatience and defensive deflection, the bubbling irritation I have gotten so used to. I will pat you on the head with these dismissive words, words I don’t really mean but words I choose in order to belittle and embarrass you online. Words I would never try in person because I’m not good with face-to-face conflict. So brave, right?

Having dealt with many passive-aggressive individuals over the years I clearly recognize that when a rebuttal begins with WELL the resentment tends to run DEEP. I have no idea why this person would feel resentful towards me or toward any other friends so I won’t even hazard a guess. It doesn’t really matter. I simply don’t tolerate this type of childish drama in my life anymore so I’m not hurt by the severing of social media ties. Keeping self-absorbed online nasty comment bombers on my virtual “friend” list has lost it’s appeal and no matter what our history together was it’s now time to let go. I have grown up, they have not and that’s okay. I will not lose any sleep over our ridiculous falling out.

What does concern me, however, is the suspicion that all is not mentally well with my former friend despite denials when pressed via private message. There is something off here, something that doesn’t make sense and even though I have asked if I can be supportive and be of service my assistance is not welcome. I can respect that. Again, I tried so now all I can do is wish them well, hope they are okay and leave them in the past.

Farewell friend! I knew you once but now, I hardly know thee at all.

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When the “helping” hand actually hurts…

I’m just trying to help...

I don’t mean to criticize but…

This is for your own good…

Here, I found a meme that sounds like what you are going through…

Ahhh, the helpers that don’t really help! It’s one thing to deposit mountains of written support online or via text and quite another to be the person known for physically showing up when human connection is needed most.

Newsflash: a meme can’t hug you when you need a hug.

This is the risk we all face living in a rapidly disconnected world. Oh, sure we are technologically “connected” but we are far from emotionally connected anymore. And, this disconnect has happened so fast many haven’t even had a chance to allow this truth to register deep into their blunted gray matter.

The more time we spend online, away from meaningful human interaction, the greater the chance we will experience gut-wrenching loneliness. Loneliness spurs on hopelessness and hopelessness hands over the keys of your life to potential debilitating depression.

https://thriveglobal.com/stories/the-digital-age-are-we-losing-human-connection/

Why do we risk our precious mental well-being by partaking in this onesided drunk dance with social media? Is there really anything truly “social” about it if all interaction is conducted remotely rather than face to face? How will anyone learn how to read facial cues or body language if we are only interacting with a written transcript and not a breathing, flesh and blood human being?

https://gulfnews.com/going-out/society/how-mobile-phones-are-killing-human-interaction-skills-1.2205044

The thought of never seeing that distinct look of surprise, happy excitement or even pain in the eyes of my fellow human again, because the preferred mode of connection is via text now is truly heartbreaking. How has this happened? Are we really this fucking lazy?

That day is coming quicker than we know…

Or, is it because we are scared? Has the fear of rejection, disappointment, and pain turned us into a sniveling lot of bemoaners rather than get-the-hell-out-there doers? I think so but that’s just my opinion and not verified by any case studies.

So, does it help to strategically place happy sayings and inane memes on the social media accounts of those who have stated they are struggling or does it further fuel the loneliness? Time certainly will tell and so will statistical studies of the increase in mental illness diagnoses and suicide attempts.

I guess what I am trying to say is this: why wait until the inevitable happens? Why wait until someone crying out for help hits rock bottom? Why offer a meme or empty words quickly typed out on your phone while waiting in the Taco Bell drive-thru?

Damn, we have become a selfish and oblivious bunch of assholes, haven’t we?

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Whose Grudge is it Anyway?

Have you ever gotten stuck in the middle of a drama trap and you had no idea how or why it started? You know I have! And, I am currently stuck in it for the entirety of the unforeseen future. It’s a soul-sucking loop of insanity that appears to have no end!

Now, in the middle of this battle, a fight that I didn’t start, comes the missive that I am STUBBORN. Yes, I know I can be but, in this case, I think I have a pretty good argument for why I should not concede. Does that make me the grudge holder or the grudge refuter? Not it!

Not my grudge, not my responsibility I say. But, does that mean that I won’t jump to help those who keep pulling me back into drama should they need it? I absolutely WILL help them and I have been trying desperately to make that clear. Got it? One has nothing to do with the other.

So, you may call me stubborn but am I stubborn because I refuse to let emotional bullies shit on me and my loved ones or is it because I refuse to roll over and accept responsibility for a conflict that I haven’t a clue about its true origins? Where does the desire to be THE BIGGER PERSON conflict with the need to protect ones immediate family from negative forces that have shown they cannot be trusted and most likely WILL do it again?

It conflicts right here I say.

And, even as I say that we can go back up two short paragraphs. Although I don’t trust the Grudge Family any further than I can throw them I would still save them from a burning building without hesitation. Because I’m not a dick and I do love my sisters and two of my misguided brothers. I can’t reserve a place in my heart for the brother that abused me or the parents that let him and then heaped their own shit-ton of abuse on me but…I do not wish any horrific tragedy on them. I just want them to stay in the past for good.

This is my line in the sand…don’t cross it!

God, what a confusing ball of contridictions family can be! Love them, hate them or hold them at arm’s length like you would a hissing cat. Do I apologize for another’s crimes in order to artificially piece back together the shame-filled family vase or stand my ground and maintain a steady footing in healthy reality? I love a good fictional tale but this one has an ending I can pretty much predict will not be enjoyable so I choose to not play and can only love from afar in hopes that reason finally breaks through.

https://melmagazine.com/en-us/story/the-psychology-of-the-grudge

Why would any reasonable person accept responsibility for a one-sided, passive-aggressive argument fueled by assumption and paranoia anyway? When an irrational, hot-tempered blowtorch of, “Oh, you probably think I’m a bad parent!” is the first shot fired over a sinking boat’s bow a reasonable and RATIONAL person would tell that person to back up and try again. Nope, we don’t put words in anyone’s mouth here nor do we assume we know how anyone else thinks. Crazy making at its finest! No one wins when crazy is in charge.

The above passage may contain some of the words that launched this battle but, they aren’t the cause. That infection started many years before as just an annoying itch. And that itch fed on decades-long feelings of resentment, even abandonment maybe? I have no idea. We never had any REAL talks remember? Just scratching the surface; “How are you?” “I’m good.” “Let’s bitch about Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister.” Never once did I ever hear, “I really resent that you didn’t make an effort to hang out with me more when I was younger.” “You just left me here with THEM.”

https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-release-the-past-and-return-to-love

Is THAT what this is really about? I can only guess. The odds of getting a reasonable and honest answer are pretty slim so I won’t hold my breath. I would like to know though, it’s part of my curious nature, and I would also like to be part of helping work through that mess of feelings. I honestly would.

The main reason my life record is currently stuck and skipping over and over on this topic is that, maybe, I am using writing as a way to sort through my own emotions about this unpleasant chapter as well. Call that stubborn or call it emotional protection. Either way, if you, the creator of a grudge are reading this then maybe no one needs to apologize at all. Maybe we all just need to promise to do no further harm.

You may think that the vitriol you served up was justified but think about it from where I stand for a moment. Do you protect your immediate family? Yes? Without hesitation? Well, so do I. Simple as that. Now, it’s time to protect myself and as I am doing that I am also learning, growing and prioritizing my energies.

The amazing irony here is that it’s really hard to hear that it’s all on me to fix a problem that I never knew I had until a flurry of text temper tantrums and social media diarrhea proved otherwise. Cat’s out of the bag now, can’t hide that mangey disgusting thing anymore so either admit you own it like me or walk away.

The choice is yours.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.