Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Parent's Love is a Paradox

There exists a paradox in the love between my parents and myself, despite the fact that I know they don't recognize it.  I am learning that at this point in our lives they probably never will.  I do not doubt their undying love for me.  I do not doubt that they would give their life for me.  I am, however, giving up on them ever realizing that their actions and their choice of words have led me into years of compulsiveness, anxiety, and even depression at times.  My father's mother and father abused alcohol.  My maternal grandfather was an alcoholic and to my understanding my maternal grandmother wasn't exactly the epitome of a role model mother.  The summer after my second year in college my mother told me I "have till Tuesday at 11:00 a.m." to be moved out.  Then she called everyone in my family and asked them not to contact me because "Kim ran away."  It was shortly after this that my grandfather, who by this time had been about 13 years sober, had told me about Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).

This is now where I struggle having a relationship with them.  The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Organization have developed a laundry list of common traits that people in this category most often display.  ACA repress their feelings from their traumatic childhood losing their ability to feel or express emotion, they judge themselves harshly and have a low self-esteem, they are approval seekers and lose their identity in the process, they are frightened of angry people and any personal criticism, they have an over-developed sense of responsibility, and these are just a few.  What's frustrating is that in spite of never abusing a drink (or any other substance for that matter) they take on the characteristics of the disease.  And, holy cow, have my parents ever!  I could list many of the ways they treated me, but that would make them sound like horrible people.  That fact of the matter is  that despite leaving their homes at 18 years old, not pursuing any higher education, my father traveling across the country living out of his car, taking odd jobs, and my mother marrying a drug addict, they pulled themselves out of a potentially volatile lifestyle.  At one point my father worked three jobs to take care of my mother, myself, and my three little sisters.  He went to an apprenticeship and worked his way up in his company.  When my sisters and I were older and in school full time my mom took on a position with a reputable company and has since worked her way up.  My point to all of this is that they worked hard for us.  This, I'm learning, is how they show love...I think?  This is also what makes having a relationship with them difficult.  (I just reread this and it might be confusing.  So to clarify here are a few facts.  The drug addict my mom married is my biological father.  She left him when I was around a year old.  The father I will refer to in the rest of this post is my "dad."  He adopted me after he married my mom when I was around 2 1/2.)

It is my guess that because my parents are ACA they have said and not said things every young child and teenager needs and doesn't need to hear from her parents.  The same goes for their actions.  Here lies the paradox.  Treating someone someone horribly but loving them unconditionally.  And here lies my paradox.  Being treated horribly and holding on to rage and resentment, craving what was never there but still...STILL...undoubtedly loving and needing them.  The struggle continues as different situations arise.  This morning my father called me and left a voicemail asking me to call him back.  Immediately my stomach climbed into my throat as he only calls to lecture me (in his words "advice).  I've learned over the years that this always leaves me in despair for at least a week.  My recent thoughts are to keep my distance and take what he says in strife.  So I decided to call him back with an ice wall built around my heart to protect it.  He wasn't able to talk at the moment (he was busy with work) but then he said those words  he never used to say before he hung up..."Love you honey."  And then...the ice starts to melt.  I want to keep the wall there frozen because I know he will undoubtedly have something to say that will hurt.  Then I will begin the vicious cycle that has happened so many times over.  I will determine that I need to distance myself, then I will come to the conclusion that I should just accept him (and her) because they are ACA.  Finally I decide absolutely not.  I shouldn't have to deal with this.  My conclusion today...I'm still not sure, except that our love is a paradox.

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