Jump to content
Online Grief Support, Help for Coping with Loss | Beyond Indigo Forums
  • Announcements

    • ModKonnie

      Advertisements   09/05/2017

      Hi all,  I'm sure you've noticed some changes in the forums. We've again had to do some updates, so that's why things may look a little different. Nothing major should have changed.  Also, we are going to start adding advertisements sensitive to our community on the boards. This is something we are experimenting with, and we will certainly make sure they are in the best interests of everyone. We want to make sure our forums continue to stay accessible and cost free to all of our members, and this is a way to ensure this.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to privately message me or email me at Konnie@beyondindigo.com.  As always, we will be here with you, ModKonnie

Gabriel8

Members
  • Content count

    19
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Gabriel8

  • Rank
    Member
  • Birthday April 11

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    United States
  • Interests
    Reading, Writing, Movies, Traveling, Hiking
  • Loss Type
    Loss of Parent

Converted

  • First Name
    Gabriel

Recent Profile Visitors

122 profile views
  1. Thank you, @reader. I really appreciate your support and encouragement. It helps me to know that there is something positive that can come out of what was so painful and hard. In fact, a sense of meaning and purpose changes the entire landscape of sorrow, for me.
  2. It just kept getting worse, and there was nothing I could do to make it better. This morning I woke from an upsetting PTSD nightmare. This one was about being bullied. I have a lot of PTSD nightmares. The setting changes, but the theme is always the same: things are getting worse and worse, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. It is the feeling of utter helplessness that is the most terrifying thing to me. To know that I have no power whatsoever over the scary thing in the nightmare, be it bullies or something else. I've had so many of these dreams now, I find myself wondering about this secret and unspeakable terror that I have; which keeps showing up in my sleep. My greatest fear in life has long been falling apart, and being utterly helpless to stop everything that I have and am from losing itself; like a house of cards in a light breeze. I couldn't halt or stop my mother's alcoholism from destroying her; from taking from her everything that she had and was, until all that was left of her was a shell of her former self. I couldn't stop the progression of her disease (alcoholism). All I could do, as a child and a person, was to watch her slowly and die; knowing that by her refusal to get help that there was only one way this could end (her death). I could do nothing as her son and as a boy, except to be torn apart by watching helplessly as the first person who I had loved in my life was whittled down to nothing. I hated her for her refusal to get help. I hated her because I had loved her so much, and I desperately wanted whatever it would take for her to get better. I hated her but I wasn't able to feel my hate because I was too busy trying desperately to save her. I found her hidden liquor bottle and emptied it on one occasion. I worried about her constantly; even though I was her son and only a little boy. I tried to be the "best" son I could be; and to behave as I thought she wanted and needed. I joined her in blaming the world and people and everything else for her suffering; everything except for her own self, and her poor life choices (the one thing that could have saved her). I could not have saved my mother. There was "nothing I could do to make it better." I wanted to save her, and would have given anything as a boy to do so. I could only watch helplessly as she slowly died from her disease and, most of all, from her unwillingness to get help. And I suppose that what happened to her became my own greatest fear because I believed that I had failed her, and that there was something I could have done to save her. However much I may have believed so as a boy, there wasn't a thing in the world that I could ever have done for her that could have saved her. While she, and then myself (for some years), blamed everything and everyone for her plight; she was truly the only person who could have saved herself, by asking for and accepting help. She did not die because she was an alcoholic; she died because she was unwilling to reach out for help. There are so many things in my life that I can't control that the list is endless; but I can control my decision to reach out for help when I need it. And while my body may be ravaged by disease or injury, or my mind may be reduced by traumatic brain injury or (eventually) alzheimer's or dementia; I will always have control over what I choose to say and do (for the most part). And I hope that I can take comfort in knowing that I can continue to choose to reach out for help when I need it. What happened to my mom was avoidable, but only by her own choice. I am so sorry to my inner child that I could only watch her die. I can assure him, however, that while he was helpless to save her; he (& I) can avoid her end by making better choices (something over which I do have control). The boy I was could not have known that; but the man who I now am can (and does). My story can have a happy ending, after all!
  3. I just had a thought that helped me start to make sense of some inconsistencies in my understanding of my father, who recently passed away: If a battered husband or wife told me about how their partner actually loves them, would I know better? If so, why do I continue to make excuses for my father, who abused me? My father abandoned me repeatedly, which is a serious form of abuse (neglect). Why do I continue to perpetuate the myth that he loved me "in his own way"? Because, like the battered husband or wife, I have been in denial. The behavior of my father was always in conflict with his words. He told me about how he loved me in ways that felt genuine and beautiful, and then he said and did things that were completely at odds with those words. To make sense of this incongruity, I told myself that he loved me "in his own way", or "as best as he could." Yet, the schism between what he said and what he did remained. My wanting to believe that the father who raised me loved me is completely natural and understandable. It once helped me to feel worthwhile and lovable. Now it serves no other purpose in my life than to keep me from experiencing the true connection and love of the people who I now choose to have in my life; my friends. I know that the reason why my father didn't love me was not because of anything that I lacked; but rather because he was incapable of loving another, as he did not love his own self. He wasn't what I would call a "bad" person, but he certainly wasn't healthy. And while I wouldn't label him as bad; he made many bad choices; the worst of which was to be part of bringing a child into this world that he was not capable of protecting and loving. If there is one job in this world for which people who aren't suited should not apply, it is that of being a parent. I've long felt this way; and expressed this sentiment to my father, as an adult. When I did so, he told me I was being cruel and cold-hearted. I believed that lie for a long time; that I was a mean, cold-hearted person for feelings and expressions of anger about things that were legitimately very wrong. I persecuted myself for my supposed "crime" of speaking up about abuse and neglect and the umbrella issue of family dysfunction and denial. I believed what I was told by the people who supposedly loved me: that I was bad (not that I had said or done something bad, but that I was badness itself). That, I know now, is shame; which is not ever okay. It has taken me thirty years to remember what I always knew, but didn't want to believe. I can now say with certainty that I am not a bad person, and that my father did not love me. To others, this may not sound like something positive or empowering. To me, this is the fulfillment of the one thing that I've always wanted: The Truth.
  4. One time my father, who passed away four months ago, told me that I was "the best investment [he] ever made." ... He didn't mean this to imply that I was a stock or some other asset or commodity, but as a praise of my worth, as a person (at least, that is what I believe). While my father made many errors in his parenting, he was remarkable at sharing beautiful heartfelt words. He once wrote me a birthday card, when I was in my twenties, in which he spoke of the beauty of nature; and he said of me, "You're part of that beauty." That bit of loving praise for his son is something I've held close to my heart ever since. When my father passed on, I thought I knew the man. In the eyes of a son who had to survive too many traumas, he was deficient and lacking in almost every conceivable respect. Most hard to ignore or forgive, of his behavior, was his unwillingness to confront the denial that kept him from protecting me when I was a boy. I couldn't understand his seeming cowardice in refusing to face so much of his denial. Like most people in life are forced to, I have grown humbler with time. And I have been forced to broaden my perspective as regards the man who my father was; and whether he was a "good" or "bad" father. I reject the notion, now, of putting a "good" or "bad" label in front of any person; even of those people who brought me into this world. I prefer to think of this flawed man who raised me as a person much like anyone I've met, myself included. Some things he did resulted in a great deal of suffering on my part. Other things he said and did seemed to come from a genuine place of love and pride in his son. At the end of the day, it is not for me to judge this man; as I hope that no one will judge me for my deficiencies. So, you may wonder, what am I saying here? Am I suggesting a kind of moral relativism, in which we do not hold people accountable for their wrongs? Absolutely not. I believe that we must take responsibility for our mistakes and wrong choices; as to do otherwise would be to deny that thing which we all have: free will. What I am saying is that I didn't know the hearts truth of the man who I so long condemned in my heart. What I am also saying is that my perspective of the man who I once wrote off as an "absolute failure" was lacking. I did see a part of the truth (my truth); but I could not then see the larger picture. I was too caught up in my own pain and fear and anger (hatred, more like it). Am I wrong for hating my father, or for being limited in my perspective? Absolutely not. I have the same right to be human as he had! And I am far from flawless, I will own up to! I don't know a lot, but I do know this: No one ever made this world a better place for telling someone what a horrible person they are; no matter how deserved of such criticism the teller felt they were. I may have a broader perspective than I did when my father passed away, but I still don't know what was in the old man's heart; and I never will. I just know that my shaming words and verbal hatred towards the man never made him a better person. I know this because I have become the target, myself, for such emotional abuse from my brother; who has it certain that I am evil incarnate. I know that the shame that my brother throws at me, like the shame that I once threw at my father, encourages me in no way to better myself. In fact, it does just the opposite. Not long ago I found myself yelling at a telephone representative, who was asking me "What have I ever done to you?" In that moment I was passing on the hateful words that my brother has been directing my way. I didn't know my dad, as regards the sum total of his measure as a person. I'm not God. I did know about the man; and, surprisingly, I am getting to know him more than I could ever have conceived of after he has passed on. Like we all do, whether we will admit it or not, I have become much like my father; for better or worse. This used to be my greatest fear. However, having seen more of the world, and myself most of all, I am proud of having some of his more positive traits. My father was no angel. But, then again, this is not heaven. In a world such as this, I am inspired by those souls who genuinely do care; in the myriad of ways we do. By that measure, I believe that my father was a decent man. If I listen to my hearts own wisdom, I do believe that he cared a great deal. I hope that I will not either ever demonize or idealize the very human person that my father was. I also hope that I will not hold myself to any greater measure than simply being a flawed person, who cares. That, I am quite certain, is enough.
  5. Thank you, @HauntedFromTheGrave, for sharing and for your support. I am not glad for our shared loss and pain, but I am glad to not be alone.
  6. I appreciate this idea that you shared, @sadandlost. I used to think that there was such a thing as one single, universal truth; and I wanted more than anything to catch hold of it! I now believe in the idea, instead, that we all see a bit of the truth from different perspectives; and that our perspectives do change with time and where we are looking from. I am fond of this notion, because then I can acknowledge other people's perspectives, even when they aren't the same as mine. And I can know that I don't need them to be wrong for me to be right. This is an idea that provides me a great deal of relief, and I am thankful for your expression of it. There is a quote by Nelson Mandela where he says, "I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." I always thought that recovery was something people did before they went and lived life. I gave myself a time frame that I thought was reasonable to recover in; say, six months. Lol! I can laugh now at my naiveté. As long as I'm alive, I will be a work in progress. And that's okay. Still, I need reminding of this; because I can easily slip into perfectionism and other traits that make my life more challenging. Here is the next sentence in the quote by Mandela, "... I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come."
  7. Thank you, @ModKonnie. Your supportive and reassuring words are much welcomed. I especially appreciated, "You were a child; no matter what you did, said or thought, you didn't control the situation." For all the negative I've had the misfortune to know in life, there are good people, like yourself, that remind me of the hope that never entirely left me. Your kindness goes farther than you can know.
  8. You're welcome @reader. Thank you for your compassion and support. It helps, when I do share my story, to know that it means something to someone else. I'm glad for your response.
  9. My father passed away roughly four months ago, and this is my first Christmas without him. My grief for him has been complicated by the dysfunctional family I grew up in. I have vacillated between missing him and feeling great anger at him. It has been a struggle to reconcile what he said with what he did, and what that means about him as a father. I have also had to reckon with the fact that, in a very real sense, I have become him. For better or worse, I see traits of my father in much of my behavior, as well as simply the way I sound when I'm speaking to others; I can hear him in my voice. If I'm honest with myself, I'm very proud of having many traits that I was always fond of in my father. He was a soft spoken man who, nevertheless, had a great deal of integrity, and spoke up about things that he saw that were wrong. He taught me about the importance of not being prejudiced, and of treating all people with respect. He was a gifted Therapist, and he made his passion into a career that brought him a great deal of joy. For all of the things that I was proud of him for, there were as many things that I didn't like to admit were true. He abandoned me over and over throughout my life. He lived in denial about many things in his family of origin, and he stayed in denial about how that carried over into the family that I was brought up in. He was constantly in unhappy, codependent relationships with women who he didn't actually care for. He tried to "save" and "rescue" others while he never faced so many of his own inner fears and demons. The night that he passed away, he came home to a wife who he was sleeping in a separate bedroom from. And the last words he had for anyone was to tell her to leave him alone, after which he went to his bedroom and passed on in his sleep. After always having been an almost larger than life physical presence, he died due to a heart attack. It took us all by surprise; as my brother and I had often joked that he would outlive us! Grief is so much harder when it is complicated. My struggle with whether my father was a good parent coincides with my own struggle to be what I feel is a good man. I am afraid of the ways that I am like him, because I don't want to hurt someone the way that he hurt me. However, I want to remember and pass on the things that I treasure about times with him. When I was a little boy we would "Indian wrestle" and every birthday was a big deal with games and always a piñata. He was a spiritual man who had a wisdom that was earned from a life of struggles overcome. Tonight I brought back a Christmas tradition that I fondly remember from when I was a young boy; when we would drive around town to see the Christmas lights! I took a drive around my block, thinking about how different things look from my vantage point as a man now, myself. I miss the Christmas's of my youth, when we always had a real tree and I would love to decorate it with tinsel (I always put on way too much!). We had a holiday tradition where we would intend to open just one present on Christmas Eve; but would invariably end up opening all of them! Ha! I had many special times as a child with my father, on holidays and otherwise. And I also had many special times with him as a young adult and man. In trying to parcel out the fact from fiction in my family and life, I have tended to favor the hard and painful truths that were so long shrouded by denial. It has been the most important thing for me to be able to stand on a foundation of truth, to find out who I really am (not so many of the things I was told I was and old family roles). Perspectives shift and change like wind chimes. It is easy to get lost in either emotions or in facts; and to feel I am looking at the truth head on, when in reality I am just looking from one vantage point. Somehow, amidst all of the perspectives that compete for attention, I do have fond memories of a man who showed me warmth and a gentle care. It's important for me to remember these things. It's important to remember how I felt, as a boy, on Christmas eve. Through all of the years and losses (loss of childhood/ innocence, loss of belief in parents, loss of life), I am still here, and whole. I have a soul, and it still works. I have a good heart, and a sharp mind. I have good and bad in me (hopefully more good than bad). I will make many mistakes in my life, and I will not be as good of a parent as I would hope (if I raise children of my own or help out raising someone else's). I will say and do things that I regret, and fail in ways that I cannot possibly predict. I cannot help but be human. Maybe that's all that can be asked of any of us.
  10. When I was twelve I let my mother die; or so I thought... The truth is that I wanted her to die, and so I believed it was my fault. I can't believe that I wanted my mother to die when I was a boy! What happened to that boy that he could have wanted for such a thing?! How could a child possibly want their own parent to die?! I hate myself so much! I hate myself! I killed her! I could have saved her. I could have saved my mother. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn't given up on her? It's all my fault! Why was I such a pitiless coward?!!! Why was I so stupid?!!! Why was I so WEAK?!!! I wished for her to die, and she took her life that night. She took her life that night. I gave up on her, and she took her life. She knew that we all hated her. She knew that I hated her. Her own son. Her own son wanted her dead, and that's why she killed herself. That's what a twelve year old son knew about his mother. ... And now I'm a man, and I still live in the truth of a twelve-year-old boy. There is no one whom I hate more than myself. I want to go back to that night; the night she took her life. I want to go back there to tell her one final thing before she goes: Mom, I wanted you to die because I hated you because you were a monster to me! I wanted you to die because of the pain you were causing me! I hated you because of all the sick things you said to me when I was just a boy... Of all the ways you hurt me! But I didn't kill you. I didn't have that power. Only you could do that. And only you could have saved yourself from your pain. I don't hate you, anymore; but I did hate you then. And now I'm going to tell you something that I never could before, because I was always too scared: I forgive you. You weren't the mother that I needed as a boy. You hurt me like no other human being could have, because of how much I loved you as a little boy. And I've kept myself from knowing that kind of love most of my whole life; because I didn't want to feel that kind of hurt again. And because I thought that it was my fault. My only crime, when I was twelve and when you took your life, was that of being a boy. I did not kill you, even if I believed that to be true. It was how a twelve-year-old made sense of something too awful to understand. I am a grown man now, and I don't choose to live in the ways that a boy made sense of an adult world. I choose, now, to know the truth of a man who is reclaiming his life. For it was my life, too (my childhood, truly), that you took when you took your own. So what is my truth now? My truth is that I once loved deeply, as a boy; and that I can love as deeply again; because mine is a good soul, and always has been. I have to live my life now. Sincerely, Gabriel
  11. My twelfth year of life was momentous for reasons outside of the fact that I was leaving behind childhood for adolescence. Unfortunately, this was how old I was (trigger warning) when my mother, who was a fierce alcoholic, took her life. With her suffering at an end, I thought that maybe my life could have the peace and stability that I had briefly known as a young child. Things didn't settle down like I had wished they could. At school and home, I started a retreat from people and life that has lasted up until just recently (I am now 34 years old). I realized the way that I started, as a twelve-year-old, to (unintentionally) keep myself alone. I told myself that none of my childhood friends had been through having an alcoholic parent who took their life, so then it was no use trying to connect with them. I told myself that because none of them would understand the pain I was in, then it was no use having them as friends. Looking back on this belief that I chose to isolate myself, I can't help but admire it's elegant simplicity and effectiveness. As a tool for keeping myself from experiencing again the pain of losing someone close to me, this belief was a sure thing. Partly it was so resilient, even over my adolescence and adulthood, because it was partially true; most people haven't experienced the type of trauma and loss that I knew so well at such a young age. What I didn't recognize and acknowledge was the fact that my friends up until that point, and people in general, didn't have to know my specific pain to be supportive and caring. Over twenty years later and a lifetime away from that awful time in my life, I am realizing that I still use this belief to keep myself from the risk of getting close to anyone. I've been able to realize this because I've had just enough recovery to start taking the chance of sharing my genuine thoughts and feelings with the few people who I am somewhat close to. To my great surprise, the response that I have received has been much more receptive than I could have anticipated. After all these years of assuming that no one will "get" me, and playing it safe by saying what I thought others wanted to hear; I have risked being authentic just enough to encounter the reality that my thoughts and feelings aren't that strange or different from most anybody I meet. And, if I give them half a chance, most people will not only relate to what I have to say, but will appreciate my unique outlook! So, after having devised a remarkably creative way, as a boy, to isolate myself from others, I am at long last untangling the denial that was necessary to keep that belief in place. It turns out that the world isn't full of people who can't "get" me or appreciate who I am; but actually a great many people who would like to get to know me, if I give them half a chance.
  12. You're very welcome, @sadandlost. And thank you for your caring and encouraging reply. It helps me to read your words, to remember to show myself gentleness and compassion. Learning to be gentle with my own self is growing more natural, I am glad to share. It is also becoming more natural to reach out for help when I need it. Oftentimes I feel very alone in life, sometimes even when I am around other people. I don't feel like people see me as I truly am; but I know that that is because I don't often take the chance to share with people my authentic thoughts, feelings, and self. I guess I'm afraid that they'll reject me, or maybe something else. I do know for certain that I want to be my genuine self more often, and to let other people who seem like good folks see me as I am. I want you to know that your being a witness to my shared truth, and who I am, gives me something purely good that I could never get from a self-help book, Therapist, or a medicine (though those things do have their purpose). The very human ways we support each other here, in kind and caring words, feels like a medicine for my spirit. I'm thankful for this safe place to learn how to be less alone in my life.
  13. I understand what they mean when they say alcoholism is a disease, because I watched it take everything from my mom; before it finally took her life. My whole life, my greatest fear has been to lose everything, just as I helplessly watched happen to my mom when I was a boy. If I allow myself to remember, she had once been a beautiful, funny, witty person who had many friends. I remember her as a very young boy, when she would take me to gymnastics practice and we would play cards on her bed, while listening to Carly Simon albums. I warmly remember being held by her while she, myself, and my father would watch "Wheel of Fortune" and "Growing Pains" on TV (when TV was still just a box, and not something you could take with you everywhere). The hardest and most painful experience of my life was watching, helplessly, while the disease of alcoholism slowly (but unceasingly) devoured my mom; until she took her life when I was twelve years old. It literally whittled her, physically, from a once healthy woman who loved to jog and go to the beach, to almost hardly more than skin and bones. While she had once been vibrant and full of life; she became almost like a black hole, which absorbed all light and joy that came near her. I remember thinking, as a boy, "Why can't she just snap out of it? Why does she have to be so miserable?" I didn't understand then the nature of the disease, or that her drinking was even a disease. All I knew was that I wanted my mom back. I would have done literally anything to rescue her from the depths of despair and self destruction that she fell into. I did do and try everything within my power, as a young boy, to save my mom from herself. I found her liquor and dumped it out. When she asked me if she should check herself into a recovery program, I urged her to please get help and go. I thought if I was well enough behaved, and did everything that I thought she needed and wanted from me; then surely she would find my love reason enough to get better. And (bare with me here) I failed in every conceivable way to rescue my mom. I failed her because there was nothing that I could have done, or anyone else, for that matter, to save my mom. I've learned, as an adult in my own recovery, that we can only save ourselves. I've also learned that the disease of alcoholism is deadly serious, and many good people and souls lose themselves to it. Now, in my life, I want to remember my mom for the loving person who she was who I loved and admired so much as a young boy. With the trauma of what I saw unfold with her, I just about forgot that she wasn't the disease that killed her; nor was she the self-destructive and rageful person who she became in its grip. I like to think about the whip smart and funny woman who liked to eat popcorn while we watched 80's sitcoms. I like to remember her for who she was, and not what she became. Not so I can erase a part of the past that is painful; but so I can know that good people can say and do bad things in the dark embrace of things that are destructive to the soul; like alcoholism, shame, and so many other downward spirals. I'm so sorry for the child who I was, who watched his mother fall apart while being helpless to stop it. I hope he can come to know that that was not his fault; that he was never responsible to rescue her; that nobody but herself could have done that. I want to tell him that I know he did the best he could. I want him to know that I forgive him for being a boy, and human (and neither of those things are a crime). And, lastly, I want to thank him, for surviving that awful experience (awful for everyone in that family) in the best way that he knew how. ... And that his surviving was "enough".
  14. It's my pleasure, my friend. You have an assured voice that's like a steady hand at the helm. I am glad to be a witness to your story, as it unfolds.
  15. I'm glad to share with you, @sadandlost. I don't know where I belong either. In fact, I was just speaking with someone tonight about that. For me, I always had an identity that came from my family role. It wasn't necessarily even a positive identity, but I felt it gave me a sense of who I was. After the loss of my father, and distancing myself from unhealthy family, I am having to figure out who I am outside of old, outdated family roles. This promises liberation, and a chance to decide what kind of man I want to be. However, it is still scary for me; and I carry the learned doubt of myself and of my perceptions that I learned from a family system, so I would forever be dependent on them. I too hope that things will settle for you as they will with your mother's estate. I believe that is likely, as that is just what has happened with my father's estate. The obligations to interact with relatives to settle the estate, and the fighting amongst them, was tremendously hard for me; and a great relief to have it settled. I understand what you share about reverting back to being a frightened child. I did this a lot when my father was alive, because I was co-dependent on him; so I would return to the nest when my life got too overwhelming. I used to feel guilty about wanting the safety of home, but now I understand that wanting to feel safe is a very human thing, and nothing to be ashamed of. I think that all of us, whether we feel our age or not, need a basic sense of feeling safe and having something that we can believe in to hold onto, when our lives feel out of control. I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom. She sounds like a wonderful mother and caring soul. My father was a good man, too. He had his faults, but he had integrity, and he taught me about acceptance of others and how all people are equal. He also believed that there is goodness even in the darkest and most unlikely of places. I am glad and grateful for the strengths that he passed down to me. It gives me joy to share them. Your family is lucky to have you; even if they never realize or acknowledge it.
×