Last week I had a horrible argument with my father. It scared me that I can slip back into that role so easily. It scared me that his rage is still there, like a sleeping lion. When I was a kid, his rage was frequent and consuming. It permeated the house and when he yelled (at anyone), I would disappear. Stillness meant the illusion of safety.
And here we were 35 years later. A part of myself was yelling back, getting louder and he got louder. Another part of me began to feel like it wanted to disappear. It was then that I realized that this needed to stop. Now.
I acknowledged that he was angry.
I acknowledged that he could no longer hear me through his rage.
I told him I was sorry for upsetting him and that my call was made in good intention.
As we both calmed down, he began to tell me a few of his concerns with one of my sisters. I began to offer some suggestions, and as he shot each one down, I began to feel that 5-year old shrinking inside me. The feeling was all too familiar. It was a sick, twisted feeling. I began to see the dysfunction of my family much clearer and it was almost overwhelming.
We hung up and I cried. I cried and I began to pray*, affirming what I know, what I can do, and what I can’t. I repeated; “This is no longer mine. I give it back. I hand it over”. “This” being that feeling of being invisible, of being negated, of being responsible for my family’s happiness. I repeated those words until felt some sort of release.
It’s a common ACA trait to want to save others, especially family. And as more time passes, and the less I am in contact with my family, the more twisted my family’s dysfunction looks. I see this as an indication that some healing has taken place. It hurts even though I’m healing. It feels isolating.
With time and distance, I see my family as a ship that is sinking and in flames. Today it hit me that I cannot save them. Not because I don’t want to, or don’t care, but because it is not my place to make their healing happen for them. Anyone who has ever had a loved one battle with addiction knows this. You can’t make an addict sober. It’s their journey. This family dysfunction is the same thing. As a Latina, it is an excruciatingly painful experience and one that is hard to wrap my mind around. It feels like betrayal. But I also understand that a healthier me is the only thing I can offer myself and my family.
In the end, it felt good to be able to have a disruption and feel my feelings without being overwhelmed by them. It felt good to experience my witness-self/observer and reconnect through acknowledging what was happening in that moment. It felt good to be in the now.
“This” I later told my therapist “is what I wanted when I first came here. To live my life, and when something shitty happens, not be overwhelmed by it. To be able to experience it and move on.”
* Payer for me is a new concept that I’m coming into. For me it is like a mantra. I affirm my place in this world and the qualities I’m releasing and growing into. I affirm my connection to all living entities and life itself.