Natalie Goldberg gave me the phrase “open a vein”.
I mean, she didn’t make it up or anything, but she gave it meaning for me.
Writing is easy, just open a vein.
Sometimes, when I write about parental narcissism, I get an idea and start, but then run away from the story.
Writing this shit is hard, yo.
I don’t like thinking about ways I was injured as a child.
I will recall a memory and consider writing about it, but then all the other memories tumble in as well. There are some memories I will probably never write about, but I still have to think about them. They hurt.
I do write about painful issues, though, because I can.
I know my way down every twisted corridor and the journey sucks, but I understand that space. I am not a confident person. Hahahahah holy shit that is an understatement, but I do know my way around life as the child of a malignant narcissist.
Life continues to be difficult as people in my country have to live under the toxic orange cloud of the president. I read over and over the shock and dismay people express over 45’s words and deeds. I am never shocked. Trust me, he can go much lower. There is no depth deep enough. Nothing will make him say “Maybe, I shouldn’t do that.”
There are parallels. My father and the president are two very different people, however, their behavior is sickeningly alike.
My father demanded loyalty. My father demanded we protect his lies.
Like the orange psycho puff, my father was not a drinker. Except for when he drank. Haha. It really wasn’t often at all, but when he drank, he drank until he blacked out. Fun times.
My father’s vice was gambling.
I spent a lot of my childhood hanging around a racetrack. My dad loved betting on horses. He was terrible at gambling, but he loved it.
It was never his fault when he lost.
The jockey threw the race, and to hear my father talk, the jockey threw the race just to spite him. Or, someone gave him a bad tip because they envied him and wanted him to fail.
The problem was never that he was throwing grocery and rent money away. He wasn’t the problem. He was never the problem.
And those days always ended with “Tell your mother we went to the park.”
I was lying for my father before I learned how to read.
This is a huge trigger for me. Not that I’m often asked to lie for someone, but it happens. When it happens, I feel sweaty, angry, and betrayed.
In the past, because my job was to be loyal and protect lies, I would do it. I would lie for someone if they asked. I won’t do that anymore, though. I am not mean about it and I don’t express how bad I feel to even be asked to lie for someone, but I won’t lie for anyone anymore.
I don’t like working through these issues this late in life.
I don’t like when situations I find difficult are also comforting because they are familiar.
I wish my life were different. I do. I wish when I went to a place where I felt comfortable, a familiar place where I knew every corner, that my internal place wasn’t created through parental narcissism.
But this is my life. This is who I am.
I don’t have many childhood memories that aren’t punctuated or turned sour due to my father’s emotional abuse.
Sometimes, though, I am grateful for those dark, murky alleyways I have to travel. Sometimes, I am grateful that I can open a vein.
Because sometimes, I get an amazing comment on an old narcissism post, or an email from a reader telling me I have given them comfort. They feel relief at not being alone or they’ve gained understanding of themselves by reading someone who experienced something similar.
I’ve found, through this journey, understanding root causes goes a long way toward healing.
I’ve learned self-acceptance helps close some wounds. But nothing, and I mean nothing, has helped me more than knowing that I’ve comforted others.
I don’t know who I would be right now if my life had been different. Probably not writing this blog.
Not that it matters, my reality is what it is.
- I don’t want to be sad over my past anymore.
- I don’t want to feel resentment anymore.
- I don’t want to give loyalty on demand anymore.
I think I’m the one who gets to decide that.
I might feel different tomorrow or next week or after the next time I have to spend time with my dad, but right now, I am content that my life has played out as it has.
I love my family and my friends. I love all of you guys.
It’s not easy, and I may never resolve everything in my head, but I’m cool with opening my vein for as long as I can.
Photo courtesy Screamenteagle