Thursday, August 25, 2011

Like a Piece of Shit

This post is going to be two-parts airing dirty laundry and one-part rant. I'm sorry to break away from my normal topic (sex), but this post is something that is weighing heavily on my mind and I won't be able to keep writing until I post it. I hope this helps me move on. Don't worry, my regular topic will be back soon.

As many of you probably noticed, I didn't post anything Monday or Tuesday this week, even though I spoke on Twitter and Facebook about having a fun event from the weekend to post about. Monday's lack of post was mostly due to the fact that I went to bed early Sunday night after spending the day prepping and then relaxing. The idea was to be fully prepared to get up early in the morning and get online for my first day of taking online graduate classes. Being the worrier that I am, my nerves were eating me up inside. The fact that I was able to think at all and sleep soundly is amazing.

Things on Monday started off great. My classes were open and easy to get in to. I found out that I already had the first few books I need to read, so I could start right away, and the classes didn't have too much work required in the first week, which will help to ease me into the process. After Monday morning, I feel very much reassured that graduate school is something I can handle and that I will be able to emerge with an MFA.

Seeing that I have a manageable, if not easy, road ahead, I called my dad to tell him that I was going to be coming to lunch. My dad and my grandfather have a lunch together every so often. It used to be every two weeks, but I'm not sure if they still do it that frequently. The two of them were supposed to have lunch around the time that I signed my lease for my Boston apartment, but my father had been sick and couldn't go. They rescheduled for Monday, and my father invited me, but didn't tell my grandfather as neither of us were entirely sure how my schedule was going to work with class.

I give my father a lot of crap, and he deserves most of it, but he does give me a lot of support when it comes to achieving my goals. He may not agree with said goal of studying writing to at least a Masters level, if not PhD, but he will support me. And he is totally on my side about moving to Boston. Interestingly enough, he lived a little ways down the same street my apartment is on almost thirty years ago. He knows the area well, and knows I can handle myself on my own. All my life he has been telling me to leave Maine and make something of myself, and he is happy that I finally can.

Of course, not everyone in my dad's family is nearly as supportive of me as he is. When I first called my grandfather to tell him that I had signed a lease on an apartment in Boston, his response was something along the lines of, "Well, at least you'll get that out of your system." I was a little thrown back by the response (get what out of my system? Boston?), but I managed to recover and keep the phone call congenial. When I hung up my father had promised to make sure to convince my grandfather that it was a good idea at their next lunch. The one that didn't happen. So there was a little bit of business hanging around unaddressed between my father and I and my grandfather. On Monday my grandfather aggressively tried to solve that business.

Maybe his bad mood came from the fact that his car had broken down, making him late. The fact that he had been confused about the exact road he was on wouldn't have helped as my grandfather has a lot of pride and would not want to start losing himself to brain deterioration of any kind. Or maybe he had been planning this talk for a while and had simply not had the chance to have it with us yet. Whatever the reason, my grandfather really blindsided my father and I on Monday with a third degree inquisition on my move and other issues.

The hardest part of answering my grandfather's questions was that, no matter what I said, he would turn and look at my father. "And you're perfectly comfortable with this?" he would say. His voice would be inquisitive, but his look was accusatory. It was a look that said, You shouldn't be OK with this because I'm certainly not. And if you were a better parent or I was in control, Ace would have been reined in years ago. With every question he was basically accusing my father of being a bad parent. It was clear that he did not approve of my choice to move to Boston, but even more clear that he felt like he should have had some say in the matter. As if he should be allowed some control over my life. (Keep in mind I've been an adult for almost four years now)

My father did the admirable thing and stuck to his guns. He wasn't going to let my grandfather act as if my moving to Boston was the breaking point of our family. Apparently there are many people in my family who feel like my attending college in Ohio and now moving to Boston is representative of my desire to no longer be a part of my family. This may seem like a silly issue, but it isn't to my family, who are for the most part extremely xenophobic. The outside world scares them. Add to that the fact that I am the only child in my generation and a male, and there is a lot of pressure to carry generations of family tradition on my shoulders. It is a weight I have felt my whole life, but until recently I never had the sense that people suspected I wasn't carrying the load.

I suppose it doesn't help that I haven't really spoken to one of my aunts in over a year now since she said some very hateful things to me and then defended her right to say them instead of apologizing. Anyone who knows me should know that shit like that doesn't fly by me. My father is known in my family for not putting up with drama or antics, but I'm a step above him. Not only do I refuse to take shit from people, but I have no qualms with cutting the crap out of my life. I spent too many year suffering under depression and my own self-hatred to be affected by the dumb comments others make, and I will do what I need to protect myself. If one good thing came from lunch on Monday, it was that I finally was able to tell my grandfather all the terrible things my aunt had said about me. I did it calmly and evenly, causing my father to later applaud my ability to keep the emotion out of my explanation. Realistically, though, it wasn't a struggle. After so long I really don't care one way or the other if that aunt ever says a word to me again.

Overall, however, the lunch was a disaster, ending with both my father and I pretty pissed at my grandfather and the others in my family who have apparently been talking behind my back about me. It is one thing for my aging grandfather to be worried that I am pulling away from the family, but it is an entirely different matter if you a whispering lies and half-truths into his ears so to make him fear it. I feel betrayed in a lot of ways by my family now, as if they, in their need for superiority over my incredibly happy life, purposefully have tried to ruin  it. The joke is on them, though. I'm not going to let it bother me.

If they are dead-set on believing that I am leaving the family, then there is nothing I can say to change their minds. So why bother? I have been slowly crafting my own chosen family out of close friends. People I care about and who love me unconditionally. Is it a little strange to be collecting family members like I am? Maybe. Probably. But I'm not the only one who does it. There is simply no reason for me to operate under an oppressive family system. The solution is to move to Boston and make the close relationships I need on my own. I can make a family out of supporters instead of detractors. A group of people who love me for who I am, instead of my real family who would never forgive me if I told them I have sex with men regularly.

So that is where I'm at mentally at the moment. The move creeps closer and I have a lot to do, like renting the truck, calling the cable company, etc. I have to read a lot for grad school and keep up with my classes. I am trying to keep myself healthy so that I am over mono for good. Meanwhile I dealing with my new-found lactose intolerance and the new diet I have because of it. I hardly have time to think about my family, but the thoughts creep in anyway. I hoping that by writing this post I have exercised the thoughts, at least for a while, so that I can get out of what is clearly a funk and move on. Thank you for baring with me through it. I know some of you will be bored, but there are those who always enjoy these peeks into my very messed up world.

15 comments:

  1. Your sex life, fascinating as it is, is only a conduit to getting to know you. Some of your readers may be bored, but the ones who comment regularly really care about you and will not be. Besides this is YOUR blog and you get to command the ship. (If only it were manned with hot hunky sailors slavering to do your bidding.)

    It is not at all odd to create one’s own family of the heart when you come from a dysfunctional family. It’s healthy and necessary.

    Even though it feels like mega-control and disapproval, it sounds like your grandfather’s worries stem more from feeling helpless and fear of losing you. Usually people hate emotions that make them feel a sadness and pain and they try to exert some sort of control to counteract and not feel them.

    It’s terrible for you to be a recipient of this but even though he’s related to you and presumably loves you, it’s really not about you. It’s hard to not take this sort of thing personally, but it’s more about him.

    Example: I was once in group therapy. A man in the group fixed on me as a projection object, meaning for some reason (could be physical, could be verbal habits, you never know) he projected his angst in his marriage onto me and became extremely hostile. I had a private session with the therapist because I felt blindsided and she explained this projection object thing. Talk about helpless. You can’t tell people to stop it, esp if they’re unconscious that they’re doing it. It did become more bearable, however, because I was able to embrace the idea that it had nothing to do with me. (Irony: some years later I met the man again during swing dancing. He wanted to ask me out. Ha! Never in a million light years, dude.)

    You sound as though you’d like to get this “settled” and change his attitude. You may not be able to do that. Human affairs often need time to work out, even though in our impatience we want to “fix” things right away.

    I would say it could be flattering that your family is so worried about losing you, except that it sounds so insane and xenophobic as you said. I hope it did help to vent. It’s your life and I hope you live it to the fullest of your own ambitions. Good luck and don’t look back. Pillars of salt have crappy sex lives.
    ciel

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  2. Many persons, including myself, have turned to a variety of addictions if we come from families where we can't be ourselves. If we get into recovery from what ever the symptoms were, we realize that the goal of recovery is not simply to be free of whatever compulsive cage we are in , but also and mainly to have a life. And most often that means naming and creating a new family in which -- as you say -- you are loved unconditionally.

    Creating your own family may seem unusual, but many of us have found it absolutely essential to our well-being. You are doing the right thing for you!!!

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  3. Ciel,

    Thanks for your post. You're right, I really can't take it personally, but it is hard. I do get a lot of animosity from my family and it just makes dealing with them all very difficult. And I wouldn't mind that they didn't want me to leave if it was because they cared about me. But it isn't. It is because they are selfish and take everything personally. And it is because the whole dysfunctional family really just wants to have an outward appearance of being united. It reeks of bad.

    -Ace

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  4. Wharton,

    I'm glad to know I am doing what is right. I can understand the urge to turn to addictions. The entire afternoon to night on Monday I kept thinking that what I really needed was to get drunk. I don't actually make a habit of drink and getting drunk (Been almost 3 months since I last did), and I'm not an alcoholic, but if one was, that moment would be very hard. What stopped me was a severe lack of money or a ride home. Thanks for your comment.

    -Ace

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  5. Wow. What a brave thing to do. I know many friends who keep destructive, negative, even hateful 'friends', working colleagues or family members in their life.

    I once had to go through a similar situation, and although I didn't know it back then (I was 17?) I very much did the same: I stopped communication with the family and instead created my own set of beloved ones (and twenty years later most of them are still with me although meanwhile we live on different continents.)

    I understand my family and their own struggles better now so the anger is (mostly) gone but although I have many regrets in my life ... this isn't one of them (and I feel it will be the same for you :)

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  6. Ace

    You are a bright, ambitious, focused guy who is sympathetic to others and clearly in command of his own destiny. There will be detractors and roadblocks, petty jealousies and entanglements along the way. And when people feel as though they are losing or in this case, lost control, they act out in the worst sort of way. That's their deal. not yours. Stay true to your convictions and be the great guy you are and all else will fall into place. And in the meantime, tell your grandfather that the real reason for the move to Boston was so that you could begin your mail-order bride business from Russia. He'd soon have a ton of grandkids and all his dreams would be answered! Hang tough Ace. It will be ok.

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  7. Your father suppots you and thats the only relative that matters. Your move to Boston and grad school is your new beginning. hal

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  8. Sweetheart, never bored.

    I can't say that my own experience of leaving the fold was this... overt. Having said that, my family all assumed--and have continued to assume through every 'move' I've made--that I was abandoning ship. My family has been, and continues to be, very devoutly religious folk and, as a gay man, I did what I felt I needed to do. That meant gaining some distance, both emotionally and physically. The funny part is that I email regularly... and get very little response. But somehow it's me whose not being communicative.

    In any event--before I get on my own, one-man soap box--I feel your pain. Family is hard. Building a family-of-choice is something a lot of us have done, you are not alone in that. We find what we need.

    Much love.

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  9. One of the most freeing moments I have ever experienced occurred when I was working on my own Masters degree. I was talking to the wife of my academic advisor, and ranting to her about the life-long tension that existed between myself and my father. Ultimately, she looked at me very directly, and straightforwardly said: "You know, you don't have to love him. It's okay if you don't."

    When she said this, I had a very visceral reaction of "But I DO love him - don't I?" And ultimately, the answer was that yes, I did (and do). But that was the moment at which I realized that I had real control in this situation. I could love him - or not love him. Nothing could or would FORCE me to feel something I did not feel. And realizing that was crucial to me. It didn't change my love for him - but it did change how I viewed my role in the relationship, and the NATURE of the relationship itself. We don't HAVE to do or feel ANYTHING. We have every right to feel - or not feel - whatever our heart discovers to be our own truth.

    with love, Jonking....

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  10. Countesszero,

    I have to hope that I don't regret it in the future too. Though, I have a feeling I won't. It isn't like these people have been supporting me emotionally or financially my whole life, so I'm not really losing much if I lose them...As sad as that does sound.

    -Ace

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  11. Loki,

    Apparently my grandfather was pissed when my dad moved to Boston to live with my mom before they were married, so that excuse might not hold well with him. It is a funny thought, though. I wonder what he would say...

    -Ace

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  12. Hal,

    Exactly. And my grandfather should understand that too, even if he doesn't want to.

    -Ace

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  13. Richard,

    It is strange, because my family is not very religious, but they still hold values similar to the religious conservatives. No reason why. But the end result is the same: I've got to move away and live my own life or I'll never be happy. And I get my family telling me I don't communicate well all the time, and then they go behind my back and talk about me. It makes me wonder if they really expect that to entice me to stay here with them.

    -Ace

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  14. JonKing,

    I came to that same realization years ago. I remember reading a quote in the book Dune that went something like, "The hardest thing for a boy to learn is that his father is not perfect." But I learned that a while ago, and last summer I realized that I truly have the power in all my familial relationships. Because I'm not the one with the problems, they are. So if I leave, I lose some sniping backstabbers. But they lose the only child in my generation and any hope of seeing whatever children I might have. And they lose me, which is a terrible loss, I'm sure.

    -Ace

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  15. Ace,
    I had the same difficulties with my family and still having them. Some of my family member doesn't approved of my life and from what i am but i have deal with it and i don't talk to them any longer or see them. They only time i can see them is when i go and see my mother. I don't tell them when i go to see her so if they come by, they will see me but i never go and see them at their house. i Had enough of their crap. I am more closer to my best friend and his boyfriend than my own family. I even told them that my friends come before them. Me too, my friends come before my family and i also move away from my birthplace 15 years ago to have a piece of mind. Also, you are like me man, i have lactose intolerance so i'm taking pills for that.

    Yves

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