I’ve always thought I look and act more like my mom but lately, I’m not so sure.
I learned from my father how to close myself up in quiet. How to act as though it doesn’t matter. It being anything. It being whatever I need it to be in that moment. Whenever I feel depressed, I feel most like him.
I hate that this is true, but it is. In the last years of his life, my father was not one to engage in argument even if an argument was warranted. I’d do my best to instigate one because a reaction was better than all that non-reaction, all that sitting and staring into the dark, all that anger masked as complacency. When you’re a workaholic who is forced to retire early because you are going blind, it’s hard to hold on to a sense of yourself when the parameters with which you defined yourself have disappeared. I understand the anger. I actually respect it. But the complacency? The sitting there waiting for something outside of yourself to change? The giving up? That. That I don’t get.
Maybe that’s why I’ve always plowed through life, tackling problems head on, ceaselessly. Maybe that’s why I am quick to think that throwing up my hands and saying “I’m done!” with people who run on the treadmill of life rather than take to the streets, with people who say “this is good enough” when it’s not even close to good or enough. I’m unforgiving when it comes to laziness and lack of motivation and tend to harbor resentment when I lend my support but see no change. I am not proud of this cruel personal truth.
I spent many years (also known as my twenties) finding people to bolster, to carry, to inspire. There were many who fell prey to my rescue complex and for a while I mistakenly felt like I was being helpful. I become somewhat of a dictator when shit gets hard and people fall apart. If I could make money off of being a fixer, I’d be rich. I’m great at telling you what to do. I’m not so bad at telling me what to do but I only listen half the time. I have an extremely difficult time standing by watching someone I care about falter, hem, haw, breakdown. I know they need to for their own sake but for my sake? I can’t watch. I haven’t learned how to be supportive without being a bully. This is a fault of mine. A very big fault. I realize that most of the time 40% of my anger is directed at a dead man. I’m still mad at my dad for succumbing to failure. For choosing to wallow rather than live. For giving up.
I’d like to think I can change though lately it seems my default reaction vacillates between firecracker anger and caged silence. It takes all of my willpower to keep my mouth shut and not give directives masked as advice. I have to constantly remind myself that “that is not my life” and let them find their own answers. Sometimes I will say nothing rather than say the wrong thing. It’s very uncomfortable, this not knowing how to react. It feels counter-intuitive and yet, I know I need to stop telling people what to do. And because I am a master at beating myself up, I’ve been walking around feeling like who I am and who I’ve been is wrong.
Feeling wrong all the time is exhausting.