I’ve learned from reading Pema Chödrön that the past is gone. It can’t come back. It can live like ghosts in our minds if we let it.
My mind has been haunted as far back as I can remember.
If it’s not a memory of my mom screaming at my dad for being shitfaced wasted, it’s a memory of my my mom telling me I’m just like my “worthless” father. I have memories of crying in my front yard because my brother was being spanked with a belt and had to run out of the house because it was too much for me to handle- then being yelled at to get my ass back in the house. Now- these are just particular memories. Let me clarify that I was not physically abused as a child. I can still remember sitting on the dog house in the side of our yard and talking to birds and chipmunks like Cinderella and riding bikes with all my girlfriends in the neighborhood. My childhood wasn’t bad. I always had food to eat, clothes on my back, and my own bed in my own room. Even my own hamster, named Annabella.
Releasing these ghosts has always seemed to be an issue for me. It’s so easy to forget the good memories. The sparkles of light that made childhood and life something I look back on and wish life- now, were still so easy and innocent. But, for some reason, the memories of meanness from my mother and the emotional absence of my father are like little dark grey (not black anymore- they’re starting to fade) clouds that come down and rain on me out of nowhere.
I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older how to open an umbrella. But I must say, I do believe it’s the reason for my lack of self esteem and was the justification behind my escaping the world with booze and drugs.
I have two brothers. I’m the oldest, Stephen came 2 years later and Paul arrived a year after that. I was always the sensitive one. I cried when they tried to take ET away from Elliot, while Stephen was strong willed and never let anyone tell him what he could or could not do. Even if it meant he got spanked. Paul was the baby. He just went along with what we did and always helped me dress up our Doberman, Rex, in clothes for a good laugh.
As adults, we all have had some kind of addiction. It’s in our genes. To be fair- we got those genes from my dad. His mother’s family to be specific. There was tremendous amounts of love in that family, but there was colossal drinking too. I even have a family member in the witness relocation program. Something about cocaine, but that’s all I will say about that subject. Now- as for myself, I didn’t really drink until I hit my mid twenties. I had smoked pot since 10th grade, but I wasn’t much of a drinker. Until I picked up on the fact that every glass of wine I drank made me happier, better looking, and hilarious. Those would be an alcoholics self esteem goggles. As a woman with severe depression problems, I started drinking all the time. I wanted to forget. EVERYTHING. I wanted to be numb. I didn’t want to feel life. I wanted to be lost in it. I wanted to feel like I was 7 years old again, swimming underwater, weightless, floating, hearing nothing but the water. I wanted to drown.
My savage drinking went on for 8 years. In those 8 years I did every drug I could get my hands on, I got prescriptions of Xanax and Vicodin. I railed coke in bathrooms at bars with strangers. I went with a stranger to smoke crack and a once with my hairdresser. I bought items for a friend so she could cook meth. Then we’d do the meth. Ecstasy and percs at DEMF dropping to the sidewalk trying to walk back to the hotel I was staying at with friends, being pulled up by people around me so I would be arrested. Lines of 80mg oxy. Lines of heroin. I was a trash can for drugs and alcohol. I just didn’t give a fuck. I liked being high. At least I can admit that. I liked being high or wasted. I pushed my body’s limits. I knew I was pushing my limits because I researched what I was doing. I wanted to know just how far I could go. And you weren’t going to stop me. And guess what. No one ever did.
Stephen has done his fair share of stuff. Not like me, but he has. Now that he’s a father- works 55 hour weeks- he just comes home and likes to enjoy a cold beer. He is like my father. He works, he takes good care of his family, he’s financially stable, but his weakness is coming home and drinking. (Never liquor, only beer).He’s a good man and I love my brother. He is a great daddy and is an incredible cook. So I like to think of his beer drinking the way I used to take Xanax. I just needed it to relax. And then I was good. I don’t feel that Stephen had the same inner weakness- that lack of self esteem that I have. Which is a blessing in disguise I suppose.
Paul. My baby brother. The one I want to save but can’t. Paul was never a big drinker- at least not to my knowledge. Like me he started taking pills. Where as I got a script for Xanax he was buying Vicodin and Percocet. He was blowing $100 a day until he was fired from his job. He started getting sick and that’s when he started using meth. I used to go visit my brother and his wife and my nieces and nephew and we’d spend the night outside (in the summer obviously) smoking blunts and drinking cheap vodka mixed with whatever pop, under the stars. We’d talk and laugh and talk and tell each other secrets. He broke down one night and cried telling me about his pill problem. We hugged. I asked if he was ok and needed help. He said no- but clearly it was something that had been haunting him. We sat together quietly and the did a shot together. I told him about some stupid shit I’d done- I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone- when it came to making bad choices about drugs. That was in 2016. That was the last time I hung out with him. I’d only seen him after that night at family functions, getting thinner and thinner. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2017 that I found out about his smoking meth habit. He believed he had Morgellons Disease. He had begun hallucinating sending me and my mom weird texts. We took him to the hospital hoping they would help. They didn’t do anything. The doctor seemed heartless- because “we see this everyday ma’am”. I haven’t spoken to my brother since. It’s been an entire year. I’ve written him. But I don’t think he ever saw the message. I still check to see if it’s been read.
My brother lets the ghosts of his past live inside of him. They don’t just visit, they dwell inside of him like tick burrowing under the skin. There’s one ghost in him that is angry at my dad for never “being a dad”, there’s another one that’s angry because he feels that Stephen is our parents favorite child, another one that is angry because he’s not financially stable, one that’s angry that his high school sweetheart and mother of his first two kids left the relationship, one that’s there encasing him in depression, and the worst one of all- the ghost that won’t let him move on.
I can say I’ve learned how to accept and release the ghosts of my soul, but I now I have a living ghost. He haunts me every day of my life. I can’t release him. I can’t let him go. I can push him to the back of my mind, but he always resurfaces. And I hope… some day he does.