12/31/10 I will not submit to the grief/2

My father’s wake, I’m on display, I’m like a host floating through the crowd thanking everyone for coming, shaking hands, getting hugs, kissing cheeks I never stop moving till it’s my turn to stand in the reception line. My sisters and brother in laws and nieces all take place standing there, next to the coffin, watching people pray and cry as they kneel infront of my father. I disconnect, focus on other things, remove myself as far as I can while my body waits to mechanically to say “thank you for coming, yes it is sad, yes he was a great person, thank you.”My friends arrive, one of them L knows me well she leans over and whispers to M “something’s not right, she’s too, she’s too, pulled together, she doesn’t seem like she just lost her dad.” She’s right I do not seem like someone in pain, someone scared, someone lost, someone forced to spend time with a family they are not close to, a family they never feel safe showing vulnerability with.I’m not right and this is just the begining of how fucked up I am about to become, this is the begining of therapists offices, fights with K, hurting her, hurting us and not even knowing it, feeling suicidal, becoming a sort of walking dead, numbing myself and pushing the person who loves me most away. This is the begining of the worst time in my life, for over the next year right after my father’s funeral I will have to put down my dog because she bit the person I am in love with, badly, so badly she is hospitalized,  I will watch my other dog bite and attack my neighbors dog, I will push K away without realizing what I am doing, I will make mistakes and let the dysfunction that I come from hurt our relationship, K will lose her job and I will take part in deciding to remove my brother from life support and let him die.Right now at my Dad’s funeral I’m in survival mode aka not dealing with what’s going on.  No one in my family knows that I’m gay now, not like I’m trying to keep it secret but something about that announcement at a funeral is not right. My oldest sisters watch and notice, they see K and they see me, at this point I haven’t even told my friends yet, we are so new and well they have only known me to date men. My oldest sister appears to figure it out and will eventually tell L the one sister I maintain a relationship with which will then in turn cause her to relentlessly question my nieces -who do know, I told them first.

I’m tired the next day there is a mass he will be cremated so no cemetary, I’m glad.
Everyone rides in the limo, except me I don’t and haven’t for a long time felt part of my family, I tolerate them most of them are well, crazy, damaged and difficult to love and be loved by. My mother has pulled a number on each one of us, she has damaged us so deeply and so darkly, systematically attempting to take all of her kids out at one point.
I hug and kiss my family members at the wake because I have to, others are watching, others expect that cause that’s what families do. I hate it, I feel like a fraud, a liar I hate to be in a position where I have to pretend. I stopped pretending long ago when I broke nearly all ties with them. I ride with K to the church, we meet my family in the front as they exit the limo and we all watch and wait as the coffin is carried out of the hearse.
We follow down the aisle and we file into the first three pews of the church, K is sitting directly behind me one seat back. My family all sits in the first row there is no room for me and I sit in the second pew by myself. My nieces are infront of me and we perodically offer each other support.  My sister N delivers the eulogy she does it in both Spanish and English she does a wonderful job. When she comes back I tell her coldly “good job”.  K says to her “that was beautiful N”.  I can’t connect with her, she did give a beautiful speech but the only thing I can muster is “good job.” We’ve never learned to really love each other, support each other or be there for each other. When my mother was angry with one of us she often tried to pit the others against you as well and if you talked to, helped or were nice to the one in the “doghouse” you might find yourself next.

It’s time to give each other the hand shake the “peace be with you”. I turn around and K embraces me, out of the corner of my eye my friend M who has recently moved back from Mexico comes up and hugs me warmly. I am deeply touched, so appreciative and feel so loved. She found out via our school email that my dad had passed, she immediately left work picked up her husband and they headed out from Forest Park to the southwest side of Chicago, she made it just in time for the mass. I will always remember that gesture of love and it was the thing that finally moved me to tears as I stood in my pew, removed from my Dad, removed from my family, removed from my heart, removed from this moment. I make my way down my pew hugging people in my family, my mother never turns around to be hugged by me and I even tap her shoulder at one point and she distracts herself with my sister.

Later that day at home K’s observations and introduction to my family rolled over me like a boulder. She gave a blow by blow account of the “dysfunctions of your family” talking about how no one comforted my mom or my sister N and the visible seperation between us. The coldness, the tenseness the akwardness was something she witnessed first hand and no amount of preparation even if I had given it to her would have helped her understand it or be prepared for it. Someone who has a relationship a normal one with her family cannot understand it. It wouldn’t be untill much later in our relationship that she would begin to understand it and even be able to explain it to others as I tried to do with friends.  To this day, to this moment as I write this, the night after she has broken up with me, on the brink of her possibly moving out and ending our relationship forever, she is still learning, seeing, hearing and experiencing the profound impacts my childhood has had on me.

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