Monday, August 1, 2022

Ghosts


I just want to say for the record, when people retaliate for perceived wrongs by withdrawing their speech, withdrawing their very selves from the field, it inflicts a kind of trauma, especially for children, no less in the long run than if the strap had been used; perhaps more. This is the way my husband and his siblings learned to fight when they were growing up, and through years of successive non-engagement, it has done untold damage to their relationships. Worse, this form of defense wired into to the subconscious when they were still trying to know themselves is still running the show, but the lack of awareness of underlying scripts, perhaps even the lack of care at this point, obliterates any possibility of addressing the hurt feelings on all sides, of healing longstanding rifts. My heart breaks for these people I love, so locked in they are to the old scripts, each one an island of pain. 

For me, the hard truth is there is nothing I can really do to help solve this. I only harden their positions when I try to insert myself, offering what feels to me like the most obvious reasons. After this week's most recent round of ghost warfare, my husband insists he is fine, but I know he is not. He has gone quiet, brooding, and I can feel the lack of peace in our house, the roiling seas beneath his carefully composed surface, the spirit caged, anger and sorrow unexpressed, willfully contained. God, I hate this. I am here this morning trying to process my own roiling internal seas, the sadness of it all beyond knowing.

In the background of all this sturm and drang, my interviews for the proposal have been going well. I have begun writing, as the deadline looms. I'm still only a mere toe dip in the water, but it is something when you get the first sentence, the first paragraphs, and they don't make you want to stab anything. As always, I pray to be an open channel for my subject, to do her extraordinary story justice. Mostly this morning, I'm praying for peace to live inside me, inside my beloveds, I'm praying for an end to the tears that do not fall, the dam brimming. Love is all. 



13 comments:

  1. You have pretty much described my husband and his brother, I can't speak for his sisters. My husband has so much grief, disguised as anger, waiting just below the surface, waiting for a chance to be seen and acknowledged. It's painful to watch. I see a lifetime of hurt in his eyes and I want to fix it but can't. Now I have been drawn into the drama and have been hurt as well by my mother in law, knowing she's lied to me and knowing how much she's hurt her sons.

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  2. I don't see how my husband's family has survived. He and his siblings are sad. So is my older sister. They hide behind a wall of silence until they believe it is safe to engage again, thereby missing out on so much. I used to want to be like them sometimes, but therapy helped save me. I, in turn helped my mother learn how to speak up and speak out; she was grateful. It is frustrating though--trying to talk through even a misunderstanding with our sister. It's taking years but once in a while she manages to "recover" quicker.

    Thank you for this post. It shines the light on a painful topic. Dare we hope that help is on the way albeit in a book?

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  3. I hope that there will be an end to the pain your family continues to experience.

    The pain in your post, on all sides, mirrors the pain in my family. The wrongs in my family involve sexual abuse. With great sorrow, I have chosen to stop engaging with those family members who deny the existence of the sexual abuse that is most certainly intergenerational, coming down through many generations in our family tree. I had hoped that the sexual abuse would be faced and addressed in my generation and continued to hope for family reconciliation, including arranging family therapy sessions, but the family members involved had normalized covert sexual abuse (perhaps because of their own experiences of having been sexually abused overtly and covertly) and could not understand why anyone would be concerned for my nephew's emotional welfare, despite the concern of social workers, mental health counselors and Child Protective Services. A little over a year ago, after nearly 20 years of hoping for a good outcome, I came to the sad conclusion that having any relationship with those family members was enabling the sexual abuse, covert or overt, to continue to the next generation. They continued to take the stand that I was the problem, not sexual abuse. They were waiting for me to come over to their side. I can't do that. I continue to hope, against all odds, that they will see the light. There is nothing else I can do. I am grateful to the mother of my nephew's son who told me that I did the right thing. May all broken families be healed.

    As always, it's good to hear that your work of helping others tell stories that need to be told is going forward again. Thank you so much for all you share in your blog, the joys and the sorrows.

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  4. My father-in-law told me to my face that my husband had never done a single thing to make him proud and he never gave him credit for the business we built together that I couldn't have done without him. Eventually my FIL disowned him because my husband laughed when his father wanted to break up our daughter's relationship with her boyfriend because she was pregnant and they weren't married...$5,000 to the boy if he would convince her to have an abortion and exit her life. That all happened later after my husband finally got the therapy he needed to get over his abusive upbringing but until then, my husband was so miserable inside that the only emotion he could tolerate was anger. It was almost the end of us. He would tell you he was fine, that he had dealt with it long ago, but it was a lie he told himself.

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  5. Those who bottle up their pain do not realize how much it hurts the ones they don't mean to hurt. I hope the storm does not linger too long and your work is a distraction and a balm. Hugs, my friend.

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  6. Families are such complicated things. Buttons get pushed and sometimes the misunderstandings, the mistakes, mistrust simply won't resolve. My older brother and younger sister have not talked to each other for quite some time now. It is not my nature to let things go unresolved, but for some it's easier to just walk away and pretend not to care.

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  7. I know all about bottling up pain, but sometimes it's the only coping mechanism that can be used. I have to use it to deal with my younger daughter. It's not right and it solves nothing, but sometimes it's needed.

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  8. I've always been in awe of families who just get it all out in the open. Say it, yell it, and then clear it and all is well again. My family kept it all inside too, or even worse, this one would talk to that one about the other one and so on and so forth- a malignant, malicious stew.
    Meanwhile, you will find that connection between yourself and that subject to tell her story. You have proven yourself over and over and it will be so again.

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  9. I hear you. Yes, damage is there and buried. It is also part of the problem that our menfolk, at least my menfolk, have been taught that to be manly is to be quiet and not let the hurt show. Anger is okay, but not fear or hurt. Especially not hurt. I look at the grandkid age - mine range from 19 to 31 (yikes, I'm old) and hope that this younger geneation is more flexible and able to self-talk.

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  10. Family rifts are amazingly common today. It is hard on all sides. Conflict is isolating and this is not healthy. Working toward the greater family good is often viewed less important than the individual good. I have no answers but I also know how hard this is.

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  11. My parents never really talked to me. I have no idea what was going on in their lives. They're dead now, so I will never know. These comments hurt my heart for the damage done to them by the people who were supposed to love and care for them. I hope your husband can find some sort of peace.

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  12. Fighting with silence is so...difficult. It doesn't allow any exchange and resolution. It's hard to exist in such a frozen state.

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  13. I feel as if there is some parallel stuff going on in my own life, and however elusive your own language here, It is helping me. Thank you. I wish for peace for all of you, too.

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