As every Samhain, I reflect back on the past year and try to take an objective look at how things went. Like most people, I’m a work in progress, but growth is always good. This year, I made some pretty drastic changes, and I find that I’m content with the results.
My mother died last year, shortly before Samhain, so my holiday was overshadowed by exhaustion, emotional tension, and a host of other stresses. However, grief was not among them. My parents made no secret of their animosity toward me from moment one of my life, and as the years went by, I found myself reacting in much different ways. As a child and a young adult, I vacillated between returning the hatred and a pathetic desperation to make myself worth of their love. Eventually, I matured and settled into an apathetic acceptance of what I couldn’t change, and sent that energy into more worthwhile pursuits.
To that end, the death of my parents meant little to me. What it did do, though, is open up a door that i had long since left shuttered. I’ve mentioned before that my biological brother molested me over a period of about 2 years, and that he also messed with my best friend at the time. She is no longer in my life because of this. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I found her several years ago and made contact. However, she told me she couldn’t be in my life because of what he’d done. I was devastated, but I absolutely understood, and didn’t bear her any ill will. How could I? There was one question that had always gone unanswered, and it was one I didn’t particularly want answered, really — Did my parents know what he had done? The answer came this spring, quite unexpectedly. They did know. And this means that not only did they not do anything to stop it, but they continued to give him access to me by having him “babysit”.
I won’t lie. That did a huge number on my psyche. What kind of people do that to a kid? Their own kid, no less? But it showed me the depths of their abhorrence toward me, and it gave me a much clearer picture of a lot of things from my childhood. It also provided me the impetus to do something I’d wanted to do for years.
I drafted a no-contact order and sent it registered mail to his office. That way there’s no way someone wouldn’t be around to sign for it. In my state, an official restraining order cannot be granted unless you’ve issued a no-contact order first. So I did. In the letter, I explained this to him and gave him a choice. If he just fades off into the universe, we’re good. He lives his life, I live mine, and we never have contact of any kind again. If he violates it, I will file with the court for the official one, and send a copy to the licensing board of his state. It was like a sodden wool blanket had been removed from my shoulders. I felt more free than I have in years.
There were other things I shed from my life as well. A “friend” who proved with crystal clarity that she is anything but…a doctor who had acted like a disrespectful, gaslighting jerk to me when I saw him…and also my work schedule. I had fallen into a really bad habit of checking in on emails, test forms, etc even at night or on weekends. Vacations weren’t even safe from the intrusion, and when I started to get anxious in times I couldn’t check in, I knew there was a much bigger problem there. Our trip to Ireland and Wales helped immensely — the lack of Internet access in so many places meant that I truly was unplugged from work for that time. It was amazing, and just the catalyst I needed to mitigate my habits. I’m now able to go entire weekends without even looking at emails or the item system, and I am much more relaxed.
As the holiday season hails its arrival, I find myself looking forward to what it should be and not what it has been. It’s going to be focused on my family, the people who choose to be in my life, the relaxing fun of decorating, gift-hunting [which is fun for me!], and not on the obligatory stresses from the past.
Fort his New Year’s, I have let go of more negativity than I think I ever have before. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but for the first time, I’m confident that I can get there.