Sunday, July 23, 2006

I've decided to blog my thoughts as a way of coming to grips with them and with some issues in my life, so my blog will be the equivalent of a Disney theme ride through what I am pleased to call my mind. I make no promises as to accuracy of my perceptions.

If you want to comment, fine, but I'm not asking for it.

This feels awkward, embarassing and a bit humiliating, like using the toilet in front of a crowd. Well, confession and examination isn't easy--if it were, everyone one would do it. However, I'll do my best to refrain from egregious navel-gazing.

I struggle more or less frequently with thoughts of suicide. That's odd because my life isn't particularly bad: My marriage is pretty good, I've got a comfortable house that's paid off, a car that fits me, works well and gets me where I need to go; a big handful of people in my life who care about me, I'm working at what I love doing, I've never been arrested and I'm not addicted to alcohol, gambling, etc., and while I'm not wealthy, we can get by with a reasonable amount of penny-pinching. I'm not terrible bad looking apart from being grossly overweight, and most of the time I enjoy life.

Well, "most" isn't "always." My health is not good. I'm morbidly obese (tho I get around okay and I'm not yet a freak) and I'm in CHF, Congestive Heart Failure and Cardiac Myopathy. The weird thing about this, is that it's not related to my weight! While the cause is unknown, I'm pretty sure a virus caused it, which can happen, as I was sick for about a week just before all the CHF symptoms appeared.

Yet what is it in me that pulls me to bite a bullet and end it all? On paper, my life is quite good, it's a paradise compared to lots of other people's lives. So why do I want to end mine? I'vce struggled with this issue for years, decades. I remember as a child I was desperately unhappy, fervently wished my friends' parents down the street would adopt me. Never happened. Maybe I should have dropped hints.

My family life wan't bad on paper. I'm the youngest of five. The two girls, followed by the three boys. Mom and Dad loved me as best they could. They have since died, so cannot answer for themselves. I was never physically or sexually abused, and Dad provided a comfortable home for us. We went on family vacations to the mountains for snowskiing or to a family ranch for hunting. All my sibs but one are professionals earning good salaries. My sibs are closely aligned with each other in their values and sentiments, whereas I am completely cross-grained to them. This didn't sit well with the family. I grew up never realizing I could have boundaries. Instead, I was a piece of SillyPutty on the ground with several steamrollers buzzing around and mashing me flat when I drew attention to myself. So I learned to wear two masks: The clown (which my middle brother was already wearing with far more faciltity than me) and the Boy Who Was Not There, I learnt to go flat, to hide, to mouth appropriate words at appropriate times, to be quiet and unseen as much as possible.

I want you to know my family was not deliberately cruel to me, not were they sociopaths, drunkards, philanderers, abusers, or anything like that. The crimes I lay on them are they are blind and they are careless. Certainly not earth-shattering. They don't know me despite their history with me, and I don't know if they want to know me. I certainly don't know if I have the strength to open up to them again, to risk more caustic "love."

I learned the folly of letting them into my heart: "Hey, brother, I like this thing!" "Well, that thing is pretty dumb." "Hey, family, this other thing is important to me." "Don't be ridiculous! That's a complete waste, it's impractical and you couldn't do it anyway."

From earliest memory, I was the family fuck-up. (It didn't help that I was seven years younger than my next-oldest brother.) Smart brain but bad grades in school. My sibs all got better grades than I did. My oldest sister was a straight-A type. Every semester, the same comments from my teachers in my C- and D-filled report card: "He's not living up to his potential." I grew so tired of that. My parents would lecture me, which of course was pouring water on stone.

My sibs and I have above average IQs. My oldest sister and I have the highest of all, within a few points of genius-level. She works as a textile consultant for several fabric mills and developers, travels all over the world, is incredibly talented and self-reliant. She's also a robot. She seems rigid and locked down in her emotions. She's quite keen on doing the right thing at the right time. Decorum must be observed. I don't know her well, she's about 15 years older than I am so was out of state at college and then work when I was growing up.

My next sister is the Phoenix, the free spirit of the family. Tall, willowy after decades of struggle with fat, she is brash yet brittle, and has been in psychotherapy for almost 30 years. She has adopted the mindset of the professional victim. All her problems boil to down to my parents (whom she calls by their first names and refuses to call "mom" and "dad") and their cocked-up raising of her. I don't recall she's ever admitted in my hearing her own responsibility for her life. Oh, sure, she'll say "I made bad choices," but the impetus for those choices, the environment responsible for the choices existing, her psychological state which chose those choices, all point back to mom and dad. Boo, hiss. She's cast off their middle class values and embraced a synthesis of her own, which include a healthy dash of feminism, free love and funky house decor coupled with a strong mercenary desire for good cars and money.

She and I always had a connection no one else in the family possessed or appreciated. She and I were the only one who'd been through psychotherapy, so we were the only ones who could see the messes made in our family's sandbox. The other sibs were unaware or pooh-poohed her critiques and my mom was absolutely incapable of seeing anything she didn't want to see. Mom did not want to see her image of our ideal family banged around or pissed on.

I think my sister felt sorry for me. Here I was, this miserably unhappy fat kid struggling to survive in a family clearly unable and unwilling to treat him like anything other than a project, a doll, a pet, a punching bag, or a trophy of good breeding and raising, if not so much in the achievement department.

Now we come to my oldest brother. He's the nicest guy in our little tableux, sweet, unassuming, and possessed of infinitely more fuck-up points than I have. He burned through a family inheritance on some obviously bad business deals. He's now changed, but previously we would take bets on his arrival to a family function using calendars instead of watches. He's the Irresponsibility Poster Child. Known to be due at a meeting at 12:00, and still in bed at 1:30. Currently he's selling real estate, yet while he doesn't talk about his sales, I suspect they are small, few, and far between. He's surviving through his wife, a Kick Butt, Take Names gal with a killer sense of humor, makes great chile verde, and used to be on the Sherrif's Tac Squad, which specialized in extracting rioting prisoners from jails. She is devoted to him, though in no way blind to his faults, which she knows better than he does. He seems grateful for her, and has learned a great deal about responsibility, and so they, like everyone else on this planet, are doing their best to get through another day.

Now we come to my middle brother. He and I had an antagonistic, up-and-down relationship while I was growing up. Looking back, he had to've been deeply affected by mom and dad separating when I was 7 and he was 14. He's still frozen emotionally at about age 14, and this is the only thing I can think of that would cause that lockdown. As a result of dad leaving, brother tried to take over fatherly duties, such as raising me. I wouldn't have any part of his plans to be dad 2.0. I kicked my heels hard against it, I became a poisonous, nasty brat, yet quite the accomplished liar and hypocrite. I could be charming and funny when I wanted, and with him I gave him no purchase in my soul. I remember one particularly bitter argument where I yelled I would be glad when he was dead so I could dance on his grave.

He was Mr. Popular, Mr. Personality, the original glad-hander and schmooze king. He had an astute mind for business and making connections. It seemed he knew everyone worth knowing and they knew him. He seemed to always do little favors for them. (I wonder why he never pursued a career in politics.)

Time for dad. I remember I asked him one when he and mom divorced. "I always wanted to do things together and she always wanted to do things separately." A pretty piss-poor answer there, Pop. Divorcing someone because of incompatible social calendars seems like an overreaction, neh?

He moved out of our house when I was 7 to move 120 miles north to a large agricultural community where he had business and personal connections. (Our extended family was heavily involved in agriculture.) About that time he began a series of relationships with girlfriends. I only remember meeting one, and she later married him after the divorce and became wife #2. I liked her but we never really connected and there was never any relationship with her.

Dad always struck me a combination of Archie Bunker and John Wayne, heavy on the Wayne. He had a ferocious work ethic, was entirely honest except when it came to cheating on mom, and AFAIK did his best to raise us to be responsible, mature, productive adults. Contrast this with my mom, who always seemed to value the idea of family more than the people in it, or at least as far as *I* was concerned. I remember when the schoolbus would drop me off at my stop, which was about 5 miles from home. Mom's job was to pick me up, and I remember many times when she was more than a few minutes late. I remember once she forgot me there until about 6:00 p.m., she was at a luncheon. (Mom was a Lady Who Lunched, dontchaknow.) That told me how important I was in her economy. After that she insisted I start riding my bike to and from the bus stop after she found out our family dentist lived several houses away from the stop and he agreed to let me park my bike in his back yard.

I'm heading off a possible criticism here. There are people who go through worse circumstances than mine for longer than I did, so I'm not holding myself up for "attaboys" or tea and sympathy. These are my circumstances, this is my story, so I'm telling it. Take it for what it is.

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