Depression Over Family Drama

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

September 23rd, 2009 • Mind-Body MedicinePrint Print

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote the post below. And felt incredibly free and powerful and physically stronger and healthier, like, immediately. Then I woke up in the middle of the night, thinking, Oh fuck, what did I just do. And I ran to the computer and promptly deleted the post (while saving it elsewhere).

But here’s the thing: Me continuing the way I’ve been is not going to heal shit. Not my relationships, not my body, nuthin. What’s more, there’s something about my needing to break the pattern of putting other people’s needs before my own.

As in, yes my story is tangled up with the stories of my family, and yes that’s messy, and yes I’m WAY the fuck conflicted about outing people I love, when their identity is all tied up in pretending. And no I don’t know how I’m going to feel about this after I do it, and yes I may be making a mistake, and no I can’t take it back once it’s out on the internet, and yes, I may regret it.

But I can’t keep going the way I’ve been going. A few weeks ago, I wondered to myself how it’s possible for me to experience transformational healing, spontaneous energetic healing, but to simultaneously not believe myself. And I realized, oh, duh, it’s because that was the script of my whole fucking life:

What is happening is not actually happening, so if you confront what’s happening, well, it’s not. And you’re a really, really bad person for making everyone feel terrible by saying that it is happening (when it’s not — did we mention that?). But that’s OK, we’ll love you even though you are being so hurtful and clearly ruining everyone’s lives and even though you are therefore such an awful person. 

As I get deeper and deeper into my healing, and perhaps also as I grow older, I become more aware that there are waves constantly crashing inside me. The reality and the denial of the reality. The truth and the script, the latter of which not only trumps truth at all times, but does so with such force that truth is no longer recognizable as such.

I properly compartmentalize what is not supposed to be addressed directly, openly, honestly, with raw spirit. The problem is that is not who I am. I am open. I am out. I am a no-holds-barred, punk-rock attitude, in-your-face, eat me, fuck you, laugh-out-loud-with-head-thrown-back, feisty, free-spirited kamkaze warrior-assed chick. I can no longer hold the conflict and contradictions, especially when they are not mine or my choice to hold in this way.

I want flow. I want energetic alignment. I want pure, clean internal water and air. I want to heal. I have put protecting family members above and beyond my own needs for decades. I cannot I cannot I will not anymore.

THE POST

Over the past few weeks, I have been dealing with varying levels of depression. Which is to say, I’ve been severely depressed but have managed to pull myself out of the depression to varying degrees, on a day-by-day basis.

I’m feeling stuck. For over two decades, I have done everything in my power to heal my relationships with my family and to have healthy, positive connections with them. But I can’t keep spinning through the same old drama, repeating the same core script in various permutations. I can’t keep trying, as a friend of mine said, to get milk from the hardware store.

A few months ago, I had a cranio-sacral therapy session with a new practitioner. It didn’t take much for me to start bawling my eyes out about my dad. The therapist asked me a question I hadn’t heard before: “Are the tears healing and productive?” I said yes, feeling that it’s always good to release any sadness inside. The more I pondered the new question, however, the more I came to realize that no, descending into this familiar pit of grief was not in fact healing and productive.

OK so then what. My dad is not going to change. Unless some miracle happens, chances are he will go to his grave the same as he is right now. Chances are there will be no truth, no understanding, no healing, no reconciliation. To me, that is profoundly sad.

If my dad were a happy-go-lucky type, and we just didn’t have a good relationship, that would be one thing. But his way of walking through the world makes him more miserable than it makes anyone else. So the grief I feel is on multiple levels:

I have to stand by powerlessly, watching my dad drown in the insanity and resulting misery of his life. I cannot jump in to save him, because he will not accept any of the life-saving devices I bring along, but rather will feel attacked by those devices, destroy them, and drown me along with him.

To preserve my own health and sanity, I therefore have to keep my dad at a distance. That distance in turn adds to my father’s misery, as he feels rejected by me and misses me deeply. I then feel guilty about and responsible for “abandoning” my dad, which in turn leaves me with feelings of self-hatred.

And then on top of it all, and I have to note, only at the end of the list do we get to my own needs and feelings, I miss my dad terribly and have a deep, unmet longing for positive, healthy, joyous love from him. And that makes me sad.

I always believed that if I worked really hard and kept reaching out from a place of love and kept forgiving and kept trying again, my family would someday make it to a place of nirvana — a place of healing and transformation, bringing warmth, closeness, light, and love to all our lives. But it looks like that’s not going to happen. So now what? Do I just give up on everyone and “move on”? Is this really all there is? Is this seriously how the story ends?



Comments

Kimmie September 23rd, 2009

This post and the prior one are fantastic and I’m so glad you found the courage to post them! 

This is so wise: “I have to stand by powerlessly, watching my dad drown in the insanity and resulting misery of his life. I cannot jump in to save him, because he will not accept any of the life-saving devices I bring along, but rather will feel attacked by those devices, destroy them, and drown me along with him.”

There are so many of us in similar situations – we not only want a relationship with our parent, but we want them to be happy and we want us to be happy.  And it gets to a point where someone is going to have to drown.  That’s the simple fact.  You can’t swim for them and if they are resisting rescue, they’ll just take us down with them.

And you mention the irony of it :  ”And then on top of it all, and I have to note, only at the end of the list do we get to my own needs and feelings, I miss my dad terribly and have a deep, unmet longing for positive, healthy, joyous love from him. And that makes me sad.”

There isn’t a fairy tale ending to all of this.  If we live our parent’s reality, we get our parents, but lose ourselves.  If we claim back our lives, we lose our parents.   Logically there should be a place where we can meet - but when we are dealing with irrational people, its only one way or another – enmeshment or abandonment.

dave September 25th, 2009

Loolwa
Thanks for the wonderfully refreshing and informative blog on pain.

mulderfan September 18th, 2010

I have come to understand that to practice self care is not selfish and I can only help those who WANT my help. At this stage in our relationship I have told my narcissistic parents (ages 88 & 91) both verbally and in writing, “If you need my help just call me.”  I no longer volunteer my services. They have NEVER asked for help…their loss not mine!

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