I’ve been crying steadily for almost two weeks now… but only out of one eye, and mostly because it’s infected, but there are times when it feels real. Like I’m actually crying for an emotional reason, and the infection is a convenient cover.
There have been moments, some long, some not, over the past few weeks when it feels like I’m worn out enough… or worn down enough, that I just want to lay down in the snow. Or disconnect my phone service and retract the staircase to my second storey apartment.
It was my birthday a few days ago. I told my girlfriend, when she asked, that I’d like to just stay in, watch TV and eat apples. Or something. Not because I wanted to be alone, or alone with her, but because I knew the other options would all fail.
The last remaining people in this village I can call “friends” without feeling like I’m lying, are in England until March. If anyone else I had once been friends with had showed up at a party I’d have known it was out of guilt. Or I’d feel guilty for having lost touch.
I pretty much felt the same about seeing any of my family there. But my girlfriend, being the ultra-considerate girlfriend she is, organized a dinner at the semi-local Chinese restaurant. My mother helped.
My girlfriend, our son and I were there at the time my mother had arranged. Forty-five minutes later the guests started to arrive.
The first person to arrive was my mother’s best friend, Anne. Then my mother along with my step-grandmother, and finally a young couple who my girlfriend uses as babysitters.
Two hours later my step-father showed up.
Just before people started showing up I thought I saw my brother peering in the window, and I thought “Jesus, this might just be cool”. But it wasn’t him, and he hasn’t called or emailed me… this was also the first time in a decade my mother hasn’t called me, or left a message, telling me about the day I was borne.
What would have been great about my brother being there… he disagrees, in no uncertain terms, about my having broken with my grandmother over her comments and abuse directed at me. He characterized what I was doing as “breaking the family”.
I’ve sent twenty or more emails to him over the past few months, and received maybe three replies. It felt good, seeing his ghost in the window, and thinking “he hasn’t abandoned me”.
The evening was like I was being reminded just how far removed from my reality I’ve become. Or maybe I was being shown what I want as my reality, my life as I knew it years ago, was just an illusion.
During the birthday dinner my mother and I barely spoke. My step-father and I shared a handshake, and that was it.
It was the same at Christmas. This past Christmas was the first time I’ve ever missed a Christmas Eve and Morning with my family. It was two days afterwards when we finally gathered together… me, my step-sister and her boyfriend, my girlfriend and our son, my step-grandmother and my mother and step-father.
I skipped Christmas because it was made clear my parents would be welcoming my hyper-abusive grandmother to the festivities, and I could either show up to break bread with a woman who demanded to know why my son hadn’t been aborted, or else I shouldn’t bother.
So I didn’t bother.
Which brings me to my eye. For the past two or three weeks it’ll take four days for the eye to puff, getting progressively more painful and itchy then, over two days, it’ll deflate and look normal. Except, whether it’s puffy or not, the tears keep coming.
And there’s a part of me that thinks, maybe I’ve just had it. Or I’m about to hit an emotional wall. Shedding tears when the eye is puffed, and it feels like I’m being stabbed just under my lower eyelid, that’s normal. But maybe, since my eye is constantly wet, any additional pressure is just going to knock a few real tears out.
I haven’t gone to the ER, or called my family doctor about it because the pain isn’t intense, and the infection breaks just before I commit to going.
Crying is not something I have a lot of experience with. And the other eye is mostly dry, so maybe the infection is the last push, the last 15% necessary to get things going.
I’m comfortable with my decision to purge my grandmother’s bullshit from my life. But the reactions from my family have been surprising.
What I’m not comfortable with is how abandoned I feel, by both my family and the people I used to call friends. Especially because I know I’ve lost friends because I’ve been open with them regarding my recovery from manic depression.
Then again, I’ve also lost some over the past decade because my behaviour was erratic, especially in the beginning of my recovery.
So, basically, I’ve lost friends through my recovery, and I’m being shunned by family because I’ve made a break from one of our lifelong abusers.
And now I can’t fill a dinner table with people who respect me, or who want to be around me… I’m doing the right things, but I’m surrounded by people who believe differently.