Fun Fact #15 – Sometimes Love Just Isn’t Enough
My family is broken, they always have been since as far back as I can remember and no matter how much I try to help them, there’s nothing I can do because they are not ready to help themselves. (At least some of them) The “System” it breaks you, the cycle of abuse that everyone talks about. It’s real. When I left foster care at eighteen I told myself I was never going back (I know you’ve heard me say this a thousand times) I told myself that my life was going to be different because even though I didn’t get to choose the family I was born into, or my beginning, I could definitely change my ending. Well, A few weeks ago I reconnected with a part of my biological family that I had shut out, it was the first time in a long time that I let them into my life without restrictions.
I received a call from my grandmother. She was screaming and yelling on the phone, “Help! Save Me! SEND HELP!” but my uncle grabbed the phone out of her hand and hung up too quickly cutting the call short, before I could actually figure out what was going on. I spent the next 30 minutes on the phone with emergency services, giving an in depth explanation as to why they needed to send someone out to their house to check on her. I didn’t know her address, but I described the street to the best that I could remember. It had been so long since I had seen her, I felt guilty. A few hours later I received a call from my uncle, he was fuming on the other end of the line, I could hear it between the drunk mumbles and angry stutter. He knew that I called the cops, and I didn’t deny it. I spent the next two days at the hospital with my grandmother and for the first time in a long time, I felt something. Something other than this depression I have been dwelling in, I felt a simmering rage build up from the bottom of my bones. My grandmother was weak and bruised with infections that needed antibiotics. Weighing less than my eight-year-old, I could see the skeletal indents on her cheeks, and every vein in her body as it burst through her thin flesh. She had been abused, neglected, malnourished and held against her will in that house with him for months.
It took weeks of emotional stress, depression, fragile encounters, and an acute mental breakdown before I’ve realized that I had made the wrong decision of letting them back into my life, or letting her back in. Then a few more weeks to push them out of my life. I spent the past few weeks with my biological family, working around the clock to ensure that my grandmother was well fed and cared for, “Nourished” in essence.
Before I came back into the picture, my grandmother lived with her son, my uncle, in a small duplex in the heart of the ghetto. The kind of street where people get shot, and car windows get smashed; trust me, I know from experience (It’s pretty costly to replace a windshield) They live together and slowly they are dying together. He is a terrible alcoholic and suffers from bouts of aggression whenever he consumes a drink; he also is legally responsible for my grandmother because she’s disabled, slowly deteriorating and can hardly walk herself. Between the both of them, I’m not sure who will live longer.
Anyways, I had distanced myself from my family to escape the cloud of toxicity that surrounds them, but I left my grandma behind; mostly because she wanted to be there and I couldn’t stand the toxic environment. For the past twenty eight years she’s chosen her son over everyone and everything, but when I saw her in the hospital I could tell she was at her breaking point (or so I thought) Between making police reports, following up on those reports at the department, calling Adult Protective Services (APS) and collecting her things with police escorts, I barely had time to catch my breath and actually comprehend what was happening as my life picked up pace. She moved in with my sister, at the time it was the best option, though looking back now, not the best idea either.
You see, my sister and I have a difficult relationship, between the never-ending arguments and drama it’s actually not healthy at all; just another example of the effects that our broken childhood had on us, and trust me, I’m not trying to give you a pity party or anything, It’s the damn truth. Childhood trauma effects you well into adulthood, no matter who you are, or where you come from. It’s that trauma which boils over and spills out onto everything we call life, making it difficult to sustain anything.
Anyways, Between my sister and my grandmother… I apparently thought that wasn’t enough self inflicted pain, so I started becoming a part of my brothers life again as well. The first time I had seen him in over two years I was straddling a cold metal chair behind a thick wall of glass. As I sat there staring at him trying to make sense of everything, I kinda lost my shit internally but I couldn’t tell him that. Our relationship, much like my sisters, was toxic. I pushed him away, we pushed each other away (for good reasons) yet there I was holding a thick black phone to my ear trying to console him while he fell apart on the other end of the line. I tried my best to tell him everything I would have wanted to hear.
“You’re going to be okay.”
“Don’t worry, I’m here for you, how much do you need on your books”
“I love you.”
“We have to be better than this, Parker. We HAVE to for our children. We need to be here for them.”
“You’re not alone.”
I was actually pretty proud of myself after walking away from that glass window, I thought I had actually made some sense to him, got through to him and helped him see things differently in some way. Some inspirational voice inside burst through my seams and gave him one of the best speeches I was capable of giving at the time. After my sister and I buzzed through the steel door and made our way down the elevator, I took a deep breath. Speechless. Lilian looked at me with an odd expression and said, “What the fuck, that was awesome.” and it was, in that moment it was AWESOME.
After that, both Lillian and I called him, went to see him multiple times a week. I told him that I would attend all of his court dates and support him through the process (I did) For a while, I tried. We really tried. But between balancing my grandmothers drama and his upcoming needs, I was exhausted. I connected with the social workers on his CPS case so that I could potentially become a placement option for his daughter if needed. I went to family CFT meetings. [CFT meetings are structured, guided discussions with the family and other team members about family strengths, needs, and problems and the impact they have on the safety, permanence, and well-being of the family’s children. CFT meetings always have a clear but open-ended purpose.] I submitted fingerprints for processing and started the process on getting my house cleared to become a foster parent.
My sister and I delivered his rent check to his landlord so he wouldn’t lose his apartment during the time he was “locked up” and I picked him up from the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Facility at 4:00 AM in the morning. Why the fuck do they release people at 4 in the morning?!
I wanted to help him as much as I could, I drove him around town to do errands upon his release. I was there for him because at the end of the day all we have is each other. Mommy and daddy won’t come save us from a fucked up situation if we get stuck, find trouble, make mistakes or get lost along the way. At some point or another we all need each other, and even though we were at odds. I did as much as a good sister would do and then I became angry. But not at him, angry at life, at the situations we ended up in as adults. The struggles we all faced. The four of us kids (my siblings and I) magically lived through our childhood, and sometimes I like to think we survived it too. But a larger part of me knows that we are all fucked up in our own ways. So much that it all affects us differently and though mostly I want to believe it all happened for a reason, I still have times where I struggle. Like recently for example.
Somewhere between feeling helpless and trying to be helpful, I became angry and hurt, upset, depressed even. I started losing MY ESSENCE. Then somewhere in between that anger I found, I started giving up. At some point, everything over the past few months became too much. I was doing too much, spreading myself too thin. And then I realized that everything I had been doing for people wouldn’t change a thing. My brother was still angry, and battling his own demons that I couldn’t help him with. My grandmother, abused and neglected still wanted to go back to her son and there was nothing APS could do about it, even after the multiple reports, police visits and removal. My sister, was still difficult to hold a conversation with, angry and volatile as hell, we would never get along.
After everything that happened, I realized I was beginning to lose myself, so I did the only thing I knew how. I left them behind and pushed everyone away, because I knew that I would fall apart if I didn’t. I love my siblings. I always will, but sometimes love just isn’t enough. Just because you love someone, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good for you, or vice versa. I miss the version of us as kids. Little messy haired-bare footed-yellow stained-baggy t-shirt wearing- dirty – foul mouthed- rambunctious- kids. I miss us like that; before our innocence was stolen.
After pushing everyone away, I felt better. For a while it worked. Life was back to it’s slow pace and things were quiet again. I have my family at home of course, but for the most part, there was a painful silence. And sometimes where there’s too much silence, I get lost in thought, memories, moments. LIFE. After a while of self inflicted solitary confinement, I started becoming lost. (So if you thought I was drowning during all of this, the struggle during the silence was worse) But if life has taught me anything, it’s that I’m strong. I just need to learn how to balance everything I guess. I suppose that’s why I’m here, blogging again. For some reason, being able to say “Fuck the world” makes me feel better. Though I don’t really mean that, because obviously I want to make this world a better place. Still, the power of turning thoughts into spoken word frees the mind somehow, so thus! Here I am.
Every now and then I just need a little reaffirmation that I’m doing the right thing and maybe a little self care. I’ve never really had the opportunity to be selfish because i’m so busy taking care of everything else, everyone else. But this time around it has to be different because I have to say fuck everyone else, It’s my turn now. It’s about time I nourish my mental health and stop letting this cycle of abuse drag me down. I’m tired of being consumed by what I went through. I want my daughter to never have to experience what I went through as a child, and what everyone around me continues to live through as adults.
I’m going to give her a childhood she doesn’t have to heal from. But first, I know that I’m still working on healing myself, which is why after everything happened and life slowed down, I spent an obscene amount of money on seeing Mumford and Sons live at Bottle Rock Napa (post soon to come) They are so soul refreshing it’s ridiculous.
So now what do I do ask? The fuck if I know. Hmmm..
Well, I started volunteering at my favorite foster care agency again, it’s been awhile since I’ve been there but it definitely lifts my spirits and puts me in a positive state of mind. Other than that i’m just cycling my favorite songs on repeat, feeding the stray kittens on my porch (anyone want a kitten? Seriously…Do you want a kitten?) and watching reruns of old tv shows until I can figure out what to do with my summer. I’ll probably spend my next few Saturdays around the Sutro Baths or Ocean Beach. Hell, maybe I’ll write more. Book number two? Lord knows I have enough to fill a library with. When’s my lifetime movie coming out? When do I get to watch that?
PS: I need ideas on fun things to do with my daughter for the summer.. Drop a line below. Until next time.
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