Wednesday, April 7, 2010

(possibly) overthinking the significance of a dragon fruit

Dad bought me a dragon fruit.

I love fruit and would happily live off nothing but fruit. And when I say that, I mean it - it's not the calorie-conscious part of me saying it, it's the flavour-loving part of me saying it. Give me the choice between chocolate and a dragon fruit, and the fruit wins, hands down, every time.

Dad does not typically splurge on groceries. He buys no-name everything. If something is on sale, he packs our freezer with it. He has refused to get certain things simply because they cost more than something else we can buy in the same food group.

But he bought a dragon fruit - a sole dragon fruit - and gave it to me.

It confuses me when he does these things. Denies me a type of cracker one week, buys me a dragon fruit the next. Mom said, "maybe it's his way of saying he loves you."

Maybe it is. Dad comes from a family that doesn't express love easily. He doesn't express love easily. He's quick to criticize, slow to praise. Growing up, I always knew when I'd done something wrong, but I never knew when I'd done something right.

Growing up like that has its consequences. Never hearing "I love you" or "you've done well" has its consequences. An occasional dragon fruit or mango does not change that.

But maybe it's a sign that there's hope?

But maybe it's not?

I really don't know.

I've all but given up on having any sort of healthy relationship with Dad. He's terrified me with his temper. He does not take an interest in anything good I do or accomplish. The times I've tried to take an interest in one of his hobbies, to form a bond of some sort, it's always backfired, lowered my sense of self-worth and ultimately driven us further apart. It seems like anger or indifference are all I can get from him, and I really doubt that will ever change.

And that's what I told Mom when she brought up the idea of family counseling yesterday.

We've tried this once before, when I was 16 and hospitalized for being suicidal. When I was still an inpatient, we met a couple of times with a family counselor, who quickly recognized that Dad was not a healthy influence in my life. Most of those sessions focused on how his behaviour had negative impacts on me. He denied it at first, then said he felt picked on. I think he did manage to learn to be a little gentler with me, for awhile, but it did not last.

And so now, thinking about family counseling again, I really don't know. I don't know if Dad would agree to go, and even if he did, I don't know if he can change. I've only just gotten to a point where I can brush off his comments instead of letting them sink into me like shards of glass. I got to this point by giving up on the idea of ever having a good relationship with him. I feel safe, now, just believing that there is no chance of a good relationship, just biding my time until I move away from this house and its screaming and its memories.

And if I try to have a relationship with him again, if I let myself hope for that again, and if it backfires...I don't know if I want to take that risk. It's taken so, so long to get to a point where he can't hurt me so much emotionally. Giving him another chance of being a good father is also giving him another chance to hurt me.

I just don't know.

I need to think about this.

In the meantime, I will enjoy this dragon fruit.

And as a side-note, does anyone else think a dragon fruit is Mother Nature's idea of a joke? The ultimate drama queen of the fruit world? Just look at it. I remember the first time I had one. I studied it, this bright pink fruit with its green-tipped, floppy spikes. As if that wasn't unusual enough. Then I sliced into it and burst out laughing. Black and white on the inside? Really? What kind of a fruit is black and white and bright pink? What's the evolutionary reason behind that?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

i need out

Sometimes I come home and wish I hadn't.

Sometimes I walk through the front door and feel like the air inside the house has turned to poison.

I left school for the day a couple of hours ago - purposely leaving late enough that I wouldn't be home for dinner. I usually try to minimize the amount of time I spend at home. Everything's just easier that way.

I had a plan for all the things I would do when I got home. Make a coffee. Finish some assignments I've been procrastinating on. Burn a candle in my new candle holder. Feed the fish, water the plants, pet the cat. Make tea and go to bed early.

So much for most of that now.

I came home to a house filled with tension. Mom warned me to stay upstairs. Dad had set my brother into a panic attack over something stupid that my brother wasn't even responsible for. My 5-foot-7 excuse for a father can make my 20-year-old, 6-foot-6 brother so upset that he can't breathe, and so angry that he inadvertently clenched his fist so hard, he broke his glasses. I knocked on my brother's door and found him buried under his blankets, just sitting awake in the dark.

This is not the way a family should be.

I hate to say it, because it is a horrible thing to say, but the rest of us would be better off without Dad. He's capable of sending my brother into panic attacks and making it so he can't breathe. He's capable of sending me into panic attacks, only instead of losing control of my lungs, I take it out on my body. He's capable of making Mom cry.

He's not physically abusive, but there are other forms of abuse. And while I don't believe anyone should be left completely alone in the world...I also know that he does a lot more harm than good. He doesn't show love. His mood is unpredictable, sometimes cruel. I've tried to build some sort of a relationship with him, numerous times, and it only ends up hurting me. Repeatedly. Consistently.

I know I can't fix myself, mentally, as long as I stay in this house, with him. But I don't want to go. Mom has a long list of serious health problems that aren't going away anytime soon - more likely, never - and I want to stay here to support her.

I'm torn between wanting to stay here for Mom's sake, and needing to leave for my own.

comfortably uncomfortable

March was not such a good's hoping April will be kinder.

I did get my letter, on the very last day of March. It said what I'd hoped, but didn't dare believe, it would say.

I'm incredibly relieved.

But getting this letter, incredibly good for me as it may be, also reinforces some not-so-good thought habits.

Like feeling absolutely worthless whenever I haven't recently achieved something grand. Like equating self-worth with objectively determined accomplishments.

But maybe thinking that way just works for me. And I don't know how else to think. No matter what I accomplish, I never feel satisfied with myself for long. I constantly need to do something else to prove my worth, despite the fact that people around me tell me I'm good as I am, that I've already accomplished a lot. On a logical level, I know they're right. But deep down I never feel sure of myself, never quite feel comfortable in my own skin.

I don't know how to change that.

I'm not sure if I want to change that.

At the heart of it, I'm afraid of changing it, afraid of how it would change me if I were to actually feel comfortable or safe or secure.