“I didn’t help at all because you need to learn to take care of these things by yourself,” my father said. “You need to learn.”
My sister didn’t have the same attitude. She helped my making the call and then driving me to the court to pay the fine, me breathing hard with anxiety all the way. I did learn something, that it was easier than I feared, that I could do it and not die, but damn it was hard for me.
The assumption that because I can do things that you would find hard, I must be able to do things you find easy, well, that assumption has been my bane all my life.
My father has always assumed that when thrown into deep water, I will simply learn how to swim, or I will sink. Problem with that plan is that the possibility of me sinking is very real. When hope is absent, swimming seems pointless, so instead I learn how to float, in this case just doing without driving. I did that well, shutting down more to conserve more energy, pulling back and just avoiding sinking by a bit.
What am I supposed to learn by being thrown into deep water by myself? How to collapse more, how to be smaller and more afraid? My sister’s teaching, showing me it is possible, well, I understand the benefits of that, but the other, which seems normal to me after these five decades, just asks me to sink or swim, and sinking, well, it’s my friend.
This isn’t depression, though it may be linked to brain chemistry. It is a view of the world where I have learned to play small, to expect the worst, to be off the grid and away from my own power and my own energy. The decision to stay connected to my family has cost me, and that cost seems crazy to most of them. Should I have made my own family? Would my life be much better if I separated? Could I have made better choices?
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. Too late now to change my life then; the only choice is to choose again. But like any path, my choices now are shaped by my choices then, and my choices have left me where hope is absent, in deep water and without access to my own power of passion.
And now, it’s just about learning how to sink gracefully, it seems, here in the deep water.
Thanks to all who offer what they can, and thanks my sister for helping — just in time for me to drive to her house to bail water and plumb in a new sump pump.
But yeah, swimming through the anxiety and sadness still seems almost impossible.