Dad

“C’mon MAK. Let’s go for a ride.”

“Where are you taking her?” My mom was angry at me again for something.

“There’s a record at the music store I want to look at, Helen. C’mon, MAK. Get your coat.”

I put on my ski jacket. It was the early 60s, I was 14, and the jacket was pure — and new — fashion. It was reversible. One side a flowery pattern in mostly orange, the other side — the usual side for me — black because I didn’t like orange.

“Listen, MAK,” my dad said turning the key in the ignition. “Stay away from your mom when she’s been drinking. Some people are funny when they’ve been drinking. Some people are mean. Your mom’s mean. When she’s like that, just get away.”

We backed out of the driveway.

What was he talking about? I was already living in the disconnect a lot of kids of an alcoholic parent live in. But from then on I took my dad’s advice and got out when the fireworks began.

In the wings of our lives was a move from Nebraska back to Colorado, my dad’s soon-to-be-rapid physical decline from Multiple Sclerosis, my family’s disintegration. That night we stood in the neon-lit music store in Bellevue, Nebraska and bought an album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Most of my generation knows this one, grew up with this one, but one song was particularly important to my dad.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bottle/

The Bludgeon of Talent?

A quiet morning here in paradise and I have little fear of my head intersecting a bludgeon later on, but you never know. When vectors start flying the outcome is always a little unpredictable, regardless of the equation. Some bludgeons are emotional, existential, internal.

Today is my brother’s birthday, and as he is no longer around to help celebrate, I thought I’d write about talent. A couple of days ago I was helping my neighbor with her computer and she said some interesting things. She said that I get up in the morning and think, “I’m going to paint that” or  “I’m going to write that story.” I agreed. That’s pretty much what I do. She then said she wished she had talent. I told her that there’s not much to talent. The big thing is to keep at something until you’re good at it and take pleasure in it.

My brother was extraordinarily talented. His artistic abilities as a storyteller through comics emerged when he was just a little guy of three. For most of his young life he could happily sit in the corner of our basement drawing cartoons. He did it hours on end. Anyone can draw cartoons if they get a book that shows them how, but not everyone has the mind to put the comic characters together with stories. He had a phenomenal and unique sense of humor.

Combined with this — and this is what artists are “notorious” for — he had a very large dark side. I don’t know when he started drinking. In my perpetually naive state, I thought it was when he was 18 or so, but that’s probably wrong. At a very early age my brother began looking for something he could imbibe that would intoxicate him.

A friend of mine seven years ago — also a brilliant guy who’d fought alcoholism and, for the moment, had won — said that for some people talent is a curse and a burden. I thought maybe that accurately described my brother. Anyone with an alcoholic, drug addict or suicide in their family wonders, “Why?” Maybe that was it. Or maybe it was our family, but I don’t think so. I think it was inside my brother, a mysterious dark force that I will never (god willing) understand.

So here I am. My brother would have been 63 today. When I think of him I don’t think of the sorrowful denouement of his life story. I think of the kid I played with. I think of sledding in the woods near our house in Nebraska. I think of going out trick-or-treating (and pulling tricks on people). I think of walking to school and seeing the snow coming toward us as stars pelting the window of our spaceship. I think of the young father who yelled at the nurse because she would not let me hold his new baby, “Immediate family only,” said the nurse.

“But she’s my sister!” yelled my brother as the nurse walked away, the baby in her arms.

***

The photo is my brother in 1975, aged 22, at Pine Creek Gallery and Restaurant in Colorado Springs, at a painting show with some of his work and the work of his friends, Daryl Anderson, Rick Berry, Artie Romero and probably others whose names I don’t know. 🙂

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/bludgeon/

You’re Gonna’ Carry that Weight Forever

I had one brother. Only one. And I knew his name his whole entire life, even before HE knew his name because he was my little brother. He did not grow up to be the kind of adult every parent dreams of and the “why?” for that has been the subject of many theories and discussions among family members and friends. In almost every respect, he was his own worst enemy.

I’m a conventional person, overall. I’ve always been basically OK with the way things are. I didn’t really rebel against societal norms. I have never done any really interesting drugs. I didn’t run away from home. I tried to do well in school. My dad taught me a lot — just in small messages, the size of a gumball, but they stuck with me. Lessons like, “Picasso? Yeah, he does a lot of abstract work but he didn’t start doing that until he could draw things the way they really are. Then he was a master; then he could choose.” “Don’t do anything to your mind, MAK. That way, if something happens to your body — like me — (he had MS) you can still work, you can still have a life.” “Some people get funny when they’re drunk; some people get mean. Your mom gets mean. Let’s go for a ride.” There are more lessons like these, little moments that have steadied my course.

No lessons like that reached my brother who was a troubled soul, violently, destructively, troubled.

For most of his life he was an alcoholic. I don’t honestly know how long — I think it could have started in junior high. Back in the 50s and 60s drunks were often portrayed as “funny” by comedians, particularly Red Skelton. My brother ALWAYS thought they were hilarious. He wanted to be funny, too. It was his main way of being socially accepted. I don’t exactly know what my brother’s problem was (I suspect ADHD) but he had a hard time in school and many fights after school, which I usually fought. He would not fight back. Another axiom from my dad, “MAK, if you’re going to fight, fight right and fight to win. I’ll teach you.” A punching bag was installed in the basement…

My brother depended on me. It was a co-dependent relationship — a term I neither understood or believed in until my awareness was awakened in therapy. I ‘d been raised with the little saying from Boy’s Town, “He ain’t heavy, father. He’s my brother.” So, when my brother called and asked for money, he’d say, “Martha Ann? This is Kirk, your brother, you know, the heavy one.”

There was ever, only, the one.

Anyone who’s ever loved a drunk who doesn’t recover knows how much it hurts and how long (forever). The feelings and questions one is left with are so unclear, most of all, “Why couldn’t he stop? A lot of people stop. Why didn’t he?”

Around the time I learned of my brother’s death, I met a man — Chris Bava — who had been a junkie, drug smuggler and dealer. In conversations with him I finally expressed my perception of what had happened to my brother. I said, essentially, that he’d lost the battle for his soul. My friend agreed. “That’s exactly what addiction is,” he said. “During the time I was in the pen, I got clean. It was wonderful. I wanted to stay clean and I believed I would, but years later I got cocky and smoked some shit and BAM, I was hooked again. It was Satan, absolutely. Temptation, arrogance, Satan. I had to do it all over again, but I didn’t waste any time. I knew the difference. Sounds as if your brother never really wanted anything else.”

***

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/carry/

Liar

I hate liars. My mom was a liar, my brother was a liar, the evil-X was a liar, godnose how many other liars have inveigled me into their nasty false realities and made me their pawn. All addicts are liars. They desperately need someone else to make their worlds work, to keep the supply flowing and to take care of the administrative aspects of reality. If one “administrator” bails, they’ll find another. And the weird thing is, the “administrator” who walked away will feel guilty for abandoning the liar. It’s bizarre. That person will also have to deal with the reproach of others who don’t get it — and many people don’t get it. The addict is a superstar at arousing pity in others. My mom always said, “Don’t be so gullible,” but she benefitted a lot from my gullibility.

However, not all liars are addicts. There are liars who get through their lives by manipulating people; addict or not, they still need an “administrator.” I guess they’re called psychopaths, such as the Evil-X. I’ve learned a lot about that kind of behavior, too, including terms I never knew such as “gas-lighting” which is, “manipulating (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” That’s a very good stragedy for putting someone down so far they don’t question your lies. Yep. Been there, too.

I fear liars more than I fear cougars or rattlesnakes or train wrecks or anything because I am so vulnerable.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/false/

Who ARE You?

Fake. I’ll tell you about fake. I’ve known fake inside out. And then there was a day — I’ll never forget it — when I looked at a hillside against the sun as I rode my bike out of a canyon and suddenly thought, “What’s real, anyway?”

That question pretty much sent me over the edge, but it was the first of many steps leading me to the surprising conclusion.

People lie.

Lots of people lie and they had lied to me.

That was 1993. Three very tough years ensued, years that I now look on as the crucible of my awareness about just this very thing.

I’m an honest person. I believe people are intrinsically good and that everyone faces the world as his or her true self. I have always been this way. It has left me open to being played by pretty much anyone who has come along and I’ve been played a lot. I now know what my mom meant when I was little and she said, “You’re so gullible, you’d give the shirt off your back to anyone who asks for it.”

I didn’t know I’d been played by my own mother.

In 1996, as I was in the transition moment of rebuilding a career and cleaning up the mess of a life that had exploded, I got a call that my mom was in the hospital in Billings. No one knew what was wrong with her, but she was not in her right mind. Had she had a stroke? Brain scans said no, but something was wrong. I had to get up there and find her a “home”.

OK.

Once there I learned that the brain scans showed conclusively that my mother had been an alcoholic most of her adult life. Long-term alcohol abuse causes scar tissue in the brain.

I had had no idea.

It explained a lot but it took me a long time to process the meaning of the truth and to understand how it had created the sinister and abusive non-relationship I had had with that woman.

I still get played. I got played badly a decade after my mom died by the person I call The Evil X. I am sure I’ll be played again, though I’m better at holding my cards to my chest.

Still, I think life is happier if one has faith in people. It’s better than looking at everyone with suspicion and expecting the worst from them.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fake/

First Time Free, Baby (but Afterwards, It Costs a Lot)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wicked Witch.” Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

For a large part of my life I did not believe in Evil. I believed it was an idea made up to further enrich the self-images of those who believed themselves to be the elect, sort of a Biblical “Ni-ner-ni-ner.” I confused the metaphors used in the Bible to explain evil with evil. It took me a long time to understand why God was so hard on Eve. In fact, he was just telling her that it’s a lot easier to follow instructions and live in bliss than to surrender to temptation and reap the consequences. I always stood up for Eve in Sunday school, but the fact is, I didn’t get it.

Now I know that the metaphors are universal and evil is real. It is as concrete and palpable as Good and there is a fine line between the two. Evil is everything it’s cracked up to be, and the road there is familiar to everyone who’s read or heard any of the Earth’s mythologies. Each one offers a map and the maps are nearly identical.

I learned about the existence of Evil from the choices my brother made. He started out pretty much like every kid in a middle class American family with educated parents, but he had a glitch from the very beginning. I don’t know where it came from and I don’t know what it was. It can and has been blamed on our unhappy family situation, my dad’s MS, the times in which we were teenagers (the late 60s/early 70s), whatEVER.

Toward the end of his life — when I had backed off from attempting to save him from his choice to drink — I began to see the metaphor was no metaphor. At some point, he gave in to the temptation of alcohol. He was really tempted. Not everyone is. I wasn’t — I tried it, got blasted, got sick, hallucinated, alienated friends and lost my glasses (all in one night, my 19 year old experiment with vodka). It wasn’t fun. The euphoric moment lasted only a little while and then it was misery (and shame). I ended up like many people, drinking occasionally and usually not drinking at all. It was no temptation for me ever.

But my brother was really tempted. And whatever high I got from booze, I think my brother’s was much higher. I also believe that being a goofy drunk guy absolved my brother from the responsibility of being a talented artist and a father. He was tempted by that, too. I imagine the road of his life as one crossroads after another in which the choice was always the same; “Drink” and “Don’t Drink.” The road goes down hill, into a ravine, but at first the sides are gentle and it seems easy to turn around. Over time, the sides of the ravine became ever steeper, and, anyway, life sober was filled with responsibilities to himself and others. Tempting, always, to turn away from that. Who would expect a guy lying face down in a pool of vomit to do anything, right?

I always imagined that if he got help and if he got sober and if he were cared for he’d do what I would have done. He was in full-on rehab twice, both times in the hospital, where he was cared for and then in rehab facilities that were — according to him — very, very nice. Both times he was given structure and routine, counseling, clothes, care. He always sounded like my brother when he called me from these places and my heart always soared in hope. I always thought, “Now he’ll see how great life is and how great he is and he will stop drinking!” That is, by the way, the choice made by every recovering alcoholic I had known, a choice based on THAT revelation. My brother’s actual response to these attempts by others to effect his salvation? “You don’t understand, Martha Ann. I like to drink.”

My brother was very far down that ravine when he was pulled up and put in rehab. It was too hard to make the climb OR (and I think this is most likely) he just didn’t want to. It was much, much easier (and more pleasant) to drink. Over time, I truly believe, evil had won and there was no longer any chance for him to climb out of the hole even if he’d wanted to. After a while, even his physical misery was nothing compared to the escape he got from a bottle.

I know that there are people who say “alcoholism is a disease” — and I agree, but it is a disease of the soul. And it is a disease — all addiction is this disease — that can only be cured by the patient. It’s difficult because surrendering to temptation is easier in the moment than fighting the demons within. Deep down in the ravine, it’s almost impossible to see the sky and it’s much easier not to look.

When my brother died, he was working on a painting of St. George in a battle with Satan.

I had to fight a correlative temptation, the tempting illusion that my actions would change what my brother chose. Deep inside I saw it as a battle between good and evil (I was the force for good; booze was the force for evil). It was very, very hard for me to abandon my (prideful? hubristic? loving?) illusion of power and accept that this was my brother’s battle in which the only part I could play — if I remained engaged — was that of enabler. I could only contribute to the evil I wanted to fight if I stayed embroiled in the situation, sending him money, offering moral support and sympathy.

It made me reassess the meaning of compassion. It was difficult to see that I had to care for myself, or I would not exist any more just as my brother’s existence was ever more tenuous. I had to abandon the idea that even after I walked away from him, I would be standing on top of the ravine as a beacon of inspiration and light toward which he would ultimately climb. I had to let go completely.

So in the matter of good and evil, most wise, most clear, is what is written in the I-Ching in Hexagram 43, “Break Through.”  “…the best way to fight evil is to make resolute progress in the good.” 

***

Le Super-Ego

Daily Prompt Shoulda Woulda Coulda Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

“eh Maertha? Your super-ego? Eet is very strong in you.”

“What’s a super-ego?”

“It’s the parent voice. In you, ze parent voice is very strong.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Eet doesn’t matter. It is ze way it is.”

Ah France. My wonderful (and French) therapist, helping me deal with separating from my alcoholic brother.

“Ze problem is your super-ego, eet tell you, ‘take care of your brother.’ Eet does not say, ‘take care of yourself’. We need to wake up your ego a little bit so you feel OK about taking care of Maertha. If you don’t, who will, no?”

Lots of people spit out the cliché, “There are no shoulds in life.” That’s just not true. There are MANY shoulds and they’re good things. When I hear one hammering at me, I usually pay attention, because, yes; my super-ego IS strong and often right. “You should exercise. You will be able to walk better. You’ll look better and feel better.” I don’t argue. I just do it.

My super-ego is formidable for a good reason — I had to raise myself. This brought my parent self to the top of the power struggle between it and the id and the ego. There’s a downside to it, but the upside, in my life, is that I’m here. I’m comparatively sane and successful, and I haven’t completely fucked up my life. There’s a downside to a giant super-ego, but for the most part I’m grateful for it. It’s a giant EGO that tries to control other people. I giant super-ego is concerned with SELF-control, and godnose I need it. I’m a temperamental person.

My brother, on the other hand, tried to force our absent parents into do a job they couldn’t/wouldn’t and probably shouldn’t have taken on by remaining an infant. “You MUST care for me. It’s YOUR job.” That’s somewhat charming in a five year old. In a fifty-five year old it’s a death sentence.

So… There is not much I know I should do that I don’t do. If I don’t do something I should do (like replace my garage) it’s because for concrete reasons I can’t. That’s why I don’t understand people who feel “guilty” for eating ice cream when they’re on a diet. I don’t understand people who say, “I shouldn’t but you only live once.” I think those people should develop the cojones to say, “I want ice cream.” It’s ice cream, not a moral issue, right? I think they should shut up and enjoy it. 🙂

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/shoulda-woulda-coulda/

Thar Be Monsters…

Daily Prompt Revisionist History Go back in time to an event you think could have played out differently for you. Let alternate history have its moment: tell us what could, would or should have happened?

C’mon. The only stories anyone would revise are the sad ones.

Thirty odd (they’ve all been rather odd) years ago a friend said, “You’ve had a harrowing life.” I never liked her as much after that. No one wants their friends to pass judgements on their lives. Who can fairly do that, anyway? One man’s meat and all that, right? I resented the comment because it was — and had been — my life and I was not “harrowed” by it.

Still and all, there is one thing I would change. I wish I would have woken up earlier. You see, I went through much of my life blind, with my eyes closed and while I know that’s why my life didn’t “harrow” me, it would have been nice to see things as they were much sooner.

I think.

For years and years there was a little voice inside that telling me to see. I wrote a lot of journal entries and seeing was a theme in everything I wrote. During my animal totem years (late 80s/early 90s) I perceived my animal guide as the red tail hawk, and his great attribute is vision. I watched them all the time when I was hiking and took it as a good sign if I arrived at the beginning of a hike and a hawk was there. That was most of the time, by the way.

All I knew of this animal totem business I learned from Hyemeyohsts Storm’s book The Seven Arrows. Since I spent so much of my time in a wilderness park that had been a sacred spot for the Kumeyyaay Indians, I felt that their lives filled the hills and valleys. The animals who lived there were part of my world. There are much worse teachers than nature, anyway. 😉 Now I think that when we need to learn something, we’ll find a teacher. I needed to open my eyes and I was fumbling about for someone to help me.

When my mom ended up in the hospital, deranged and ill, I finally learned the truth.  A brain scan showed the scar tissues and lesions that come from a life time of alcohol abuse. My mom had been a secret alcoholic for much of my life. I didn’t know this until I was 44, and she was a few weeks from death.

She wasn’t a friendly drunk who got maudlin or goofy. She was a mean drunk who got abusive and cruel, and I was the usual target of her cruelty. Why? Because I was also the person she relied on to manage her life, the person who (unwittingly) picked up the slack for her. Her feelings of guilt must have been heavy and one stragedy she had for bearing them was to turn me into an unworthy daughter who deserved punishment and contempt.

I wish I’d seen this sooner. I wish I’d known the truth when I was younger, and I wish I’d had help contending with it. When it was over, and I visited my aunts for Christmas, my Aunt Jo sat me down and talked to me straight and direct about my mom and our relationship. It was shocking in a way. I had always “felt” the truth of things, but because the truth was contradicted by my mom’s words, I had grown up and lived in a kind of twilight where she was concerned. Part of me KNEW she was mean; the other part of me said she wasn’t. I constantly worked to maintain the presence of the peaceful, kind “good” mom while knowing that, at any minute, with no warning, and probably because of something I did, the malicious, caustic and sometimes physically abusive “mean” mom would appear.

I know people who had two functioning parents who believed in their children and supported them. I don’t feel envy, but I do feel a sense of wonderment. Like a lot of children from families with absent parents, to some extent I raised myself. This has made me independent and self-reliant (on the one hand) but it also made me view others with a kind of trepidation. Sure, things are OK now, but sooner or later something’s going to happen to turn all the good things upside-down. My independence and self-reliance comes not from a solid sense of self, but from a lingering mistrust of others — and of myself.

Still and all there’s no point in looking back unless it leads a person to greater self-awareness and peace and, possibly, makes it possible for a person to direct their life in a better way. Though in my youth I thought it was silly, I now know that “happily ever after” is something to shoot for.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/revisionist-history/

Reincarnation Cont. Dude & Lamont

Daily Prompt Forgive and Forget? Share a story where it was very difficult for you to forgive the perpetrator for wronging you, but you did it — you forgave them.

“At least in each of our lives we’ve been someone — or something — different, right Dude? I mean, has it ever happened before that we were both people?”

“Hmmm, let me think. I don’t know. Probably, right? I mean this old planet has been around the block a time or two and we’ve always been here, as long as there have been microorganisms.”

“The SUN, Dude, it’s been around the SUN.”

“You wrote this prompt before. It was one of your first ones.”

“Believe me, I remember. I wrote about my brother. I don’t want to write about that any more.”

“You’ve had other stuff to forgive and forget. You could write about the Evil X.”

“I have neither forgiven nor forgotten that. I won’t. It was an object lesson in something. I could have done without it but it’s all a learning experience.”

“How about that time you chased me down and ate me?”

“WHICH time, Dude? That’s happened a lot. I mean, it’s all kill or be killed out here in the evolutionary fun run. You got me plenty of times.”

“Probably evens out.”

“Yeah, but who’s keeping score?”

 

https://marthakennedy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Tyger

Daily Prompt Fearful Symmetry Pick a letter, any letter. Now, write a story, poem, or post in which every line starts with that letter.

William Blake wrote a poem about tygers. In that poem he described tygers as having a “fearful symmetry.” Knowing the poem is about a tyger, a reader can see, in just that description, the movement and beauty of a tyger about to attack.

More than once I’ve been described as a tyger. The first time was my therapist, a great French woman I started seeing for help dealing with the guilt and fear I felt when I realized I had to cut off contact with my brother. I had a list of therapists given me by the insurance company. I called the closest four, two returned my calls. One of them had a French accent. I was immersed in French films at the time so I picked her. There was something in the films that “fit” me and I decided anyone from a culture that produced those movies might be good for me. She was. It just so happened that her area of expertise was helping the families of addicts. That first day, after listening to me, she said, “Ze alcohol is ze worst, Maretha. Heroin? Yes, it is a bad sing, but ze heroin addict dies quickly. Wis ze alcohol ze person can live a long time and ruin more people’s lives before zey die.”

French. Worked for me. The same dark thread of truth that ran through the films.

On my first visit she gave me homework. I was supposed to “be nice” to myself. I went home determined to do that or else… 😉 So… I took myself shopping. I didn’t know where to start with this, so that’s what I did. Never mind I don’t like shopping. I decided to buy something nice for myself. As I walked across the parking lot to Macy’s in Mission Valley I thought, “This isn’t easy.”

Other things I was supposed to do to be nice to myself included forgiving myself for the choice I’d made to stop talking to my brother until he decided to stop drinking. My brother was an incorrigible drunk, and I had been working an extra job to put him through rehab (for the third time). He’d gone through rehab and had been given housing as long as he remained sober. I’d learned that he’d leapt eagerly “off the wagon” and was again going to be homeless. I didn’t think I could handle this whole thing again. I was exhausted, demoralized and felt like a failure. Every time I picked up the phone and heard my brother’s voice, I felt an abyss open inside me. “I need money.” I’d finally reached a point where I couldn’t do it any more, but I didn’t know what else to do. Support and advice from people who loved me convinced me to cut him off. “Call me when you’ve stopped drinking, OK?” I said and hung up. I cried for hours afterward.

That’s why I was in therapy. I wanted to kill myself. Actually “want” is too strong a word. I was afraid I would kill myself. I didn’t want to. There were just times when the guilt and fear for my brother were so strong they were nearly unbearable.

“Did you do your homework?”

“Yes.”

“How were you good to yourself?”

“I took myself shopping.”

“Did you buy yourself something.”

“Cologne.”

“Good. When you smell it, you should sink, ‘zis is ze smell of my freedom’.”

Wow. I got homework after our second session. I had to learn not to punish myself for letting down people who were not even there, my mom, my brother.

“Ze super-ego is very strong in you, Maretha.”

“What’s that? I never studied psychology.”

“It is ze parent. Ze voice zat says ‘Maretha, you should do zis, you should do zat, you aren’t good enough’.”

“Oh.”

“Ze super-ego is a good sing, too, but it is not everysing. Zere is a little girl inside you, too. Were you ever a little girl? I sink not so much. You had a big job to do in your family. You had to care for your parents. Your dad, he was sick. Your muzzer, I sink she was an alcoholic, no?”

I started to cry. France handed me a tissue.

“It is normal. You can see how that little girl had a job too big for her. How can a little girl do zat job? But you needed a family, you were dependent, you needed zem, so you did what you could to keep zem functioning. You could not succeed. You see yourself as a failure, but what you are is a survivor.”

“Wow,” I said. “I never saw that.”

“No. We cannot see so well in ze middle of sings.”

“What’s my homework this week?”

“I don’t have to give you homework any more,” said France. ‘You are figuring zat out for yourself. Ze fact is, Maretha, you are a tyger. You see what you need and you go after it. Nussing can stop you. You are very fierce, actually a little scary.”

“Is it a bad thing?”

“No. Tygers, zey are beautiful. If you were not a tyger, you would not be here now. I sink only a tyger could survive your childhood.”

A tyger? Her explanation gave me so much to think about. I left and persisted in trying to be nice to myself. It helped to remind myself that it was impossible for me to save my brother from what he had chosen to do with his life. His life was his job, not mine. I gave myself the homework to understand that he had the right to make his choices, even bad choices, even sad ones. He had the right to make choices that would take him away from me. As France’ words penetrated more deeply into my mind, I began to see the entire dynamic of my family in a new way. Yes. I’d always been determined to be “normal” and to function and to survive. I’d fought back. I also saw that was why I was sober and had held my life together.

Later that day I reread Blake’s poem and saw how Blake’s tyger was formed in fire of hard elements, of darkness and night’s pinpoints of light. Roar.

The Tyger, written and illustrated by William Blake

A really good song and an even better (cuter) video. You’ll enjoy it! I promise!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/fearful-symmetry/