Hellooooo! Okay so funny little ironic thing – while I was reading through my old logs, I read about that time in 2017 when my mom caught my dad with yet another secret credit card and a gambling debt of about $5,000 dollars. And in my head, as I was reading, I remember vaguely thinking, “Wow. It’s been awhile since we’ve had one of those catastrophes. Things have settled down pretty nicely, as of late.”
L O L
Well. So much for that!
My mom has had one of her uncanny “hunches” for a little while now. And when my mom gets that feeling she can’t explain, about 9.9/10 times, she’s usually right. She has a very, very astute intuition when it comes to my dad and his… shenanigans, for lack of a better word.
For the past couple years things have been pretty settled, and my mom and dad have been on good terms. They built up a bit of a friendship again, and life settled into our normal. But, for the last couple months, there were a couple red flags we noticed here and there that we didn’t follow up on. Before COVID19 really took its toll and quarantine began, my dad began looking for another job. Quite frantically, if I may add. I mused to my mom that perhaps he’d racked up yet another debt; the last time he started looking for another job was when he’d acquired the prior debt in 2017 and started working at UPS in order to pay it off. But, due to insufficient evidence, we let it slide and so did he. He didn’t bring up the idea of a second job again.
For a little while after that, my mom tried to find his wallet whenever he happened to be in the shower, but to no avail. Every single time, he had it hidden somewhere that she couldn’t find. (Again, this was yet another red flag that we discussed at length but never probed further). We let it go, but my mom mentioned here and there to us that she had a “feeling” that something was off.
Even more recently, my dad has been coming home with quite a bit of lottery tickets. Every so often, he’d win a couple hundred dollars and let us all know triumphantly that he’d won something. He’d share a bit with my mom, and usually use the rest towards what seemed like groceries, so I don’t think we thought much about it. I surmised that he was using the weekly allowance my mom gave him to buy lottery tickets, and I think my mom and my sister did too.
Well, we were very, very wrong.
Today, when my dad went for his daily shower, he slipped up. He didn’t hide his wallet. My mom, on a whim, happened to go through it today… to find a new credit card. A Costco credit card, to be exact. She hurriedly ran over to me and my sister to show us her findings.
Now, I know this is a leeeeeetle less than legal, but because we know his birthday, we were able to access the information of his latest payment, balance available and amount owing. Basic credit card stuff.
We waited on the phone with bated breath as the automated voice accepted the information we provided. When it revealed the numbers, at first it didn’t seem so bad. $140 dollar payment last month and an available balance of three hundred something. But the balance owing?
Close to six. thousand. dollars.
We all recoiled in shock, my hand flying to my mouth, my mom actually taking a few steps back from where she was standing. We all took a moment to stare at each other in complete silence. I’m pretty sure my first thought was, “well… here we go again.”
The standard drama ensued: my mom waiting patiently downstairs for my dad to finish his shower, sitting at the table with the card in front of her, us on either side. Quietly biding her time, seething. As soon as he paced into the kitchen, all hell broke loose. There was the rage-fueled yelling from my mom, the initial denial then guild-riddled defensiveness on my dad’s end, the resultant back and forth, and me chiming in an attempt to mediate so that they could have a semi-coherent “conversation”. Same old, same old.
We got the last of the credit card details, froze the card, added the balance to my mom’s list of bills, and the payments begin again, just like always. I can’t remember a time in my life where my mom wasn’t paying off my dad’s debts.
My mom went to go take a hot bath in an attempt to de-stress and calm down, and my dad went to go watch his daily news. She’s now sitting behind me, playing Candy Crush (probably on level 5000 knowing her), and sighing intermittently because I know she’s not actually thinking about Candy Crush.
And so, here is the part where I know I must check-in with myself, check in with my inner child, and make sure all is well internally so that I don’t carry any of this forward with me.
Honestly? Comparing this time to my reaction from 3 years ago? I must say, I’m very proud of myself. It just… doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m not surprised, but I’m not letting it define my expectations of hope and life, you know? At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with me. My dad is sick; he’s always been sick, he probably will always be sick, and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. It’s just how the cycle goes. He doesn’t have the self-awareness or capacity to help himself, so unfortunately there isn’t much that we can do for him either. We have held his hand and led him to Gambler’s Anonymous, led him to sessions and sponsors, to CAMH and whatever other center that provides aid for matters such as these. But the relapses keep happening.
I feel sorry for him. I pity him. I wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone. He doesn’t have any self-control whatsoever and he genuinely can’t see how spending $6000 dollars to win $20-$200 off of lottery tickets is wrong and illogical. It doesn’t compute that way for him, because his addiction has hard-wired him to chase the feeling of winning and the high that follows. At least, that’s what it seems like. I can’t tell if anything makes sense to him because he always deflects in our more serious conversations, like a child. Guilt makes him defensive and he shuts down. He knows what he’s doing is wrong… it just seems like he can’t control himself.
I also feel sorry for my mom. Because to my mom, this is personal. To my mom, she sees these occurrences as the ultimate and intentional betrayal of trust, rather than the result of a sickness. She sees only through the lens of her pain, and I don’t blame her. After years upon years of this, it almost does seem personal. And maybe on some level, it is. Maybe on some level, my dad resents my mom for having the very thing he seems to lack – control. Nevertheless, it’s not an excuse or justification.
This time wasn’t as bad as other times. I’ve seen and been through worse, we all have. Maybe that’s why the reaction wasn’t as catastrophic (in comparison to what we’ve endured before). But still.
I know my mom is going to find ways to release what is surely going to be pent-up anger and sadness. Usually, Olivia and I are her punching bags. She begins to nitpick on the fact that we haven’t graduated yet and how we probably won’t before “she dies”. It’s her way of expressing her deep fear, anger and sadness of her lack of control, even though it’s a lack of control over us (when really it’s her lack of control in her situation with my dad. Ergo, the transference and resultant projecting. Hello, Psych 1010).
So, I’m readying up for that reaction by reminding myself, here and now, to be patient with her, not to fight back, not to take anything she says personally, because I know with utter clarity where it’s coming from. It’s the cycle, it’s always been the Cycle of Pain: dad gambles/drinks -> does something stupid/costly -> mom rages, cries, reacts -> stews in this anger, her latent depression gets triggered again -> starts lashing out at Olivia and I because her sadness/anger has nowhere to go.
In the past, the next arrows of that cycle would have been -> Olivia and I embody what she says, take it personally, fight back -> we end up sad and angry about our own self-perceived failures and end up resenting both our parents.
There you have it, the Cycle of Pain. Generational pain.
But. These past three years of my life have unburdened me from taking on this Generational Pain. I now know that it is no longer my responsibility to save anyone, and I now know that my family’s well-being should not be entangled with and does not equate to my own well-being. I am responsible for that alone. My parent’s pain will no longer be my pain. I am happy with where I am in this life, and I am proud of myself. By doing my inner-work, through years of therapy with Nadia, I have mentally, emotionally and spiritually cut the cord of discord in my relationship with my family. I love them all dearly, each and every one of them, but their chaos is not my chaos anymore. I can help so far as I am meant to help and whatever is in my means to do so, but no further than that.
I had to break from the cycle of pain, and I hope that Olivia is doing the same for herself. I hope she is dealing with this on her own terms and not embodying the discord within our family. I asked her how she’s doing, but it was the same standard answer of “I’m fine”. What I am happy about though, is that she has Trevor to confide in now. I hope she does, if she needs to. She knows that I’m here for her if anything as well.
It just is what it is. I’m sad for my mom and dad, for the pain that they experience individually and together. I really am. I hope one day, they each know peace of some kind within this lifetime. I really do.
I guess that’s about it for today. I’m proud of myself. I think the me of 2017 would be super proud of me today, 2020. We’ve come far together. All the work she did and I did truly paid off.
On a lighter note – I woke up today and went for a run! I’m trying my best to adopt that “just do it” mind frame and I’m finding that I’m not meeting much resistance in myself, which is great! We’re going to go for another run tomorrow morning, which is great. Just, got to do it. No thoughts about it, no overthinking it. Just, do it.
I also ordered sushi for all of us for dinner, which was a nice little treat. Man, the craving was real. It felt so good to satisfy that craving.
That’s all for tonight! I’m going to do a nice hot oil hair treatment and unwind with a glass of wine after this evening we all just went through, LOL. Honestly, thank goodness I get to spend time at Adrian’s. Who would have thought that his place would become a safe haven. *points in Paul Rudd* not me! (LMAO kidding, his place has always felt so wonderfully welcome and warm to me, another home).
Love, strength, hope and faith always,