A year ago, on my 24th birthday, I spent about 48 hours straight just crying. It was the lowest I think I’ve ever been in my life. I felt unstable, lost, lonely, broken, and hopeless.
This year, I have realized after a lot of thought, that I can genuinely say I am in such a different place. Of course, it took a year of hard work, therapy, change, and help from a lot of amazing people, but I’m here and I couldn’t be more grateful.
For the first time in so long, I feel both happy and optimistic.
I’ve recently realized that, although I may have lost my childhood home (and to some extent, one of my parents too) and a lot of the stability that comes with that safety net, I have gained so much in the process.
South Street, Philly
Topeka Canyon, CA
Los Angeles, CA
Old City, Philly
Coney Island, NY
Meatpacking District, Manhattan
Upper East Side, Manhattan
Great Falls, VA
I have left a part of my heart in so many beautiful places.
I may not have my first house anymore, but I’m starting to understand that my real “home” is scattered all over the country, and that is even better.
Earlier today I tried to write a really lengthy post about this….and my computer crashed right before I posted it. L O L was that a sign? I’m not sure!! But here I am writing it again!! I can’t guarantee this will be as interesting because my brain is still mostly consumed with my anger towards Tumblr for not automatically saving drafts of my posts every couple minutes incase of potential computer crashes!!!! But anyways,
I’ve tried to sit down and write about this so many times and I’ve never been able to find the right words. Are there even words that can be correctly strung together to formulate sentences to explain what it’s like to have a dad that’s been in jail for two years? I’m not sure. Probably, but I haven’t found them yet.
In a lot of senses, I think its difficult to explain because my problems with my dad began well before he was in jail. In a way, two years ago was not the beginning of my problems, it was the beginning of my freedom.
Two years ago was the first time I was able to separate myself from my dad. It was the first time in years that I wasn’t consistently feeling responsible for him. I didn’t have to be the parent anymore. But at the same time, it was the first time my problems were exposed to the world. It was the first time I couldn’t just pretend things were normal or perfect or easy. Two years ago I was forced to start learning to let go of my fear of judgments and outsiders’ opinions.
A lot of losses are easy to understand. With a death or a divorce, most people can fairly easily interpret the pain you’re feeling and appropriately comfort you. With incarceration, no one ever knows what to think or say. In my opinion, so much of that lack of appropriate support comes from confusion.
To start, it’s extremely difficult to explain the complexity of the flaws within the criminal justice system. On top of that, it’s even more difficult to understand what it feels like to be trapped within that system (whether guilty or innocent). And then to be an outsider looking in, watching a loved one suffer without any ability to help or control the situation is another demon entirely.
Two birthdays. Two Christmases. Two summers that would have been spent at the beach or by the pool. Two years of missed calls. Two years filled with hand written letters. Two years without my childhood home. 730 times that I could have processed my feelings. 730 days to pick up the phone and say “hello”. 730 days to write you back.
The best thing I’ve learned over these past two years is that change does not happen overnight and progress is not linear. Sometimes I go weeks without crying once. There are periods of time where my life feels flawless. Then there are periods of time where my entire day is filled with shame and anger and pity. Sometimes I feel proud. Other days I feel beyond weak.
I used to think that was wrong though. I used to think that time just healed wounds. But healing also takes work. And just because you’re healing doesn’t mean it always happens in a sequential order. Sometimes you’ll take 3 steps forward and then 5 steps back. Sometimes you’ll take 10 steps forward and only 1 back.
I’ve learned that the whispers behind your back are sometimes unavoidable. I’ve learned that the silence after sharing the truth is okay. This situation is just as new for me as it is for everyone else. Judgments and criticisms directly stem from confusion.
I’ve learned that people can be both good and bad simultaneously, and that doesn’t mean you were ever wrong for loving them.
I also learned that I’m allowed to love the parts of my dad that I see within myself. Just because I am made up of parts of him, doesn’t mean I am him.
My dad showed me a lot of beauty but he also showed me a lot of darkness.
These past two years have been filled with growth and acceptance.
Incarceration. Is. A. Loss. Too.
Maybe it’s not as conventional as other losses, but it’s a loss. For the past two years I’ve felt, more or less, unable to openly share what I’ve been going through. I’m not going to let my shame control me anymore. I am proud of the person I have become.
My dad is in jail but my life wasn’t perfect before that either. It has been two years, but I am the happiest I think I’ve ever been.
Writing, for me, is therapeutic, but only to an extent. When I’m feeling more drained/stressed/tired/sad than usual, sometimes writing just seems impossible. Sometimes I can’t even comprehend how I could find the energy to put words on paper. I’ve felt that way a lot recently.
On a lighter note, I’ve also just been busy. I’ve been apartment hunting like crazy, traveling a lot while it is still summer, and working non-stop. I usually have a lot more alone time to write, but I’ve been so exhausted by the time I get on the train home every night that all I’ve wanted to do is turn my brain off for a little bit.
Here are some updates that I want to elaborate on in future posts:
I had a meltdown on my birthday. I think a lot of it stemmed from seeing my dad’s parents the night before. Seeing them put me in this dark place and I just couldn’t shake it because I couldn’t even really put my finger on why I felt that way. I just knew I felt it and I just couldn’t stop crying all day. In a way it was helpful though. I haven’t felt that low in a while. I think I needed it.
I’ve been feeling extra disconnected from my friends recently. Usually I’m very extroverted in the sense that being with people energizes me. It lifts my mood and distracts me from the thoughts in my head. Recently I have felt the exact opposite. I feel unlike myself, lonely, and frustrated around friends. I cried on Friday night (while we were out celebrating my birthday) partially because I felt this way and just couldn’t make it go away. I feel increasingly more interested in being alone now, and I’m afraid its only going to get worse. It’s such a double edged sword because I’m lonely alone but unhappy when I’m not alone.
I bought a book called ‘Stop Walking on Eggshells”. Sounds cheesy, but its been great so far. It’s about dealing with friends/family who suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. My dad has BPD and it has been realllllllllly difficult on me specifically. Hopefully I’ll learn how to create a relationship with him that is healthy and not overbearing. A lot of my trust and self confidence issues stem from my relationship with him so I’m hoping this helps me rationalize those insecurities more.
I’ve been extra hard on myself about money recently. I used to get this way all the time while I was living in DC, but since I moved home, I haven’t had to pay rent and things have been *slightly* easier. I’m always pitying myself for having a job that doesn’t pay me that well, and I’m always jealous of friends that have a lot of financial support from their parents. When I was at my low point on Tuesday my mom told me she would give me $20k if she knew it would make me happy. I’ve been thinking about that a lot since then. Aside from the fact that I wouldn’t take that money anyway, because my mom simply doesn’t have it to give, it’s an interesting concept. It has made me wonder whether I’d be just as hard on myself about money even if I had that much more of it. It’s also made me wonder how much of my confidence depends on my income (bc clothes, makeup, nice things, etc).
I’ll write more later. I’m going to Rehoboth this weekend with my friends from DC and I’m really excited! I’m going to try to drink less while I’m there. I think a lot of my anxieties and negative thoughts have been surfacing once I get drunk and I’m hoping I can contain that for the weekend.
LOL GUESS WE’LL SEE!!!!!!!!!!!!! DOES ANYONE EVEN READ THIS ANYWAYS???????