Not a comfortable topic by any stretch. Yet right where I’m at.
This post has been percolating for weeks. A combination of fear and pain kept me from writing it. Fear because the last thing I want to do is hurt my family. Pain because I’m not sure I want to acknowledge the reality of the words as they hit this page.
I went away for a week back east to PEI at the beginning of August. My parents have a summer residence there in a place that is beyond beautiful and on the ocean.
I thought long and hard before going. The last time I had been in one of my parent’s homes was six years ago and it was hard.
I figured I had a solid five years of recovery under my belt and felt strong in my program enough to visit. I certainly got checked within a day of my arrival. The visit felt like the Olympics of recovery.
I went primarily to spend time with my beautiful nephew and godson who is ten years old. Five days in his presence after not seeing him in three years for a few hours felt like an unexpected gift.
One of the reasons I also went was because one of my best friends, who was instrumental in getting me into recovery was going to be staying in the campground across from my parents’ place. I had not seen her in six years, the last time I went to the island with my former family.
I was in the ocean on the first day and was struck by how much it felt like home for me. My parents didn’t use geographical relocation as a coping mechanism growing up. We lived in two places in my younger years.
PEI was the vein that ran through my childhood and teenage years. It was the place we had some of the best times as a family. It is very much sacred ground for me.
I will not go into the details but what amazes me is how I expect every single time walking into these places that somehow this time it’ll magically be different. It’s not.
It’s worse. Whether through a combination of the family disease of alcoholism progressing in my parents or because I can see everything so clearly now. I am not far enough into my recovery where it doesn’t hurt me. It knocks me over and breaks my heart every single time.
I sit here with tears streaming down my face because there is nothing I can do to help my parents. I have to detach with love. They have their own Higher Powers and I’m not one of them.
I spoke about wanting to live and let live in my last post. Well I got much more than I bargained for in the five days I spent with my parents.
I now understand how freedom became my single most important value because the level of control in their home is crazy. It was shocking. It took everything I had to keep it together and to remove myself when things got too difficult.
I know I walked my program to the best of my ability while I was there. I did my best to stay humble and kind as my sponsor constantly reminds me. I was in constant contact with my sponsor and my best friend. They kept me sane, loved me and helped me see things from a different perspective.
No one triggers us more than our family does. I’ve learned that getting triggered means there’s an opportunity for growth for me. I sometimes wonder at what cost.
There has been further fallout from my trip back east. My brother and I are now officially estranged. It has been a one sided relationship for years with me putting all the energy into maintaining contact.
Again, I will not go into the details other than to say I do not regret any single one of my actions around my nephew. He was the bright light in all of this. My brother and his partner have done an incredible job raising a remarkable human. I truly enjoyed getting to know him.
I have been experiencing what can only be described as grief. It’s like the dream of what I hoped for my family is gone and it breaks my heart.
So I sit with the pain. I allow it to move through me because I have learned to honor my emotions. I know this too shall pass but right now I’m in the thick of it and it truly hurts.
I try and look at things from a place of gratitude. I wrote down all the things I was grateful for from this trip.
I keep praying for my family and for the acceptance to let go.
This work is not for the faint of heart and that is certainly proving to be true in this moment.