One Heck of a Decision

I believe that sometimes our decisions have far-flung consequences. I am not joking.

I just realized that a choice I made in middle school has pretty much determined the course of my life.

When I was young, my brothers were creating problems: drinking, doing drugs, getting their girlfriends pregnant, etc. (Are they going to get married, have an abortion, keep the baby? OMG. Drama, drama, drama.) I remember thinking to myself that I would be the Harry Truman of Birth Control (as in “the buck stops here”). I remember thinking, “I know how miserable I am. Why would I ever want to create someone this miserable? This stupidity ends here. I am the end of the line. The reproductive train stops here.” I wasn’t even in high school yet.

I expressed my determination through a suicide attempt. Then, through dating a man 16 years older than I was who was newly sober. Then, marrying him and supporting his sobriety until death did he part.

Whatever my family stood for (stupidity, illegal behavior, substance abuse, etc.), I took a common-sense stance against. I distinctly recall thinking, when I was 15, “If and when I ever get a car, no one will ever smoke weed in it or leave pot seeds in the ashtray.” One of my brothers had been jailed for exactly that nonsense. I also recall being 18 and thinking, “If I ever get a place of my own, I will never allow any illegal activities to be conducted in my residence.” I felt as if I had to be a serious hard ass to simply be a law-abiding citizen. It felt ridiculous and totally necessary.

Now my remaining living brothers have cirrhosis and have learned little, if anything. Time has marched onward. They have aged without maturing, grown older without getting any wiser. Their dysfunction has now been passed down to their descendants wholesale, unhealed and unredeemed. Their children are having various difficulties and having zero idea as to where they come from.

I have never had a real relationship with any of them, nor desired one. I deluded myself into thinking I had a relationship with my parents but the accident last summer and my mother’s letter last fall disabused me of any such notion. I can’t imagine making that mistake again.

My decision still stands. And I am now realizing that it has colored all other decisions to this day. I have worked very hard at my own physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. I have never been willing to take on the consequences of their bad behavior because of some genetic connection. I have always worked hard to be clean, sober, and wholesome (there’s a word never heard anymore). Read anything by Gabor Mate. It is very easy to just take on the subconscious crap of one’s upbringing and claim it as one’s own. I refuse.

One of the main things I have learned lately is that my problems are everyone’s. The shame I was raised with actually belongs to other family members and does not belong to me on any level. We subconsciously take on the issues of our families. It is completely inevitable. It is called “karma.” Some of it we create, but much of it we inherit. There is nothing I could have done as a child that would have earned the venom of my family members for so many years. No child could.

Here I am, trying to heal myself emotionally and spiritually. I believe my healing could, theoretically, heal family members. But if it does, they will have no idea where it comes from.

I took a stand in middle school not to participate in my brothers’ stupidity. That decision still stands to this day. I do not regret it at all. It just stuns me that the choice of a 13-year-old still is valid over 40 years later. I wish I could tell that teenager, “You go, girl!”

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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