Last night i got home from work and i wasn’t expecting my partner to be awake. I came in and he was on the couch and it scared me and because I was not present, I was ruminating while walking in the door, I was back in Southeastern Massachusetts circa 2004. My partner’s presence did not feel friendly, it felt to me like the way my parents would lie in wait for me in the dark house when I came home from work to upbraid and interrogate me for 45 minutes before dismissing me to bed. it felt like my ex waiting up late at night to ask me where i’ve been, to demand to see my phone, a receipt, proof that i had been where i said i was. though i know it isn’t fair to put these things on my partner, it still happens. it’s the literal path of my brain. seeing him sitting there put me on edge. At the time i didn’t know why i was upset, i just felt really shaky and strange, and now i understand it’s because i can’t wrap my head around someone staying up late just to say hi and say good night and just because they want to see me. i figured i had done something wrong.

i tried to talk about it with J, explain all this, but it all went sideways because i didnt know what was wrong and i didnt know how to express myself and i was tired. and now i have to sit with how fucking stupid i am and how i cant talk about whats wrong ever bc i dont know i just get scared and confused bc i shouldnt be scared, nothing scary is here. J is not scary. my life is not scary. my old life was scary. that is not my life now. i am not there i am here i am here i am in my house i am in the living room i live here this is my house my bird is asleep in the other room there are six bird figurines in view, seven if you count the stuffed emu, i am okay i am okay i am here i am not there i am brennan i am not in my bedroom i am not in that place i am not in that town where all this shit happened i am in texas, i am so far away, i am miles and miles away, i am not my parents, i am not my parents scrutiny, their negativity, their delusion of control, of omniscience. J just wanted to say hi. J doesnt want to hurt me.

but i cant help that i get scared. im trying, i really am. it’s just so fucking shitty that not only am i triggered by like, my partner saying something mean when he’s mad, but just by him sitting in a room waiting up for me. that’s not right. i just wish i knew how to say “im sorry i didnt know you were you” and he could say “it’s me, you’re here and you’re not there and it’s okay” but i dont know how to articulate wtf was going on. I’m finding that my triggers are so hard to pinpoint. sometimes the rhythm of a voice or the pattern of breathing or the sound of footsteps will remind me of someone else.

my life isn’t shitty. i don’t think it’s shitty. many aspects of it are really great. this weird fallout with my mom has me back in touch with my brothers and in touch with my sister in law. I’m starting to look beyond my mother’s cloistered narrative. i know there will be silver linings, i know whatever happens is what is supposed to happen, that any decision i make is the right one. i dont know if this no-contact thing is permanent, but i cannot talk to my mother with all this on my mind. it lays behind my teeth. i need to get it out of me, and accept that maybe she will never love me the way i feel a mother should love their child. the thought of accepting that is impossible to me right now, but so was the thought of going a day without drinking once upon a time. i will know what to do when the time is right and when i am ready. i do not know what to do now so i do nothing. i bite my tongue. i say “okay, this is what is right now.”

i have been exhibiting more grace lately. trying to be less petty, less of an attack dog. walk away from conversations more and come back later. lately when J. needs to express frustrations with me i don’t point out ways he’s wrong — i don’t get defensive, i say “okay”. because i might not like what he’s saying but he obviously needed to say it. for me, someone pointing out silver linings and evidence to the contrary is helpful because my sense of reality isn’t that firm. i tend to see emotions before facts, react to those emotions, and i often need someone else to validate that i’m not making something up in my head. J. isn’t like that, and to him me pointing out how he’s wrong or not fully accurate in his feelings is manipulation of his reality. this is a really weird thing for me to learn because it’s so opposite from what i need and how i operate, but not everyone needs what i need.

i really hope i can get out of this boa constrictor of my mothers influence. stop spending hours obsessing over her pathology and mine, the auld cross reference. i know the answer. she is a cold, self-isolating woman who wanted pawns, not children. i don’t know why she is the way she is, she probably doesn’t either, and i hope to reach a point where i don’t fucking care why she is some tee-totaling lovechild of Scarlett O’Hara and Lucile Bluth — only then will i be free. When i can look her in the eye and go “damn, what a piece of work” and not dwell on it, not invest in it … that is when we can resume contact. It’s the same with sexual trauma — the day i could look at it and go “Well, that was a thing that happened to me that profoundly changed the course of my life and character in many ways that are both significant and trivial” was the day i was free of my pain. and i have been free of it. i never wallow in those feelings, the pathology of my sexual abusers. the why. i don’t know why, i never will, and i dont fucking care. i get angry sometimes, but what am i angry at? the space time continuum? rape culture? innate psychopathy? white poverty? can i change any of these things? not really. so why be so angry? it’s useless. it was holding me back from living my life.

just as then, this obsession with my mother’s pathology, with figuring out just how big her chessboard is, is holding me back. it’s holding me back in my relationship with myself and with my loved ones. for how can you support a person who hates themselves despite everything? you can’t. and this is my problem. and im seeing more and more light every day. not light that illuminates the underbelly of three decades worth of my mother’s warped and frankly sad, petty reality, her quiet and overt disapproval and dislike of me my entire life, but light that illuminates the FACT that my mother’s lies and delusions and justifications and secrets are not my problem, they do not matter, they cannot contain or control me.

i grow. every day i grow. every day i put one foot in front of the other and build a life that is MINE and no one can take that from me. not my parents in their sickness, not my partner is his momentary anger, and not even myself in moments of despair.