Living Without Lighting
The Aliens Outside My Door
I remember back in band class during eighth grade, in the middle of a lecture my teacher had said "for many people, waking up is perhaps their hardest part of the day". While I've never necessarily disagreed with this statement, I hadn't experienced its implications until these past few months. A confounding mystery for both my therapist and I, virtually anyone at the age of twenty-one should have the inherent ability to fall asleep before 4am. Consequently, it should also be expected that they awaken before noon as well. While I'd previously gotten the "waking up" part down, for the past month I simply haven't been able to. I could blame it on the lumpiness of my mattress, my poor bedtime routine, but deep in my heart I know the source. The moment I wake up, the first thing my ears begin to take in and process are the miserable gabfests of my family.
As I stated in my last post, I equate my house to that of a haunted manor, whose destitute appearance only gives hint to the turmoil inside. While much more stable compared to other dysfunctional households, there is an air of apprehension, of unspoken grievances and bitterness floating through its halls. If you were a guest you may miss it, but stay any longer and it wouldn't take long to catch wind of my family's subtle estrangement.
The specters that haunt this cursed palace consist of my two boomer parents, and my borderline-narcissistic brother, who for now on I'll call Brock. I consider my stepmother more easier to approach, however I can't make conversation with my dad and Brock, as each time I do so there's a noticeable disconnection between us. Brock, on one hand, is a wannabe Hannibal Lecter. Cast aside at a young age and bullied for his cognitive abnormalities, he dedicated his adolescence to being as "normal" as possible, pouring countless hours into body-building, social skills and connections. While he's achieved much of this, his hunger for attention and recognition has never ceased. Just today, he gloated to me how he's learned to "gaslight" people into his bidding. I tried to explain to him that real gaslighting is only inherent in narcissists delusional enough to believe their own lies, however he turned down this notion, and ineffectively tried to call me "crazy" for doing so. I do what I can to maintain a healthy but distant relationship with Brock, sticking around to listen to what's on his mind while not getting too caught up with his personal world.
On the other hand, there is much more pain and isolation when it comes to approaching my Dad. Once proudly labelling me as his "best child" my father intermittently ignores me now, as he shoots down chances of conversation with single-worded answers or plain silence. I believe he sees me in a way as a failure, however in my mind, I like to see it the other way around. I know I don't have it all together, but I've got the wisdom to make my life not as miserable as his is. If there's one powerful lesson that I've learned from observing my parents, it's that having a family, fancy car and a prestigious job doesn't necessarily equate to happiness. We must spend our lives finding and forging our own purpose, and if it takes me a little while to do so that's fine. While growing up with the delirium and abuse of Brock and my sister, my dad was my anchor. All that's left I guess is his image, floating between the kitchen and his office upstairs, however quite fond of his entertainment center in the living room. I guess that's where it's easier to forget about his past life, where his "best child" showed promise of becoming something better than my siblings and able to compete with his stepchildren.
Luckily, I live in the maid's quarters, the only room on the first floor which has allowed me to hideaway from such afflictions. For eight years this bedroom has granted me limitless privacy and peace, and is partly responsible for my addiction and my self-guided recovery from it. My deepest secrets, feelings and fantasies have been conceived in this dungeon, and while it may not have the best vista or lighting, it serves as a place where I can truly disconnect from my genealogical adversaries. However, this doesn't prevent me from catching wind of Brock's latest ego-trip, nor my dad's self-righteous condescension towards my stepmother. That's what headphones are for. Even still, waking to these voices I realize I'm living my life with the people I'm at the biggest odds with. Maybe I'll hit that snooze button again, just another thirty minutes...
Until next time...