Most of you know me as an asshole who posts jokes about people's sisters, but I'm gonna get serious for a moment. I wrote this for the CPTSD subreddit on a burner account, but I'll post it here too. It's 7,000 words, so buckle up, buttercup.
I'm 28. I was born in Ukraine. My mom's marriage with my dad was her second. She already had a daughter with her first husband who she had an affair with my dad with (both married at the time). At age 4, her and her parents took my sister and I to the U.S. My only memory is waving goodbye to my dad on the airplane ramp. I remember how huge the ramp looked to me. I'd never see him again. My mom said she loved my dad very much, but had nothing good to say about him. It was never explained to me why I no longer had a dad.
Being an immigrant kid was very rough. I have no memory of the first place we lived in Chicago. When we moved, I started kindergarden. I was bullied a lot and didn't understand any English for a year. The teachers labeled me as a problem kid early on and that label followed me. I grew into it, really. By second grade, I had a dedicated desk in the principal's office. They wanted to send me to a special school, but I did well on all the tests they gave me that were supposed to show I was mentally handicapped, so they couldn't justify it I guess. I spent most of those years getting bullied, retaliating to being bullied, or sitting in the principal's office. This could get long, so I'll try to cut to the chase. Middle school wasn't much better, but I found video games and that was my escape. In high school, I found drugs. First pot, then I got super into DXM and would try to spend as much time as possible in a disassociated state. I never had close friendships. I'd meet someone, they'd become my "best friend" immediately, it would last a year or so, then they'd get bored of me or their parents would decide I was a bad influence. So I stayed away from kids who were"normal."
When I was like 6, my mom married this guy. I think just because she wanted to move out of an apartment mostly. He did medical billing for shady Russian doctors and was a drug addict. He walked around with a camera bag full of benzos and opiates. His emotional control deteriorated over the years. He was just a walking zombie with rage issues. He threw a vacuum through the wall once. He basically lived in the basement and we all sort of learned his very rigid schedule and tried to stay out of his way. I stopped talking to him around age 10 and we haven't spoken a word to one another since. Him and my mom would always yell at each other. I had to get between them once when I thought he'd hit her when I was 14. I started lifting shortly after that and went from 130lb to 246lb by age 16. All I did was lift, chug like two gallons of whole milk a day, and play WoW. Oh yeah, I got super addicted to WoW around like 13.
Lifting kept me away from the harder drugs, but I started to get back pain around age 16. It got worse the heavier I got. I was working as baker at Cosi (like a regional Panera Bread) at the time and spending a lot of time rolling and kneading dough. I'd wait for a lull and go to the bathroom to lean again the wall for a bit just to get some relief. I'd drive home (15 min away) just to lie down flat on my back for 30 min to get some relief on my lunch break. I went to a few doctors who couldn't find anything wrong with me and said I have slight scoliosis at best. Tried chiropractors and all that stuff. Nothing worked. The heavier I got, the worse the pain got. I concluded I had injured myself permanently somehow and had to stop loading my spine and gaining weight. I did a very poorly researched "keto" crash diet and was down to 150lb by age 17. The pain never went away.
Once lifting was out, I needed a new escape. I had tried and researched all of the opiates and benzos StepDad had lying around over the past few years and loved them, but had never let myself get too into it because I saw what it did to him and I had some ridiculous, delusional aspirations of becoming a professional bodybuilder. I got into benzos hard. I started selling weed at 16. I was always high. I was doing benzos and opiates all the time. I had lost weeks of memory at a time to benzos. I graduated high school a semester early somehow. I always had some weird sense of manifest destiny and that I'd do something great once I broke free from all the bullshit, so I never gave a shit about school. I knew I'd do well in business, science, or the criminal world. And I wasn't going to take a conventional route for any of it. I didn't see myself as someone who'd ever be accepted conventionally, so I didn't bother.
I was sitting in my room one night at age 17 and my mom and StepDad were yelling at each other. This guy was getting crazier by the year. I slept with a knife by my bed and the bedroom door barricaded from like age 13 because I knew this crazy drug addict who probably hates me is sitting in the living room chain smoking, drinking vodka, and watching Family Guy reruns he's seen hundreds of times. Oh yeah, rewind: They had a son when I was like 8 - my brother. Right, so there was some conflict and I got involved in it somehow and I thought I was gonna rip this guy's fucking throat out if I stayed there any longer. So I grabbed some weed, got in my car, and left. The plan was to just find a quiet spot to sit, smoke, listed to music, calm down, and wait for everyone to go to sleep.
I wasn't scared of StepDad anymore – even with the weight off. I was a pretty lean and strong 155 or whatever – not like the scrawny kid I used to be. I was doing chinups and running shirtless in the winter and shit all the time just to make sure this guy knew I was harder than he was. And I had this aggression in me. I still do actually. I never started any shit with anyone ever. I've always made a point to be nice to everyone and try not to get in anyone's way. But while I was scared of everyone all those early years, I was now gleeful for someone to start some shit.
I sort of glowed up during the weightloss. I got on accutane, buzzed my long hair, and realized I was pretty strong and good looking. I also started reading a lot and realized I'm pretty smart too. I was told and believed I was stupid all my life. I wasn't this nerdy immigrant kid who gets picked on anymore. I was this drug dealer who rides around with a bat in the car and who you didn't want to owe money. And I could fuck up your argument with logic too. People came to me now like, 'please front me an ounce. I wanna deal like you.' It was a persona I took on and I liked it.
So back to the night of my first (and second) arrest (oooh, prefacing?) – I was sitting in this lot at like 11pm smoking and listening to music. Long story short – I didn't see a cop pull right up behind me, get out, walk up to me, etc. Got arrested for possession and paraphernalia. I was talking shit to the cops which they did not enjoy, so they decided to fuck me. They processed me and let me go with a court date at like 1am. Two blocks down from the station, they pulled me over again and gave me a DWI, improper lane usage, failure to stop, resisting arrest, and a bunch of other concocted charges I forgot. So now I had an actual serious charge on me.
Since I graduated high school a semester early, I had a semester to kill before starting community college. The drug use got really severe here. I'd wake up and smoke, 200mg codeine right off the bat, couple xanx, a bottle of Robotussin. My life was pretty much doing drugs, selling weed, and fucking around with rap music on the internet. I always had jobs since my first one caddying at 15. I think I was working at Borders (rip) at the time in the Seattle's Best Coffee inside of it as a barista. That was across the street from a Jewel which I started steeling liquor from after work. I do not know how I managed to always hold down jobs, but I did. I sort of knew that the education system wasn't gonna work for me, but I'd need money to build a life which nobody was gonna help me with. So I had $15K saved made legally by 17.
I started my first semester of community college. I was fucked up all the time. I remember taking an English class and we were supposed to give 5-minute presentations. I was on so much xanax that I was talking so slow, the teacher stopped me at 13 minutes. I have no idea what I was saying. The way people looked at me was changing. I know how people look at a drug addict now. But I didn't feel I had a problem. I still sort of don't. What was my alternative? People always told me I had a problem. I always felt like I had solutions to actual problems they wouldn't understand. I also felt like I was pretty smart by this time and I couldn't take seriously anyone who I deemed not as smart as myself, which was almost everyone I encountered. This was based on nothing measurable - just a way I felt.
I was selling shrooms too by now. I was doing tremendous amounts of psychedelics and dissociatives constantly. And then the benzos and opiates whenever I wasn't tripping. I didn't want to be sober for a waking moment and I couldn't fathom the idea of going to bed sober. From the time I started smoking weed alone in my room late into the night (I always felt best late at night), my mom would bust into my room and try to get me to stop. At first, I tried to hide it and act sorry. I was realizing at this time that I was smarter than my mom, so I started pushing back. I asked her to explain why I shouldn't smoke. She'd just repeat, "Your eyes! Your eyes!" and tell me I'm killing myself and shit. So it was a constant game of cat and mouse. She'd go in my room whenever I was out and look for weed. She found and flushed a quarter pound once. I got home and she told me the police came and raided my room and took it. I was like, do you think I'm that fucking dumb? You know I've already been arrested, right? Like, you know I've seen movies and shit? Like holy fuck, lady. They just took it and left? What the fuck ever. You owe me $700.
My court case for the DWI was coming up. I was on a DXM trip in my room one day when my mom and older sister (11 years older who was always the golden child and sort of my mom's homie who everyone thought was super smart because she did well in college and later got a good corporate job which she's still at like 15 years later and is the most uncreative person I think I've ever met who spent her youth clubbing and doing coke and hasn't finished a book in her life) convinced me that if I went in for a "psych eval," it would look good on my court case. This made sense to me at the time in my vulnerable state of mind. When we pulled up to the hospital and I realized what was happening, I was apprehended by staff. I was strapped to a bed and IV'd shit that stopped the trip. I was not a happy camper. I broke everything in sight and told my sister I was going to kill her at the first chance I'd get for this shit. They called in a guard to watch me. I stared into his eyes in a crazy fashion and made him radio asking to be reassigned and then turn his back to me. Lol. Bitchass. After a day of that, I was transferred to the psych ward. I was strapped to a bed there too. I broke the back of the bed off with my feet and started to break the sides. Guards came in and strapped me down tighter and started beating me in the stomach. I was laughing and spitting at them. That went on for a while.
I was later moved to a small room with just a mattress on the floor, a pillow, a desk, and a chair. I barricaded the door with the desk and stood at the ready with the chair to attack the first person to come in. They saw what I was doing and sent a group of guards in. The first guy got hit with the chair and the next guy got grabbed and kneed. I was then tackled and they shot sedatives into my ass. I was laughing and yelling that this is the shit I'm into and to give me more of that. I lost desk and chair privileges after that. I spent a week or so alone there. I'll tl;dr this but basically, I decided I needed to get out and I'd play ball. Hi hey hello, my name is Shitforbrains and I'm here for an overdose, I'm an addict, I need help. A week of that and I got transferred to an inpatient youth rehab. The paramedic was a bro and played some nice music for me on the drive. They didn't let you have music in rehab, which is fucking hilarious.
Rehab was fucking dope. Legit. I've never laughed so hard for 30 days. The kids in there were hilarious and we had a great time despite all their bullshit. I held my head high and told the staff to pound sand for like 2 weeks, but then decided I didn't want to risk this shit taking longer than 30 days because I'm gonna miss my next fucking college semester. And believe it or not, adults in charge, I actually sort of have a plan here and you're holding me back from it. And getting a degree was part of the plan at the time. I just needed to get a decent job to buy time and save money to figure out how I was gonna really build a life. So I played along with the whole 'hi hey hello my name is Dickbreath and I'm an addict' shit.
I got out and had some time to kill before my next semester of college started. My whole life, I kept waiting for someone to ask me how I feel. Nobody ever did. They just made judgments based on the observable and took action that would impact me based on those judgments. When I got out of rehab, I thought this might be some sort of new leaf for my mom and I. Nope. Just a complete lack of compassion, curiosity as to how I feel or why I do what I do, or desire to find out was demonstrated. That was my whole life. I don't have some long story of abuse or whatever. Maybe it happened before age 5 because that's when my memory begins, but no – she always put food on the table and clothes on my back as a kid. But that was it. I've never been punished or disciplined in any way in my life. I've never been taught a lesson or how to do something or what to do and what not to do in order to achieve certain goals. Just… go to school and don't do drugs.
My grandpa is an alcoholic in denial. Back in Ukraine, he used to come home drunk and the dog would hide and cower. When I ask how he'd behave, it was not a topic anyone would touch. He's been married to my grandma since they were like 19. They bicker constantly, yell at each other, and have always slept in separate rooms. I thought this was normal as you age growing up. I don't think so now. My mom never had an example of a healthy relationship growing up. She's been divorced three times. They also have a son who's just as emotionally unavailable. He's still living in Ukraine. He's been divorced once and now dates exclusively bimbo 20-year-olds. He sees himself as the patriarch of the family and somebody who's extremely competent, accomplished, and deserving of great respect and adoration. In Ukraine, he was a middle manager at a plumbing company. He's been in America for 25 years. He still speaks zero English and spends his time watching Russian news and drinking. Hasn't really left that apartment in 25 years. Shows up to family events, tries to dominate the scene with 20-minute toasts about how great he is, then drunk drives home. Grandma is a dumb lady who's scared of him and has been on antidepressants forever. As emotionally unavailable as my mom. You'd think that people who are emotionally stupid must at least be hyper-logical, but they're not. They're just dumb people who think they're smart and don't see any flaws in anything they ever do.
When I got out of rehab, I got a very strong message from the family that this was a shameful event for me that I was to shut the fuck up about to outsiders. It was assumed that I was now "cured." My grandpa seemingly has one memory of my childhood which he tells at every opportunity with great glee – how he would "drag me" to kindergarden every morning through the snow. He'd have to literally drag me because I refused to move my feet I didn't want to go so bad. Nobody ever bothered to ask why I hate going there so much. He thinks it's a hilarious story.
I didn't jump right back into doing drugs, actually. I experienced my first depressive episode my first day out of rehab. I just sat in my room curled up in my computer chair staring at a blank screen for a few days chain smoking Camel Crushes. Got my first optical job shortly after that. Started selling frames on the side too. OK honestly, this is getting long and I'm gonna try to cut to the chase as much as I can because I'm tryna go watch Honey Boy with my wife tonight.
So. Finished community college. Transferred to a state school in Chicago. Moved into my first apartment. Lived in apartments while finishing college. Paid for it with paid internships and savings from old jobs. To my mom's credit, she did help with college to the tune of like $15K. Finished college. I got heavily into drinking in college. I never got back into benzos or opiates hard. Oh yeah, I did get into snorting heroin briefly while working at an optical. I was working in the lab and found out one of the lab dudes did it. I got on that right quick and it was awesome while it lasted. My mom, StepDad, and brother were on vacation one week and I was staying at the house because it's nicer than the shitty hood apartments I lived in. I invited my heroin homie over and we chilled all night drinking beers and doing lines. Doing heroin with a friend is pretty safe because you can keep each other awake. He went home and I kept drinking and snorting lines. I fell asleep, which I always did on heroin. I always drugged and drank myself to sleep and then just woke up.
That night, my grandpa came over. I think my mom asked him to come check on me because she never trusted me and was always trying to keep me from getting fucked up. I was asleep by then, and he saw the drugs and decided I was overdosed. He called the paramedics and they gave me Narcan or whatever that shit that reverses opiates is. It made me throw up and I later got aspiratory pneumonia and a collapsed lung at the hospital. They kept giving me drugs to stimulate me, which I reacted to more than you're supposed to I guess and jolted up. So they had me strapped down. They were titrating stims and sedatives and I guess I had fucked up tolerances, so they were constantly bringing me super close to death. My BP dropped so low they couldn't get an IV in. They were sticking long needles through my lungs to suck out the vomit. I woke up intubated and strapped to the bed. Being conscious and intubated is a very disturbing feeling. When they uncuffed me, I realized I had a catheter in. That was an lol moment. And very painful coming out.
Was I OD'd? I don't know. Maybe. What I know is I've don't way more heroin than I did that night many times before, passed out just the fucking same, woken up groggy as shit, and gone to work. But the pneumonia and all the other shit they did fucked me up. I couldn't walk for two days and it took me a week of bedrest at the hospital to recover. When I got home, it was made clear that this was another shameful moment that I should be embarrassed about and was to be swept under the rug.
I went back and finished college. I drank very heavily the entire time – often first thing in the morning and during class. I liked Alcohol almost as much as opiates. I never understood how people could like uppers. I just wanted to numb myself and slow my mind down constantly. I didn't know how to put words to what I was feeling, but I hated it. I hated being sober. I actually got into doing DPH, which is a terrifying deliriant and incredibly physically unpleasant, for a while just to not be sober.
My third apartment where I was living as I finished college was actually a pretty good find. Chill enough roommates and a decent part of town. I didn't want to start being a corporate slave yet and I didn't know what else to do. So I started selling weed again. Tinder was also getting big at the time, so all I did was drink, sell weed, and try to get laid. I had only started to develop the confidence to talk to women like my last year of college, and I got good at it pretty quickly, so this was super fun for me. The validation felt good too.
Long story short – I got busted for selling weed eventually. I was set up by two undercovers. They first bought a small amount and a month later, they lured me out of my comfort territory – I used to only do deals at that apartment. But I got greedy and they wanted a full pound, which was a big deal to me. Everything in me was screaming not to make that trip – to turn back – but greed drove me and I was arrested. Oh shit, I forgot – I had buckled and started working a shitty full time corporate job at relocation company at the time. I graduated with a finance degree and actually had really good internships. But I didn't want to put in the hours it would take to work a proper finance job, so I worked this little $15/hour bullshit. I biked to work and saved my money. I'd pop down and sell weed out the lobby of this fancy building in the Loop too. I'd just bring out quarters in envelopes and shit and tell people to put the money in some papers.
Also rewind – I met my now-wife on Tinder. It was just another date, but this chick was different. The details are irrelevant and this is long enough, but I became exclusive with her after our first road trip. We went to Denver. We took another one to Canada and NYC later on. I got detained at the Canadian border for like 3 hours because of the DWI shit lol. Oh yeah, I lost my license for like a year, had to pay some money and do some classes and community service I mostly weaseled out of for that shit.
My wife is two years younger and she was starting her last year at the same college I graduated. She was on a full ride and had a paid-for shared on-campus apartment with 3 other girls. Right, so I was arrested for selling pot and spent Friday to Monday in jail. Got out on an i-bond. They took my phone and my apartment had been flipped upside down and the door busted down. I made a point to never sign any leases and the roommate on the lease was this creepy 45-year-old fat dude who managed the bar down the street his friend owned who kept making gay advances at me, so I didn't feel all that bad about throwing all my shit in a trash bag and moving in with her. I wasn't technically supposed to be there, so I'd have to sign in and out every day. It was sheisty af lol. Her roommates hated the fuck out of me, but she was so nice they let it slide.
I was in court for a year and then got 2 years probation. I drank super heavily during this period. I was working this job I fucking hated for pennies, biking to the Loop in the Chicago winter to save money, ducking traffic, arriving with hands so frozen I'd have to pretend to type for the first 20 minutes of the day, riding home, and sleeping in this twin or full or whatever bed with my gf in which we had to sleep sardine style because it was so small. Oh yeah, and the fucking chronic pain I was in was killing me. So I drank any moment I could and played WoW on a private server.
My moods were always fucked up. I'd get depressed, I'd get hype as fuck, I'd do crazy shit like get drunk and ride a motorcycle in the rain to get impulse tattoos. I later crashed and broke my neck and arm. I don't ride a motorcycle anymore. Shit like that. I don't remember how, but I figured out I was bipolar around age 24. I never got on meds. I had such a fucked up taste in my mouth from the psych ward shit. I'd rather just manage it with alcohol than deal with those people again. I sent my mom a book titled something like "How to love your bipolar child." She never brought it up. Not a follow up question. If my kid told me they thought they had a serious psychiatric illness, I'd spend all night researching it and meet them the next day to talk about everything. Wouldn't you? Isn't that normal? I had a really skewed view of what "normal" is always.
I found out about podcasts. This was amazing. This was gold. Information and knowledge was always gold to me. At a young age, I'd always feel so scatterbrained. Everybody was telling me there's something wrong with me and I should do X, Y, Z. But XYZ don't make sense to me. But nobody wants to explain why I should do these things. I'm just defective if I don't want to. So I invented this idea of "logicing through" things. "OK, what do we know for a fact? What can we deduce with certainty from here? Why? Why? Why? Keep asking 'why' until you get somewhere. Until you're confident you've asked that question to a deeper extent than everyone who thinks you're crazy. Knowledge is power and I felt so powerless. Now, I could learn how to move ahead while commuting and doing this bullshit job and everything else. I listened to podcasts about business, self-improvement, science, philosophy, fitness… from the time I brushed my teeth in the morning until the time I went to bed at night. When I was sober, that is.
That's because I decided real estate was going to be my way out. The business world will never accept me – I'm too antisocial, too weird, too many abrasive tattoos. Yeah, you're white. But not the right kind of white. But in real estate, money talks and bullshit walks. That's it. Your efforts are rewarded. Persistence is rewarded. Balls are rewarded. And I knew I had balls. So I listened to every BiggerPockets podcast ever recorded. I listened to so much shit. And I learned how to "house hack." On my $15/hr job and with my wife not even being employed yet, having just graduated, and only having an offer teller through Teach For America, we bought a newly-rehabbed duplex in Chicago in a working-class neighborhood on the not very deep South Side.
My bike commute was now 30 minutes instead of 15, but I had a fucking house! And a rental unit below us! This place was nicer than the fucking house I grew up in! I have a yard! I'm gonna fuck my wife in my bed in my house and nobody can tell me shit. Suck my dick, world. I'm a fucking man now! Who doubted me? Show yourselves.
That was my first step. Next, since I worked for a real estate company, they paid for anyone to get licensed. It was a joke I was gonna use my license there, but it was right there in the HR docs. They can't deny me. So I got licensed. I had to jump through some extra hoops on account of the felonies (which I had four of), but they only really care about financial or violent crimes. So now I was a Realtor. Next step was to start a property management company. So I did that. Got my first client. He introduced me to my second. Who introduced me to my third. They all kept buying properties. Etc. Now, my company made more than my job. And I run it primarily from my job!
I met a couple that was rehabbing houses. I basically said, 'Look, I'm fucking young and hungry and I'll work for nothing and I'll do anything. I want to learn what you do.' At the same time, I was getting pushed out at work. First, they introduced us to the "India team" and reassured us that our jobs were safe. Then, we were asked to train the India team and record our shit for them. I made a point to do everything wrong. Sorry not sorry. Next, despite having nothing but perfect scores on technical performance evals because I was good at my fucking job, they put me on a PIP and kept finding reasons to keep me on it. It was obvious they were pushing me out.
I was gaining confidence in my business and it was growing. I also knew that I could always just do broker work. And there was always the French Foreign Legion, right? Those house flipper dudes wanted to hire me. I started working for them part time. It was pretty fucking cool. I saw these multifamily houses get gutted and rebuilt from the ground up. And guess what. The dudes who buy these shits don't wanna manage them. Enter Shitforbrains. Oh yeah, I married my wife while we were still living at that dorm. Just a courthouse thingie. I needed cash to make moves, not blow. The only "extra" money I allowed myself to spend was alcohol. I needed that. I had a spreadsheet tracking every income and expense to the penny.
When I felt good and ready and was tired of losing sleep over these morons' PIPs, and after slowly moving all my personal shit out of there, I brought in a 4TB external hard drive and copied a shitload of proprietary data onto it. Nothing worth a shit to anyone, but I knew they'd flip out. I then sent my resignation letter and walked out with the drive. Their lawyers contacted me the next morning. The contacts I had there were texting me like, LOL everybody is flipping a shit. Nobody knows how to do half the shit you did and now they just found out you stole all their shit LOL. I was loving it. I negotiated with the lawyers. I'd give them the drive in exchange for a non-disparagement agreement I'd bring in signed by the CFO. It worked. I brought it in and the very upset CFO and the IT guy signed my shit and cleared the drive. As if I'd ever work a corporate job again. In fact, I got hired for a better job at a marketing company making like $50K, which was a big leap for me. But they rescinded the offer when they ran my background. Recruiters hung up on me when I brought it up. I knew that door was shut.
We decided we wanted to have a kid. We decided we wanted to raise a kid in a single family home. We bought one in the suburbs. It's the nicest house I've ever lived in. My wife and I drive matching Volvos now (mine's a wagon with roof rails. I think it's the perfect car for my current setup). Over the last few years, we've been to Italy, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Mexico, New Zealand… I think I'm forgetting some. I have a gym and a sauna in my house. Turns out my back is fucking fine. The shit I was scared of makes it feel better. I deadlift, squat, press. All that shit. And nothing is wrong with me. Nothing breaks. But that tightness is still there. The pain went away over the years and now it just feels like I have a tennis ball jammed between my rhomboids and whatever the fuck is under them. I don't know how to get it to go away. I can do mobility work for hours and it gets better gradually, but as soon as I stop, it returns. The severity is highly correlated with my moods, which still swing wildly. Sometimes, I'm damn near manic with energy and ideas. Other times, I'm so down I can barely move and I wasn't to push my wife away. And the anxious mixed states are the worst.
After a miscarriage and an ectopic, my wife gave birth to our daughter. She's 7 months tomorrow. She's a fucking amazing kid and I couldn't be happier. My wife and I are closer than ever. I love the fuck out of my family. I'm trying to consistentently recognize and face fears. I'm trying to move away from hate and towards love. The first few months of having our kid damn near pushed me over the edge. I felt insane. I finally talked to a shrink. I got on oxcarbezepine, which seems to help a lot. And I put myself on Lexapro which didn't do shit, so I got off. I hate being on drugs. I quit drinking 1.5 years ago. I quit all my vices. Put has been my longest coping mechanism and an ally in tough times. But I was smoking a quarter pound a month at my peak. It changes you. I had to stop. I'm two weeks sober from that. I just want to be happy and live a normal life with my family.
I've never had a real family and I've always wanted one. Growing up, it was sold to me that this was normal. It didn't feel normal. It confused me. I'm grateful for my mom for showing me exactly not how to parent. And I'm grateful for growing up without a father. I had nobody to please or look up to. I had to become my own man – my own father, really. I worked at it. Now, at 28, I'm confident I know exactly what my daughter needs. She needs everything I never had. And I'm giving it to her. And I'm loving it. She makes me so happy. After 28 years, I've finally built the life I always dreamed of and which a large part of me didn't think I'd ever have. But for some reason, I'm still miserable often. I took out a fat life insurance policy on myself - partially because I always had the feeling I'd die young; but partially as a deterrent from killing myself. I've thought long and hard… and often about killing myself. Those life insurance payout investigators don't fuck around though. I'm not sure I'd get away with it. I don't think about it at all anymore. I love my family so much, I'd endure any bullshit to be here for them. It's real now. I have a real family.
My wife has always known I have curiosity about my dad. My mom changed the spelling of my last name so it would be harder for him to find me. I could never find him. She found a lady who specializes in this and she found him for me. He died two years ago. He was married to his third wife for 23 years. She said he was very depressed and drinking a lot when she met him, but he slowly stopped. He found hobbies. He liked to sail. He was smarter than my mom. He was a physics professor. I wish I could have known him. It's not a mother's place to deny her child a relationship with his father. That's really fucked up. She always told me he was a crazy alcoholic. I assumed he was self-medicating bipolar. I relegated myself to this 'you'll always be fucked up because your dad was' bucket. I only ever got one side of the story. Just someone to talk to would have been great. I grew up so sad and alone. And I only ever got one side of the story.
My dad's third wife gave my wife a bunch of photos of him I'd never seen. She made a nice book out of them and gave it to me. After avoiding it for a week, I ate some mushrooms (the only drug I have no plan of stopping although it's super not frequent) late one night and started looking at them. I felt tears well up and I cried for the first time I can remember. I never cried all my childhood. What would it have gotten me? I needed to be tough. Nobody would be tough for me. I could not demonstrate any weakness – even to myself. The picture I really lost it at was a family photo. It was my dad, my mom, and me. I was in my dad's arms and we were all smiling. See, I did have a family once. I don't remember it, but it was there.
Have you ever had a lump in your throat? I think I've had one for many years that's grown and grown. It reached my back, my shoulder, and even my hips. In fact, the entire right side of my body doesn't feel right (lol). As I allowed myself to cry, the "back pain" started to melt away. I was ecstatic. I thought I was about to be cured. Not so. It's still there. But this led me down a research rabbit hole and I found the book "The Body Keeps the Score" and discovered there is a very real connection between emotional trauma (especially of the childhood variety) and chronic physical health problems.
And that's where I'm at now. I'm exploring this. I tried reaching out to my mom again. I told her, "I think I found the cause of my back pain. Look up CPTSD." She just replied "ok." Six weeks later, my wife asked her whether she'd looked into CPTSD. She replied in a dismissive fashion, "I'm not done learning about bipolar yet."
My mom was a shit mom, but she's a great grandma. She clearly loves my daughter and my daughter has a great time with her. She's always smiling and laughing. My mom has been helping watch our daughter. She gives us a few days of rest every week. When my wife told me this, I drove over there to the house we helped her buy after convincing her to finally separate from her third husband and I took my daughter. I had decided this person was a piece of shit and she could not have a relationship with my daughter. Kids pick up on shit. I swear my daughter gave me a disappointed glare when we got home and she fussed all night. I took her from her grandma. I was doing what my mom had done. Fuck. So I went back to the status quo, but had my wife handle all communication with my mom. Just hearing her voice fucks me up for a long time and makes me punch a hole in the wall. Which I sometimes do. And I'm tired of fixing drywall.
I've been mulling this over for a long time and I knew I needed to come to some conclusions. I visited my grandparents yesterday. They knew I wanted to talk. We ate and then my grandpa took me into another room to talk. I told him I found my dad. I told him that I wanted him to tell me the family story because I'm trying to piece things together so that I can fix my problems. I told him I had a miserable childhood and that their perception of my situation and my perception of it are drastically different and I'd like to resolve that. He told me a… very factual story. Like… you were born here. We moved to America. We visited these locations. I dragged you to school lol. And it's all thanks to what a great patriarch I am. You're welcome.
I told him that I think I have a good lead on the back pain everyone knows I have. I've been researching it, and being torn from a loved one during your formative years can actually deeply traumatize you – especially if it's done with no explanation. And that I think this, along with a lifetime of smaller traumas, is what has caused a lot of my problems. I told him I don't remember the first 5 years of my life and I'd like some more detail. He got super defensive and started protecting my mom and telling me everything she's done for me. He then started blaming me and telling me that nobody asked me to do drugs and get arrested and all that shit and that I've caused her a lot of pain. 'A lot of people lose family members and they're fine. You were 5. What does it matter what happens when you're 5? You don't even remember it like you said so yourself." I wasn't about to explain coping mechanisms and trauma to this lifelong alcoholic and told him we should agree to disagree and close this book and went home.
I slept on it and slowly grew furious. In the morning, I tried to calm down by lying down and reading in low orange lighting. This had always been a surefire way to calm myself. At least in that moment, I would be OK. It didn't work. I couldn't even focus on the words. I had conceded again. I was angry with myself for backing down. Fine, if you won't give me details as to what happened, I at least wanted for one of the people who claimed to be the adult in the room my whole childhood to at least acknowledge that this was a fucked up situation. That this was not normal. That my situation was bad. That I was not to blame; at least for the origin story. Nope. Wasn't gonna happen.
I decided I was going to tell them what I think and whatever happens happens. I owed that to myself. I'm not biting my fucking lip just because you want me to and fitting into this mold you've created any longer. I am more powerful than you in every way. You have no power over me. You don't get to act like you do. You don't get to hurt me any longer. And you will hear what I have to say.
I called my grandparents and my grandpa picked up. He opened with, "Are you here?" I replied, "No, and I'm not sure I ever will be again. Where's grandma?" He says, "She stepped out." I reply, "Please call me together when she comes back. I have something to tell you both." He says, "So you won't be coming back? Is that right? I don't think we need to call you. I think I heard everything I needed to hear yesterday. You've lost your damn mind." And hangs up on me.
Wow. So he gets to do and say whatever the fuck he wants to for 28 years, but won't hear me out once? So he's a confirmed narcissist, right? A huge part of me has always wished I didn't know these people. It's disconcerting – this vast chasm between how I'm told I should feel about my family and how I really do. Making me doubt myself constantly. Am I the asshole? Am I crazy? Am I an ungrateful piece of shit? No. That's conclusive evidence. I'm fucking done with you crusty old fucks. I called back. "You'll never see your great granddaughter again" and hung up. He was telling me as we ate yesterday that he's pretty sure he's her favorite person because she looks at him the most. She can see them when she's old enough to say she wants to and chaperoned by my wife.
I wish I could cut ties with my mom too and just forget any of these people ever existed. Frankly, it's embarrassing to me how much time and energy I spend thinking about them. And it's all negative. And it makes me feel like a piece of shit. And it fills me with rage. But we're both so stressed right now with the baby and work. The days off are just so helpful. My baby needs calm, less stressed out parents. And my mom appears to be a great grandma. My wife already handles all the communication. I just can't stand the idea that this woman who is so emotionally stunted is watching my baby. And I can never get her out of my mind while she is. And we can't get a nanny because Covid. And even then, like I said, my daughter appears to love her. I don't know what to do.