Writing my own narrative... 1/7/11
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
I have never liked receiving pity from anyone. It makes me cringe when people feel sorry for me. Over the years I wondered why I felt this way, and for a long time I thought that maybe this is because my mother always craved people's pity because she was dealt a few tough blows in life.
When my dad left my mom and when I was coming to terms with the fact he was gay around 15 years ago, I felt so much pity from those close to me, especially early on when I was in college. Everyone would always say to me 'Ugh that fucking sucks.' Or, 'That is so unfair!' Or 'You poor thing!' I hated telling my story over the years, because I didn't want this attention. So eventually, I put distance between myself and my family. That was probably one of my many ways of dealing with my parents. And when asked, I would tell the story by saying, 'I am actually fine with it all!' I would build myself up first, or put a humorous twist on it. Always retelling the same story about my dad, his mid life crisis and his silly roommate, his very obvious and gay Appletinis he served on the roof deck, and how Evan always knew my dad was gay before me. A comical spin, to set the stage... I'm fine. I don't need your pity. I'm strong... I tried to control the narrative for so long, but in reality, my parent's narrative was always controlling me. They never gave me a choice.
My parents decisions so long ago with the way they left their marriage, and the way they handled their own issues has always had a lasting effect on me. I know that. They never took into consideration that when they got divorced that their decisions would outwardly hurt us. They never asked us if we were okay or really cared how we felt. My dad focused on his own coming out. My mom focused on her drinking. My sisters and I were off to college and left to fend for ourselves. My parents figured we were adults now. I was 18. We were fine according to them.
But I wasn't. I wasn't emotionally mature enough to deal with any of it. And I never really did. Fast forward to now...
Now I think I am controlling the narrative.
I still don't want people to feel sorry for me. But over the last month, I have talked to a handful of friends and my dad and I have confided in my husband all about my sobriety and my struggle with alcohol. The one thing everyone keeps telling me over and over again is that they feel proud of me. 'You are so strong!' - that is what I keep hearing. 'You are so brave and amazing!' And what I notice about myself is that these comment don't make me want to crawl into a hole, or pull my hair out or scream into a pillow like they might have made me feel 15 years ago. Instead, I finally feel capable of accepting them. I don't think everyone feels sorry for me and my struggles. Maybe they do - but if that's the case, I finally don't give a shit. I finally feel proud of my story.
By talking about my sobriety on my own terms and dealing with my issues when I am finally emotionally ready and at the point in my life when it is necessary, I am able to take it all in. I am able to control my own narrative finally, instead of my parents or other people controlling it or dictating how I feel. So, other people's feelings towards me now don't feel like pity to me like they may have at one point in my past.
I am finally able to tell my story, and I am able to feel proud. I am not ashamed. Yes there are regrets, but I think I am finally discovering my own narrative. I can stand tall and speak my truth finally and not feel ashamed of the things I have been through.