April 13, 2017
Dear Darkened Rose,
When referencing you, people often make note of how great and loving of a mother you were to the three of us. These people are also the ones who are quasi-unaware of the depths of your addictions. I smile in agreement to reciprocate comfort to people who need this to be the whole truth. But I know people must understand the gray area that existed there.
Your compulsions set an example.
I used to find it irritating as a teenager when you quipped the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” In your later years, you often lacked a healthy sense of self-awareness. You would berate and victimize yourself. You would sit with your cigarette in hand and further established your envy of those who you felt wronged by; or just anyone for that matter.
I was a full blown enabler. I did my best to do what I thought would help build your confidence. All the while, you modeled behavior and needs that disrupted the foundation of my own confidence. I tried to emotionally support you, all the while being so—honestly—fed up with your reoccurring monologues. I knew I did not have the right tools nor knowledge to help you, but I yearned for that. I often landed in frustration at my own guilt.
I now recognize that your depression and addictions were undoubtedly due to no fault of my own. The patience, confidence, and general mindset that I have today—in regards to addiction—could have been helpful if I had honed those concepts at 18 or 19-year-old. But I, very simply, had not done so yet.
You were the parent. I was a teenager with a brain still in need of development.
Today, I am stuck with this fluctuating awareness of my own bits of envy that have developed over the past 7 years or so.
“There comes a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
I am vulnerable in all my ignorance and I admittedly dig for any tool that can help me overcome it. I envy effective altruist. I envy mothers. I envy women with mothers. I envy materialism (but can usually quickly get over that nonsense). I envy people’s abilities to be impervious to the nagging fear of the sudden loss of a loved one. I envy people’s ability to walk away seemingly unscathed from the ways in which they have harmed others and/or their families. I envy anyone with many staunch friendships that provide enough support for them to live so comfortingly in the present. I envy positivity. I envy naivety. I envy narcissists. I envy long-time recovered addicts.
I assume all this envy can be reduced to my fears, loss of gratitude, and an inability to extend love and kindness in ways that help me feel I can subvert the dominant paradigms.
I fear the lack of control.
Doesn’t everyone? It feels gross to admit that. But it’s common, right?
I understand that I have little to no power over how others will view me. People will bounce their opinions and judgments off of their own definitions of morality and success. I know it is no excuse for my reticence, but I always assume that people see me only when my angst is surfacing. That they take one look at any moment of my silence and see that I have a side of cynicism that is so hard for people to relate to. Through that cynicism, I am sure it is hard to spot the magnitude of my ideal state of being unwaveringly caring.
I rub raw against the ideas of spending time with people while fearing the potential of blistering from incompatibility. Without that callous, though, I am inevitably lonely.
I often forget to remember, celebrate, and be grateful for love.
I know that people who chose to have me in their lives do the best they can to love me in their fullest capacity. I find grounds for gratitude there. I have been attempting to muster more courage to grow and extend that while keeping in mind my own definition of success. Which is similar to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s so we’ll go back to—what I’m sure you remember to be—my all time favorite reflection that may or may not be misattributed to him:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch Or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”
This year I have been able to make it a priority to not forget to put the effort into reflecting on simple, efficient ways to be kind to myself through thought practice. Maybe it is here that we can overcome our envy.
I finally completed a whole session of 31-days of Yoga in January.
As of April 1st, I’m 3 months sober—and I am convinced I can carry that on further than my goal of 6 months.
Several days this year I have taken the time to go through Calm’s Love and Kindness Meditation with the hope that it activates some dormant gears in my brain. On this note, I’m sorry I did not extend love and kindness and wish you Happy Birthday in appropriate timing. Whoops.
I love and miss you, Woman.
The Song: Younger by Seinabo Sey
*In this video, the beginning with the squirrel felt perfect. One of my most apposite memories of us is when I came to you with my dying baby squirrel in a shoebox tired and heartbroken. You laughed, mocked me, and then comforted me. I was out of control crying and I begged you not to tell me if it died. Retrospectively, that has felt like the precise moment that I pivoted towards the losing my childhood innocence.