• author
    • Amy Ferris

    • June 30, 2014 in Bloggers

    Picking at the estrangement scab

    I’m just letting you know straight up that this is not about my family.

    It’s not.

    Been there, wrote that.

    Besides, I don’t want to write about all that crap, that ugliness, all that god-awful sadness that went down. I mean, why write about that when I can write about, oh, I don’t know, falling into a hole, a depression, not being able to write, for I don’t know, months and months and months now?

    I could write about going into therapy, and how I went on Zoloft, and yes, felt better, much better, but still couldn’t write. But that’s boring and tedious. I’m absolutely not going to write about the crap that went down with my family, that cracked me — broke me — wide open, so cracked, wide open that on some days I couldn’t breathe. Because if I write about that, it would be like picking at a big ugly scab, and once you pick at it, it starts to bleed, and even the blood feels old, and looks old.

    So, no, I don’t want to write about that, because really, who likes picking open an old scab… unless of course you’re ready, absolutely ready, one hundred percent ready to heal that wound. And when I say heal that wound, I don’t mean between you and that person, I mean that wound that you no longer need to hide, or disguise, or make excuses for.

    Yeah, that wound.

    And the last person I want to write about is my brother. Why would I want to write about him after all these years of not speaking, of being estranged? Just because he had a heart attack last year, a massive-heart-attack — a life, and yes, death, heart attack?

    Do I really want to write about how after all these years of not speaking I reached out to his family because, well, I couldn’t imagine him dying? I just couldn’t imagine that. I couldn’t imagine him dying, and not reaching out, because I don’t have that kind of heart. And no, god no, I am not some perfect human who wears a cape, and a tiara, although god knows I often wish I were.

    I had to reach out — I had to — because I didn’t want him to die. I didn’t want him to, you know, physically die, because truth-be-told, when our mom died, she took us right with her. The entire family was cremated along with her. Ashes and bones, that’s all that remained of our family. So, I texted my sister-in-law, and for a brief few moments; a few days, a few weeks, we — she and I — communicated through texting, after not communicating at all for five years.

    What I could write about — like an entire manifesto — is what I learned in the five years of not communicating. I could write an entire book about how many folks are estranged, how many families no longer speak, how many sisters and brothers, and brothers and brothers, and sisters and sisters, no longer talk; how many parents disown their children, how many siblings would act like they don’t know each other if they passed each other on a street. Holy shit, what you learn while time is yes, flying — passing you — by.

    I could write about how he, my brother, survived the heart attack. I could write that I was happy he survived, not jumping up and down happy, but you know, relieved happy, because it looked as if he wouldn’t for a few moments there, because it seemed “touch and go” from a few of the back and forth texts — touch & go, one read.

    But I definitely, most definitely, don’t want to write about how after he got out of the hospital, and then went into rehab, and then Thanksgiving came and went — he , my brother — sent me a text on my cell-phone, and it was filled with mean. Holy mother of god, so much mean. I don’t want to write about the ugly, mean crap he wrote in a text that I received on my cell, a few texts down from the touch & go, he’s doing much better, he’s out of danger, keeping you in the loop text messages that were sent to me. I’m not even sure I want to write about, or share, how my husband, Ken, told me to delete the text message because, he said, it was pure fucking mean. Pure-fucking-mean. I mean, how do you do that? How do you survive a massive heart attack, a life and death heart attack, and then send a mean-spirited text?

    I deleted the text from my cell-phone. But I can’t write about how I deleted it from my cell phone but not from my heart, because that would be a lie.

    I refuse to write about that.

    I refuse to write about how I read the text a few times, silently, and then out loud to Ken, and I swear, pinky swear, I got stuck on a few of the words while I was reading it out loud to him. Stuck as in choking. I don’t want to write about, or even share how yes, I deleted the text from my cell — deleted and trashed it — but that it stayed lodged in my heart for months and months and months. Months. I don’t want to write about how every so often, when I feel small and insignificant and invisible, and I can hear the “I am not enough, not good enough” voice rearing its motherfucker head — because we all somehow need to be reminded every so often that we are not worthy, because we have been fed that crap for so long we actually believe it — that text, that deleted ugly mean text, somehow gets rebooted.

    So, no, I don’t want to write about someone who, when given a new heart, made the choice to break mine.

    Why would I want to write about that, when really what I want to write about is how we all need to forgive ourselves for breaking and betraying our own hearts. Because the thing is — the thing is — you can delete all the posts and blogs and comments and text messages, you can delete them and trash them, and believe that they’re gone, but until you’re absolutely ready, like full on ready, to take that wound out of the darkness and let it breathe, give it some air, and stop covering it up with make-up and band-aids, and bandages — you have to be willing to really, truly, deeply expose it — like full-on expose it — so that it can begin to heal.




      • Madgew

      • June 30, 2014 at 8:59 am
      • Reply

      Amy, so sorry the new heart didn’t stick with your brother. He clearly is a very angry man. So sad because he was given a second chance to make amends. It will be his loss and sorrow. Karma is a bitch and heart attacks are just one symptom of his unhappiness. Hope you can start writing again even if it starts with sorrow.

    • thank you madge, thank you so… xoxoxo

      • Maya North

      • June 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm
      • Reply

      Oh, this ache I know. The ache of a dying brother — who actually did die — and among the last things he did were things designed to hurt me and only me. The hate and the cruelty that I only somewhat earned but mostly was fostered and created by the family we grew up in — that I tried to overcome and he could not. It’s the Snow Queen all over again — somehow your brother and mine had or still have that icy sliver of mirror in eye and heart, so their hearts were frozen and their eyes see (or saw) through the mirror of cruelty. Even if we understand who they are, even if we get that they are limited and cruel and so agonizingly hurtful, the shards they hurl at us pierce us agonizingly and lodge until we can take them out. Then we look at these bleeding, sharp things in our hands and wonder at them — how hurtful; how unnecessary. Even if we know better, it’s still going to hurt and it’s still going to take time to recover, to overcome, to heal. But you, my Amy Angel, you know how to heal. You know to seek the enveloping hug (especially from iKen, who clearly gets it), from friends/sisters and snuggly cats — you know how to find solace. Here is your hug from me, love. One day, for sure, I will deliver it in person. <3 <3 <3

      • Kathleen

      • July 1, 2014 at 7:33 am
      • Reply

      I can so relate to this Ms Amy! The scab of cancer within my family and no one can rise above it~I can no longer worry about them. I have no regrets or guilt who put me here on this earth to always rise above and keep everyone smiling? It is the spirit inside me

    • that makes me rise above and I learned this at a young age that Death is part of life. Sadly the new blood flowing through your brother is still rusty and nasty. His loss! This writing was brilliance from within your loving spirit. Hugs and lunch when you return.

    • Estrangement… I have this scab too. I have not been willing to pick at it, because to pick at it would require admitting pain. I am NOT GOOD at this. I would rather create a surface of steel than admit pain. I realize this comes from growing up in an alcoholic household. I realize that this behavior is a survival strategy. But… it also is something that makes estrangement worse. I know this. But I am not yet as brave as you to start picking the edges of the scab.

    • I don’t have it with my family, thank goodness. Even the in-law situation has become better. Stable. Non-punishing. But, I know this feeling with “friends” that I blame myself for investing in so many times. I do that, invest in people. Believe in their goodness. But then I am disappointed when I see that the goodness is not there. My fault for caring, theirs for being assholes.

      Then today I took my mother to lunch. She waited in the air conditioned SUV to people watch while I ran in stores. At Lowe’s she told me someone loaded a couple of sheets of plywood. They seemed heavy, she said. Then, some stranger pulled alongside the truck and helped the person load the rest of the plywood sheets. Randomly. She said it renewed her spirit to see a random act of kindness. It did mine too.

      There is kindness in the world. It is all around us. Somehow it banishes the burn of the badness. It may not be consistent in families; too much history there sometimes. But, it is out there, and this makes my heart happy.

    • Estrangement. How unstrange and utterly familiar it is to me. Actually, it was a part of little me, older me and bigger me. Such a part of the punishment, that I naturally came to terms with it as a you issue not a me. I came to terms with it it became the norm. This is how family is. It’s not warm or fuzzy, it is hurtful and will turn on you. Except for her, my sister, Kathy. We patched up each other’s scabs with crayon shaped band-aids and kool aid smiles. That is thing Amy. Love the ones who carry your first aid, the ones who have your back, the ones who fight with a sword to protect you, the ones who apply neosporian not rip of your scab. Let go of the ones as hard as it is, who stand behind a shield and throw darts at you! I love you to moon and back!

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