I am still, still in this part where I am crying every day. It is such a relief and so sad and kind of opposite of the person I am: I have, through it all, cultivated a positive world view and firmly believe that things will get better. I am consistently full of hope. Because why not?

Our dog is OK. We have finally managed to finagle his eating and meds so that I’m not cleaning up diarrhea a few times a day. He has his silly smile back and is sleeping in our rooms again. He cannot go for walks, or chase the ball, but he’s with us and that, for now, is more than enough.

My father called last night and it was less than stellar. We sort of argued and disagreed and I cried a lot and then just let it stop since there is no real resolution. We talk, but cannot hear each other. And I cannot make them into people they just are not. I love them so much but the things I need from them do not exist. It’s like trying to make a bicycle into a bagel. The shapes are there, but they just are not the same thing.

Here is what I am learning: other people are other people. I cannot change them: but I can change myself. I can be true to myself. I am allowed to ask for what I need and if someone can’t give it I’m allowed to stop asking. Relationships can change, and so with the heaviest heart I can hold I have come to know that my parents love me to the best of their ability, but they cannot be tender with me. They cannot not tease me and poke fun at me when I’m hurting. My mother will always be loud, and judgmental. She won’t feel comfortable enough to not look for the imagined worst in everyone else. My dad will always think I’m trying to tell him what to do when I say out loud how I’m feeling. They both are very self focused. So be it.

Still, inside I come to their defense. Don’t talk about them that way. That’s not true, I keep saying to myself, over and over. But I know what the truth is.

I am hurting so much about it: I have longed all my life for them to love me without conditions or little cruelties. They love me as they were loved themselves. For them love equals vulnerability which equals opportunity to hurt which means I’ll get you before you get me first. I have always dreamed of the mother who enfolded me safe in her arms and said “There there. You’re OK.” I have always wanted a father who stuck up for me rather than himself. Who was there for me and not so selfish with his emotions. But what they were not given they do not try to give. I have clung to the idea that one day, one day, we will be a relaxed happy family laughing at the dinner table.

We won’t.

That will never be with my growing up family.

My mother still hasn’t called. My father never once said he was sorry for them leaving the soccer game without saying a word and then letting five days pass with nothing. How can this be? I don’t want things like that to be true but they just are. “I am your daughter!” I want to yell in their faces. I want that to mean to them what it means to me. It’s not a victimless crime- I am an alcoholic for chrissakes. I was an asshole for many years. Hurtful in more ways than I can count. I have apologized and stayed sober. That’s the very best I can do. It can’t all just be one long continuous apology.

Getting sober has brought me out into the light. And sometimes it’s really bright out here. And the truth hurts and I want to slide safely back into my naked mole rat hole and hide from all the truth that can pummel me relentlessly until I open my eyes to see. And so I cry and sorrow and yearn: “What? What!!!! What do you want with me?”

But I don’t hide. I get hats, sunscreen, and friends. I don’t drink, and I don’t hide. I might be sunburned but dammit, I’m going back out there.

This healing business is hard. It is tough, and relentless, and sometimes breaks me down so far I don’t even want to get up.

So life ain’t great. It’s not the wondrous end to my forty-second year I imagined. But then sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned.

But. God. I am here, and I am sober. I am the mother to my loves that I have always wanted for myself. I cuddle and cook and read and play just one more hand of crazy eights. I tell them how glad I am that they’re around, how happy I am to be their mom. Not just that I love them, but that I want them and need them and like them. I’m a better companion to my husband every single day. We are finally starting to care for each other and not just be parents and the people who provide. I have reached out and cried and said help me help me to my people who are close friends. I have people I know are back up. I have Universe Amy who is such a blessing to me. We family for each other. We all do. I am brave and strong and beautiful and good with the grace of the folk who help me up when I’m all broken down.

Family is not just the people you are born to- it’s the people you can turn to. I am immeasurably grateful for the family I am making for myself. It’s getting me through and carrying me on. It makes it so I can mother myself into feeling better.

Thanks y’all.