Why do I want the impossible?

When I was a kid, about seven or eight, before things began to truly fall apart, I believed. I believed that everything would always stay the same.

I was eight when my dad died, so it must have been before that. I was eight when my mom had a fight with Geoff’s mom and they stopped speaking. I was eight when my sister’s marriage began to fall apart.

When I was little, before I knew better, I thought that people always did everything right. I trusted my family to always be together. I thought that it was only a matter of time until my dad decided to answer my letter and be part of my life. I thought that any day he would walk through the door and whisk me away. Any day, he would love me.

When I was a kid, I thought that my big sister was the best. I thought that any day, she would get out of bed and clean up her house. I thought that any day she would do something interesting.

When I was little, before I learned just how much people can go wrong, before I realized how badly people can fuck up, before I learned to bury people alive, I believed that life would all be good.

When things first began to fall apart, I thought that I could fix them. I tried. I wrote to my dad, asked him to meet me. I cleaned up my sister’s house. I thought that if I just did everything right, I could stop bad things from happening. I thought that I could save my sister, make my dad love me. I thought that I would be just the right kind of daughter to my mom, the perfect granddaughter to my Bubbie. I thought that I controlled the world.

You know, I’ve always tried to do the right thing. It’s hard trying to amend so much wrong. I’ve always lived as though by doing everything right I could somehow redeem my family’s mistakes. I’ve tried to prove to myself that even though they could not make everything turn out right, I can.  I’ve spent so much time forging an identity in opposition to my family’s negative qualities that I’ve never experienced my own bad side.

Lately, though, I want to mess up. Oh, let me tell you, this is not good. Suddenly, I find myself – inconveniently – wanting to break my rules. I want to be unaccountable, or better yet unobserved. I want to do what I want and not think twice. I want to know what that would feel like. Somehow this experience feels essential to me.

I know it’s self-destructive, not to mention impossible. I’m an adult and I have a family counting on me. I know what’s at stake – I learned when I was a kid. But I finally understand what it means to say that history repeats itself.

And one more thing: Nothing ever, ever, stays the same.

One thought on “Why do I want the impossible?

  1. There’s a difference between doing the right thing, and doing something so that someone else will do the right thing. I’ve spent a lot of time recently re-learning that you can control your own actions and behaviors, but you can only influence the actions and behaviors of others, not control them. No amount of yelling or spanking will make you children be polite, clean up, or respect others, but you can model that behaviors and try to influence them. Similarly, you (or your mom) couldn’t clean Kim’s house and expect her to not “go wrong”; you could only demonstrate what a normal world was like and encourage her to right herself.

    As to the last few paragraphs, step back and ask yourself if you just want to mess up, or if you want to mess things up. You father and Bubbie messed up, and then they made a conscious choice to permanently mess things up by avoiding you. Kim didn’t just mess up, she completely messed things up and ruined her life. Some mistakes are recoverable; others aren’t. If you want to break the cycle of history, learn from their mistakes; you are not doomed to repeat them.

Comments are closed.