I was out walking yesterday and I trod on a rancid fallen pear. My instinct wasn’t to look down at the offending fruit, but to look up accusingly at the branches of the tree it came from. It made me think of the old saying about how the apple (or in this case, pear) never falls far from the tree. This in turn led me to ponder my life story, and quiz myself on how much my family has influenced where I am today and to what extent my current situation has resulted from my own choices.
In my time at the treatment centre, I talked to a lot of people on the addictions programme. Their schedule was full on and they had a lot of paperwork to do. A key part of this was writing and presenting their life story, starting with their earliest memory and running up to the present day.
I always thought this was a needlessly painful and arduous task, but on reflection, I think it might be really insightful. Particularly as I have reached a point at which all of my historic relationships need to be reevaluated.
In the past week, I have completely broken off all contact with members of my family. I have done this to protect myself. It seems as though every time I speak to them, I am dragged into a tangled web of guilt, obligation and feeling responsible for taking care of everyone’s feelings except my own.
Last week, I had a tough conversation with my sister. She shared the fantastically unhelpful news that if I were to report my brother to the police for sexually abusing me in childhood, my parents would get divorced as a consequence. I was devastated. I felt ashamed for even considering it an option. How could I pursue a course of action that would ultimately tear my family apart?
I instantly wanted to self-harm after this call. I wanted to punish myself for bringing pain to the people I love the most. In fact, I didn’t even think about it, it was an instinctive response. Because I don’t see myself as the victim and my brother as the perpetrator. I see myself as some kind of Dementor (pardon the Harry Potter reference), sucking the life and joy out of my family. Perhaps that comes from an over-inflated ego, maybe I overestimate the impact I have on people. But I feel like that rotten fruit. The sickly precursor to decay in the thriving tree.