A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Rest In Peace Dad

My father died around 4am this morning.  I had just seen and talked to him on Friday afternoon through the audiovisual program called FaceTime for Apple products.  He seemed in good spirits and I was planning to talk to him that way once a week, but then the phone rang at 4:30am this morning.  I got a message saying that my father had died rather suddenly and the nursing home needed to know what funeral home we were going to be using.  I didn't call back.  Three hours later they tried to reach me again and I did pick up.  I had needed those three hours to work through my emotions which I had been trying to push down again.  I still haven't cried.  Tomorrow I will have to make many calls and then inform my fathers long time friends about his death.

I wrote about my father not too long ago on Father's Day in June.  Today, after not having gotten a lot of sleep, I feel not only tired, but physically ill and, naturally, depressed and I'm not sure if I can write this blog entry.  I think I need to try anyway.  I have only told one person via texting, a woman from my Al-Anon group who recently lost her father, too.  All she could do was give me a little support and sympathy.  I haven't even told my brother yet.  I'm not quite ready for this to be real.  Tomorrow I will have no choice.  I will have to make all the calls despite my phone phobia.

(A few hours later...)

I haven't been able to get through to my brother, which is frustrating, but I have to let go and let God for now and wait.  I'm feeling a bit unstable.  Tomorrow I see my therapist.  If I need to I might see her twice this week and then next Monday, too.  My father is gone, but I'm still here and I need to take care of myself by reaching out for contact with others.  If I see my therapist and call up friends in the AA/Al-Anon program and maybe one of my childhood friends, too, and focus on healing activities like painting, writing, singing, I should be all right.  I know I'll get through this.  My distress is a golden opportunity to practice recovery attitudes and behaviors.

Repeatedly today I've turned to gratitude.  Gratitude that my father was only in the beginning stage of dementia.  Gratitude that he died quickly.  Gratitude that he lived a good, long life mostly in health.  Gratitude for his kind and intelligent and generous spirit.  Gratitude that I loved him and he loved me.      Yes, I feel sad that we didn't bond more closely, but I can accept that because he gave me so much anyway.  I've heard a lot of incredibly hard stories to listen to or read about people who had terrible relationships with one or both parents, but I was blessed not to have that experience.  My parents taught the importance of courtesy and honesty through their example and they were such bright and knowledgeable people.  Sometimes it was a joy to be around them, just to listen to them talk.  The emotional neglect that I went through from them was never intentional neglect.  That's so important, the intention behind speech and actions and their intentions seemed always honorable to me.

It wasn't that they had no emotional/mental sickness in them.  They could be obsessive/compulsive, codependent and controlling like many of us, but much of their spirits remained relatively innocent and open.  They had some of the best aspects of being big kids and yet they remained very responsible adults.  After I became ill many times it was a comfort to visit them.  Their homes were clean and organized and inviting.  They helped people out while doing the things that they enjoyed such as traveling together and eating out at good restaurants.   Their generosity to my brother and me was rather unusual in that it was so devoted to us.  Unfortunately too much generosity led to an unhealthy dependency for me.  It allowed me to withdraw into my isolated world and get very sick there.  But still, I was an adult nonetheless and I chose my own path.  They didn't have control over that, only I did.

I was proud of them and proud to follow them in the ways of courtesy, humor, honesty and intellectual curiosity.  I believe I'll carry those parts of them in me until the day that I die.  So on this day of sadness and depression, I also feel a lot of love and do believe their spirits are somewhere good going to somewhere better.  May you be well Mom and may you be well Dad as you both continue on your journey.

Edwin A Kiernan Jr   8/2/1926 to 7/12/2015

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