For trauma sufferers as well as survivors, the burden of truth is often a difficult pill to swallow. In a recent dilemma, I have been stretched and squeezed into a mode of discomfort when it comes to decision-making.
My only niece is to be married in late October. RSVPs were due yesterday, and I have yet to respond.
Since parental alienation ended in the total estrangement of my only daughter, it has been increasingly difficult to assemble a rhythm of clear decision-making. It is particularly true for otherwise “easy” decisions. My brain is in an utter tangle, yet there exists a consistency of love, disappointment, obligation, and duty. As a trauma survivor, my brain has built a complex structure of defense mechanisms, actually solidifying past behaviors and patterns to which I always get to the same destination. Avoidance.
I love my niece with all of my heart and am so happy for her and her fiance. I want nothing more than to spend time with them on their special day, but I must be mindful of the unavoidable pitfalls of attending.
The burden of truth, in simpler terms, is aligned with my core beliefs, particularly one of honesty. Should I attend the wedding, all of my family will be there. Further, I will undoubtedly be introduced to all of the members of the family my niece is marrying into. This means I will have to give innumerable handshakes, hugs, pleasantries, and god-awful forced smiles. These are the worst kind – and in an essence lying. That’s the part I struggle with because I do not want to be disingenuous – I’d rather just not be there at all.
Plus, I will get the same question or two over and over and my mind will rambunctiously fumble formerly planned responses.
“How are you?” Option 1: I’m shitty, lonely, isolated, and spend most of my time untangling a grossly unprepared mind. My body and my mind have been broken, permanently. Option 2: I am hanging in there (lie). Option 3: Things are good (worse lie).
The other is some combination of “How is Maya?” or “Anything new happening with your daughter?” (Some of the family know I am alienated from my daughter, though I am not confident they can truly understand the ramifications of this family disease and the broken levees it leaves on another soul, as it is unnatural) Option 1: I don’t know (an uncomfortable truth). Option 2: Maya is codependent on her alienator, the one she has always considered her “greatest ally” She has suffered more emotional pain than anyone I have ever known.
None of these responses are good. Not a single one.
The truth is – at this very moment there are only a few places where I feel comfortable:
Home on my couch
My home handball court at Phipps Park (despite having had to mostly retire from playing)
It is my cross to bear and I haven’t made a decision. I’ve been harping on this from the day I first received the save the date, a year ago.
This is my burden and it is also my truth.
Paul Michael Marinello serves as a writer and blog editor for CPTSD Foundation. Previous to this role he managed North American Corporate Communications at MSL, a top ten public relations firm where he also served on the board for Diversity & Inclusion for a staff of 80,000. Paul Michael grew up in New York and attended SUNY Farmingdale before starting a ten-year career at Columbia University. He also served as Secretary and Records Management Officer for the Millwood Fire District, appointed annually by an elected board of fire commissioners from 2008 – 2017.