When I was 12 years old, my parents sat down with my siblings and me and told us they were getting a divorce. The date was February 13th.
The date isn’t something I’ve thought of for many years. At the time, I remember thinking it sadly comic that my parents were announcing their divorce the day before Valentine’s Day, a day meant for love and romance.
Until yesterday, I don’t think I ever had a conscious thought about it again.
Yesterday morning, out of nowhere, I remembered. I remembered how horrible it was to be told my world was being ripped apart and nothing would ever be the same again. I remember my little sister crying and my little brother confused, and I remember that I went numb. I had no feelings, because I had no ability to grasp the enormity of what was happening.
Those feelings are still in me, all the time. This constant knowledge that at any moment, my world could be completely turned on it’s head and my 12 year old self, with no previous experience, knowledge of self, or ability to articulate complex emotion, might be left having to figure out how to pick up the pieces.
While my father made a point to only move 3 blocks away, he still left me. It became my role to help my mother with the kids and be her emotional support while she worried about money and what our lives would become. I forgave my father years ago and we are once again close, but I was angry with him for years. He left me all alone, with no emotional support and nobody to parent me.
These are the feelings February brings about. Feelings of abandonment, of too much responsibility, of bewilderment. Of, on some level, betrayal.
February is a huge mound of suck anyway. Valentine’s Day makes someone who feels inherently unlovable feel more alone and unloved than any other day possibly could. Combine it with feelings of abandonment from a parent, and it’s no wonder that the month might bring on a deep depression. For me, there’s also the Narcissist’s birthday, which can easily trigger another round of painful, soul-wounding memories.
The thing is, and the thing it’s crucial I remember, is my February survival rate is 100%. True, some years have been more iffy than others, but I’ve always made it through to see the better times that lie ahead.
This year, I am proud that I am achieving previously unheard of levels of self-awareness, levels that a few years ago would have seemed unfathomable. I understand my feelings, own them and am accepting of them, and am doing all I can to self-regulate and achieve stability and health.
The Nothing still wants me, still chases me, still snatches at me and tries to pull me into it’s clutches whenever I let my guard down for even a moment. Sometimes, I stop fighting and I allow it to embrace me. It’s a horrible embrace. Like being hugged and held by somebody you know doesn’t care, somebody who in your heart you know wishes evil upon you.
It’s so awful that it motivates me to keep fighting.
I keep finding things to do to help me avoid the Nothing, and I understand I’ve reached a point where not just Anything will work. I have to be more focused and intentional. I can’t only stay busy. I have to know there are happier things in my life and actively take steps to remind myself of them.
Dumplings from a favorite Chinese restaurant. The sequel to “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” on Netflix. Brunch with friends. Dreaming of travel I plan to do someday. And so on.
There are only a couple of weeks left in February. I can do this.