Things are slowly getting better. I go through cycles every day of feeling bad about myself for having such a mediocre job, not knowing how in the world I will ever get out of this monetary rut I’ve been in for so long. Then I feel like I should be grateful for having ~any~ job, no matter how overqualified I am for the position. Also, working at a sub shop takes me back to the days only a year ago when my father owned a Quiznos and it took so much out of me to help him. I clean tables and I wash dishes in the exact way I would at Quiznos but back then I was so angry. Working with my dad was never easy which is why he only employed a few people at a time which, obviously, had to do with why the business failed, because nothing anyone ever did was good enough or up to his standards (flashback: his reaction to everything I’ve ever done in my entire life) so of course it was rough for me. But now, I work for another company doing the same thing except less managing and less free food whenever I want it. And I get sad because the work is so easy and I resent myself for being such a fucking princess bitch and not giving 100% when my dad so badly needed me. I should have tried harder. I should have been there when he was desperate for help. Going back and forth between such extreme feelings has me so mentally and emotionally tired.
Seeing someone, especially a member of your immediate family, wasting their life and literally fading away from reality more and more every day rips your insides apart like nothing else you could ever imagine. A feeling no romantic heartache could beat, a feeling no other kind of sadness could ever replace.
I remember being an angsty middle and highschooler and all I could do to avoid my parents constant yelling was to hide in my room listening to Kittie or Blink 182 or System of a Down and eventually Dashboard Confessional really loud, memorizing and analyzing every line to drown everything else out. The yelling outside of my room and the reeling inside of my head haunted me and all I could do was hide.
Now, there is less noise but more reminders. I walk in and within seconds, no matter how happy I am, everything turns to shit but this time I have no room of my own to hide in. Just thoughts that slowly lead me to think maybe I’d be better off sleeping on the floor of my moms walk in closet.
My brother has been away for almost three weeks and it’s been killing me. He’s been barely eating and as a result has lost ten pounds. My brother is already unhealthily skinny. I myself have been having trouble eating just knowing that he’s starving. But it’s his own choice, I suppose.
Up until yesterday I was unsure whether or not everything that’s been happening is for the best. I hoped it would be. I wished it would change him. And today, I was sent a sign. A sign that assured me he’s going to be okay.
Tonight, during a phone call, I told him I loved him as I do every time we say goodbye. But tonight was different. Tonight he said I love you too.
I miss eating on the floor and using my hands to scoop rice and vegetables into my pita bread. I miss drinking tea at least twice an hour. I miss the call to prayer even though I never participated. I miss my grandma asking me if I’m hungry every thirty seconds. I miss sleeping on the floor. I miss my hard headed father and my giggly cousins. I miss walking to the bazaar at midnight to get baklava and walnuts for a midnight snack. I miss being surrounded by at least twenty loving souls at all times. I miss the cats that roam around the streets scared to death that the neighborhood kids will throw rocks at them. I miss the sound of goats being slaughtered outside my window.
I do not miss shitting into a hole in the ground.
I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen my father happy. I can count with 3 fingers the amount of times I’ve got a positive phone call from him. I can’t, however, remember one single time where he’s said he’s proud of me. At my college graduation I saw him smiling and I knew he was proud, but he would never admit it. He would never admit to supporting my decision to move away from him. To this day he thinks the only reason I went to college was to become an alcoholic and a whore. It pains me to know that no matter how hard I try to be a decent human being and a caring person I know he will never truly know me. Everything I do and say gets misinterpreted and wrongly translated into something negative. I am slowly realizing that trying to live up to expectations is breaking me down and emotionally killing me, because no matter what people will believe what they will want to believe and will always be judgmental. It’s times like these when I wish I could be a cold, heartless bitch who didn’t let anything affect her, but after years of trying I just cannot.
Yesterday I got a phone call from my father telling me he is going to close the store on Saturday. For good. After 5 years of hell, he’s finally giving up. Although I know he knows deep down it’ll be better for him (because his health has been compromised and he’s going through intense depression), he doesn’t see it that way. His dream is to own a store and have his children work for him and one day take over. Of course, neither me or my brother’s dreams involve owning a Quiznos, so his expectations have been shattered year after year.
“I’m sorry, but this is going to be so much better for you.” I said, trying to be supportive. All he could tell me, with the saddest tone of voice I’ve ever heard him speak to me with since his brother died, was “I don’t want to give up on my dream, but my dream is killing me.”
Having to hear my father sound and feel so defeated is a paralyzing feeling I’ve been carrying with me since we spoke. It’s way overdue, we all know, but it’s still sad to hear my dad so hopeless.
Expectations are the root of all evil, I think, and also the root of why my father was never satisfied with how his life turned out. I want to open his eyes and make him see that a) his life isn’t over and b) he is truly blessed.
I don’t care if he’s outwardly proud of me because I’m aware how impossible it is. But I will do my best to be proud of myself and I know that deep down he will be proud too. Until then, I want to show him the simple beauty in life that he’s been hiding from. Baseball games, walks along the beach, and having actual stress free conversations with people. I want to see him laugh so bad. And maybe one day he won’t consider us his kids that disappointed him.
Two weeks ago my mother left my father. I never thought it would happen. Neither did he. It should have happened when I was 4 years old. It should have, but it didn’t. Because of never ending reasons, including sympathy and a flawed sense of responsibility, she stayed for 20 years longer than she should have. Staying together for the kids has its ups and downs. Some people’s opinions are that if they had separated earlier my brother and I wouldn’t be so fucked up. Either way, how it happened is how it happened. Everything just dragged along and the hate just kept growing until we all burst and there was no love left. Looking at it from this perspective, and having thought about this issue for …my entire fucking life…I realize that it was a little bit of everyone’s fault as is normal for most situations. You can’t blame one person, everything that happened was a result of joint responsibility and effort.
I think we, as a family, have taken a total of two vacations together. All together…all 4 of us, twice. Once my dad drove us from Florida to the west coast of Canada and across the whole country to Montreal, then down the east coast of the U.S back to Florida. Another time was when we all flew to Germany together. All I remember about both of those trips are that my parents barely spoke. All I remember about my whole life is that my parents barely spoke and if they did, it was never ever loving. My dad has always been an angry person, as a result of war trauma and being part of a civilization/culture that has never been recognized as independent. A civilization that has been a victim of mass murder/genocide since he was a child. For these reasons, my mother spent twenty years feeling bad for him. For these reasons and the fact that “we didn’t turn out like he expected” he suffers from a deep depression that, to be honest, I have never seen him out of.
The thing about what I remember is that I’m pretty sure I repressed 90% of my childhood memories because they make me so sad. I could tell you that my parents fought all of the time, but I have almost no recollection of it because it became such a norm. Talking meant fighting and after a while they turned into the same thing.
I wish my father could realize that it’s not all my mother’s fault. I wish he wasn’t so hard headed and that he was more open minded. I wish he realized he needed some sort of counseling if there was ever going to be a chance that our family would be a real family. I wish he would listen but he never has and it got to a point where both my mother and I could just not do it. Living under the same roof as my father and brother is emotional torture and after years of being pushed to the limit, we made moves (literally).
Things have been especially hard for me, feeling like I’m in the middle and not being sure how to act. It took 2 weeks for me to come home and say something to my dad, for fear of how he’d react or what he’d accuse me of. I walked inside today and he was lying on the couch saying he felt awful. My dad looks more corpse-like every day and if it were possible for him to sound any less enthused when he spoke, he would. Us moving out is not a solution, but it’s what my mother and I needed..especially her. She deserves to not feel uncomfortable in her home. We deserve to not be woken up at 3am to my dad arguing or yelling. Although my dad may not realize it now, the 4 of us not being under the same roof anymore is best for everyone.
But for some reason, I feel a huge sense of remorse and sadness about the situation. Not only because we left the house I spent my entire life living in, not because I miss my father calling me and basically harassing me anytime I left the house and was out past midnight, but because of how depressed my father is. No matter how much I know, realistically, it’s not my fault and it’s not something I can control, it’s all I can think about. One of my biggest flaws is my desire to save people. Unfortunately the only person I can save right now is myself. And I need to…so bad.
Zhiar is my aunt (pura) Nazanin’s son. I felt a bond with him like no other when I went to visit my father’s side of the family in Kurdistan this summer. He was the sweetest and goofiest kid and I loved being around him. Although he’s just 9 years old, I was content with spending my days with him. I miss the simplicity of it. Our favorite thing to do together was play dominoes (domina). Over and over and over and he would sometimes cheat and I’d always catch him and he’d give me this cute little smirk that said “shhh, don’t tell anyone” and most of the time I wouldn’t. We’d go for walks onto the roof of my Nana’s house and he’d tell me random stories as we looked onto the surrounding mountains. He always wanted to be next to me or around me and it made me feel so special. Everyone over there made me feel so special. If you were to walk into a house in Kurdistan you’d see that every person (old or young) carries prayer beads with them. Zhiar gave me one of his and showed me how to use it. Allah, Allah, Allah and you repeat it each time you move the bead along the string.
Although I was unable to have full conversations with Zhiar, he is one of the people that made the most impact on me during the trip. His warmth and compassion which I could feel not by the words we shared but by the looks he gave me and the hugs and kisses he’d give me- is something I could never forget and something that I miss every second that I can’t be around to share my bread with him when I’m not hungry or teach him how to say things in English or even play bootleg video games with him on Playstation. I miss this little boy something fierce but what I miss most of all is when he’d say “you my sister” with the biggest smile on his face.
Currently missing the hell out of Kurdistan. Even the
bad less awesome parts like there not being any toilets or eating the same food every day or getting dizzy in the car or my dad treating me like a 12 year old. I miss my cousins a lot.