According to the Chinese calendar, we are currently wrapping up the year of the rooster.
I think following the Chinese calendar might be just what I need, considering the first few weeks of 2018 have been a little un-fun for me.
The first week was actually pretty OK. 2017 ended on a hopeful note, with my father recovering well from a stroke he had suffered in the late summer and my brother taking back control over his life by deciding to move back to where he grew up, in Ireland.
The idea was that he would re-connect with his younger self and the values he had been instilled with by his mother (we are step-siblings). It sounded like a good idea at the time and I was especially happy he was choosing where he wanted to go himself and going through all the motions (and paperwork) to make the move abroad possible.
Sadly, his addiction got the better of him quite quickly and quite heavily, causing him to be involved in an accident, probably caused by him (all though I’m not sure he sees it that way just yet). Any progress he had made in recent months was destroyed, and more, he has to face all sorts of financial, social and legal consequences. In short: stressful.
My brother called me a week or so after all this happened and confessed most of the story to me. He sounded angry, sad, disappointed and confused. Making excuses and simultaneously admitting and denying the one thing I have been waiting for him to say: I need help.
He asked me to not tell my parents about what had happened, but added “all though they expect me to fuck up anyway…”.
Then, after not having heard from him for several days (and me not reaching out) an uncle of his called me and asked me how much I knew about my brother’s situation. After I told him what I knew, he asked when I had last heard from him, which turned out to be about the last time he had been in contact as well.
The additional info I got from his uncle: My brother had bought a crappy old car and told people around him he was heading back to the Netherlands to get professional help. The fact that he had not told anyone here that he was coming and the fact that nobody had heard from him in several days made all the alarms go off.
For the first time in my life I felt my heart quiver out of control, while sitting motionless on a chair. I sent him a message and went through every possible scenario. For about two hours, I thought my brother was probably dead….
Even when he texted me back, my mind raced on. The reality of his re-existence suddenly felt more complicated than the momentary possibility that he might be gone forever. Needless to say, that realization made me feel horrible…
I felt guilty (which is one of my talents, I must admit).
- I felt guilty for feeling that nano-sliver of disappointment when he turned up.
- I felt guilty for not being able to run to his aid, but not really wanting to either.
- I felt guilty for forcing other (extremely sweet and good hearted) people to deal with him.
- I felt guilty for keeping it a secret from my parents.
- I felt guilty for telling my mother anyway, forcing her to lie to my dad and adding more things onto her list of things to lie awake over at night.
- I felt guilty for not offering up my house to my brother as a landing spot, when he let me know he might be coming back to the Netherlands.
- I felt guilty for implicitly asking my boyfriend to carry the load of my family drama.
- I felt guilty for hardly having the head space to listen to the answer to my “how was your day?”; especially when the answer was more complicated than “fine”.
- I felt guilty for emptying out my brain sewage on the laps of my favorite people in this world; people with so much empathy in their beautiful hearts that it is almost inevitable that my state of mind also affected them negatively.
- I felt guilty for losing control and not being able to fake it.
So, forget the Gregorian calendar. Enter Chinese year 4715! And the year of the dog is coming up. I like dogs. Dogs like me. I understand dogs. Dogs are fun. Dogs are goofy and bring out my inner clown (in a non psycho kind of way). This is good!
So, I’m gearing up my backpack for the adventures the year of the dog might throw at me and filling it with:
- A compass, that points towards what is good for me.
- My journal,
- to be filled with small and frequent brain dumps, as to not fill up the brain buffer and empty out the cache.
- to plan my life better and have (the possibility to create) more order in the chaos.
- to keep the blog-juices flowing.
- Scooby snacks, to keep myself and the dog smiling.
- A lot of room for new experiences and lessons.