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  • Writer's pictureLizzy Shannon

Out of the fog

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

I was beginning to fear I’d never write in my blog again! When things get a bit rough in my life, I clam up and find I can’t share.

A belated explanation: I have just surfaced after a few extremely difficult years. In a nutshell, I returned to live in Northern Ireland full time in 2017 to help my elderly father. He quickly descended into dementia, which in my opinion is the absolute worst thing to happen to a person. Without going into details, I pretty much had a breakdown. There’s a name for it: caregiver burnout. Then Dad died in November 2019, and I began to prepare my return to Oregon. Then I decided to postpone leaving because my nephew was getting married in Spring of 2020. And we all know what happened that year ... Covid. Consequently, I ended up waiting a few months to return.

At first, I was so relieved to be safe at home, away from the terrible memories of Dad’s affliction. I was overwhelmingly grateful, even though I missed my family and friends in Northern Ireland. Only then did I begin to process the past few years. That’s when the problems began. I sank into despair. That’s the only word to describe it. I despaired that I couldn’t help Dad more; I felt I failed him.

Ours is a complicated family. Isn’t everyone’s? It’s just that now both of my parents have died, I have time for intense and proper introspection. Only now could I find out who I actually am. Fortunately, I’m still me! But now I can see with painful clarity how damaging the early dynamics in my family were. Children learn their behavior from their parents. I won’t go into the nature versus nurture debate; I agree we are probably born with our own foibles! But how you deal with generally navigating life is surely learned by observing those closest to us.

Both my parents had quick tempers. They were not physically demonstrative, except for a peck on the cheek to say goodnight. They never praised their children, and only seemed to criticize. Both were emotionally unavailable, particularly my father. All the details are probably worth going into in another blog, so perhaps I'll share them at a later date.

The result is that I blundered through life, making the classic mistakes that the children of emotionally abusive parents make. Abandonment issues. Insecurity. No self-confidence, no idea really of who you are and what you want from life. Until these past three years of self-reflection, I never knew why I behaved the way I did throughout my life. Nothing criminal or dangerous. But so many cringe-worthy memories that are so difficult to forgive or forget.

Of course there are lots of great memories too, but I’m concentrating on this new insight. I’m learning to forgive myself now that I understand. I’ve begun to feel great compassion for myself, which is something I never knew how to do before. Or that it was even possible!

I’d say I’ve finally emerged from the fog. What’s next, is the question. I’m looking forward to finding out!

With Dad and his dog, Cooper.


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