December 8th, 2008

Paul Neyron rose 2

incredible memoir


     Couldn't sleep.  Read Young Man from the Provinces: A Gay Life before Stonewall.  What an incredible book.  I cried at the end, which is very rare for me to do.  I could identify with the author's mental states throughout much of the book.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where there wasn't any physical abuse -- some emotional abuse, but nothing physical.  But I could understand a lot of the confusion and fear he carried from his childhood and through his twenties and thirties.  My grandfather (Dad's father) was the adult child of an alcoholic, which I found out a few years ago, and which explained a lot about his behavior.  My other grandfather has become an alcoholic in the last couple of years.  I haven't seen him since he and my step-grandmother moved to Florida years ago, so that doesn't affect me directly.  It's still sad.  Substance abuse is a major theme in the book.  I have some understanding of the reasons why people self-medicate, though that hasn't been a route I've taken.  I've never taken any illegal drugs, personally -- although I've taken some interesting combinations of legal ones.  And I've had my share of contact highs.  But the great majority of my family's dysfunction is caused by all the mental illness in the family, acknowledged and unacknowledged.  It's the confusion caused by the "everything's fine, we're a perfectly normal family" messages that creates a fair amount of the damage.  I was and am lucky to have my brother around to help me with reality checks on that front -- and I help him the same way.  When the adults in your life have a completely unreal view of the world, and mock you when you question it, it gives you a great deal of self-doubt.  Then it gives you a great deal of anger -- although some of the self-doubt is still there.  It's still upsetting to me when someone feels it necessary to try to force me to believe something contrary to the reality my brother and I agree on.