My relationship with my paternal grandfather was very complicated throughout most of my life. I was not able to have many authentic moments with him before he passed away in April 2016. Growing up in my house with the kind of mother I have, it was difficult, to say the least. My mother is a narcissist and has BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and for this reason is unable to have healthy relationships with anyone, including herself as she believes the whole universe revolves around her. My mother controlled every aspect of my life and didn’t let me do anything that I wished, like visiting my father’s side of the family. She tried instigating fights and told me not to see or visit with my paternal grandparents. As a child, I was raised to follow orders and not question authority. Naturally, not knowing any better, my brother and I listened to her, which gradually led to us not being able to build much of a connection with our father’s side of the family. Many of my life experiences relate to the emotions and experiences Simba, from the film Lion King, faced.
My grandfather passed away when I was 19 years old, the year I officially left home for the first time. As a child, I was always eager and excited to grow up and to become an adult. In the film Lion King, as a cub, Simba was always very curious about the world and wanted to explore. He wanted freedom from his dad’s kingdom. He was not to wander off to the dark shadowlands, where there is nothing but darkness. I feel that I relate to this, as my mother did not allow me to go anywhere and was very controlling. I couldn’t wait to grow up and become an adult so that I, just like Simba, could leave the “kingdom” of control. Leaving home for the first time was exciting but also scary, as I had wandered off into the dark shadowlands where there is darkness.
I myself was also warned and told not to wander off to these lands by my controlling mother. In a lot of ways, my mother is like Mufasa’s brother, Scar. Ironically, she also has a deep scar on her eyebrow. Scar wanted to become king, but in order for him to get the crown, Simba would have to step down from the throne. He was obsessed with power and would do anything to do so. Similarly, my mother shares these characteristics as well and will stop at nothing to get what she wants, especially her “throne.” She can control anyone and anything to gain all positive outcomes that benefit herself only. On several occasions, my mother has caused many chaotic scenes like Scar did when he got the hyenas to chase after the animals to produce the stampede. During the chaos, Mufasa is told by Scar that Simba is stuck on a tree directly below the nervous animals. Similarly, my mother creating chaos in the house distracted us from what was really happening. In one way or another, my mother used each member of my immediate family to her advantage. By doing so, she would pin each of us individually against one another, as well as pin us against our father’s side of the family. This is one major reason why I sadly couldn’t build a relationship with my paternal grandfather. Through all the chaos caused by her, I was being brainwashed that my grandfather was a toxic person, but the reality is, he wasn’t, it was my mom that was. During her entire life, she has always taken things from others rather than giving. As a child, I felt spoiled because I received gifts, new clothes, a new cell phone, but underneath all this, was a selfish being. Although she would give us gifts, she was not afraid to take them away. If we disobeyed her, we were punished, and taking our “toys” away was part of it. This is a part of the manipulation tactics she uses on others to get as she wishes. She would make me feel special through gifts as a way of keeping me on her side. In order to maintain this, during difficult times she would use guilt and make me feel bad to lure me back in. This is another major reason why I couldn’t build a bond with my grandfather since I was constantly being influenced and manipulated to always choose her side.
Moving out of the family home for the first time since I was born was a big change for me, but I learned many things that made me into the strong and independent person that I am today. I learned that hard work pays off, as you cannot become successful until you are willing to put in hours of hard work first. Similarly, Simba had to learn to be independent after being his mother’s baby. I had no choice but to become independent after moving out for the first time. I got a job right away, got an apartment, attended school full time, and also began to pay for everything myself. This was a hard adjustment compared to the life I was used to, where I had to rely on my mother for everything in my life. As a teenager and young adult, she didn’t want me to have a part-time job whatsoever, as this would mean she would lose her control over me because I would be financially independent. Simba began his life having his mother feed him, protect him, and nurture him. This resembles my life as well because I had to rely on my mother for everything, such as food, clothing, technology, money, even my freedom relied on her. When Simba was a teenager and was banished by Scar, he too learned independence, as well as made new friends along the way. He was meant to go on that journey as that is what his path was chosen to be. I believe the same can be said about my own life, I was meant to be on this journey. I’ve rebuilt many old bonds but also made many new ones. As a teenager, there are friends that I lost touch with because of my mother’s control and manipulation, but as an adult, managed to repair these broken ties. I’ve become very close to my father’s side of the family, although I never got to see my grandfather again due to his passing. I truly believe he knows that I love him dearly and that I would’ve loved to build a close relationship with him.
I miss my grandfather every day and although I did not have many memories with him, I cherish what we had. I was not able to grieve for him when he passed away and reflecting back, I feel emotional and grieve for him now. I cannot bring him back, but I can remember him for who he was and know he is in a better place. Much like Simba when his father passed, I could not save my grandfather. Although he was a raging alcoholic and a chain-smoker for nearly four decades, he never gave upon us. As a toddler when my parents were constantly arguing, and my dad was getting pushed over the edge by my mother to the point where he wanted to leave, my grandfather always comforted and talked to him. He explained that he cannot just leave the family, as this would not be beneficial for his children. Although my dad wanted to break free from the narcissism on many occasions, he thankfully chose to stay because of my grandfather’s advice. My brother and I were both very young at the time, had it not been for my grandfather’s advice to my dad, how knows what my life would’ve been at this point.
Recently, I had a very realistic dream about my grandfather. I was standing outside, looking into my apartment window, and watched three figures immerge from the shadows, they were old men, whom I did not recognize as they walked around my apartment. I was in shock and horrified, I had no idea who these men were and what they were doing. Before I could question it further, I felt a soft warm presence behind me. As I turn around, I see a tall slender old man wearing a toga-like wrap around his waist, and a worn-out plaid scarf that was so thin you could see light shining through it. As I look into this old man’s deep-set eyes, my heart stops beating because I realized that it is my grandfather, whom I have not seen since July 2009. His body appeared as if he was glowing; a warm, orange glow with heat coming off of him. He was standing beside the window of my apartment and was smiling at me. I was in shock as his presence felt so real to me. I then reached out to touch his arm, not being able to grasp he was standing here beside me, and then he faded into the air. This dream is significant to me because it reminds me that my grandfather is always with me no matter what. Regardless of what I’m doing or how I’m feeling, whether it’s accomplishing major goals, working long, hard days at the clinic, or even on bad days crying, I know his presence is always with me. I never had the closest relationship with my grandfather before he passed away because of my mother, but I will always cherish the few moments I shared with him. He was a hard-working man and always cared for his family, despite the dysfunction. He was an alcoholic and a smoker, but he never failed to put a smile on my face. He is my family and I will always love him. I will miss him and believe he is at peace now. I will always honor him and make him proud. I want to follow his footsteps and bring joy to others as he brought to me. I will work hard my entire life, just as he did. Through my education and hard work, for future generations, I want to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma that runs within both sides of my family. Regardless of my own hardships in life, he is the reason why I choose to keep going each and every day, I aspire to be just like him. I believe that everything in my life has happened for a reason and to conclude, perhaps his death is the reason why I was able to gain the strength to break free from my mom’s control. His presence is what continues to keep me going every day.