Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Winning the Emotional Lottery

My father never talked about his childhood.  He didn’t talk about growing up or what it was like in his household with a single mother in the 60’s and 70’s.  He never talked about his mother.  He never talked about his father. He never talked about his siblings.

I don’t know 90% of my father’s family of origin. Most certainly more.

Once, when my wife and I were over there some years ago, he let slip that he’d done “hard” drugs and alcohol in his early adulthood years (mostly teens if I’m remembering that right).  When pressed, he clammed up and didn’t speak about it again and made it clear that he wasn’t going to talk about it.  He said that he didn’t need to go into details of his childhood because I didn’t need to know about the “crazy” stuff he did. 

Why did I want to know, he asked. 
Because I want to know you, I responded. 
He clammed up even more.

Another time, long before I met and married my wife, I can remember him telling me about how he witnessed his father hit his mother brutally, and then how his father ran away from that family only to turn up 35 years later with a long lost sister in the deep south.  I think they thought he was dead.  My father never talked about how he felt when all this happened though, he just recited it as facts and I suspect that was part of his defense mechanism to protect his little self. 

Now that I think of it, I’m actually a little surprised my father didn’t go around beating his wives and girlfriends.  What kind of kid/adult would he have been if he was able to actually deal with his origins then?

Infinitely better than he is now I suspect…

So what I gather is that my father’s father was an ingrate: a white trash piece of slime that liked to beat his wife and his kids, and possibly whatever else he saw breathing.  I’m sure he was a cheater, an addict of various sorts, and perhaps a Narc.  Or a sociopath.  Or a psychopath.

Whatever way, I don’t know my father’s father’s first name, so I can’t even do a search on the interweb for him.  But anyway, it then doesn’t really surprise me that my father acted the way he did, he did what he needed to, to survive (emotionally).  He never talked about anything because he either was ashamed of it, or it was too much for him to bear. 

It’s no surprise that my father turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with whatever catastrophes he suffered as a child.  It was his only avenue at that time since he saw his father do it, and probably his mother too.  His mother died of a stroke a decade ago.  I don’t remember him being all that sad about it…

That’s not to say he wasn’t, but perhaps it just shows how distant he was or made himself from his family of origin – which he was.  He didn’t even talk or see his brothers unless his wife forced him to, and even then, contact they had was minimal at best.

My father is a weak person, which is the reason he found his wife and her religion so welcoming: it was an easy way out for him.  When he “found” religion, it provided him an escape, it allowed him to not look inward and fix what problems he had because his god and his faith would do that for him.  It was like he won an emotional lottery or something – where he would always be forgiven for not taking steps to fix himself because his god would do that for him. 

My father’s Emotional Lottery winnings:
Here is your emotional payment this week, my son.
Aw, thanks God, you’re swell!  Listen, I’m going to need a bit more next week, think you can swing that for me?
Absolutely.  Keep on believin’!

I want to add that I am sorry for that little person my father has inside, and it is so evident that he didn't tend to his little person, and perhaps never will.  That little guy is so raw and beaten, there may be no coming back for him and certainly my father won't look inside himself to free his caged and wounded inner child.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he'd think that was a load of garbage and he will turn and has turned to God for that kind of help.  God can't help with everything Dad, some of that's got to come from you.

My father’s mantra: Don’t talk about it, and it goes away.  Not only was I getting this message from my mother (who also came from a toxic family of origin) but it was being reinforced by my father, despite what limited contact I had with him, being the only toddler of divorced parents.

So my father didn’t want to end up like his father on some level, but what he did wasn’t healthy either.  My physical needs were met: food, water, shelter.  And to my father, that was infinitely better than what he had and then I became “privileged” because my father didn’t have those things.  THEN, I owed my father.  Yes, he though, I owed him because I was privileged enough to not be beaten, to have food and water, and a place to sleep.  AND because I had not one, but TWO male father figures in my life, and he didn’t have ANY.

My father is a contradiction too.  On one hand he’s expressing his desire to have a relationship with me, but on the other, he’s expressed that my thoughts, opinions, feelings aren’t valid, that I’ve conjured them up from some faraway abyss.  A relationship will not work if there is no mutual respect, and my father does not respect me.  I’m just a silly man-boy with limited Familial and Life Intelligence.

I believe his faith reinforced some of these issues, especially with (and I’ve touched on this before) “honor thy father and thy mother”, and “judge not lest you be judged”, and “I’m faith-based, everyone else is wicked and needs saving”, and “forgiveness is righteous”.   I suppose I could go on and on.  Point is, these notions don’t work for everyone, and with me in particular, but since he’s the father, he knows best, right?

Nonsense.  Absolute nonsense.

I feel like all he does is hide behind his faith and somehow that exonerates him from having to do any work.

It really shouldn’t be that way.  Especially if he expects to have a relationship with his son – which the more time passes, I’m thinking he doesn’t – he wants ME to have a relationship with HIM.

Lame.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Wait till u hear her story"

So I haven't spoken to my father since this and even then I didn't really speak with him.  Over time he's sent me various voice mails attempting to sweep my feelings and my letter under the rug, claiming that throwing away my blood family "is not a good idea", and by simply not addressing any issues of concern at all.

I've not responded to his efforts of contact and to date I have not heard from him since well before Thanksgiving.

Until today.  Today I found the following message in my email with the subject line, Life:

It's truly a real shame and a tragedy LSV that for what ever reason that  you  conjured up, or should I say you and [wife], and I apologize for any misspelling, to take away, and in some cases make enemies of, your self and your new family from your side of family. You have no good reason to act this way LSV. Nobody beat you like my dad did to me and would draw blood till I couldn't sit for taking old gum and chewing it Or kneel on rice for talking back till I couldn't kneel any more. This was all by the age of 9.  And then at 10 it made it all up to us kids by leaving us with no dad at all for the rest of my life. If that's not enough for you. Wait till u hear [my wife's] story.  Hers makes mine look like a love story.  So your excuses LSV are lame at best. Grow up and open your eyes and your heart to really see....  

We all love you so much. 
Dad

So THAT'S fun.

A million things ran through my head and I'm going to attempt to get them at least somewhat in order.

My reasons for cutting contact with people who were not healthy for me to be in a relationship with were made up, not real, and at the end, lame excuses at best.  This means that what I feel is not valid according to him and I don't have any clue of what I'm doing.

He clearly stated that my wife has enemies on "my side of the family" which indicates to me that he still doesn't see that my "family" is the one that I have chosen to create -- my wife and kids.

He apologizes for the misspelling of my wife's name, but I'm certain both he and his wife know exactly how to spell my wife's name now.  So no, he's not sorry, and I think it was an additional jab at me and my wife.

He asserts that simply because I wasn't beat or bloodied as a child then everything was fine.  Emotional abuse doesn't exist for this man, or anyone else he knows for that matter.  Eat, sleep, do as you're told, breathe, and everything is fine, so obey me and honor me.  That's how he thinks.  Truthfully, I didn't know much ... actually, I didn't know anything about his childhood, because he never took the time to talk to me about himself.  He was too busy pleasing everyone else, and being involved with his own family of which I was not to be a part of (his own family was is second wife and her children and their new set of friends).  I was just a kid from a failed first marriage, and I think he tried to convince himself that he should be attentive to this, his only blood son as he would say, but really, he didn't really care.  I am sorry for that little person my father has inside, and it is so evident that he didn't tend to his little person.  That little guy is so raw and beaten, there may be no coming back for him and certainly my father won't look inside himself to free his caged and wounded inner child.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he'd think that was a load of nonsense and he will turn and has turned to God for that kind of help.  God can't help with everything Dad, some of that's got to come from you.

But this was a sob story I think, to guilt me into changing my ways I suppose, his only tactic that he uses against me.  I see through it, and I wonder how much we could have connected if he opened up about his past before all his garbage forced me to end contact with him.

He wants me to "grow up" so I can "really see".  Funny thing is, I am doing just that, but, it's totally backfiring on him.  He wants me to see what HE wants, and what HE thinks.  Then of course, he ends with "we all love you so much" and yet...he's told me that I was infantile, I didn't have valid thoughts and feelings, he was attempting to manipulate me, my reasons for being are lame and fake.

What perfect time for Upsi's post about Love and Respect.  I'm not sure if he really loves me.  I believe that was just a phrase he thinks he's supposed to use. 

He can be that kind of parent and granddad to his family over there.  That's not needed or wanted in my family thankyouverymuch.

Holy Baloney.  Lots of puns intended there.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Emotional Fear And Other Things

I admitted something to myself in a recent therapy session: that I was afraid of my emotions.  I'm afraid because I don't know how to properly express them in some situations.  I'm afraid what will happen if I start to feel things that I've not known in the past.  It's a shame really, I think, being afraid of the unknown - how would we have ever gone to space, or made any discoveries.  But I guess that's speaking in generalities. 

But that's me, part of my lack of expression and suppression of emotions is that I don't know what will happen once I express them.  I even find myself holding back during therapy sessions because I'm embarrassed.  It's like this facade of my previous life is coming down and I'm trying to maintain it and I believe it's because what's behind it is this raw, damaged, being.  He's scared isn't sure how to handle that.

I find this to be very sad in more ways than one.  First, my kids.  How can their father be this miserable thing?  That's not fatherly!  I do remind myself that I am going to be the first male figure they know and will probably idolize for a time.  Although, now that I think about it - I'm not sure I ever really wanted to be like my father.  He wasn't emotionally available and was grooming me to owe him basically.  "I do for you so you can do for me" I think was his philosophy and now he and his wife hide behind their religion.  Forgiveness is everything! they say.  Judge not lest you be judged! they preach.

Well here's the thing: I don't have any problem at all with passing...assessment...on a person who got behind the wheel, drove drunk, and killed his passenger.  This person was dating my father's wife's daughter and they were oh-so-accepting of him.  Admittedly, he seemed like a fine person, but I didn't know this fact about him at the time.  And so, damn right I'll look at him differently, and should one of my kids arrive in a situation like that, I won't have a problem saying hey, listen, you killed someone when you were driving drunk and you're not going to kill my kids.

My father and his wife disagreed with my wife and I on this subject.  They won't budge and you know what, it's not our job to do that.  But then, for them to be spiteful to my wife and I is vomit-inducing.  They're preaching forgiveness and do unto others and on the other side of their mouths they're spitting fire at me and my family for what...for calling them out?  I decided some time ago that my father's "real" family was his wife and her kids.  I wasn't a part of that, no matter what he told me or how much he tried to (what I think now) pretend that I was wholly important to him as his only son.

Tangent I suppose.  But I find now, that the more time I spend away and not in contact with my mother or father (and all the other FOO) the more I can feel emotional reactions to things.  For instance, I listen to NPR daily and I end up speaking out loud now reacting to what their interviewees say or to whatever story they're running at the time.  I can't remember a time that I've done this (and I don't just mean with NPR, I mean reacting like that to anything).  The ratio of length of time separated from my FOO to my emotional reactions cannot be coincidence.  Notwithstanding that people don't start really coming into themselves and understanding a lot about themselves until mid to late twenties (which it seems now that doesn't even hold water...).

I had a dream last night that I was yelling at my mother.  I spent the whole dream just yelling at her.  I don't remember what about (though I suspect that's not important) and I don't remember what I said, I just remember anger and yelling. 

I want to be engaged in my life.  In my wife's life.  In our kids' lives.  I find myself doing that more and more these days which is utterly fantastic.  I like feeling even though I have some reservations (subconscious survival mechanisms!) and some fear about them, I still like feeling, being knowledgeable and a very little bit passionate about things.

Passion.  Now that's something I'm looking forward to fully embracing.