Originally started in May 2014. I finished it today Monday, 8/14/17
I remember when my father was dying, I really didn’t want to get that close to it. I was afraid of my family (mother, brother, sister) probably more than I was afraid of my father’s behavior. I was also afraid of my own feelings about the end of my father’s life.
I’d had a love hate relationship with him and it had been a little over a year since I’d done something really hateful myself. So I had a feeling that if I got close to the situation I’d be taken advantage of. And I’d let it happen since I felt I deserved it.
A year before my father became terminally ill, I’d had a nasty break up with an affair partner. We were what I think to be “supply” to each other actually. I know I was addicted and in my co-dependence I felt worthless if he didn’t want me. Yet I was completely confused about my own feelings. I wanted him sexually, yet I did not find him physically attractive.
The break came when he found someone else, whom he could live with. And he was finished with me, letting me know via text message.
But that is another story with much more detail
Just after the break up, I suffered an emotional pain I’d never felt before. Now that there is time between me and that event, I can see that I’d actually had an emotional break down. And in the fog of that, I wrote my father an email, blaming him for the kind of guy I was drawn to. I also pointed out things he’d done.
One thing in particular I remembered was a Thanksgiving Day, when I’d spent the night at B’s and went home to have dinner with my parents and my maternal uncle.
I needed a shower and asked my mother if I could use the master bathroom shower for privacy. She agreed and so I went about it. Five minutes in I could hear loud footsteps walking down the hall, the door to the bathroom slammed open so loud against the wall my heart jumped out of my chest. Next a loud booming voice said, my name, just the way I used to hear it in my childhood when my father was angry. The one that made me cringe and then freeze in place to wait for it to be over.
In obvious rage, my father asked me what i was doing? (I was in the shower so it was a fucked up question.)
I was transported back and felt like a small child again, “Mom said I could use it” I said in a small voice.”
He shouted back in that stern and seething voice of his, “Don’t do it again!”
I finished my shower, got dressed and put myself together for what I knew would be a meal of tension.
I went outside for a cigarette and my uncle followed. “How are you?” He asked.
“OK,” I lied.
How ridiculous of a question. How avoidant can you be? How much in denial and thick can someone be? We stood out there in awkward silence until I finished my cigarette and went back in.
I wanted to flee. I wanted to just go somewhere, anywhere but there. But I kept silent and I stayed.
I even knew that my friends Scott and Lisa and our friend Topher, would be having dinner with Scott’s parents a few houses down the street. But I was too embarrassed and ashamed to go there. I’d have to tell them why. Thing is, Lisa would’ve understood. I don’t know about the other two but Lisa would’ve been there for me at that time.
But then I also didn’t want to ‘intrude’ on their family get-together, despite also knowing that there was another one of our friends with them.
A friend who had moved to the area out of state, had no family in the area. It had become a tradition for him to join Scott’s family for Thanksgiving dinner. So chances are good that I would’ve been welcome. But instead I froze in place and stayed where the abuse of me had just taken place.
I sat through an awkward dinner, mostly in silence and could feel the anger of my father seething from him.
I don’t know, but as I write I’m realizing he might have had issues with my uncle, so his emotions, which could already give way to 2 year old like tantrums as it was, became even more ready to blow at the smallest perceived slight. I’m not excusing him at all. I am done with that! He was a fucking asshole and I wish there was a stronger word or name I could call him to release the hurt and anger I am feeling right now thinking about this.
But there was some indication prior to this Thanksgiving that my father had some sort of problem with my mother’s brother in the past.
One summer morning, when I was maybe 10 or 11 my family went to a farmers’ market or something and it was scorching hot when we got back in the car. At that time the family belonged to a swim club and we kids looked forward to going there every day.
This particular day my uncle would be stopping over for a visit from out of state so my mom wanted to stick around to visit with him. But she also knew we wanted to go swimming. So when we got in the car, she said to my father, “Why don’t you take the kids to the pool while I visit with my brother?”
My father sneered, “Why? is there some family secret you two want to discuss?”
I remember feeling shocked by that response and thinking even at that age, “Where the fuck did THAT come from??”
These were the things I pointed out in my email of emotion to my father. I also wrote of my confusion about his love for me. How could he love me (as he said he did repeatedly) when he treated me like this?
I remember as I wrote I was in a fog of intense emotion. I wanted his love while at the same time was craving the love of the man I’d perceived to have just abandoned me.
I sent the email to my father and also copied my mother, brother and sister.
I then did my best to disappear and since I had no car I got a ride from B to go out to the woods to play frisbee golf, be around people, smoke pot and drink beer.
At that time one of the guys that played out there had taken an interest in me and so after playing a bunch of golf, he asked me if I wanted to go get some Chinese food.
So I did.
While sitting there, finishing up, I thought I should call B and let him know what was going on. When I called him he told me my brother was there and wanted to know when I was coming home.
I knew brother was there because of the email.
My friend already knew what was going on because I’d told him about the email. He also had grown up with a narcissistic mother so he was a safe confidante. He also understood my feeling of urgency to get home and confront my brother too, so we left the restaurant pretty much right away.
He dropped me off, gave me a hug and said sincerely, “Good luck. Call me when you can.”
I went in and my brother and his girlfriend were sitting on the couch. I don’t even remember how the interaction even started. What I do remember is my brother’s rage. Condescending me for having sent the email and then going out to play disc golf.
He raged over me as I sat in a chair, looking down on me and screaming and I mean really shouting, “HOW DARE YOU!”
He minimized my feelings. Told me I should not be bringing that shit up now. That I’m old enough to take responsibility.
As he raged, B and bro’s girlfriend stood in the kitchen just looking on. B did nothing. For the longest time I had such a problem with this and kept ruminating about how the guy who’d just left me would not have allowed that. He would’ve defended me. He would’ve escorted my brother out of the house and told him that he was not going to behave that way toward me or in his house.
But as my brother shouted I told him to get the fuck out, even from my chair seated below his bellowing face, “Get the fuck out before I call the cops.”
When he finally quieted down and heard me tell him to get out, he did.
While he was out on the porch his girlfriend said to me as she got ready to go too said, “Your brother loves you.” I said, “Yeah right.” And she continued to try to convince me of this bullshit until she went for the door herself.
As she opened the door, my brother peered into the door from around the wall and put two fingers up in a peace sign and said, “Can I come back in?”
I waved him in.
We had a calmer talk and although I was receptive then, I now understand that what he was doing still was excusing my father for his behavior. He’d said it wasn’t that bad, comparing our father to other fathers he’d known of his friends that did “much worse things.”
It was well known to him that I was lost in what I really wanted to do with myself (as in for a living). Remember this was the all important message that resonated through our household when we were kids.
When I told my brother that night that I was interested in writing about pets and my knowledge gathered from pet sitting, he said, “Why? I have dogs. I feed ’em, let ’em out, who cares?”
I just kind of chuckled as I looked down. I think you could call that a shame based reaction.
Then he told me, “The one thing I noticed about that email despite its contents is that it was so well written. You should write your story.”
Ummm, What. The. Fuck.
Is that not what he just raged at me for?
After that was over, in the course of a week I’m guessing now, I spoke to my sister and my mother.
My sister went on about how she had not realized how difficult it was to be a parent until she had kids.
My mother, I don’t even remember the bulk of the conversation, except me making a comment of wishing I hadn’t sent the email.
After the visit from my brother I sent another email to my father and apologized.
He wrote back and said, “It just hurts that you are hurting. I thought we’d gotten past all of that.”
I write about this email in reference to being apprehensive about helping my father in such close proximity with my siblings and even my mother who was divorced from my father at that point for nine years.
Even though my mother, brother and sister preached that I needed to let go of the past each time I attempted to talk about it, (the bad stuff that is) I knew they’d likely find a way to use that email to my father against me.
Both my siblings did at two different times in separate phone conversations with them.
I am not clear at the moment on everything that was being talked about with my brother when he brought it up. But if I have it written somewhere, I will post it and link it here.
With my sister, it was during the berating session you can read about here.
She told me that “When I read the email you sent dad, I made the decision that I would never talk about the past with you again.”
Ironically it was during this particular berating of me that I made the decision to sever ties with her when I felt I could.
God help me! I really want to go drink right now.