Beginning of the End: The Email and the Reactions

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.

Going Back

I have a fantasy of going back and doing it all over but knowing what I know now. I could add to the fantasy I guess and say if I had the chance to do it again, I’d do it with more nurturing parents. I mean it’s a fantasy so I can do what I want with my imagination.

But tbh: I think it would be much more interesting and even a bit more fun to do it with the same parents in their same state. But me? I’d be wiser because I’d be conscious of what happened before and that I was getting a do-over.

So the first question is: At what age would I rewind to? Hm, Well, it would be fun to go back and see all my childhood friends in this super-conscious state so going back to four years of age when I started Kindergarten would be a good age.

By then my father had already started abusing me and in fact slapped me across the face when I was three for lying to him about something I was afraid of getting in trouble for. Ironic as fuck I know.  At that age I had no clue he’d been watching exactly what I did that I then lied about.

The fact that he asked a three year old as a test to be honest or lie was outright despicable. And then when I lied to protect myself…a six foot one grown ass man, smacking a toddler across the face? The fucker should’ve been arrested.

I don’t remember it though. My father told me.

I had gone to him, maybe about 10 years ago at this point, to tell him something I was feeling awful about. Something I wanted comfort for. Something I had done at around 10 years old I think it was.

Instead of hearing me out, he interrupted me to make his own little confession. And the story above was what he told me.

That act of his was his biggest betrayal concerning me and probably fucked up any trust of him I had left despite the emotional/psychological abuse I’d already been enduring up to that point.

I remember there was a point in time when I started to scream bloody murder when he’d go to put me on his shoulders, when previously I had no problem with it. In fact I loved it. But I’d bet that smack in the face destroyed the trust so much that I didn’t trust him not to let me fall from his shoulders as well.

I didn’t have the words obviously back then to say this or even understand it completely. I just knew that I felt absolutely terrified about sitting on that man’s shoulders after a certain age and I was still quite small.

I was afraid of him throughout my childhood and into adulthood. He never hit me again, to my recollection, but he didn’t have to. His deep, booming voice was enough to make me jump out of my skin.

I’m still thinking about what age I want to start with in my fantasy. I keep thinking about the age of 13. I think that will be a good place to start…

Reviewing an Old Journal: Rediscovering the Manipulation of My Sister and My Mother

Here’s another old post. Not the best night for this reminder but wanted to reblog anyway, since I read through the whole thing.

Sleeping Tiger

I finished my ‘to do’ list yesterday, except one thing. I wrote that I wanted to get through an entire notebook (journal) yesterday and that didn’t happen. It was the last thing I did from that list and it wasn’t until about 8:00 pm that I started.  But what I did do was to get through a section of a three subject notebook. I don’t have much doubt that’s contributing to my feelings of depression this morning also.

I didn’t find anything pertaining to the time of my father’s terminal illness. I didn’t think I would though because that particular journal dates back to 2009. It was on top of the pile though so I figured I’d start there to minimize the overwhelm.

It’s alarming to see the same basic themes running through me and my life back then as today. I struggled with authenticity just like I still do…

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Reviewing an Old Journal: Rediscovering the Manipulation of My Sister and My Mother

I finished my ‘to do’ list yesterday, except one thing. I wrote that I wanted to get through an entire notebook (journal) yesterday and that didn’t happen. It was the last thing I did from that list and it wasn’t until about 8:00 pm that I started.  But what I did do was to get through a section of a three subject notebook. I don’t have much doubt that’s contributing to my feelings of depression this morning also.

I didn’t find anything pertaining to the time of my father’s terminal illness. I didn’t think I would though because that particular journal dates back to 2009. It was on top of the pile though so I figured I’d start there to minimize the overwhelm.

It’s alarming to see the same basic themes running through me and my life back then as today. I struggled with authenticity just like I still do today. I struggled with depression, as I have since I was 18 but probably long before in reality. I struggled with communicating with my family and being treated with respect.

One particular thing that stood out was my sister’s treatment of me.

I took her dog in a couple times while she and her family went on vacation. Both times she promised to pay me for it. Both times she broke that promise. The second time I did it I was still angry about the first time. But instead of speaking up I kept silent.

I know there’s people would probably say, “It’s your sister, you should do it for free.”

Well I would disagree in our situation. Besides that, she’s the one who insisted on compensating me. She’s the one who initiated the topic of paying me. Whether it was all planned to manipulate me into taking her giant Rottweiler into our small house, I don’t know. But it was her husband who dropped off the dog with her young son. Pretty much assuring I wouldn’t bring up the subject of payment. Then when they got back, the husband picked the dog up again.

Later when I spoke to sister on the phone she told me ‘We’re going to do something for you. We just don’t know what yet.”

It breaks my heart that my sister could treat me this way. I’m also angry. I had actually forgotten about that until I read it last night. I want to go back in time so much and tell her how shitty that all was and that if she can’t come through on something, don’t fuckin’ promise it. It’s not even the not getting money that hurts and disappoints me. It’s the fact that she thinks and feels so little of me that I’m not worth much but to lie to and manipulate.

Makes me even more confident in my staying away from her and cutting her out of my life.

I’d also written some about my parents and their neglect and abuse from childhood. In fact one incident effected me so much that I wrote about it twice.

Between last night and this morning, I got into a small battle in my mind about writing about all this. And then I realized, one of the big reasons that adult children hesitate to write and sometimes never write about it is because we still want to protect them.

The other big reason we hesitate to write about what happened is because of shame.  Our own shame and the fear of being judged for what they did to us. Somewhere along the way, society has brainwashed many of us into believing that if we got abused, or hurt in any way we must have deserved it.

Last night I kept thinking about how I still want to believe my father loved me. I think he believed he loved me. But I don’t think he really knew how to love. Abuse can be confusing because I wasn’t abused continually every moment of every day. My father and I had some fun times together too.

When I was younger, I believed my mother was the good parent, the nice one, the patient one. The one who didn’t yell. (My father didn’t yell either, he bellowed.) My mother was the one who let us do things that my father didn’t. We didn’t have to walk on eggshells when he wasn’t home. She was less drama and I could be a kid for the most part.

But there was neglect too. I did have friends and spent quite a bit of time playing with them, but when I was in the house with no friends, I played alone a lot.

When I was 9, one of my small pets died because my mother hadn’t been keeping an eye on my sister who was 3.

I went to school without homework being finished when I was just in first grade. And was abused by the teacher for it.  I went without a Winter coat one year in high school. And where I’m from, a Winter coat is a necessary item. I compensated with a sweat jacket underneath a jean jacket. And then there’s the enabling of the abuse my father inflicted most of the time.

I list those things above because I do see most of them as a mom’s responsibility for the most part. But it’s really both parents who were responsible for these things. I don’t hold my father too responsible for the death of my small pet because he was at work. My mother was home. She was just downstairs, while my sister was upstairs.  The homework was an issue because my father was abusive when he “helped” me. Simply avoiding him wasn’t always possible when I was six.

In the end, while my father was dying, my mother teamed up with my sister to triangulate and manipulate me. She had me believing she validated and understood me during one particular conversation between the two of us, then threw a dig in as well as excused an incident of my brother raging at me as “just an emotional reaction.”

In my opinion I waited too long to sever ties with these people.

I’m also questioning this healing capability of journaling. I posted a video where Dan Mackler talks about it here.

I’ve journaled…a lot. Not recently, but I used to. So why am I not healed?

One reason I think is because I allowed my family to still be a part of my life for so long. I allowed them to treat me like a dumpster and a doormat and I allowed them to manipulate me. But in my defense, I really didn’t know what exactly was going on. I can’t even be sure that if I had been so aware in my 20s, 30s and even part of my 40s that I would have severed ties.

I knew something was wrong. I’ve known since at least from my early 20s that there was dysfunction in my family. I know now it was a lot more than dysfunctional. It was toxic. But each time I attempted to confront something or resolve something, I walked away feeling like it was me who was the problem. Because, if only I could let go of the past.

Even when later I would feel the anger again. Or the confusion or sadness or depression. I would at times feel so astonished and perplexed after a confrontation or an attempt at discussion because I would walk away from it feeling beat up.

Dysphoria and Shoes Dropping: A Connection

too-happy-charlie-brown
Googles definition of dys·pho·ri·a
disˈfôrēə/

noun

Psychiatry
noun: dysphoria
  1. a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.

What sucks about dysphoria is that there is no real enjoyment to life. Nothing that really gets me up and at ’em.

The times I’ve felt that way were when I was anticipating getting together with friends, going on a date or I had a job where my crush worked too.

I don’t remember getting excited all on my own or inventing my own reason to be excited from within.

In my last post I talked about wanting to create some excitement for myself by getting into the storage bin with all my old clothes that no longer fit. And it was fun to check them all out and I even felt an underlying determination that I will fit into them again. But excitement? Not really.

It’s sad. I used to think it was depression, that depression was the name of what I had. But then I started seeing a therapist again after an excruciating break up and I was told I probably have PTSD. The break up contributed, but the trauma runs a lot deeper. I grew up with an emotionally abusive father and my mother enabled it and she was emotionally apathetic and neglectful.

Now that I spend a lot of time alone and don’t have much of a social life, I’m sure that has much to do with the dysphoria. I like talking to others. I like to learn about other people. Of course I like people who listen as well and those who can help me create a balanced conversation. It doesn’t even have to be one where we agree. In fact disagreements can be fun and interesting, as long as everyone stays civil and there’s no name calling.

Thing is most of my friends are drinkers. So for the time being while I know I’d be weak and would probably “do as the Romans do,” I feel the need to stay away.

Another reason for the dysphoria, I believe, is that I’m now conditioned to believe that any excitement that I feel will be spoiled. Have you ever been in the middle of screaming with delight over some really great news or some great trip you’re planning, only to be told your dog just died or something equally devastating?

Or how about this?

You’re a little kid, sitting at the table with your family having dinner and you start laughing at something. Something really funny someone just said or maybe a funny face one of your siblings just made. Then suddenly, in the midst of your joy, your father bellows in a loud, sudden and deep voice, “SIT UP STRAIGHT AND EAT YOUR DINNER!”

You are startled. Suddenly the food in your mouth no longer tastes very good and you feel shamed. You can barely chew and the thought of helping it out with a gulp of milk (as the only choice of liquid) makes your stomach heave a little.

This happens often and your mother does nothing to put an end to it. She might say something like a long drawn out, “HuUuUUuUn!” But in reality she has no power and he doesn’t take her too seriously, because he continues this and similar behavior every time he feels the need to control any situation. There seems to be such a thing as having too much fun.

It’s become an expectation now that joy will be turned to sorrow or excitement to shame.

It’s conditioning.

I miss joy and excitement. But have I ever really truly experienced it in the first place?