So, hopefully you've already read parts one and two (If not, links are below) of my "Penny Candy Intro" or this next entry isn't gonna make a whole lotta sense to ya!! I know some may feel that the manner in which I tell the tales of my childhood is very matter of fact, but that's the only way I am able to relay the series of events that took me from the age of two to twenty two. The N.P.D parent experience renders one a bit numb for the rest of your life. That doesn't mean that I don't have intense emotions, thoughts and memories, but rather the sharing of them still brings mucho pain to the surface. When I write it's as if I'm a mere observer of what took place growing up and I'm sure it is my old pal Dissociation/Depersonalization stepping in to take care of my fragile psyche!!
Part One: Penny Intro
Part Two: Penny Intro
My lack of maturity, coping skills or simply my familiar role of wanting to be the savior has led me to make many poor decisions when it comes to relationships over the years. I do not blame my parents for my choices. I believe, as I have written in previous blogs, that we choose the life to which we are born in order to gain knowledge, wisdom, and overcome different hardships with equal parts love and grace. Until we learn what this physical world attempts to teach us, embrace it and move on as kinder more compassionate people we will continue to bang our heads off the proverbial wall (sometimes literally banging our heads off a wall!).
When I was told by a hip to be square minister that I had to "Forgive myself." I assumed that was an easy task. As the years roll by my perception has changed. Forgiving yourself isn't just a one shot deal, it's a daily process. And no, it really has nothing to do with telling yourself "I forgive you.", but rather how you choose to treat yourself overall. If you decide to stay stuck and caught up in your past you will never move forward. This, of course, is NOT a cure all for your depression. You will not be flying high 24/7 because NO ONE is, trust me on that. However, some weeks even two out of seven days being spectacular and joy filled will help your cause at this stage of the game. That is exactly how I decided to begin to look at this life and it is immensely helpful and positive, but I still have my "blue" days.
So Where's Dad??
I never had the opportunity to spend any quality time with my father during my childhood after my parents divorced. My mother had banished him from her daughter and son's lives and that was pretty much that. I think the last time I saw him as a child I was approximately nine years old/third grade. I missed him so much, but even more often I would imagine him just showing up at our house, standing up to my mother and reinstating his visitation rights given to him in their divorce. I waited many years for this scenario to occur. It never did. On holidays when I would observe how tender and loving my uncles were with their daughters this longing and continual sense of "not belonging" would tear me apart. I cried myself to sleep plenty over not having that for myself. My heart ached for my brother as well who had no one to teach him about sports, coach his games, confide in or simply teach him how to become a man.
It was at the age of nine that my depression began. I was catching beatings on the regular and being humiliated in front of both relatives and my peers verbally and physically which only helped to escalate my ever growing sense of not fitting in, of not being "a part" of anything. I felt conspicuous and much like an outsider most of the time. I wanted more than anything to possess the super power of invisibility!! I wanted to disappear more or less and I slowly felt that I actually was. I had no voice. I was not heard.
Around this time, in addition to depression and anxiety, I developed a lovely habit of falling in love with boys who didn't know I was alive. The more I was ignored, the more intense my love for them grew. I wallowed in my sorrow! A twelve year old writing dark poetry about the age old heart breaker....unrequited love. Big tears falling from my eyes with a pillow dulling out the sounds of yet another disappointment. These stories always played out the same way in my head: "Why would So & So love me when my own father doesn't?" The sadness was giving way to anger at twelve or thirteen. Oh, the melancholy remains to this day, but I was truly starting to get pissed off...at my father, naturally my mother, but the numero uno person it turns out I was REALLY pissed off at turned out to be myself.
Entering your teens as angry and bitter as I was at thirteen probably isn't a good sign of things to come suffice it to say. I had developed a counterproductive sarcastic, loud mouth by now and it helped me get knocked on my ass frequently. I wouldn't back down from any type of confrontation. I would gladly take a beating from my mother or kids from a rival school. To quote Tom Petty "I Won't Back Down"!! I prided myself on not being "afraid of anyone or anything" and if you were going to tangle with me, physically or verbally, well, be prepared to go fifteen rounds. I knew I could go the distance, but what direction was I headed in exactly? Sarcasm and a hair trigger temper are not your best buddies. Yet in some odd way I credit both of these normally regarded negative attributes as the very things that kept me alive. They were my everyday coping skills, but they didn't make my path a smooth one to say the least.
I would check the mail for a letter from my dad. Letters saying he missed us and wanted to visit. Letters that, needless to say, never came. At ten I made it a habit to regularly read the obituaries to see if my paternal grandparents had passed away. I thought a funeral would be a justifiable way to see my dad in my mother's eyes. That she would put aside her anger with him (what she was angry with him about I still to this day remain clueless) long enough to drive my brother and I to a funeral home just so I could spend perhaps an hour with my father. I wanted to BELONG, if only for an hour and yes, with a corpse as the guest star. Hey, I was desperate...don't judge me!! (I'm so sad right now having just written that. My heart aches for that little girl.)
When my friends started to drive I had one of them take me out to my dad's house so I could leave a letter in his mailbox one night. Mission accomplished. I figured if he called our house (I wrote our phone number in the letter) my mother would have no choice but to put me on the phone, right?? I don't know...it SEEMED like an excellent plan what with its simplicity and all!!
Unfortunately, I put the letter in the mailbox at the wrong house. The homeowner read the letter (it was just addressed to "dad" so I guess this guy said what the fuck and decided to read it!) and called the number I gave and my mother answered. All hell broke loose when she found out I was sneaking around leaving letters in stranger's mailboxes!! The asshole who called was kind enough to read the letter to my mother which only served to further incite her. The last thing that crazy bitch wanted to hear was that her deadbeat ex-husband was being sought out by her ungrateful, increasingly out of control daughter! How dare I reach out to someone who had done nothing for me and had stuck her and her new husband with the God awful task of having to try and raise me?? Oh, that was a bad move on my part. Bad move indeed.
When I was EIGHTEEN (Yes, fucking eighteen, folks) documents arrived from an attorney stating that my father's visitation was to be observed effective immediately. What made him decide that ten years later this was a smart move? Who the hell knows?!? It was too late by then. The brainwashing by N.P.D. mom combined with our built up resentment towards our father for not attempting to see us in ten years kinda sealed his fate. My brother and I no longer had any desire to see him and now, as teens, we DID have a voice in this matter, which suited my mother just fine since we were all on the same page regarding this legal hassle.
My mother countered and sued him for all the back child support he owed her. I'm sure he regretted having a lawyer draw up and send those papers to her! His thirteen years apart from her really erased his memory as to what kind of vengeful psycho he was dealing with!! Apparently he took some serum that caused him to forget this was the same woman who had clocked him in the head with an iron skillet for pissing her off once. He kicked himself in the ass every week he had to sign those weekly checks made out to my mother. I was twenty nine when he was done paying her off and we never went to visit with him while we lived under my mother's roof. We were angry and felt it would be disloyal to my mother having anything to do with him after "all she had done for us all on her own". That however did not prevent me (while still living at home) from checking the piece of plain white paper he wrapped around the check prior to putting it in the envelope every week for some sort of something, anything. Ten years of mailing those checks and he never wrote shit on that piece of paper. Nada.
I did see my dad once when I was fourteen under rather unfortunate circumstances. I had called him pleading to come and get me after I had run away from home. He did and upon arriving at his house we were greeted by my step mother informing him to put me back in the car and return me to my mother ASAP. My mother had called the police. My father had no rights and therefore I could not live with him. Hell, I couldn't even spend the night! I was taken home to my mother.
I tried to repair our broken relationship a couple of times in my twenties and thirties to no avail. Too much anger still on my part. I was livid that he had not stepped up in some way and prevented my abuse. I was super pissed off that he went about his life with seemingly no regard for the two children he had brought into this world. I needed lots of years to work my shit out over that mess.
Two years ago I reached out to him after my mother became ill with a life threatening heart condition. I still don't know why other than in spite of all my mother had put my father through, he still loved her (he being from an abusive household and never able to win the affection of his sick ass father). Anyway, we developed a friendship. Imperfect, but for the most part...peaceful. I no longer look to him to be that imagined, larger than life hero who was going to swoop in and "save" me. I now believe that he really could have been of no help to my brother or myself and in fact, may have made things that much more difficult given his own anger issues from his fucked up childhood. Your father is not a hero. He's just a man and I accept that one hundred percent, but it took forty some years to embrace that truth.
I was able to let it go after I saw him for who he really is....a flawed, human being who was raised in such an abusive household he's lucky to have made it out alive. I also quickly realized he was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's (My Dad & Alzheimer's) so that has been trying. He endured so much in his youth, worked his ass off and managed to build a very comfortable life for himself. It's because of this that he decided that rather than having his children "wait until he was dead" to inherit "his money" he would send us a check once a month to help us out. I cried when he told me about this plan. It was a very kind and unexpected gesture.
One month this year I received a check wrapped in the obligatory piece of paper and the tears came again! I cried for ten minutes. Finally what I waited almost forty years to find on those blank sheets of paper had magically appeared. Three words (ok, 2.5 words!) on a piece of paper that mean the world to me.
Sending all of you love & strength. Everyday.