Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Updates of All Kinds

Let me start out by saying that after all the time that has lapsed between my meeting with my father, I am so glad that I went through with it. My last post summarized the main points, or at least most of them, and I need to illuminate a bit more so that anyone who is reading this blog fully understands my intentions before passing my words across the country to other interested parties;

My father is definitely not looking well. Between talking to him and his wife, then my youngest brother Mike, and then my sister Teri who told me both directly and indirectly that he has trouble recalling events of the past, and what he does remember is often out of sequence. For example, interchanging my high school years and with my middle school years. It makes seeking answers hard.

He has some type of condition or conditions that seem to eating away at his joints. No one is sure if it is a new form of severe arthritis or possibly cancer. Without any training or experience I get the early feeling that it is some kind of cancer due to his appearance (he is thin and looks frail) and his inability to gain weight is a troubling sign.

I will be the first to confess that I ambushed him showing up unannounced the way I did. I think I had valid reasons for doing it that way, but it also came with its disadvantages. While it allowed me to catch him unprepared for my questions, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better if he had some time to think things out a bit more thoroughly. That is something I will never know for sure.

It's been over a month now since I saw him and I'm less angry than I thought I would be. To be honest, I thought I would be livid when I left, but some how I wasn't. I plan on meeting with him again, hopefully sooner than later, and I'm interested in how that meeting will go. This time I want to arrange a time and a date so that he can be more prepared, rested, and ready for it. And while I still intend to be polite and cordial, I'm also prepared not to hold back to the extent I did last time. I could be absolutely wrong for that, but I think that is something I need to do.

The man trouble with my confrontations with him is the perspectives we are coming from entirely different perspectives. I honestly don't think he respects what I am going through and why I need to address things in the manner I want to. This is based on the beginning of our meeting when I told him I had some serious issues about "my crappy childhood." His response was that "Everyone's had a crappy childhood!" Right at that moment I felt that the distance between us had doubled. He seemed unwilling or incapable of understanding these issues at the depth at which I have been dissecting them for years. It was completely disrespectful and it really set a tone.

So anyways, the Holidays have come and gone without any communication between him and myself, as well as my brothers. I do intend on calling them shortly and checking in, especially with my brothers. I want to at least attempt to reconnect with them and form some type of relationship with each of them. It's going to be difficult, but if both of them are as open and willing as I am, then it isn't impossible.

I'm also talking with one of my sisters. We've pretty much put our recent squabbles behind us and I think that is for the best for now. I do want to go back and revisit them, but we both have larger and more evil fish to fry.

As for my mother and my other sister goes, I don't really know what to say. I'm not directly mad at my youngest sister, but she continues to live her life in a way I don't approve of and seeing how it affects my nieces and nephew really eats away at me, so I find it best to just pull away and keep that stress that comes with it out of my life.

My mother is a different story. There are big deep issues at hand that for the time being I am unable to even act on them. I've gone over these problems in my head time and time again and I can never find a favorable outcome. She was very gracious at Christmas time in sending a wonderful gift card to us for my children, but I am not even sure if I am going to use it. Part of me would like to send it back, but I'm not looking to insult her despite my feelings. I could donate it to a charity, but I'm not really sure what I want to do. All I know if that I would feel uncomfortable spending it as I really don't want anything from her right now. Yeah, I'm an insensitive bastard I suppose if you're wanting to look at this harshly and with blinders, but I'm fine with anyone who believes that.

I say that because I've already caught some shots about talking to my mother, although they were very minor I still got them, and I expect bigger ones to come anytime now. She's been living at my aunt's house less than 3 miles from me and I haven't made an attempt to talk to her or see, nor am I planning on it. I know I have family that reads this, and I'm fine with that. But to those who would like to judge me, you might want to consider a full picture and do some walking in my shoes. Very few people know what I know and for someone to judge me without this knowledge, it would be unfair. Yet I still expect that.

Although the tone of this post sounds darker and more negative, I myself am not nearly as angry or upset as it may lead you to believe. I've spent the majority of the time since my last post and this post, concentrating on my family, raising my children, and enjoying the Holidays with my friends and other family members. It's been a joyous time, but now it's time to get back to healing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Father

It's early Wednesday morning/Tuesday night, almost 3am to be exact. I feel the need to let out about the entire meeting with my father, but the incredible nature of the what we discussed and what was revealed was so huge that it will take time for me to fully process everything. I think what might make me feel better is if I just go through and summarize/list some main points and things that stood out and then go into more about them later after I've had a chance to process each of them on their own and then together as a whole:

  • My dad is ill. He looked horrible and almost 10 years older than he really is. My father-in-law has about 7 years on him, and he looks in better condition.
  • When I asked him about not paying child support, he claimed he did, but that he paid it to my grandmother instead of my mother because she couldn't be trusted to spend it wisely. meaning she spent most of it on liquor and beer
  • Despite having the same phone number for close to 10 years now, he claims he called and left me a message after he blew off my wedding.
  • When I asked him why he wouldn't take me in when things were at their worst with my mother, he lied about when this was, blamed my mother, and then blamed me.
  • He mentioned that he knew about the darkest evil from my childhood and gave the impression that he knew for years, that someone else in my family knows about it, and that there isn't one evil, but two.
I was more cordial than I expected to be and when he dropped a couple of bombshells on me I was in such shock that I couldn't respond in the manner that was required. I noticed that he really struggles with the events of the past, either forgetting them altogether or having them so warped and out of place that it is difficult to discuss them.

My last post predicted that I thought he would lie, placate, and blame my mother for many of my complaints, and he really did. In many ways it went as I thought, but it went beyond with surprise revelations and I left knowing I wold talk with him again to finish this.

On the plus side my younger brother Michael called me the next day and we had a great conversation. He invited me to a get together, but I declined at this time saying I just wasn't ready for that, and I'm not, but I truly hope this leads to a renewed relationship with him.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Anxiety & Depression

As much as I try to focus on the normal day to day activities of my life I find my mind wandering and wondering about my confrontation with my father on Saturday. Provided he is home and willing to talk, this will be one of my life's defining moments. It must be this knowledge that is forcing me to think about it.

As the time draws closer, I admit to feeling more nervous, more anxious, and surprisingly more scared. I think that what may be scaring me the most is that I know how this is going to play out. I predict he will try and placate me and blame my mother for the majority of things. When that happens, I know it will be at this point that I start to lose it.

Despite how horrible it may sound, I want to hear the truth from him, or at least what he has convinced himself to be the truth. To the best of my knowledge he has never had to answer for his actions, or inactions towards myself or even my sisters. I'm tired of ignoring the past and giving him a free pass for helping to make my childhood into a complete mess. He has no way of answering me and making me feel better, and I accept that. What I will no longer accept is his teflon ability to avoid accountability for his lack of parenting.

When it is all said and done, what may be the most frightening thing to me is the official revelation that he just doesn't care about me, or just doesn't love me. I suspect it, I truly do, but that validation will feel like I've been hit by an entire mountain. It's going to hurt, but I'm not going to be able to get past this, let go, and heal from all the wounds he's caused me without confronting him.

In the end, once I've come to terms with everything that happens, I'll be able to stand much prouder as a man, as a husband, and most importantly as a father.

Fate has allowed me a great opportunity to prepare for this day with a nice outing with my son Ryan who will be going for his first haircut. Then he and I are going shopping for some new toys and a few pairs of jeans for daddy. Once the terror of the haircut is done I think he's going to have a great time and I may even treat him to his favorite drink, pumpkin spice coffee (decaff of course). More than anything else, this will prepare me for what I will face the next day. Besides, how can I go wrong taking Ryan out on the town with me????

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Confronting My Father

As all of my issues from the past are being stirred up and mixed with my depression, I've written about how tough a go things have been for me of late. They've reached a point now where I've finally agreed to go back on medication to help treat this. I still absolutely hate it, but I don't want to end up taking things out on my kids, so I put their needs ahead of my own wishes and decided to give it a go again.

As I was explaining all this to Ivan last week, we somehow segued into the topic of my father. As we talked about all the things he's done to me in my life, which almost all center around his abandoning me several times through out my life, all of the hurt and anger I have over this came welling up to uncomfortable levels. After talking about my feelings and expressing myself in the form breaking some art supplies Ivan asked me how I felt and I said kind of off-handedly that I wish I could just confront him about everything he's done.

Ivan said. "Why don't you?"

I sat there staring for a few minutes and I realized there wasn't any good reason I shouldn't. As I thought about whether or not I should do this, I felt a small weight being lifted from my shoulders as I leaned more and more into that direction. So that's what Ive decided to do, I'm going to talk to my dad and confront him about the horrible way he's treated me for almost 39 years. I'm also going to do it this weekend too.

Some friends and loved ones I've mentioned this to have expressed concern and some surprise with the speed in which I've decided this and decided to execute it, and I'm grateful for their interest and support. This has really been a long time coming, at least 7 years, but really longer than that.

Come Saturday morning, I intend to show up unannounced at his place and ask him the following questions:

  • Why was I treated so inferior as compared to my two half-brothers?
  • Why did he offer to have me come live with him, and then refuse to take me when I asked him to?
  • How come he never paid child-support to my mother when I was a child growing up?
  • Why didn't he come to my wedding?
  • Why didn't he call me instead of calling my aunt to tell me this?
  • What did I do to deserve to be treated this way by him?

I have no idea how this is all going to work out though, or even if he'll be home. Knowing my luck I'll drive all the way out there and he no one will be home. I prefer for him and I to be able to go into a private room at his house and do this, but he may bot allow for that. I can't even know if he'll be willing to talk and answer these questions, he's a liar and a coward, so there is no way to know what he'll do.

The thing about this whole confrontation is that I can't imagine any possible answers that could absolve him his past. I'm not interested in having him be a part of my life, or my children's or anything like that. I'd just like the chance to let him know how much he's hurt me and screwed me over and I'd like to hear how he responds to those questions.

I'll be solidifying the hows and whys with Ivan tonight so that I have a more solid game plan going in. Once I've figured that out, I'll most likely write about that here before Saturday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Horizon

Lately my therapy sessions have been exhausting and frustrating. I've left them feeling aggravated and less sure of what I am doing or even what I want to do, or even what my exit strategy should be. I think what this means is that I'm being challenged to look at solutions to my problems that I've tried to avoid for many years. All the progress I'm making is eventually going to come to an end point, and while I'd love to have this wrapped up in a tidy little package in time for the holidays, I have to face the realization that it may not happen.

That means I may be facing a holiday season without my family for the first real time in my life. No dinners, no get-togethers, no phone calls. Even though I often feel stressed and frustrated when I participate in any of the former activities, I've always tried to stay connected.

Barring any miracles, I just don't see it happening. Sorting through all of the memories and pain of the past just serves to remind me of all the feelings of hurt, neglect, and abuse that I went through. I tried for so many years to ignore these things and try to just move past them, but it's almost impossible to do this even though I truly thought I had a handle on it. The surprising thing is that what made me realize this wasn't what came out of my therapy sessions with Ivan, but in real situations with my wife and kids.

Just growing and spending time as a family brought these issues from my childhood up and I was unable to handle these unexpected feelings and they came out as anger and frustration directed towards my undeserving wife and kids. That was a situation that I couldn't allow to happen again and taint the life I wanted for my beautiful kids and wonderful wife. They are everything to me and I have to protect them and myself, which is why I've taken time away from everyone so that I could sort through my mess and set up new boundaries to live by.

But if I were to relax this plan, even for a brief timeout for the holidays, I'd be invalidating everything I've tried to accomplish to this point and I'd have to start again from scratch. I can't, and I won't do that. Yeah, it's going to be hard, but it would be harder, and possibly unsuccessful, if I did this any other way. As it is now, I'm just barely holding it together and that's not an exaggeration. I'm tired of the sleepless nights, anxiety pains, and the horror that I might fail and lose everything I hold dear to me. It's no way to live.

But as each day brings me to the brink of tears and self-destruction, I'm fortunate enough to have my children to give me strength and make me laugh when I'm down, or my wife to love me and calm me and stay grounded, and my friends that have gone through this and are there for me, as well as my friends who haven't been through this but are there for me regardless. I have to get better for myself because they all believe in me and through them I slowly learn to believe in myself and exactly who I really am.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Communication Breakdowns

On the advice of my therapist, who I will always refer to as Ivan because she doesn't want her name out on this blog due to confidentiality reasons, I have been avoiding my family members that I am having some issues with.

The first thing you need to understand is that I am one of those people who always answers the phone, regardless of anything because you never know what may potentially happen. Day or night, good or bad, I've always taken phone calls. So for me to avoid and screen all my calls is something new for me. Ivan suggested that if I didn't recognize a number on my caller ID, I should let it go to my voice mail. That's exactly what I have been doing and it really helped with my stress.

The only problem with this is that the people I'm ignoring don't know about this and they keep calling. While I am justified to take this stance, it's also hard on them not knowing. It wasn't until my sister sent me an email that I decided to momentarily interact again. I tried to imagine myself in her place and realized she should be told what I was doing because it was only fair.

But even as much as I felt this was the case, I hated the prospect of telling her because I knew she would not handle this well or respectfully. I knew that telling her I felt hurt and beaten up and I would need time to process everything that happened, she wouldn't listen to what I would ask her. That's why I struggled with responding, but eventually I emailed her back when I was ready. I did this even though I believed that instead of honoring my request, she would begin a new round of accusations and attacks against me and my wishes.

There was no comfort in being correct. Regardless of what anyone thinks, when she disrespected my wishes for space and privacy to sort things out for myself and laid into me for wanting to take that stance, I never felt good, or superior, or vindicated. Again, she hurt me by choosing to attack me.

All she had to do was say something supportive and acknowledge that she understood what I wanted, even if she didn't agree with me. But that's not how things work in my family, at least not when I try to talk.

What often happens when I try to explain myself or a point is that I am cut off in mid sentence, and then denounced as being arrogant, or cold-hearted, or acting as though I know everything. When I try to re-establish what it is I was trying to say after this initial opening shot against me, I am often blatantly ignored as they introduce a new topic that diverts the conversation into a new direction (often with a statement or accusation for me to defend) or they'll want to start the original argument all over again. It's counterproductive and highly stressful. Don't get me wrong, there isn't a script or set structure to this, but that's a pretty good summary of how conversations are in my family.

And that's what happened when my sister wrote me back.

But my counseling has helped me to avoid getting pulled into to these unhealthy tactics and to stay focused on communicating my intentions or positions. I simply ignore all of it and just try to restate my previous comments politely, but firmly. If I feel I need to add some additional information to help get my point across, I do it, but I mainly just restate my initial request.

I have to be honest here and say how hard it was for me to do that. I have some ideas as to why my sister acted the way she did and said the things she said, but they still angered me and hurt me further. The names she called me were unfair and wrong and I felt that after all these years of trying to get closer to each other, she truly has no idea of who I am and how I treat people. The assumptions she made about how I treat people were short sighted and I feel as though she operates on a false ideal, or image of me, and it's one that I find repulsive.

But I am proud of myself because followed the steps and tools Ivan and I talked about in our sessions and let them go (although I Will bring them up later at the appropriate time because they need to be addressed) so that I could restate what I wanted and get back to processing what I needed to do.

I fully expected my sister to jump further along the path of emotional chaos and bring her next response loaded with a world of hurt. I am so thankful and happy that didn't happened.

Instead, she acknowledged what I wanted, agreed to respect it, and even went a step further and offered to be there for me if I needed her. I am so proud of her for finding the strength to do this productively. That was precisely the response I needed. If she discovers this blog and reads this post I hope she realizes how sincere I am about this. It's a major step for us to be able to move forward once I'm ready.

This is also why I've decided to use email for most, if not all, of my correspondence with her because it allows me to be in control of expressing myself without interruptions.

I don't know what the final outcome will be, but I have more hope now than I did before.

Monday, October 22, 2007


It was 10 days ago that my mother was admitted to the hospital for breathing problems due to her COPD, ignorance, and stubborn nature. Since then she has been taken off of life support and made improvements in her breathing and health to the point that she was discharged and has now moved onto a rehab facility.

Yet I haven't spoken to her in a week. I don't know when I intend to either.

The thing is I'm tired of being hurt by her. Unfortunately this has been a lifetime pattern and her recent medical issues just happened to intersect with her latest cruelty and the end of my limits.

I'm not fooling anyone when I say that we've had a strained relationship at best over the years. I don't agree with how she lives her life and we clash on many moral grounds. That's not uncommon between a parent and a child and of itself its not that big of a deal. Many many parents and children are at a similar juncture.

The part that kills me though is how she treated me when she came off of life-support. I fought with my sisters and my aunts and made sure that my mother's rights, wishes, and desires were followed no matter what anyone else's opinions were. I didn't agree with her choices and wishes, but I respect her right to make those choices and she deserved to have them followed. Specifically I am talking about her wishes to never be placed on life-support for any reason or any length of time.

I was really upset that I couldn't be there when she went into the hospital because my aunt and youngest sister allowed her to be put on a respirator even though they knew she didn't want that at all. That's akin to rape from my perspective. I know that sounds harsh and cold, but if you think about it you'll see that they are similar in that one person makes choices concerning another person's body despite the wishes of the other person. I know my aunt and sister just wanted my mother to live and truly meant the very best for her, I don't question that and I am in no way mad at them. It's a hard position to be in. But that being said, they made the wrong choice because that's not what my mother would have wanted.

So, when I finally got to the hospital the next day, I came with a living will for my mother to sign when she was able to. I spent the next 48 hours or so defending her right to make her own choice as to how she might die and I fought for her dignity. At no time did I let my own wishes or desires interfere ( I supported her being on life-support during this episode). It wasn't easy to do. My sisters and aunts were scared. I was scared. No one was ready for her to die and leave us. I kept thinking about the void in my children's lives that would result in her dying at this time.

But I truly believed then, as I do now, that none of that mattered. She wished differently and she had the right to make that choice.

My sisters and I talked at length about what to do with my mother once she made it through this episode and what we could do to protect her rights in the future. At times it got heated and we fought, many people would when caught off guard.

Then my mother came off life support. It was emotional and a big relief. She wasn't shy about her feelings from spending 3 days on life support. When my sister Teri tried to cheer her up and spin a bright side to it by telling her it was just 3 days and they were over, she responded by saying "that's not living!" and that she'd rather it had never been done in the first place. As you can see, she was obviously against this sort of action and unhappy that she had been forced into it.

I still think she was wrong for taking that stance, but again I respect her right to make that. Part of why I feel that way is because I've been trying to get her to see a doctor for the last 8 months due to my concerns for her health. She fought me every step of the way as I tried to convince her to do what was necessary to stay alive for herself, her kids, even her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Despite my polite determination to see her get treatment, she threw every flimsy excuse and tactic she could at me. First disagreeing with me, then placating me, then telling me it was her choice, when all I wanted her to do was see a doctor. But then the inevitable happens and she ends up in the ICU under life support.

But that's not where I feel she betrayed me and hurt me deeper than she normally has.

As I started to talk to her about taking the steps to protect her wishes and set up a living will, medical power of attorney, and an assisted living community for her to move into, she stonewalled me when she had the chances to make these choices. These same choices that she had told me she wanted less than a few hours ago. But I knew she had been through a tough weekend and she deserved to rest and take some time and I respected that. I told her that I wanted to be the one who took care of all this paper work and protected her so that she was never put in this position again. I told her what I thought she should do, but I said I would honor whatever choices and wishes she made.

Then I had to go to the bathroom. My sister Teri came back into the room and while I was gone and it was just the two of them, my mother told Teri that they needed to get a lawyer to stop me.

When Teri told me this, I could feel myself shattering like glass. I had fought so hard for her wishes, for her rights, and for her decency while I was scared and often outnumbered. I overlooked every indecent thing she'd ever done to me as a parent, and it's a long list. Beatings with baseball bats and motorcycle helmets, mental abuse, theft, manipulation, homelessness, abandonment, and rejection. I tried to be supportive for her in ways she has never been for me, or anyone that I have ever heard of. I was open and honest with her about my feelings, my intentions, and my willingness to honor her.

Instead, she went to my sister and tried to convince her that I was taking advantage of her, that I would make her do things she didn't want to, that I had a plan and the power to force her against her will, and she needed my sister to join her and legally fight me.

First off, the idea of getting a lawyer is absurd because this isn't a legal matter. Since she's (in legal terms) sane and had control of her mental facilities, I couldn't force her to do anything she didn't want to even if that was my plan. Secondly I told her I would do whatever she wanted because only she had "the right to make these decisions."

So why would she act this way and treat me like this?

I don't know.

But I know I didn't deserve it.

My wife was on her way up to the hospital via a hour and a half ride with my children so that she could bring the kids to my mother's room and lift her spirits when Teri told me of my mother's actions and words. That was the only reason I didn't leave immediately. But she came and I brought the kids to my mother and didn't cause a scene amongst my other gathered relatives and we left as quickly as I could politely do so.

What I do know is that no matter what I do or no matter how much I sacrifice or how much I support her I can not control how she acts or feels. And the 38 year pattern says she'll always hurt me or try to manipulate me.

So, it's been a week now and I haven't spoken to her. I don't know when I will again either. I don't have any plans to initiate any contact with her because I need time to process everything that happened and that she did. But in the mean time my family, especially my mother, won't know everything and I'll continue to get beaten up.

That's why I write about this. No one would believe me and this is the only thing I can control and the only hope I have of healing, but without my wife, this would be an exercise in futility.

Feels Like The First Time

Let me first apologize about the bad Foreigner references in this post's title and the title of the blog, it shouldn't happen again.

If you want my regular blog, it's called Desultory Views, and you can catch it by clicking the link here in the post as well as the one on the sidebar. I like to think it's a fun, sometimes informative, place to visit and get to know me. It's there to share my everyday type thoughts, views, and observations of the world and life in general and it's an important part of me.

This blog isn't like that at all. This exists for me to get my thoughts together and try and come to grips with issues that have come up in my counseling sessions. This isn't intended to be polite conversation. This is personal, this is emotional, and it will often be raw. Its very nature means there will be pain involved in many of the posts I write. If you can't handle that, please, don't come back.

I will be talking about real issues and real people. I know that will piss off those involved, but my focus and intent is on helping me deal with these unresolved issues and feelings and let go of this emotional baggage I've collected since childhood. Everything is fair game. That being said, I'm not trying to embarrass anyone, and if at all possible I will be prudent in how I write about my topics and the people involved in them.

This blog is finite and will exist only as long as it has value to my healing process. Once I am done, so is this blog. It will be deleted, so please respect the personal and vulnerable journey that I will be taking through this.

Thanks for reading, thanks in advance for understanding, and thanks to all of those who will be supportive. I do this to be a better person and someone my children will look up to.