Pity Is All I Can Feel

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I’m trying to work out what should be complex feelings, but I’m more concerned by what I don’t feel than by what I do …

Pat may be seriously ill, I say ‘may be,’ instead of is, because no one should believe a word she says; even when her words are true, her motivation for saying them is highly suspect; drama, manipulation, cruelty and mind games are her stock and trade.

Is she really sick?  I don’t know.

Would it change anything if I found out she truly is seriously ill?  No, because it can’t; it is not my place, nor my responsibility, to reach out to her – none of what has happened can be laid at my doorstep, and she knows this as well as I do; I have nothing to say to her.  I am not seeking a change in the status of my relationship, or lack thereof, with Pat … and I will not be a hypocrite now just because she may be sick.

That said, my wife posed the following: “Dying, if she is, changes people.  Even though you don’t need closure, what if she does?  If she reaches out – if she has something to say to you, will you listen?”  Complicated questions …

questions that should fill me with empathy and compassion, but don’t.

When I search my heart and soul for answers, everything I come up with is blanketed in a need to protect myself; my feelings for Pat – where I even have feelings – are cynical and jaded.  How could they not be?

I know my wife is trying to protect me, trying to save me from any regret I may have if and when Pat dies …

but to have regret, I would have to feel like I left something unsaid, or something undone – and I don’t.  There was an ending for me a long time ago, and any closure I needed then, or will ever need, came when I let myself fully feel the pain she inflicted on me when I was a child.

Even if she asked to see me so she could stop denying and accept responsibility for what she did, it wouldn’t change anything; too little, too late.  If it takes the fear of dying to compel her to do what’s right, there is no genuine, heartfelt sincerity – and I have no desire to sit through the melodrama of Pat unburdening her tortured soul and troubled mind.

I don’t think she is capable of love, or guilt …

despite all she has done – all the people she has wronged and hurt, she will go to her grave not knowing, accepting, understanding or even caring about the pain and destruction she brought to her family …

and that makes me sad for her;

but I have already grieved for what never was.

Yesterday’s Post

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Yesterday’s post was not eloquent, or even inspired – it was a rant; I was clearly and only venting.  Sometimes, I still need to speak in unrestrained, very truthful ways about the woman who gave birth to me.  Pat does not bring to my mind poetry, a spring day, roses, or anything of beauty at all.  I have so few tender memories or her that trying to hold on to one long enough to access positive emotion is impossible, and the harder I try the more elusive the goal becomes.  I was unkind in my post, I know that, but for the life of me all I can commit to is – not nearly as unkind as she deserved for me to be.  I left much unsaid.

Mothers are supposed to be warm and gentle, protective and wise – imbued with endless love for, and dedication to, their children.  To hurt her child should be unthinkable for any mother.  Her child should always come first – his or her happiness, well being and future her chief concern.  I’ve been fortunate enough to know mothers like this, but I did not have one myself.

I don’t think Pat knew how to nurture – I think she tried at times; I remember band-aids on skinned knees, a baking soda bath when I had chicken pox, and a soft tone on occasion if I was sad, but she was never good at nurturing – even as a child I knew her attempts were strained, forced and unnatural.  If I’m being honest, I would say she should never, ever have had children …

and given how it all turned out, she’d probably agree with me.

Pat was an unfit mother.

We all have shortcomings, God knows I have many, and I’d love to live in world where we were allowed our flaws with no fallout, or the judgement of others …

except for parenthood – failure here cannot be overlooked.  Most especially failure through neglect or abuse.

I have not only the right to speak of my parents truthfully, I’ve come to believe I have an obligation to do so.  Silence is a lie that makes me complicit in their despicable parenting practices.

I am not writing my childhood story, I’m merely telling it – if I were writing it, it would be a very different saga …

Children should be wanted, loved, valued, treasured, cherished, and nurtured.  They should be praised to the hilt when they are good, and gently scolded when their choices are not so good.  They deserve patience, caring, concern and understanding from parents who know completely just how fragile they really are.

I am told Pat is good grandmother to my niece, and for that I am thankful.  I made a decision to protect my children from my mother, and I stand by it 110% – would make the same choice tomorrow if I had to …It would have been morally bereft of me to subject my children to a grandmother I know from personal experience is capable, willing and able to hurt them physically and emotionally.

If Pat is a decent grandparent, she certainly owed – even to a much higher degree – her children the same love and affection, love and affection she did not give.

Pat does not know what love is.

She hides now, from the people who know the truth and reality of her as a mother.  She will address nothing directly, not with me or anyone else I know of.  She cuts people out of her life if they listen to the truth …

I spoke ill of my mother in yesterday’s post, but I am not sorry.

I will never apologize for speaking the truth.

Pat, (My Apologies In Advance, Dear Readers, For This Rant, I Mean Letter)

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Although this letter is for you, you are not the only one who needs to read it – so it is here, in a public venue.

You can continue to deny, I suppose at this juncture you haven’t any choice – you’ve come this far and to turn back now would be to reveal yourself a manipulative fraud.  Self implication has never been your style, and God knows you will never take responsibility for anything you’ve done, so carry on, but do so knowing that we are all now cognizant of the truth.

Before Facebook and the internet were things that exist, you had an excellent chance of never being found out.  There was a time when I didn’t care, all I wanted was to be away from you.  I’m sorry for that now – I lost Elizabeth, Bev, Heather, Ryan, and Lois by allowing you to lie.  Because of YOU and ONLY YOU, cousins don’t know each other well, I missed seeing my niece grow up, and I missed sharing my adult life with Bev and Lois, two people I thought the world of by the way.

You made sure when I left your house I wouldn’t contact Bev – you did this by telling me Bev had told you to kick me out if I didn’t like your being with Harlan – Bev NEVER said that.  You told Bev I offered you an ultimatum;  Harlan or me … I did no such thing, not ever.  The truth is, was and always will be … you gave me the ultimatum; Rhonda or you.  I made the right choice.  

What is interesting in all of this is … no one’s story corroborates your story, they all corroborate mine.

You deny that Ed beat me, newsflash – not only did Ed beat me, you knew he beat me.  You let him beat me.  You encouraged him to beat me.  And you told him how badly he beat me after the fact!

I recently found out that YOU were the one who told Ed he had beaten me so badly I lost control of my bowels: “I didn’t realize I had done that to you until Pat told me later.” –Ed

Not only did you know, you let it happen.  You were in the kitchen doing dishes not thirty feet from where your husband was violently beating your child!  Did my screaming not clue you in to what was happening?  Dumb question – it happened all the time, you were merely used to it.  Hell, you encouraged it!

You told me, always — “Every month or so your father has to beat the hell out of you to make you behave, then you’re good for a while, but you always need it again”

And it wasn’t like you didn’t beat the hell out of me yourself.

So what is it exactly you don’t remember?

Throwing water in my face

Slapping me in the face

Pinching me

The pants down spankings you gave me – often more than once a day, with a wooden spoon

Abandoning me in a grocery store parking lot for a considerable period of time when I was about six years old

Sending me to my room and then leaving the house, telling me I better hope you got back before Ed got off work and found you gone and I had to tell him it was all my fault … oh, the beating you told me I would get if that ever happened.

You had three children, Pat, and you turned your back on us all.  What did we do to you, any way?  All I can come up with is that we were born, and you hated us for that.  Did you have dreams for your life that went unfulfilled?  Do you blame us for that?  All I know for sure is that you never loved us …

so when you say things like, “I’ve been in therapy for my alcoholic daughter, I have no interest in going to therapy for my son, so I’ll bow out now,”  I have to laugh … as a mother, you were never in.  Do you  not see exactly how that sentence defines you?  Elizabeth’s problems stem from you and Ed, and I NEVER asked you to go to therapy with me or for me – I would rather die than ask you for anything – you taught me well as a child that I couldn’t depend on you for anything but pain.

And it shouldn’t surprise me that you try to hide behind my having Bipolar Disorder, but that is low even for you.  I have Bipolar Disorder, yes – again, it all goes back to you and Ed.  You can’t beat children and abandon them and neglect them without consequences.

you don’t know the first thing about the Bipolar Disorder, so let me reassure you – my memories are just fine, but then you know that, right? – you’re my mother … most of the memories are of you.

And that brings me back to Ed.  Of all the people you have hurt and victimized, perhaps he has suffered most.  So intense was your hatred for him, you stopped at nothing in your quest to make Elizabeth and I share your loathing.  In a divorce, you are supposed to love your children more than you dislike or hate your ex – this so you do not destroy your children in the process of uncoupling.  I suppose you might have accomplished this if you had loved your children, and hadn’t already destroyed them – we will never know now, will we?

You made me fear my father to a degree there are no words to describe – yes, he beat me, but you used that fact to instill terror in my heart.  I was afraid of him every minute of every day.  Do you care, or ever know, what fear like that does to a child … ?

It causes mental illness … and things like alcoholism.

But your mind games, manipulations, lies, drama, neglect and abandonment did the most profound damage of all.

Beatings were terrible to endure, but I’d take ten beatings from Ed over even one incident of you leaving me …

Grown men do not turn their back on their mother without damn good cause.  The world you’ve created isn’t real, Pat – I’m gone because you abused me – it is that simple.  There was never anything between us of substance or value – if there had been, we’d have gotten past what was, in actuality, a very minor rift.   I didn’t come back because there was never anything, or anyone, to come back to.

So, you cling to your loyal christian friends, but please do wonder what they’d think if they really knew you.  The God you pray to now, is he the same God you denied and ridiculed for years following the divorce?  Christians, according to you, were “Thumpers.”  Oh, the old days!

Good for you, embrace growth and personal change … but you do understand, don’t you, that Christian mothers do not turn their back on their children, especially when their children are sick.  Janet, Elizabeth and I have all been sick — where were your Christian values then?  Or is it now?  You seem to believe I am sick … where is my good Christian mother?

The first thing you said to Bev, when she told you we were in contact, was, “Oh, so I guess we’re done.” Do you  not understand she thought she was giving you good news? She thought you’d be happy that I had spoken to her, and maybe through having a relationship with her I’d finally speak to you again, too? You were supposed to happy – Bev didn’t know your pathetic truth then, she didn’t know what you were or what you had done  … but you were so afraid of her learning the truth, you cut her out of your life.  On top of everything else, you are a coward.  First you blamed her for your decision to kick me out of your house, then you disowned her because you couldn’t carry on a relationship with her knowing she knew the truth about you.  Sadly for you …

I’d told her surprisingly little, directly.  Out of my respect for her, and her respect for you, we didn’t discuss you.  She did not read my blog for several weeks following our initial contact … and I would never have put her in the position you did, as far as I was concerned we were both in her life, good!  And so what!

Bev was shocked when you did what you did, cutting her out of your life, but I wasn’t … I actually made sure she knew before I accepted her invitation to coffee what you would do if you found out she had seen me.  She couldn’t believe the worst of you, Pat – she would not believe, despite solid evidence to the contrary – that being your ability to throw all three of your children away – that you would throw her away too.

I know you well, I always have.

And Ed doesn’t deny, not a blessed thing.  Not. A. Single. Blessed. Thing.

You are the only one whose memory is in question.

Tim

Ed

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I received a letter from my father I was afraid I might never receive.  It was candid, heart felt, and full of humility – and it put an end to my feelings of incomplete satisfaction with his inability to own all of his truth.  He owned his truth and more, and he did it in a way I can respect.

The only way for him to share my pain, was to feel my pain – to see himself as he truly was when I was a child.

Thankfully, I will never look into a mirror, or my soul, and find a man who abused his children … but I can feel, and I imagine it is a terrible, devastating blow to fully realize and accept yourself as a father who did.

I take no satisfaction in Ed’s pain, and I knew if I ever got here I wouldn’t, I’m just not that kind of man, but I do feel less burdened by the past.  That weight was never mine to carry, I was a child and bear no responsibility for anything that happened – the wearisome load always his, and Pat’s, to struggle with …

in some ways, he has taken it back.

Abandonment

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My father did not know that my mother punished her children by abandoning us – sending us to our room and then leaving the house when we’d done something she did not approve of.  This happened while he was at work …

So, when the decision was made to put my oldest sister, Janet, in an institution, and my father thought my youngest sister, Elizabeth, and I should accompany them on the day she was left there, he had no way of knowing that decision would be the worst of his life – that he was, in fact, causing his children irreparable harm and scarring them for life.

So intense was my fear of abandonment by that point – and I could not have been more than five years old, all I could think of was that whatever Janet had done, Ed should just beat her so we could take her back home with us.  I will never, ever forget that day …

My mother used a fear of abandonment, a fear she created and cultivated, to control her children – and by the day we left Janet, Elizabeth and I were already deeply damaged and scarred …

Yes, even without knowing what my mother had done to us, Ed should have known better than to take his young children to a place where he was going to leave their sister for good and all.  It was an ill-considered, stupid decision with dire consequences, but he did not intend to hurt us – I know that now, still … noting has ever scared me more in my life.

Many years later, when I left Pat’s house forever, Elizabeth was in Europe studying – a year abroad.  She came home to a very different home and family than the one she had left.  It would be twenty-seven years until she saw me again – other than a couple of very brief encounters.

At the time I left Pat’s house, I was too busy with my new life to consider what my departure from my sister’s may have caused; her abandonment issues could not have been any less profound than mine were, in fact I think they were far worse.  I know now she was devastated.

She’d lost most of her family by that point – whatever had happened between she and Ed had occurred years earlier, and now I was gone.  I didn’t understand it while we were growing up, but I know now she’d always looked to me for comfort and protection … in a sense, I abandoned her too.

Elizabeth was left with Pat.  God alone knows what lies Pat told her to explain my absence.

I never understood why Elizabeth chose to keep our mother in her life; their relationship has been strained at best, and estranged during the worst times, all of Elizabeth’s life …

I think it goes back to her fear of being abandoned, and a self-destructive need to cling the tightest to the person who loves her least and hurts her most.  And Stockholm Syndrome is very typical of survivors of profound child abuse, as my sister is.

Elizabeth, who’d lost everyone else, and couldn’t fathom life on her own, had no choice, conscious or otherwise, but to keep Pat.

It’s all so sad.

When I had a conversation with my Aunt Bev about Pat’s reprehensible behavior and all it has caused this past weekend, I asked her, “How does Pat sleep at night?”

Her witty reply, “Don’t know.  Not my circus, not my monkey,” made me laugh out loud.

And sometimes, laughter is not only the best medicine …

it’s all you can do..

I Don’t Know Exactly …

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Quotes by Criss Jami

how  my absence was explained in the days, weeks, months and years after I turned my back on my parents … but I do know their words were crafted to deceive.

Pat blamed Rhonda, and apparently she also blamed me.  She told my aunt Bev that I had given her an ultimatum; Harlan, the married man she was sleeping with, or me.  No such ultimatum was ever proffered by me.  Interestingly enough, Pat told me the day she made me leave her house that she had spoken to my aunt Bev, who advised her to kick me out if I didn’t like what she was doing. Neither Bev nor I had the whole story, or the truth, Pat saw to that.

It’s true, I didn’t care for my mother’s lack of morality, but I was twenty years old and living in her house, it was not my place to give her any sort of ultimatum and I knew that.   I kept my feelings and opinions to myself and stayed away from Pat as much as I could – it wasn’t hard, she had stopped speaking to me directly.

Pat was duplicitous, conniving and manipulative.  I have no idea if Bev actually told my mother to kick me out of the house or not – I haven’t asked Bev because it really doesn’t matter to me – if she actually did this, she did me the biggest favor anyone has ever done for another, and more importantly, if she did this, she did it as a result of believing Pat’s lies.

Worst of all in all of this, Pat, with intention to do so, laid the blame on Bev for her decision to cut me out of her life. She was weak and cowardly and unable to assume responsibility for her choices on her own and she blamed her sister.  And I left home thinking my aunt Bev was done with me, too.  This also worked to Pat’s advantage by insuring that I wouldn’t reach out to Bev.

Pat hurt so many people in what she did.  I never saw my grandmother, her mother, again – despite having been close to her my whole life to that point.  No one told me she had died, or even that she was ill.  I don’t know what my mother told my grandmother, but when I sent her a baby picture and card not long after my first child was born, she did not write back.  It was painful — no, actually it was devastating. I’d like to think my grandmother didn’t respond to my reaching out because she knew her daughter well enough to fear if she contacted me Pat would cut her out of her life, too …

Pat didn’t – never has and never will – let people decide for themselves who to keep in their lives, she drew lines and manipulated until those who loved us both felt they had to choose a side, and her’s was the only ‘right’ side.  I was silent then, she had their ear; silence further damages the victim … while it protects the Abuser.  She could create and craft any story, deception or lie she chose and there was no one around to refute her tale.

Ed, well his story is a little different, and not nearly so damning.   He did not face reality, though, and went on to create himself anew devoid of any attachment or even nod to his abusive past.  It worked to his definite advantage to have me far removed from his day-to-day life, but I think the greatest deception Ed is guilty of is self-deception.  Others have been deceived, make no mistake, but manipulation was not his intention.

Pat … well, Pat has a purpose for every move she makes.

She is, without question, the story’s villain …

nothing she does is innocent or lucky, by coincidence or happenstance – it all done to her decided advantage.

May God help you if you don’t see or understand this fact …

no one in her life is there forever if she decides it is not to be.

This Far, No Farther; The Line Is Drawn Here

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It isn’t easy, reconciliation.  There are moments that are, but they don’t last, and even though the past is in the past – gone, it is reflected in the here and now.  I don’t really know why that is, but I know that it is.

I let so much go, actually felt the anger, in the form of negative energy, leave my body – no one was more shocked than I was when it all came back.

Reconciliation is a process, I understand that – and it isn’t linear, but I want to make the present mean more than the past; I want to forgive and be able to move forward, leaving yesterday behind for good and all.

In contemplation, the source of my dilemma occurred to me; forgiving Ed goes against my principals – child abuse is unforgivable. And, in my situation the past will always be relevant because it left scars that will never heal, scars that led to illnesses no one should have to endure.

In the beginning, I wanted a sincere apology, which Ed gave – in email and in person.  I wanted him to own his abusive behavior and choices, both of which led to dark and terrible things for his children, and by extension his children’s children …

Now, to bring about lasting resolution that can lead to concrete reconciliation, I need for him to see who he was every single day – I want him to know and understand viscerally that when he says this,  … “You were being just a 5-6 year old kid wanting to be a part of the grown-up games, not some piece of trash on which I could vent my anger.”  He is, in reality, speaking of how he treated me every day of my childhood.  He was always angry.  He was always unconcerned with my feelings.  He didn’t care what I wanted or needed.  He made me feel worthless.  He treated me like trash.  Every. Single.  Day.  It wasn’t an isolated incident, which would have been bad enough, it was always.  Always.  Always.

A man who can do that, in addition to beating me time after time, is showing himself to be an Abuser – and Abusers don’t make mistakes, they make choices and act on them.  It is a personality type, behaviors like these say something about who you are – in truth, behaviors like these define you.

Ed isn’t very good at feeling in connection to his abusive past, and I need him to feel — feeling is part of ownership, a big part.  When I tell him he was always angry …

always venting his anger on me

That he …

always made me feel worthless

always treated me like a piece of trash

He was ..

always losing his temper and beating the hell out of me

always saying, “Too bad Charlie Brown,” when I tried to express honest emotion

I want him to feel something, to acknowledge that he made me feel things no child should ever have to feel.  To finally accept and understand himself to be the monster he was.  Every minute of every day.  He did not make the occasional parenting mistake, he was a monster, an abuser of the highest order.

Ed …

“I remember people yelling at me not to be cruel to such a small defenseless child and my telling them to “f  * off, you were my son and I treat you anyway I wanted.”  Ed, this is who you were.  THIS IS WHO YOU WERE.  Not just that day, but every day.  I was your son, and you DID treat me any way you wanted … and the way you wanted to treat me was nothing short of an atrocity.  Every minute of every day.  These are not merely things that happened – the abusive events I describe on this blog, they are who and what you were.

One beating is a mistake, two you need help …

you beat me so many times I can’t count them all.   And you did it all with the fucked up, self righteous, angry, misplaced authority you displayed and now recall in your own words above.  Oh, and there was NEVER ANY mercy; once you decided to hurt me you didn’t stop until you were satisfied wholly and completely, at least for the moment.

You need to recall my screams.  My pleading with you not to hurt me.  My begging you to just use your hand this time.  My asking you how many times you were going to hit me.  My beseeching you to stop once you began.

And then you need to recall what you said to me every time:  “I’m not going to use my hand, because I don’t want to hurt my hand.”  “I’ll tell you how many times I hit you as soon as I’m done.”  And it felt like you would never stop – you just kept hitting me over and over and over again.  When you did stop, I felt sick and weak for hours – emotionally drained and exhausted until the next time, which was never very long.

I don’t want to remember.

I can’t forget.

This is your truth to own, to accept and to acknowledge to me in totality.  I cannot forgive until you do this.  I don’t think I can even go forward until you do this.  It goes against everything I am, every principle I stand for to accept less than complete atonement for everything you did to me.

As it stands right now, I still feel like that abused little boy — accepting any act of kindness from a cruel and abusive father, and I don’t want to feel like that anymore; I am done being your victim.

If you want to keep me in your life, it’s time to commit.  It’s time to own all of your truth.  It’s time to feel for the child you beat and mistreated his entire childhood.

It’s time for you to act like a father.