A Conclusion:

A non-linear background:  Close to four years ago, in the midst of recovery but already emotionally stable, I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  I had no idea if she would return my call, and I certainly didn’t want to cause her emotional pain or distress, but I needed answers only she could provide.

And provide them she did.

By this point, I had had three psychiatrists and three therapists – including those who treated me during a brief out-patient hospitalization – all share with me their belief that I was sexually abused as a child …

To this day I don’t remember being sexually abused … but I do recognize that beatings given in the way my parents, particularly Ed, gave them are a form of ritualized sexual abuse, and that only a sadist could actually do what Ed did to me time and time again; the beatings were perverse and I’ve come to believe, in large part due to admissions he made in our email correspondence, they were sexually gratifying for him to give.

Diagnostically, my medical team also took into consideration Ed’s conviction of Lewd and Lascivious Acts With a Minor, and my sister and mother’s allegations that Ed had molested both Elizabeth and Janet when suggesting I had endured sexual abuse …

and they stated there were probably more I didn’t know about; sexual abusers do not usually have a single victim – (Bill Cosby, anyone?) which I learned was true when I began speaking to my aunt Bev again.  Secrets in abusive families are dark, deep, tangled and common.

And I could not ignore the fact that my illness is consistent with sexual abuse in childhood …

So I reached out to the woman Ed raped when she was a child.  She is pretty amazing.  She was honest and forthright as she shared with me the details of what was the worst moment of her life.  Speaking to me was difficult for her on many levels, but she was gentle, and as kind as she could be, in telling me what a monster my father is.  She believed she had to speak to me – had to answer my questions because I had to know what Ed was capable of doing to a child just in case there were children in his life currently.  She asked how Elizabeth was, and wished her well, and she was very glad to learn Ed had no contact with his grandchildren.  She spoke with complete emotional candor that reduced us both to tears …

When Ed and I began speaking (emailing) he was reluctant to share with me the details of his depraved act against this innocent young girl, claiming this incident had no impact on my life – my growing up or my childhood.  (yes, he really said this) When I finally insisted he speak to me about it, he told the story from a very cold and sterile perspective, a  perspective that considered ONLY his feelings — what she must have felt wasn’t even a mention in his narrative.  His facts were similar to hers, but only to a point; he raped her; he took something from her that was not his to take.  She was victimized and sexually violated, and she has lived with the consequences of his actions every day since then.

In conclusion:

I believe in fact, evidence and science.  The case against Ed is pretty damning, and there has been no redemption, no change in heart or soul that I have witnessed.

I remain fearful for the young children now in his life, but I am thankful Elizabeth and I weren’t foolish enough to allow him a place in the lives of our own children.

I understand now that Pat’s motivation – making me hate my father – does not mean that what she said about Ed isn’t true.

I will never know all of what happened to me, or my sisters, when we were children;  I’m strangely OK with that, for now; however, I would still welcome the answers to questions no child should ever have to ask.

There will likely never be a complete conclusion.

Out Loud Thoughts

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My childhood memories are dark, and they play in my head like a horror movie matinee on a grey, stormy day – they can leave me feeling haunted and unsettled.

Ed’s brief return to the fringes of my life has given me pause, and much to consider and reconcile with all I had previously processed and concluded.

To begin with, because I once again have a close relationship with my aunt Bev, I have information about Ed I didn’t have before, information that causes me to rethink much of my position on Ed’s ability to sexually abuse a child.  My aunt was very young (10ish) when she told Pat (her sister) and my grandmother (her mother) that Ed would watch (read, leer at) her take a bath when she was staying at our house; they didn’t believe her, so she didn’t tell my grandfather … so much would likely be different if she had; I suspect he would have believed her unequivocally.  Children DO NOT make up sexual impropriety on the part of an adult …

Ed would send my mother out of the house and then force Bev to take a bath; this happened several times.

As I have stated before, my mother did not accuse Ed of sexually abusing my sister until after they divorced, and then I never heard the end of it.  My view: it was crystal clear that she wanted me to hate him, and this allegation was a way to discredit him in my eyes.  I knew my mother so well, even then, that I was determined not to personally consider the possibility that Ed had molested Elizabeth, and/or Janet …

but what if, in my stubborn and youthful determination to disbelieve Pat – someone whose motivations I had long since stopped trusting to be benevolent, I closed my eyes to the truth?

Pat, just before I left her house for good and all, had a private and tearful conversation with Rhonda – a conversation in which she made Rhonda promise if we ever got married and had children she would never, ever leave them alone with Ed. She told Rhonda that Ed had sexually abused Janet and Elizabeth, but that I didn’t believe this …

And I hear the words of medical professionals echoing in my head:

“I strongly believe, in addition to the physical and emotional abuse you clearly recall, you were also sexually abused in childhood, Mr.  Shockley, and these memories you have repressed.”  — every therapist and psychiatrist I have ever seen.

And Ed went to prison for Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor – she was fourteen.  This is a charge I call rape; any non-consensual sexual act is, to my way of thinking, rape.  Not only could she not legally consent at fourteen, she didn’t consent by his own admission.

My instincts tell me to be wary of him …

I feel gullible and naive, until I remember the film noir set my childhood was filmed on; I learned to block out as much as I could …

It kept me alive,

and sane.

Answers To Your Comment

Dear Reader,

I am ready to discuss your lengthy comment of 15 September.

This blog is not static; it represents my thoughts at a given point in time; I fully understand that healing is not a linear process.  In keeping with my personally held belief that everyone is entitled to a second chance, I heard what Ed had to say, and I gave him almost a year to take responsibility for what he did.  That was the right thing to do, for me. Forgiveness, in the true sense of the word, was impossible from the start; child abuse is unforgivable, and I never sought peace through a relationship with Ed – I sought answers.  Answers I found.

I did not further vilify Pat through correspondence with Ed; I learned to separate MyAbusiveParents into Pat and Ed, my abusive parents.  I didn’t know, for example, that Ed was unaware of Pat’s penchant for abandoning her children, so I held him collectively accountable along with her; he may not have played the abandonment card himself, but for decades I believed he supported and condoned this action – therefore, to my mind, he was complicit in her actions.

Pat is someone I know very well, and have for the whole of my life.  For everything I share on Silence Shattered, there is much more I don’t share – or at least haven’t shared yet; Pat vilifies herself, as does Ed.

The decision to distance myself from Ed now is based in the anxiety I feel when I am with him.  This anxiety is palpable, and it makes my wife and children extremely uncomfortable.  The bottom line:  Ed has not changed, he has merely grown older and better at manipulation.  I don’t want to be alone with him, and I certainly would never leave him alone with a child.

When I was first diagnosed, my psychiatrist was insistent that I revisit the past; feel everything I had never allowed myself to feel before – this in order to gain understanding and acceptance of my own thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings that had never mattered a damn to Pat and Ed; it was hell, but I did it.  This therapy, though highly beneficial, was incomplete; it had been more than thirty years since I had seen my parents, and I had never confronted them in a constructive way – never had a chance to find all of my answers; what I have done with Ed this past year allowed for Post-Traumatic Growth, and for me it was necessary.

Although I did give Ed an opportunity he did not deserve, I never felt an emotional connection to him, or pull to find one; he is and ever will be the father who beat and neglected me.  He is the man – no, the monster, who sexually molested my sister’s friend – and if my sister is to be believed, the repugnant, depraved father who molested her.

But I was at a place where I had to know … and now I do.  The abuse in my family, at least on Ed’s side, is multi-generational; it is part and parcel of being Shockley.  It is insidious and pervasive – and worst of all, it is simply accepted. No one talks about it, no one seeks to examine or change anything; no one breaks the cycle.  The damage is so deep, and so much a part of their genetic legacy, they are, in many ways, inhuman; incapable of empathy, understanding or insight – Ed lacks the ability to simply feel.

I found my peace many years ago; first when I married my wife and became part of a functional, loving family, and later when I became a father and discovered a complete love I never knew was possible.  In breaking the cycle, I became whole. Healing and consistent recovery in dealing with Bipolar Disorder required that I evaluate my childhood — peace will never be found, for anyone, in a world in which Pat and Ed are a part; I knew this when I decided to give Ed a chance, and I knew it when I realized that with Pat I could never even go that far.

I’m sorry you know firsthand the necessity of estrangement from your parents, but trust this means you have some idea of the complexities that lead to its inception, and the need for it to continue.  There are layers and layers of thoughts, feelings and emotions at the core of this issue – none of it is easy to sift through and make sense of; hence this blog represents my thoughts and feelings at a given point in time; it is abstract because abuse and its aftermath creates an abstract world for survivors.  Conclusions are reached – but they aren’t what we are conditioned to believe they should be; a child is not supposed to be better off without his parents in his life … and hurting their child should be inconceivable for any parent; sadly, societal truths are not my truth, nor are they truth for any survivor.

It is what it is, and survivors deal with the aftermath in unique and individual ways. For most thinking, feeling human beings, it is difficult to see our parents, or anyone, as inhuman; incapable of emotional connection, love or empathy.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shake their head in dismay when they learn that I haven’t seen my parents in decades … we are conditioned to expect the best in people, sometimes even though we know better.  For what its worth, I have never been surprised that my parents didn’t reach out – they were happy to be rid of their children; we weren’t wanted to begin with, and we were a link to a past they wanted no one to know of.  I make a liar of Pat and Ed in the eyes of everyone who knows them … Did I expect that Ed had changed? No.  Ed was put into the position of having to reach out, this blog did that.  He has a life he wants to protect.  There was no sincerity in his actions, and anyone who believes otherwise is a fool.

I am not jaded or cynical; I am a realist; pragmatic and resolute.  My parents taught me very well who and what they were, and always will be.

I wish you a happy and fulfilling outcome, whatever that may be for you.

Kind regards,

Tim

Untitled: A Letter To My Parents

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Pat and Ed,

It is sometimes difficult to remember that your treatment of me was never about me, and always about you.  You so often told me I was bad I believed it myself.  And because I was bad, I deserved every act of abuse you levied against me. Today I see clearly just how fucked up you were – and still are, but as a child I took responsibility for everything you did to me.

I was twenty years old when I began dating Rhonda, and she was the first person I ever told about the beatings and other abuse.  I was ashamed to tell anyone; by then I knew what you had done was wrong, but it was humiliating to speak of. I was conflicted emotionally, and I didn’t yet understand the abuse viscerally, so I kept it all inside.

When I say Rhonda was the first person I told, I mean she was the first person I told other than Lois (my maternal grandmother) who questioned me about the bruises I had on my ass and legs when she was giving me a bath one night – I may have been four or five; “Daddy spanked me,” was the answer; she expressed her disgust – her hatred of Ed, but nothing more than that.  And then there was the gym teacher who questioned why I could hardly walk after the beating Ed gave me with the tree branch – I told him my father had spanked me a little too hard, but that I had deserved it. I actually took responsibility for that violent, rage inspired beating; I protected you, Ed.  It was years later, when I was an adult and had access to my CUM folder from my school years, that I realized exactly how many people knew you abused your children – and, of course, exactly how reviled they were by you.

It was a different world then – you could get away with abusing your children.  Most people believed that unless a child was in danger of losing his life, he belonged with his parents.  No one yet understood that the assumption of love inherent to that belief – a blind faith that all parents love their children and would never knowingly cause them harm – was fallacious in many cases.  No one was ready to face the stark, cold and bleak reality that for some children, parental love is nonexistent. Love in our home was a concept –  a word we used, but a feeling and emotion none of us knew or understood.

Ed, you speak of your affinity for Janet in a way that borders on unhealthy obsession – and you beat Elizabeth and I without feeling or remorse.  There is so much contradiction and conflict in this picture of your character I have no idea where to begin; it troubles me to the very core of my being.  When you speak of how you felt when we left Janet in institutional care – how difficult that was for you emotionally, I cannot feel empathy for you because you are the same father who tortured your other children.  How am I supposed to reconcile this?  It makes no sense.  If you actually did feel a deep connection to Janet, why did it not extend to Elizabeth and I – were we not your children, too?  Did we not deserve to know a kind, loving and compassionate father?

And Pat, even to this day you deny, so you haven’t stopped abusing.  You blame much of the content of this blog on my having Bipolar Disorder, which is despicable even for you.  I’m told you may be sick, and if you are sick, I’m sure you believe the cause to be your broken life – the stress and pain you have endured along the way.  I’m in no position to dispute the truth in that belief; I know all too well there are limits on what one can endure, and what happens when we’re taken past the point of no return.  Odd to think that maybe – perhaps, we’re in the same metaphorical boat – and you actually put yourself here too. If you are suffering the effects of what you have done, and those effects have manifested in illness, you and you alone bear the responsibility.  I did not write this story, Pat, I’m just telling it; you have always been unfeeling – incapable of empathy or remorse, love or affection – motivated only by what is best for yourself; I pity you, I always have.

You were young, and you  had no business having children.  Your marriage was less than ideal, and built on a shaky foundation.  You had an ill child and no money.  I understand all of that, but it does not excuse anything you did to Janet, Elizabeth and I – it never has and it never will.  At the end of the day, you destroyed your own children.  I have grieved for who I was meant to be – the boy you killed, who never got the chance to exist – the man he would have become.  I have mourned the absence of a mother and father throughout my life – all I had were tormentors who, in the end, were too stupid or blind or self-deluded to understand why I left and never came back.  And I have walked through hell and back to save myself after you made it crystal clear in my childhood that I couldn’t count on anyone else, least of all you, for love and support, or even a family and a soft place to land.

I would love to be able to say in honesty, “I’m over it; I have no desire to hurt back, no need for hatred or vengeance or retribution, but I can’t; it will have to be enough to say in honesty,”I will never avail myself of hatred or vengeance or retribution.”  Although all are owed, deserved, and ordained by the principle of Karma – I will not be that force.

I look at my children and know they are, quite simply, the best part of who I am.  There is nothing I would not do for them, no lengths I would not go to ensure their happiness and well being.  My life – my marriage, the kind of father I am and will always be, is what is supposed to be, what is meant to be.  If you fail your children, you have failed at life itself. What right do you have to a happy life if you betray and harm your child?

But, I will not be that Karmic force in your life, no matter how much I may want to be, because I will not be that man in the eyes of my children.  

Tim

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

Stolen Feelings

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I found out recently, on Mother’s Day actually, that my mother is ill; Lupus.  She paid my sister a brief visit, during which I’m told she needed oxygen …

I feel nothing.

I’ve tried in the last few weeks to get in touch with some sort of visceral response to this news, but I can’t.  And it isn’t merely that I lack the ability to access long dead feelings, the feeling themselves do not exist – and I’m coming to understand more and more clearly they never did.

From my mother I learned betrayal, pain, fear and abandonment – feelings, yes, but not the kind that lead a son to despair, or even compassion and concern, in learning that his mother is seriously ill.

It’s scary to think  how well she taught me, how easily I can give her now what she gave me then.  There is no conscious decision on my part, and maybe that is scarier still; my reaction is both ruthless and natural.

My mother sent my daughter a graduation card this week, I wasn’t sure what to make of that.   Her manipulations are legendary, and I’m wary of even seemingly benign or well intended gestures.  Is she reaching out now because she’s sick?  Does she really want to know her granddaughter?  Is it something else?  Is she jealous because Ed is now part of our lives?  I have no idea.

But I do know that, because of her reprehensible parenting, I don’t feel for her what a son should feel …

and I don’t think I ever have.

In Her Own Words

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As I do not blog anonymously, I receive notes and messages from people who know me, or knew me as a child, or who know my parents – then and/or now.  Sometimes I know or remember these people, sometimes the notes come from people I have never met personally.

Many of the notes offer support and understanding, in fact not a single one has been unkind or in adamant defense of my parents.  I would have to say the closest note of defense for either of my parents came from my cousin, Mina, who shared with me the kind and gentle man my father had always been with her.  And apart from correspondence I’ve had with my paternal aunt, Laura, not even one note has hinted at disbelief of a single word written here … on the contrary, most notes end with some version of, “now everything makes sense.”

Perhaps the strangest twist of all is that people actually send me notes that Pat has sent to them …

I have found in life that loyalty begets loyalty, people will respond kindly to you if you are kind to them, and we get back only what we give.  This is Universal Law, and it is a moral imperative …

so I do not wonder how it is these people, presumed friends of my mother, can share her words with me;  at some point, we all see through the mask worn by another.

So, Dear Reader, when I share my thoughts on my mother today – offer my belief that she has not changed, and vehemently denies, I am often responding to her own thoughts and words.

Excerpt from a recent note I received:

“I have also accepted the fact that Tim has Bipolar disorder.  I looked up the symptoms of Bipolar disorder, and one of them is distorted memory.  He may, and probably does, “remember” very vividly, the horror that he has printed on the internet.  There is no cure for Bipolar disorder, only meds to keep it “at bay”, and I will take this opportunity to just bow out and save myself the headache of dealing with it.”

Of course looking something up on the internet now passes for research for a lot of people, so I’ll let that go … but I will point out that Distorted Memory and Distorted Memories are not the same thing.  Distorted Memory refers to deficits in executive function, ie memory storage and retrieval – it has NOTHING to do with memories themselves.

And, she bowed out a long, long time ago – in fact as a mother, she was never IN.

Another passage:

“I have been in therapy for my alcoholic daughter, and am not interested in going into therapy for my son …”

Any good therapist would point out a couple of things here:

1.  Having two children with a serious mental illness, especially presenting as mine and Elizabeth’s did, almost certainly indicates they experienced traumatic events in childhood.

2.  If her son is sick, as she’d like everyone to believe that I am [because she feels that exonerates her – i.e. her ignorant definition of what Distorted Memory means] what does it say about her character that she, my mother, is unwilling to support me, love me, help me?

But the line, “save me the headache of dealing with it.”

That pretty much says it all.