I’m sitting here at my keyboard, feeling completely knocked over by the response I got to my post entitled: Occasionally someone extraordinary comes along. And look at that. Here you are.
Thank you so much for all the emails, comments, texts and FB messages. As of this moment I have replied to only a small portion of them, and I’m so sorry for that. I’m getting to each and every message, I promise. It’s just that so many of your messages will be answered by this post of mine, so I thought that getting this published would satisfy a large majority of you.
It turns out that a startling number of you were struck by the way I have described my father in that post and also here, and wanted to know how I could have any self esteem at all based on the information I have revealed. (And trust…I have revealed VERY LITTLE information up to this point) Well, shiiiiittt (insert southern drawl here),
I don’t know. I think you either have that fire within you or you don’t. Apparently I did. There were five of us in that family. My father the unpleasant prick, my mother, me, and my two siblings. If there is one thing I have learned since reconnecting with my youngest sister since my cancer it is that ALL of us had disparate experiences that made us the way we WERE in the case of my mum and dad, and are NOW in the case of me and my siblings.
My two sisters are completely different from me and from each other. A roundabout way of saying we are all totally distinct individuals…though all three of us are survivors. I wouldn’t even dream of understanding what my two sisters went through emotionally. I can only address myself.
My father NEVER broke me. Ever. I hated him and everything he stood for from a very early age. That I am certain of. I never had a feeling of love or attachment to him. He made that completely impossible. This was a man of addictions. To alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, slutty women, gambling, irrational rages and casual meanness. No child of ten should wake up in the middle of the night, after hearing a strange clicking sound, and wander, in complete darkness, to the kitchen to find her father sitting on the kitchen counter pointing a hand gun at her. No child of nine years should have complete knowledge of her father’s adultery. No child of six should be left alone, forgotten, at a horse race track. No child of five should witness her father aiming a shotgun at her mothers head. I know. Not exactly Walt Disney, right?
My father could not keep any gainful employment. The longest he had a legitimate job, as far I can can recall, was when we first arrived in Canada. He got a job with a local factory with a steady income. I think it was the steady part that my father detested the most. He just could not hold a job. As a child I did not understand why. As an adult I realized that it was because he thought he was better than what he was doing. Not once did it ever occur to him to work his way up in an occupation that would reward him, and ultimately his family, by providing stability. Nope. He had to be the big shot right away.
I really cannot remember my father having any proper friends. By proper I mean anyone that was not seedy, vile, ignorant or vulgar. I always felt uncomfortable…even in a bit of danger, when I was in the presence of his “buddies”. Probably the same way women felt in the dark ages, or right now in Cologne, Germany, whenever they have to venture out alone. I did not like the way their eyes would linger on my coltish and very half-grown legs. I was uncomfortable with, what seemed to my young ears, vaguely menacing laughter. I alternated between being puzzled and repulsed by some of the crass remarks my father and his friends would make. Puzzled happened a lot when I was younger. Repulsed happened more frequently as I got older and realized what these grown men were saying about women.
My mother had some nice friends, but the minute they met my father the visits got less frequent, or were strategically timed so my dad would not be around. I always felt safe around my mothers friends. I also could feel and see the pitying looks she and I would receive.
I had very little to do with my father after I left home. Once all three of us were out of the house, my mother finally gathered enough courage and filed for divorce. Just a quick note to everyone out there in an abusive relationship….if you are sticking around because of your kids, don’t do it. Get out. Do what you have to do, but don’t be a coward. Ask for help. My mother never did, though in her defense (and she needed one) she did tell her own mother about the problems and my grandmother’s response was: “Well, you’ve made your bed dear, now you’ve got to lie in it”. Solid advice in some situations, but not when there is violence in the house and three small children. Ah, the joys of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.
Yes, my childhood experiences dictated that I really should have turned out as fragile as a fine china tea cup, and that seems to be the thing that puzzles so many of you. I’ve never given it much thought, really. I have just always been who I am. If I really think hard about why I have been able to truly believe that I am a worthwhile person, despite my father constantly telling me that I was a useless piece of garbage, I believe it is because I chose to listen to a voice.
I’m convinced that we all have a voice inside of us that tells us things. By WE, to be clear, I mean normal, rational, non-narcissistic, non-sociopathic or non-psychopathic people.
I am a TRUE believer that this voice is always positive and tells us what we REALLY are and what we REALLY should be doing. Let’s take someone who is considering adultery. There are not enough hours in the day for someone to pontificate to me that that a normal person (see above as to what I consider normal) would not hear that inner voice saying that this was not right, that you should not do this and that nothing good will come of cheating. Of course a normal person hears that voice. However, it is up to us whether to listen to it or not. It is my belief many people choose to dial that voice down so low that not even a bat could hear it.
When my father would tell me that I was ugly, I’m not going to lie and say I was not hurt by that. Of course I was, but only because he thought that. I never did. Trust, I was no beauty, not by a long shot, but I knew that I had some kind of prettiness, some kind of radiance and if only I could see it, well so be it. That was enough. So when my father called me ugly, a stupid git, a c**t, and a worthless cow it pained me because he thought that way about his own daughter. However, it also outraged me that he thought that saying those things would make me cower and believe everything he said. It never did. I was, and am, unbreakable because I choose to be. I listened to my voice, and I’m grateful for that.
You’re going to think I am completely awful, but this blog is always going to be truthful. My father ended up destitute, in a provincially run senior care facility in Nova Scotia, and when my sister Sarah told me about him, I did not give one tiny rats ass about it. She went out to see him in 2009, after she learned where he was, and this picture was taken while she was there. He was 79.
He thought a picture of Queen Elizabeth II, hanging in the common room, was of our mum. He had dementia, did not recognize Sarah at first and commented to her that she was NOT his daughter. He would have occasional moments of lucidity and recognized Sarah, but he had multiple health issues, besides the dementia, and nothing was being treated because he was too old and frail. He was just waiting to die. I was fine with that. I actually thought it was a very fitting end for such an appalling person. I never asked Sarah what her motivation was for seeing him. Closure perhaps? Though one has to wonder what kind of closure you can get from a man that has lost touch with most of reality. As I wrote earlier, though, we all had different experiences as members of that family.
In 2010 Sarah traveled out there again, with my other sister Wendy, to gather his things. He had died with no one there that had any feelings for him. His remains had been cremated and my sisters wanted to scatter them on water. I did not go. I had no desire to go. I had put my dad to rest decades earlier. He was nothing to me. He was simply the ashes that his body had been reduced to. I hope both my sisters got what they needed out of that trip. We’ve never really discussed it. I was told by them that all his possessions did not even fill up a small suitcase. There was nothing of value. I was not astonished by that. Everything that should have had real worth, he had already thoughtlessly discarded years prior.
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