You call this “love” but I can’t. Whatever this is feels like being wheeled into the operating room after years of waiting for surgery, where I’m not entirely convinced that this operation will work but I’m willing to try. It’s the final hope, the last resort after exhausting all other options and, though I am […]
It’s a rainy, reflective Saturday afternoon here in my dad’s big old house and I can’t help but think of the many rainy Saturday afternoons my dad probably sat here, watching golf or westerns or gospel videos on his big tv. It’s a safe bet that he’d call me or the girls at least once (or maybe 5?) times to just say, “Hey bayyybeee” in that deep southern baritone voice of his. I’d guess these would be the rare days when one of the three of us hadn’t asked him to do something for us, take us somewhere or buy us some desperately wanted thing we “direly needed”.
I feel sad when I think of how many of those times I wasn’t really doing anything important, but I’d hurry off the phone after a few minutes of chit chat. I really don’t believe my dad knew lonely though. He stayed so busy golfing and taking care of us til the very last end that he never could have felt unwanted or very much alone. We needed him too much. I believe he felt sad when mother left him for her boyfriend. I’d imagine he might have felt lonely then, but I’d guess it was more sad and heartbroken than actual loneliness.
The last few months of his life though, in hindsight it was almost as though he knew it was almost time to go. He wasn’t sick or anything, he just started seeming more eager for company. And he suddenly started being irrationally worried about me. Almost as though he feared I might get in trouble somehow and need him and he might not be able to be there this time…
My dad was not a perfect man by any means. There were a few times in my life he really disappointed me. We only saw him once a month or so growing up, but often he’d get a babysitter and go on a date… And I’d be bummed because I wanted every second possible with him. Sometimes my dad would drink too much, usually while playing old country music songs and reminiscing about mother. This made me uncomfortable because mother talked so horribly about him that it broke my heart to see how much pain he was in about their divorce. In hindsight, I realize my mother was leading him on and sleeping with him long after she left him to marry my step-dad, so no wonder he was so torn apart for so long about it.
Once, he took us to one of his clubs where he socialized and drank frequently and got rip-roaring drunk. He got so very drunk that around 10 pm when we got in his car, he just sat there with his head slumped over the steering wheel – not saying anything. I was scared. I’d seen my daddy a bit drunk a few times but never slumped over his steering wheel in total silence! After awhile, I felt so scared I said, Daddy are you okay? He didn’t reply. Daddy? Daddy??!? Finally he mumbled, “go back in there and get Bob for me, ok?”
Now, I was really scared! I ran as fast as I could back inside to get his best friend and drinking buddy, Bob Taylor. Bob was also very drunk and started teasing me, laughing “What’s wrong? Your dad too drunk to drive y’all home?”
I didn’t think it was very funny and I didn’t think that was very nice to say.
But Bob’s girlfriend got us home and daddy apologized the next day. You couldn’t have given me a million dollars to tell mother that had happened! I would have bit my own tongue off before I told her anything she could possibly exaggerate and run around putting my dad down about.
No, my dad said he was sorry and I never thought of it again. It never happened again either. Unlike mother, my dad wasn’t ever afraid to apologize or admit when he was wrong.
My dad was an imperfectly perfect human being. He never made me feel bad when I made a mistake. instead, he made me feel loved by forgiving me and never bringing it up again. He didn’t throw things in my face repeatedly or act as though he was beyond reproach because he was my dad. He was human. He was wonderful. He was patient (usually!). He was generous, kind, loving, and forgiving.
My dad never once made me feel like he didn’t have the time for me…not even when I was being ridiculous or when I was depressed and talking nonsense. He never shamed me or made me feel ashamed to be me.
Toward the end though, I treated him like I didn’t have the time. And look at me now, with not a single person in the world who has the time for me. All those important friends I had…catering to my children…too worried about this or too busy with that….
Where’s all that stuff now?What did those “important” things add up to be? Nothing. And certainly nothing of any importance compared to precious time with my dad. I’d give anything for 5 more minutes to just hear his voice, to sit and drink a beer with him, watching tv and chatting about this or that…
I suppose I deserve to know what it feels like to be treated by the world as though I don’t exist at all or as though everyone’s just too busy for me. I did treat my dad like that sometimes and he, of anyone in my entire life, did not deserve that.
My dad was most incredibly amazing. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to accept or reconcile that he’s gone.
I came into contact with an artist from Sweden who sketches such cool stuff. Her name is Lena Wennbo. After looking at her sketches, I adored her simplicity and thought my daughters would really like her stuff as well. I contacted her and requested she do a sketch for each of my daughters. I sent her a photo of each girl and told her to just sketch whatever she felt inspired to…
She named Lexi’s sketch “Royalty” and Savannah’s is called “Reaching”. I found her insight from just looking at a photo very interesting. I’ve always thought if Lexi were a color, she’d be the most beautiful blue and she’s a child who was born with a natural quiet sense of elegance and grace which I associate with royalty. Savannah’s implies her natural creativity and independent sense of self. Savannah has always danced to her own unique rhythm and creative flair. I adore that about her!
I would like to print and professionally frame them as gifts for my daughters to keep forever in memory of me, but I no longer know where they live, so that’s impossible. Since I received them in email format though, I can at least send them via email or have a friend email them for me to each of them.
I’m very excited about how she captured the essence of them so easily. They are perfect!
Today is the birthday of the female who gave birth to me. She turns 67 today. I will always feel uncomfortable on this day. It’s a weird feeling to know there is a person out there whom I once shared a body with who not only doesn’t care if i live or die, but who actually gets pleasure from my pain.
As a child, I sensed her snide joy whenever I hurt either from her hand or another’s. I was a wise enough child to try to justify that in my mind and heart. I fully believed that was real love and I accepted to the best of my young and immature ability that when I “grew up”, I’d be able to understand better how that is love no matter how much it didn’t make sense to me at the time. My sick gut feeling I got regularly when this woman was ruthlessly and randomly cruel would be proven wrong the minute I matured enough to understand real love. After all, I was just a child… how could I understand such complex things as even love was supposed to hurt? And hurt bad and hurt regularly? How could I possibly know the right way to love a child? I was just a child myself! One day it would all be crystal clear and the words she occasionally spoke saying I love you would some day make sense even though her actions and behaviors didn’t feel like love to a silly little sensitive child like myself who probably was just extra needy of love and affection because I was just so unlovable and so very difficult to love.
As an adult, it never did make sense. I was 23 and had been in therapy since I first was freed from the mother at 17. After my first year of therapy and telling brutal truths (truths I hadn’t ever admitted even to myself before) about how truly horrible and unlovable I had always been, I will never forget the exact moment my therapist said the words, Do you ever resent your dad for not protecting you from such horrific abuse from your mother?
Immediately, I felt defensive of both my parents and guilty that I had apparently somehow inadvertently misled this woman whom was the first person in my world I’d been brutally upfront and honest about every single bad thing about me, every last little bad deed I had done and even the horrible thoughts of self pity and ingratitude I had felt so often throughout my 20-some years of life at all the love I’d been given even though I didn’t deserve any at all.
What? Abuse??!? No, you don’t understand Dr. Patty! I wasn’t abused. My mother loved me! There was no abuse?? I was not abused. I was a difficult child. I was born really bad and impossible to love. My mother tried really hard to love me and she loved me sometimes in spite of how awful I was born. And my daddy??!?? Ummm… why would my daddy have protected me from being loved by my mother? He loves me too. He wanted me to be loved and to grow up and be a good person. He loves me in spite of being born bad and completely unlovable too!! ABUSED? ME?!?? No! You’ve misunderstood ! Somehow I’ve tried to tell you every awful truth about me and you’ve totally misunderstood, Dr. Patty!!
I couldn’t understand how I had misled Dr. Patty so badly even by being 100% truthful no matter how embarrassing it was to admit what a horrible human being I was. I couldn’t grasp why she wasn’t confirming what I needed her to confirm- how lucky I was to have had a mother who loved me so much even though I certainly had never been worthy of any love at all.
This was why I was investing so much time and effort into therapy!! I was a “grown up” now and I was still sometimes ungrateful and immature enough to not feel like my mother loved me even though she’d said the words to me all my life, why did her actions still seemed senselessly cruel, demeaning, and evil? Those words that proved my intuition and understanding were just twisted and backward. Those beautiful words that proved what a wonderful and amazing mother God had given me… those three words, I love you.
Abused?!? I was not abused! I was lucky and so very loved! And now, I’m an adult and I need to understand that truth . I’ve waited my entire life to understand this is the truth of love. Love hurts . Love feels cruel and sad and very painful , but that is what love is!! Why do I STILL feel in my gut that it’s not love? Why can’t I understand what real love is? How can I be intelligent and still be clearly so immature emotionally that my mind and my heart are still in constant conflict? Why does my mind STILL try to convince me that love shouldn’t hurt when my heart knows my mother painfully loved me !? I was supposed to understand by now that my mother loved me beautifully all my life!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME THAT I STILL DON’T GET IT?
Dr. Patty, that’s just crazy…. I was NOT abused. Why would you even say that to me?
After this infuriating misunderstanding, I skipped my appointments with Dr. Patty for a few weeks. I was so frustrated that I had somehow misled her even by being brutally honest.
It felt like the time I was 14 and went to the optometrist. I answered every question and eye test truthfully and still I somehow “faked that I needed glasses”. I didn’t need glasses. I “just wanted attention because I was a needy, overly sensitive, never-satisfied-with-the-love -I-got-every-single-day kind of impossible and ungrateful child”. I didn’t need glasses, I was just trying to get attention. And ohhhhhhh boy, was my mother pissed at me for lying to the optometrist!! And livid that I had “cheated” on the eye exam and totally “manipulated the doctor” into believing I needed glasses when I didn’t. I was just trying to get more undeserved attention than I already got every day.
And now, I’d cheated and misled my own therapist too! I had to accept that I was so bad and so irreparably broken that I had done it again even though I thought I’d been totally FUCKING honest this time!
I was just fucked. I was hopelessly fucked.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I became a momma myself that I realized Dr. Patty had been so right. There was nothing in the world I could imagine more terrifying and utterly crushing than the sound of my babies crying or hurt or disappointed even. Then, I knew I had been in denial all my life. I had never even known or been able to understand love nor to what degree I would be willing to go to protect my child from hurt and harm until I looked into the sweet blue eyes of my two precious babies.
I knew love. It really wasn’t me!! The woman who gave birth to me had zero comprehension or ability to love outside herself or her bitter resentments or her furious seething anger at simply being forced to look at the light in my soul.
I have understood love all my life. And dammit, I would show my children all the love I could possibly demonstrate.
So happy birthday to the woman who doesn’t acknowledge my existence, who thrives on my miseries, who feels invigorated by my pain and struggles, who can’t tolerate anyone loving me, who doesn’t care if I starve, or if I die, or if I’m beaten or raped… happy birthday to the woman who spent 27 years showing me everything HATE, apathy, anger, injustice,and senseless cruelty is… who demonstrated clearly the fucking opposite of anything love could ever be.
After all, Mommie was really nice to me once when the janitor at my school put his hands inside my panties in the first grade. That was before I was truly bad and slutty and evil though… several years before my Shameful Panties.
Happy birthday, Mommie Dearest. I don’t wish you any ill will. My only wish for you is that all the “love” you showed me will come back to you threefold. You worked hard for that karma. And I want nothing less for you.
Happy birthday from your other, nonexistent child who could never get anything right in her life, who desperately just wanted to love and be loved by you.
Happy birthday to you.