Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Immediate Family and other trivia

This is a snapshot of my family when I was like 6 years old. I had two parents. One male. One female. One sibling. Female. Four grandparents. Two female. Two male. Two uncles, one living. One great grandmother. Very old. Numerous great aunts and uncles and all the associated cousins of various degrees. The extended family is extensive and varied and the family tree sometimes wraps back around itself in some questionable ways. LOL. You all do know that I married my cousin, right? Yes, I will explain. No, it's not what you are thinking. We don't have kids that look like Sloth from the Goonies movie. Look it up.

I will start with my parents and grandparents. And I will tell you now that not all stories are funny.

My dad was an alcoholic. A professional beer drinker complete with the giant belly. Almost every activity included beer in some way. At least that’s how I remember it. He was an army veteran although he has never once in my memory mentioned anything about it. He seemed very much a victim of the societal norms of the time that were placed upon him as a father. I can’t remember hugs and kisses and I love yous. I don’t think it was tough love either. I don’t know if the lack of affection was what was expected or if the beer took it away or if it was just his normal manner. I don’t know. That is the theme for much of what I will be writing about my family. I don’t know. He was self employed and owned and operated a backhoe tractor for various contractors. He made a good honest living. My dad taught me how to fish and hunt, that honesty was a good quality, that hard work was ok. But he wasn’t the dad a kid really needs. I blame the drinking. My choice. It’s better than the alternative answer. He drank all the time. All of his friends drank all the time. He spent afternoons in bars and weekends in coolers of coors. I got very little guidance from him. No information. No boundaries. No real feeling of safety. He didn’t beat me or hit me. He never even yelled at me. He just wasn’t there. As an adult I understand the disease of alcoholism but as a kid all you know is that you have a need and the person to fill that need isn’t available for you. Period. As a kid I was filled with confusion and embarrassment and bewilderment at our relationship but I didn’t understand that the booze was the real problem. As a teen I just pretended it didn’t exist. But all my friends knew. They laughed at him and by proxy, at me. I spent a lot of adult years working thru my own issues caused by my dad. I still do. I have emotions that run the gamut. I’ll discuss those another day.

My a free spirit. Too free. So free that motherhood didn’t suit her well at all. I dont really know all that much about my mom. I dont understand her really. Never did. Still dont. We arent from the same planet. She has a lot of emotional brokeness i can only suspect came from her parents and from her inability to fit into her generation. She seemingly was just born like 40 years too early. She didn’t drink but she couldn’t stay in one place very well. She is a collector of wayward souls. She is supremely artistic and talented and has used almost none of the talent for anything worthwhile except for occasional bursts of brilliance. I have wondered if she is really a genius that had been caged for too long. Dunno. Of course with dad being an alcoholic i don’t even begin to understand her dynamic. I only know what she was to me and how she made me feel. Like with my dad, I don’t remember that closeness that mothers have for their kids. I know she loved and cared for me but there always seemed to be something missing. I could have blocked it from memory but i dont remember many hugs or luv yous. Now, she seems kinda like a pretend mom back then. She always seemed to have her own agenda, her eyes on some other distant prize. She was supportive of me and even in her times of aloofness she always accepted me into her home wherever she happened to be. Just like my dad there was a serious lack of boundaries and instruction and well, mothering. We did have some talks but it felt like she was going to be there to help me pick up the pieces but never really gave me any instructions on how to deal with the pieces in real time. Maybe it’s because she couldn’t do that herself. I dunno. I'm glad to be here because of her but i think we all understand that in hindsight she should never have had kids. In her generation it was what you did and she walked the line like every other girl fresh out of high school. I do harbor some resentment with my mom too but it is different from how I feel with my dad. She was more honest with her abilities and desire to be a mom even tho it wasn’t ever really said or spoken. It was just somehow understood. We don’t have many things in common. I think she tried to be something more significant to me when I was in my teens but it just didn’t work out right, like she was just trying to be my friend and not my mom. I had real difficulty connecting with her on a level playing field when I was in my teens. It just never felt natural. Like there had to be a script for me to feel comfortable talking with her. She has left me with some legacies but the difference between her an my dad is that she has at least tried to say she was sorry in her way. It doesn’t make us friends or buddies but i seem to handle it a little better. She left me with a lifetime of lung troubles from her chain smoking my entire childhood. Every time i clear my throat of crap it reminds me of her and it makes me angry. It's not her fault. It's just a fact I live with daily. We are friendly now and I can see in her that she wishes the hole between us had never happened but that we have really gone too far to change it. So we gingerly walk around it and do our best. We have found a pretty good middle ground now where we can enjoy an hour or two together. It’s ok now that Im 45 years old. It wasn’t when I was 14.

There you go. Two parents. The very very short version. There will be much more to come in stories and memories but you needed to know some basics to understand me better.

Yes, i do have a sister. 8 years older than me. So much older that we have never had a relationship of any kind. Our life paths went in entirely separate ways. Not better or worse, but certainly different. Just like mom, we don’t have much in common. No reason to talk. No reason to hang out. When I was in my teens there was some time when our paths crossed more often but by then our lifestyles were very different and it wasn't comfortable for me. I showed her around vegas once. It was fun. I see her every couple of years for a few hours. Both she and my mom fall into the same category in that we can hang out as long as there is an event surrounding us. A casino. A pool hall. A holiday. She will come thru in stories. I don’t know a whole lot about her. I have a lot of extrapolated ideas and circumstantial evidence but basically i dont have much real evidence to use to establish a relationsip. I have some stories but the facts may be all wrong. I've made judgements about her that may be way off base.

I will end this post with one fact that echoes in my soul every single day of my life, molds the raw emotions that erupt from within me and fuels my scorching insecurities.

My parents screamed at each other. Often. Always at night.


There was hitting. And threats. And crying. And thrown objects and breaking noises. And nights my mom would run away to somewhere and someone else. And my dad would go to bed like nothing ever happened.

And I was there. I heard every word. I felt every slap. Every door slam a lightning bolt to my heart. With my head under my Hair Bear Bunch pillow and hiding under my Scooby Doo sleeping bag. With giant tears in my eyes and my fingers shoved two knuckles deep into my ear. Begging them to stop. Praying for them to stop.

Trying to figure out...WHAT I HAD make them hate each other so much.


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