Monday, January 12, 2009

My Father

I thought several days about writing this blog entry. It is personal and very exposing. Why I even keep and open diary online blog is beyond me. Maybe because I want to help others in the same situation. Maybe because I just want people to know. Maybe I have become too tired of holding in all the secrets that I do so I have let some leak out. Though most of them I will take to the grave.

I grew up in a not so emotionally well household. It was not the worst and compared to other stories I have heard about other peoples family's mine was a picnic. I can only write down things that I remember going through and my own life experiences. I am not looking for pity. I am simply just telling a story of me. Someday I might decide I am done with the blog and it will all go away. Though I have learned on the internet nothing ever really goes away.

I will leave my mother out of this story for the most part because although she has played a major role in shaping my life, not always for the good, I feel that she is more a victim of her own life and did the best she could and still does. I understand why she has made the choices she has made and though at times I wish she understood me more or would change I can accept her flaws because she does and has tried to change. Even if she never gets there I can at least know she tries in her way.

I assume my father is also a victim of his up bringing I mean isn't everyone? I know very little about my father. I could tell you very little about what his actually job is, his likes or dislikes. I know next to nothing about his childhood and when I have asked growing up he only said "I don't remember". I know very little of where he lived, what he did while he was in high school or college. Except that he ran track. I know that detail because once we went to a college reunion when I was a child and because in high school I was pretty much forced to join track because he had done it when he was in school.

He never says much of anything, no friends and just reads books. That much I know. I also know that he hardly throws out mail. At my parents house the whole basement is just pretty much boxes of mail. In one room down there the mail goes to the ceiling and their is only a little path from the door in that room that leads to the closet. The closet also filled with mail.

In the outside world my father is very quiet, but that is completely different than how he is at home. He yelled all the time when I was growing up. His anger has slowed down over the years, maybe from getting older or because I am not there. My mother says he yells less now, but she also says she has learned to ignore him. So maybe it just seems like less. Maybe she has mastered the art of avoiding his triggers.

Other than spanking and being hit a few times with a belt growing up he never beat me. To younger people that might sound awful in itself, but you have to remember this was and still is acceptable (in some family's) to do to punish a child. So for that I have no issue. Depending on if I deserved the spanking at times is debatable.

From here all I can do is tell random stories and comments made so you can get an over all picture of my childhood with him.

When my mother would take out pots and pans to cook, if one should slide out of the lower cabinet and hit the floor my father would come tearing up the basement stairs shouting "What broke!! What broke!!" To which my mother would say "Nothing it was just the pan I am making dinner." and he would then say something like "These cabinets are too cluttered!!" and then angrily start ripping the pans out of the cabinet onto the floor in a hast to reorganize them. Pretty much any noise would cause him to fly into his yelling rage. He came tearing up the basement stairs often or down stairs depending on where he was in the house.

When I would pour milk or anything into a glass he would stand over me or around me carefully watching, either saying nothing or telling me not to spill it. I remember being so nervous that sometimes I was pouring so carefully that the liquid would run down the side. That of course would cause him to go into a yelling fit.

There is this one time when I was 5 or 6 years old that I had a stomach virus. My mother had taken a part time job in the evenings at a gift shop so my father watched me at night. Having the stomach virus I accidentally messed myself. I was too scared to tell him. So I sat in it for hours, sitting on a pillow on the floor, coloring with a pencil in my coloring book till my mom got home.

We had went on a vacation to Delaware when I was about 8 years old. On the way back to NY I felt car sick, but my parents felt like eating in a restaurant. Soon after we ordered the food (it was an Italian restaurant) the smell of other peoples food was turning my stomach more. So I told my mom I was going to throw up. She told my father to take me to the bathroom. Half way to the bathroom in the restaurant I started to throw up, I cover my mouth to try to keep it in, but of course some came out. I got to the bathroom and vomited as my father spanked and yelled at me for getting sick.

I use to wet the bed almost every night till age 11. Looking back on it now I believe a lot of it had to do with stress living in that house. Every morning my mother would take my sheets off the bed and if possible would hide the fact that I wet the bed from my father so he would not fly into a yelling fit. When he did find out that I had, which was often he would yell at me about it, or sit there in his quiet anger stewing, but it was known that he was mad. He would tell me I was doing in on purpose and was just to lazy to get up to go and that the sheets would be hung on the clothes line so that all the neighbors would know that I was wetting the bed. Though he has never told me this, so I am not sure how true it is, my mother told me that when he was little he use to wet the bed. Sometimes my mom makes stuff up though so I don't know if it is true.

I was a very thin child almost too thin. When puberty hit I remember eating a lot more and he was mad one day about how much milk I had drank and that I was just being "a god damn pig." The amount of food I would go through would make him angry.

I use to play little league like many boys. I remember most the kids wanting their parents there when they played to watch them. I was relieved when mine weren't there. I think I played better when I was left alone. My father never told me good job or encouraged me. He only would tell me what I did wrong or say nothing at all. Sometimes even seeming burdened by the fact he had to take me. He never taught me how to play baseball my mother did. She got a few broken boards and cut an old pool hose to make me a baseball tee in the backyard. Later she would throw the ball to me so I could practice hitting. I only did little league for a few years. So scared of messing up I made sure I was as far out in outfield as I could be. Some days I was so stressed out about having to go I would fake being sick so my mother would keep me home.

My mom being a mom told me not to fight. My father in my opinion being my father should have taught me how to stand up for myself. Instead he would display great anger anytime I was mildly aggressive. In turn when I went to school I was the target of other children. I never fought back, I was scared of them and scared that if I fought back I would get hurt or in trouble at home. I never told my parents even to this day the extent of me being teased which ranged from me being tripped and hit by other kids to have a gun put to my head in a bathroom in middle school. The teasing for the most part stopped as soon as I got to high school. I started hanging out with the druggie, smoking, drinking crowd and that seemed to keep me safe.

At about age 14 we had a cordless phone and for those of you old enough to remember the antenna use to be metal and pulled open and closed. One day I was waiting for a friend to call me back. The antenna was mostly closed and I was watching TV. The phone was resting against my chin. My father came in the living room and started screaming to get the phone out of my mouth. Being a teenager I was getting tired of him. I told him it was not in my mouth and that sent him into a rage. He started screaming in my face over and over "Take the phone out of your mouth!" So close that his spit was landing on me as he yelled while he shook his fist in my face like he was going to punch me. He often would do that shaking his fist close to me. I remember saying "Hit me..stop threatening it and do it. But when you do hit me, I am going to hit you back, I am younger than you and I promise it will be a fight you will lose, then I will call the police and have you arrested followed by calling child protective services." He continued yelling and left the room. After that day he never shook his fist in my face again.

Growing up when I would go out to eat with both my parents I was constantly judged on how I ate. The most common theme was "Someday you will have a girlfriend and what will her parents think of how you eat?" Looking back I was eating normal, but how others viewed us was very important to them. When I got older and ate at a friends house it was very difficult for me to do. I would be told by other people "That is why you are so thin because you don't eat." They were wrong, I just couldn't eat much around them. I was basically choking the food down feeling judged with every bite. Later when I did have serious girlfriends I never once ate with their family. I just couldn't the anxiety was so high. Even with friends family's at this point I would go out to eat with them at a pizza place. Worried I would be judged for not eating enough and worried I would be judged for how I ate... I would eat two slices of pizza and feel so sick. I would go to the restaurant bathroom and throw up quickly then come back to the table to eat more so it would appear I ate a normal amount. Most of my friends parents were heavy set people so even then they ate way more then I ever could in one sitting.

When I was little I remember my parents having a big fight late one night and my mom came in my bedroom and said we are leaving and to collect the toys I wanted. I of course took my bear that would play music if you turned the key in his back. A few other toys and since I did not have enough room in the paper bag by mother had given me to pack in I took one piece of a puzzle I had to remember it by. I remember feeling scared that we were leaving, but even at that young age happy. I was scared as my mother and I walked the dark streets heading downtown in the cold. I can only assume we were walking to her friends house that she worked with back then because she was an older black woman who lived downtown. My father caught up in the car and kept yelling for my mother to get in the car and of course we did. Growing up most children fear that their parents would get divorced...I use to pray for it.

Before I could drive my father would sometimes drive me to the mall, usually with great annoyance that he had to take me. This was before the internet so again for those of you too young to remember the mall is where we hung out. This one time however I was just going by myself to buy clothes for school I assume. On the way up there he started screaming and yelling about something. What I can't remember, but most likely that he had to take me. I told him not to bother waiting for me I would take the bus home. I did not at that point want to be around him and he demanded I not take the bus home. I ran away from him in the parking lot of the mall and he chased me, but I was quick and got away. I got to a payphone in the mall and called my mother to tell her about what happened and she was mad that he was acting that way. I did not go home that night. I took the bus to a friends house and stayed there. My mother never learned to drive so it was only him that could take me places and he was always quick to tell me he was not a taxi service. For a reference point the mall was only a few miles from our house. I also hardly asked for a ride unless I needed to be picked up from a friends house after dark. Most of the time I did take the bus.

In my teenage years I had a best friend. His mother for some reason let me spend every weekend there. Our families knew each other from church. In the summer I just pretty much stayed there the whole time. I did not want to go home. I remember my mother having my father give my friends mother money since I was eating her food. I actually felt bad staying there so much and her kids were trouble makers so while she was at work I would clean her clothes and do all the dishes. I felt that if I earned my keep and was really nice she would let me keep staying. For the most part she did.

When I had lung surgery in the year 2000 I was not allowed to drive a car for months after if it had an airbag. My fathers car did not have the passenger side airbag so I was able to sit in the front seat. About a month after my surgery he was driving me home to my apartment where I lived with a friend of mine. As we were going down the highway he started yelling about something. Again I can't remember what it was...he usually yells about things that are so stupid they aren't worth remembering. I do know that at one point he was not paying attention and almost drove the car under a tracker trailer. So I yelled at him to pay attention. I told him I just had lung surgery will you please just stop (the pain at the time was still very real even with medication) and that is when he said "You probably faked that too." referring to my lung surgery which he was there for. I think I said something to the affect of yea all the doctors were in on it. I didn't speak to my parents for a few days and my mom must have had my sister call me because my sister and I never talk (she is my half sister from my moms first marriage). My sister said to me that they were getting older and that is just the way he is. I am lead back into things by guilt often so I resumed contact.

My father once accused me of hitting my mother. I told him "I never hit her." and he said "Oh yes you just don't remember." I told her about that and she said "I don't know what the hell he is talking about."

There is so much more I could say and so many more stories to tell, but by now you get the idea. He still yells, but mostly at my mother. At times he will pick a fight with me and it causes flash backs of my childhood and how scared and helpless I felt. I could never stay mad at him long because my mother would always force me to hug him goodbye if I was angry with him or tell me how I can't stay mad at him .."because what if he was killed in a car crash while you were would never forgive yourself and have to live with that forever." Seems like I was always the one saying I was sorry or we acted as if nothing had taken place at all.

Because my father pays for me (esp. in recent years) because I am unable to hold a job I have had to keep in contact with him. I figured once I was older and out of the house that I myself could have a relationship with him. So I would email him things to look at or send him an email about something. He would read it and look, but never write back. He never calls me, but I would call him at work to talk to him or if my mom was busy when I called the house I would speak to him about myself because he never has any wisdom to share with me or any of his own stories to tell. Actually he will email me when they go on a trip, he will send me where they will be and what the train numbers are, if he thinks he is owed money he will send a bill to the penny, and he will forward pictures my sister sends him of my great nephew (which my mom tells him to do since she does not have an email account).

For many years I use to have nightmares about having to move back home or go home on holidays when I was at college. Even sometimes being in their house even now I can't breath. I started to realize last year that my attempts to have a relationship with him was one sided. He hands over money that is all. If he was poor and could not have helped me at all I doubt I would have kept contact as long as I have. But with taking money, comes guilt, it makes you feel like you owe someone. I have allowed him to yell and treat me at times harshly because I am in no situation at the current time to negotiate. Most people have no idea how hard it is when I have to ask for extra money. Last year after I had the flu I had to get an antibiotic. Thankfully the nurse I see is understanding and only charges me $20 for the visit. But medication is a different story. So the first round of pills I had to take when the flu passed was because I developed an infection in my lung (same one I had surgery on). They were only $45 dollars and generic so not to bad over all. However they did not work, so I had to return a week later to the doctors office and they had to give me an antibiotic that is not yet sold as a generic. (Thankfully this year it will be.) The pills were going to cost $220. The office checked to see if they had samples for me, but they didn't. So from the parking lot of the pharmacy I had to call my father and tell him how much they were. There was never any concern that I was sick. There never is. Just an angry sigh and a "FINE!! FINE!! JUST GET THEM!!". After awhile or maybe I am just sensitive, but I start to feel empty inside and vacant and guilty.

The other day my mother called me with him screaming and carrying on in the background about some collection agency that had called and said I owed $109 from 2005 for Readers Digest Magazine. He was shouting about how he now had to pay it. I told her I never even had that magazine. I also check my credit report every year and nothing from them is on the reports so I know damn well they don't have my social security number and just are tracking people by name. It is not like my name is completely uncommon in the city I live in. He then started to dictate in the background what I can and cannot do online, what I can order and what I can't. My mother was yelling back at him to stop and saying I said it is not mine and not to pay it. He continued shouting "NO!! NO!! I AM JUST GOING TO PAY IT!!" I hung up.

I had waited a week before I told my mother that I had quit smoking. I wanted to make sure it was more than a 48 hour deal. I was feeling better about it so when I went to visit her the day before I told her. She of course told my father as well. High stress situations is not something someone deals with best when they are quitting smoking, alcohol or any drug for that matter. From experience I know this.

Him screaming like that lit a rage inside me and so I called back. My mother answered and I said "Put him on the phone now." He came on yelling and so I was a lot louder to shut him up. I don't remember everything I said, but I know I told him if I find out he ever pays that bill to forget any form of relationship with me because I am tired of him bitching that he is an ATM machine and I would have to listen to his mouth about how he had to pay yet another bill (esp. since it was not even mine) that I would be the one to call them back and fix the situation. He started yelling again. I told him to "shut up, just shut up I am so tired of you, in case you had not realized dad we have a very fragile that I hold together..I email you, you never write back, you never call me I only call you and I am sick of your bullshit..all you ever did my entire life is yell at me and made me a nervous wreck". I also said "You want to yell at someone yell at mom since she for some unknown reason has stayed with you all these years, but you are not going to yell at me anymore. I am an adult and you sure as hell are not going to dictate to me what I do and do not do." I doubt he even heard half of what I said because he kept interrupting yelling back and I had to keep saying "Shut Up!!". Eventually I hung up on him. I went to the store and got two chocolate milks and pork skins. I just needed to get out in the cold air.

When I got home my mother had called me so I called her back. She was mad at him for carrying on and in the bedroom staying away from him. I told her that I wanted a hand written letter of apology from him and for it to be mailed to me if he ever wanted me to speak to him again. That I was done. She refused to tell him that and said that no man would do that. My point in making him do that was two part at the time. 1) When I was 14 years old and threatened to call the police on him he stopped shaking his fist in my face so I thought making him do something like that would make him think twice about acting that way again towards me. 2) That I assume it would be very hard for him to do, after all he has never said he was sorry for anything. Maybe in anger I wanted him to feel as demoralized as he has in the past made me feel.

The phone conversation ended with my mother and I didn't know what to do with myself. Completely unprepared for that level of stress so soon after I quit smoking. I stuck a patch on and most of the day wore that. I could not shake the anger, the resurfacing memories of my childhood, the guilt and the anger at myself that I am stuck in a situation I do not want to be in. So while on camera I told everyone that I was going to the store to buy a candy bar. People who know we well online know damn well what I was doing, but were polite not to say anything. I bought a pack of cigarettes and started smoking. Then of course I was mad at myself.

That night I slept poorly and was not on cam much yesterday, having got so upset I couldn't really eat much food. Last night I put the patch back on determined I just had a misstep and I would just stop again. I slept 3 hours last night and have been up sense. I took the patch off and went to get cigarettes. I just can't stop at this moment in time, but I will again and hopefully very soon. I didn't even want to tell anyone that I smoked again because I am angry at myself for giving in to it.

This morning I told my mother that I was smoking again. She thinks that I shouldn't have smoked because of him and that I should have "rised above" and maybe I should have, but I couldn't. I was too angry and at that point I could have cared less about my own well being.

I have had a few days to think about it and I have decided I am done with my father (I will be decent acting when forced to be around him). I explained that to my mother on the phone and for now she agrees. I made it clear that it is not a passing phase. That a week from now I don't want her calling me saying "You should talk to him after all he is paying your bills." She claims she won't, but I know her and of course she will. She said "you can't change him" and I said "I know I can't, but I don't have to accept him anymore or condone his behavior, I am tired of a one sided relationship and feeling like crap about myself." I told her that "I love him because he is my father, but I don't respect him and he disappoints me." She agreed. So to answer that age old statement "What if something happens to him? You would never forgive yourself." Yes I would.

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