Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fathers and Heros

My father was just a man, not special, not extraordinary, not a hero for any cause. He was just a man. I came to this conclusion a few years back when it became clear that I had to find a way to not be angry at him all the time. If his name was mentioned, if someone talked about what a wonderful father they had, if a tiny memory creeped into my brain about him, I would end up in an anger-crazed-sobbing marathon. It was very clear that I had to find a way to block those fits of hysterics from entering my life, I mean really, what else could I do, the man was dead. I couldn't just pick up the phone and pick a fight with him to make myself feel better.

My mother tells me this story about my father that contradicts everything I know of my father. Her recollection goes something like this:

Your father and I were in the process of packing up our little apartment in Long Beach and moving to South Carolina for a great new career opportunity for your father. He had to be there sooner than the lease was up on our apartment so I stayed behind to finish the packing and coordinate the movers. I was to meet up with him in a week or so to start our new life in South Carolina. The days passed and I packed everything up, put our furniture on the moving van and was just waiting until my flight the next day when your father shows up back in Long Beach and told me that he changed his mind and we were staying in California. I was so happy to see him but all our belongings were on a moving truck on their way to South Carolina.
I am told this is the night I was conceived.

 When your father heard he had a daughter in the waiting room of the hospital, it was rumored he exclaimed in joy, "I have a daughter!" and proceeded to hand out cigars and matchbooks.
When your father brought us home from the hospital, he grabbed you up from my arms in the passenger seat and proceeded to carry you up the stairs to our apartment, forgetting all about me still in the car.
I wish that adoration had lasted throughout my life.

Remember how I love words? The words that come to mind when I think of my father are: selfish, greedy, arrogant and cheat

The Cheat
You see, my father was just a man, not anyone extraordinary and certainly not a hero, most definitely not my hero. I was eighteen months old when my mother found out my father had cheated on her with another woman in her bed. She promptly packed us up and drove to Vegas to stay with friends. Shortly thereafter, she realized that it was her house, her life he destroyed and promptly packed us back up, drove home and kicked his fanny out. Three cheers for Mom!

My father married again to my step-mother whom he also cheated on after 16 years of marriage. However, since he traveled the world extensively 75% of the time, I have no doubt that his cheating was standard practice but I do not have the stories to tell or proof positive of that theory, it just took 16 years for him to get caught, again. What I do know of my father and women is that he cheated on my mother, he cheated on my step-mother, he slept with his cousin (my mother's best friend), he slept with my roommate in my bed (22 years his junior) and he lied to me about the woman that was to become his third wife.

The Greed
My father never paid his child support. Not once, never, not one payment. The measly $150.00 per month that was ordered by the judge was never paid. $1.800.00 a year, $30,600.00 total owed to my mother until I reached the age of 18.  Less than the price of a middle-of-the-road car today in 2012. When the time came to split the cost of the house that my parents bought together when I turned 18, he would not just sign his half of the house over to my mother, he wanted his share, yet he owed her money for years on back child support.

He owed my step-mother $40,000 after their divorce and she did not receive that money until after his death.

He worked and worked and worked his way to the top of a very reputable IT company and was able to retire with full benefits at the age of 55 to pursue his hobbies with a very healthy financial portfolio.
He purchased a steer ranch with his father and when my Grandfather and Grandmother passed, he choose not to split up the half of the ranch that was my Grandparents and provide inheritances to his two sisters.  He fought them in court, and won.

These are just a few of the issues I do know about. I am sure there are countless more stories I was never privy to, but you get the idea.

The greedy man and the cheating man are just by-products of his selfishness and arrogance.

I am taking this journey to learn how to heal and move forward in my life a more confident and successful person. My upbringing shaped who I am and it occurs to me that if I study and research his upbringing I might find some answers to his despicable behavior. Is there really a light at the end of the tunnel? A true-blue place I might find forgiveness through understanding? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Perfection and Damaged Goods

I am a perfectionist. I am damaged goods.

It is the damage that makes me a perfectionist. Perfectly damaged; a true oxymoron. Let me explain.

I am an only child; doted on by my mother, and emotionally abandoned by my father. My mother made up for my father's emotional absence by indulging my every whim. If I found a pretty dress I liked as a child and it came in three colors, pink, blue and yellow, she never made me choose, she tried, but eventually gave in and bought all three dresses despite raising a spoiled daughter on her own on a waitresses meager salary. I wanted for nothing...except my father's love. This is the beginning of my damage.

Do I blame my mother for spoiling me, no. For all her indulgence she was also fair, moral, ethical and solid, which somehow managed to seep into my very pores and create a moral, ethical, solid and fair person, on the outside, therein lies my perfection. My mother is to blame for every good thing I do.

A mom forgives us all our faults, not to mention one or two we don't even have. ~Robert Brault 

My father was granted visitation rights in my parents divorce agreement and I was dutifully packaged up and shipped off every other holiday and for a month in the summer to my father. My father never lived closer than 900 miles from me (most of the time he lived in another country) at any time during my formidable growing years. I became quite the seasoned young traveler in my youth; that is probably why I prefer to stay on the ground these days. My father adhered to the custody agreement in all ways that you could classify as legal, but in all the times I spent my precious holidays and summer vacations at his home he never took time off from work, not even a day. He was busy making something of himself, building a career, traveling, making money, ignoring me. I was left in the care of my step-mother, who for years I disliked intensely, that is, until one day she threw herself on me to protect me from HIM and we were bonded, but that is a story for another day.

"It is much easier to become a father than to be one." ~ Kent Nerburn

This awkward dynamic formed. All the good that seeped into me from my mother was showered (almost thrown) on my father. I was well-behaved, had good manners, was funny, smart, and creative to the point of perfection. My father never applauded, congratulated, acknowledged, hugged, kissed, noticed me. Nothing was good enough to get me noticed...get me my father's love. I am sure you get the point by now. I am a good-old fashioned cliché.

cli·ché also cliche  (kl-shn.
1. A trite or overused expression or idea: 
2. A person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial.

There is nothing new in my story, except that it is MY story. My life, my perfectly damaged life.

So, fast forward to my thirteenth year, and in all my wisdom at that age, I decided that I wanted to live with my father. Try, try again (the story of The Little Engine that Could comes to mind). I no sooner walked off the plane when he started lying down his rules. He didn't know me from Adam; didn't he remember how well-behaved I had always been, how I always made straight A's...

It was a hellish year.

Enter my first love. Tristan (names have been changed to protect the guilty innocent) was, as all first loves are, my everything. Everything I had tried to pour onto my father was magically accepted by Tristan. Every available waking moment was spent in his company, well mostly, when I was not doing his chores while he worked on his race car. I was happy. I was in love.

Fast forward a eighteen months.

Homecoming football game, sophomore year. He cheats and finds a reason to blame me. I was profoundly effected by his dismissal of my love.

Perfectly damaged.

This is my blog. This is my life. This is my healing. Thank you P. for starting me on this journey.

Latin and Poetry

I wish I had taken Latin in school, instead I took French. Three years of French to be exact. I wish I had taken Italian too, but that was never offered in any school I ever attended.  
I love words. The written word is a beautiful and powerful thing, in any language.
I have them (words) scattered throughout my home on plaques, in frames and homemade signs.  All admonishing reminding me to "make a life while making a living" in some way or another, but I digress.
Latin is essentially the origin of all words. One Latin word, Desiderata:


  [dih-sid-uh-rey-tuh, -rah-, -zid-] 
plural nounsingular de·sid·er·a·tum.
things wanted or needed; the plural of desideratum“Happily-ever-after” and “eternal love” appear to be the desiderata of the current generation; to whom “fat chance” say those of us who are older, wiser, and more curmudgeonly. 


  [dih-sid-uh-rey-tuhm, -rah-, -zid-]  
noun, plural de·sid·er·a·ta [-tuh ]
something wanted or needed.
1645–55;  < Latin,  noun use of neuter past participle of dēsīderāre

Things to be desired. This leads me to one poem in particular that has been with me my entire life. A poem my mother shared with me as a gift on a Hallmark faux scroll years ago in my early teens. I think she might be surprised to know that I still have that pink scroll and it hangs in my room as it has hung in every room I have ever inhabited in my life. 
The words are simple. The poem poignant. The tasks, difficult.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence...
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become bitter or vain, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interest in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time...Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism...
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass...Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. 
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
~Max Erhmann Copyright 1927