Sunday, September 21, 2014

Time after Time

Been thinking about all this domestic violence stuff going on. As I've said many many many times, I watched my mother get abused, mostly by step dads.

What I've been told starts with my own father. He broke my mother's wrist just as they were divorcing. Mom said that she "couldn't work" so she let dad take custody of my sister and I.

I don't remember "confronting" dad about this, but I do remember him telling me that they were fighting and mom pulled away and banged her wrist against a car door.

I do think it matters which story is true. I wish I knew. I was only four and there's no way to tell honesty. Both my parents failed to give proper care to me.

It's a mixed up thing. I love my dad. I don't give him a pass for any of this. It's a simple scale, mom physically and emotionally hurt me more. And, if dad's that much of an ogre, why on earth would you leave your CHILDREN with him??

Okay, so mom hooked up with husband number three. I don't know anything about husband numero uno, he left her. I do know mom got kind of shot gunned into that one.

Anyway Dick the third (or turd depends how yous see it) beat mom so bad he ruptured her spleen. She told me later, she didn't want us living with him because "she knew he was an animal." Um, yeah. It's okay for him to be an animal around her, but not her kids. Way to teach your kids how to love and value themselves.

I don't know what broke them up. She told me a story but they were still together after it happened. She said that she broke up with him after a trip to Florida where she caught him in bed with another man. Never mind that he had sex with her daughter, age seven, but GAY??? GOD NO!

The truth is, I don't remember any of his violence against her. I remember them arguing loudly when they were drunk. Usually after getting home from the bar.

I did see step dad number four kick the door as she was leaving a room. This cut the tip off her finger. I saw them get into slap fights and he lived his life in a state of pickled, bleary eyed, slurring stuporhood.

One night, he decided mom was cheating and I lay in bed listening as he got out his guns and sat there grilling my mother about her cheating ways. The idea of a super drunk guy with loaded guns, he was a security guard, scares the shit out of me. I am deeply sorry that my mother had to go through that.

That guy, Art, confused me as deeply as my dad. He loved me nearly as much as dad. Even came to visit me after they divorced. Though he was never sexually inappropriate. He just liked kids and thought I was special.

Abusive jackass number five lasted only a few months. No big knock out drag out physical fights, but that jealous slap around jealous drunk phase started pretty quick. He was a bit happy go lucky when they weren't fighting. Though with that  troubled drunk stuff lurking just below the surface.

Before husband number five, she did have a long time boyfriend who could have been the poster child for alcoholics anonymous failures. I have no idea if any of them went, he just drank so much he could barely function. He knocked her around too. I didn't see it though. I heard them once in a while and it was all very low key. Not hidden so much as, he probably passed out before he could get too violent.

The boyfriend taught me to play chess and was generally nice to me. His intelligence could have rivaled a genius, if he could have found sobriety. Same with mom's last husband.

Dennis died last year in hospice care. My mother is now in poor physical health so it's unlikely she'll marry another guy.

She married Dennis for his GI bill. I suppose they got on okay. She abandoned me after she hooked up with him, though that improved my life a lot. My older sister and I lived together in our own stable apartment. I was 15.

Wow, she stuck it out with Dennis 35 years. His abuse involved more of a slapping and never quite keeping steady and responsible work. He got fired for being drunk at work and mom defended him. Then, he hit her and she called the cops. They made him go to anger management. This just made him angrier.

I suppose a lot of my mom's story is about her picking the devil she knew. She couldn't seem to ever find someone nice, so she found someone who didn't put her in the hospital. How sad that she couldn't decide different.

OKAY, now here's the simple reality that I learned from all that. Pick your mates from a place that meets YOUR VALUES. I would never go to a bar to meet a guy.

Decide before anyone ever hits, that you will not tolerate that even once. If you want to help someone, go to college and get a counseling degree. You don't bring home a sick person and try to learn amateur doctoring in your spare time, so why do that with the mentally sick?

Caring people ask you what you want, abusive people tell you what you want. Passive aggression is aggression. Even trained counselors cannot "fix" another person. They only guide those who want help.

They say NEVER take meth, not even once. I say, never try abuse. Not even once.

Long post, I felt it needed all the details to know where I came from. Kind comments encouraged.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oedipus Rex

Dunno if you've noticed but my titles are all song titles. This one comes from Tom Lerher. It's about the Greek tragedy, told with amusing lyrics.

I wanted to talk about family and how we learn to relate to other people. We learn from example. It's no wonder my mother hooked up with violent men, that's what her father taught her.

I'm grateful to my dad. He might have had many problems, but he showed me love. I picked men more like him than other examples.

I started to wonder, lately, about my mother's mother. She always seemed quiet and calm. Maybe with a little pep here and there. When my sister asked her if birds have a penis, without skipping a beat, grandma said "No, they eat with their peckers. "

What was she like as a mom I wonder? What was she like as the wife of a violent father? I bet she was stuck in a troubled life. Mormons marry for life. My violent grandfather died just a few months after my mother gave birth to my oldest sister.

The man I called grandfather married grandma after her children were grown and didn't appear to be violent. At least I didn't hear it spoken of if he was.

If I had pigment, I'd probably look like my mother. We have similar features. Murry looks like his mother, with her thick lips and oval face. I saw a picture of her and mistook it for him. He laughed at me, but he really does look like her.

I think Freud was on to something, but I think he took the correlation a bit far. I think we use the examples we see when we choose a mate. I also think we move away from those examples if we don't like them.

I saw a study on monkeys where they had replaced their mother with two replacements. One was made of metal that had the bottle of milk. One was furry. The monkey preferred the company of the fuzzy mother. Researchers would scare the poor little thing and it would ALWAYS run to furry mom.

Sometimes I feel like I've been experimented on. It's been a challenge to find the furry mom. It's been a bit easier to find the furry dad.

Even the man who molested me didn't cause me a huge amount of physical harm. His sexual abuse left me with a greater confusion as he made a point to make it pleasant.

Years later, another man tried to touch me. He said "you want to feel good, don't you?" I told him not like that and never went near him again.

I watch people and how they relate. How they interact with their spouses. Just recently I saw George Takei's documentary Being Takei and saw how he and his husband loved each other. They bickered and chided at the same time as they cooed and flirted with each other. I saw my own marriage in theirs.

Love is love. I wonder which parent gay couples model? Both maybe? I guess we all model both.

But we all run to fuzzy mom or fuzzy spouse.

Thoughts? Kind comments welcome.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Joy to the World

Updated August 31, 2020
A friend on Facebook asked for the "keys to happiness." Funny expression. Like we can get into it and drive off and all will be happy. I did reply because I think I have found my way to happy.

Sure, I fall off into "why bother" land more than I like. And I still think happy is still the base from which I lift off.

I'll comment and expand on what I told him. Here's what I said: Embracing learning from mistakes. Not only yours, but those mistakes you see around you. Make choices that fill your soul. Courage means having the fear and pain and going on anyway. Take a moment to celebrate when you recognize you're in an amazing experience. Be around like minded people who buoy your spirit. Let go of those who for whatever reason drain your energy. Find serenity to accept what you cannot change, courage to change what you can and dig deep for the wisdom to know the difference.

Everyone I interact with teaches me something. I often speak of watching my mother be brutalized by her spouses and how that taught me to pick something different. That lead me to learning from my own mistaken assumptions about the character of men. I see now that they come in a lot of flavors and it takes luck AND skill to detect the one that fit your taste.

Choose how you are going to be in the world. At first, I didn't know how to do this. I had to choose okay for a couple of years. I think I started before I got that advice but I became aware of it after I heard Iyanla Van Zant suggest it for someone. "Where are you NOW?" she begged of the women she was trying to help. That was me. Where was I, were people beating or molesting me? If not, why live as if that was happening inside my head?

Pain and memory need expression and resolution. Life requires examination to improve it. Once improved, life must be CELEBRATED.

After my divorce, a friend suggested a fabulous trip. Though it was some years later, I did that and climbed, explored and ate my way around Europe. Though I had fears and moments of desperate doubts about traveling alone, I went on anyway. I live those days over and over, reinforcing the pleasures I first experienced so many years ago.

I found people who think as I do and who share my values. I move away from and try and think kindly of those who think different. I will state my point of view so people know I have one and if it's not well received, I go somewhere where it will be.

I love what some call the serenity prayer. Because I am a person without faith, I think of it as more of a philosophy. I love science because it looks at the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. Sometimes, one has to DIG, exploring every aspect of life, to find courage, serenity and wisdom.

I know that I cannot change my past. I cannot erase the memories of it either. I can look at those events and the people involved as they truly were. Including myself. Warts and all. I changed much of my drama and distress into surviving and gratitude.

Now I try and share my lessons with others.

Kind comments encouraged.

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