The Mapril Curse


For years, the end of March and the beginning of April have always been rather catastrophic times for me.  Since before I can really remember, this has been a terrible time of year.  As I grew older, I started to notice certain patterns.

Some of the worst things that happened in my life have always happened during this time of year.

As a child, I recall my father was often hospitalized at this time. For a long time, I didn’t understand what my father was so sick with that he’d be gone in the hospital for weeks at a time. It scared me. I was scared he’d never come back. That he would die there.

Our worst fights happened at this time. It didn’t help that my final progress report for the year would come in.

Standardized tests always rattled my nerves. I knew that these tests didn’t affect my grades. It was just implied that these tests prove how smart a person was. I knew a bad score would label me an idiot. The only thing I had going for me, intelligence, would be wiped off the slate. I’d be nothing, and regarded as more of a child than I was already treated.

Then there was Easter break. For me, there was always something disturbing and disappointing about Easter. First, Easter is not exactly a pleasant holiday in the Christian religion. Yeah, I know, it is about celebrating the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

But, before that was good Friday. The day that Jesus died on the cross, after a gruesome and vividly detailed crucifixion. I don’t even know how the church justifies recounting this horrific story to children.

I know this one thing. Because of an exercise we did in Sunday School, peppermints are now revolting. I will spare you.

The closest friend I’ve ever had betrayed me in late March. She told my parents about a shoplifting incident that happened in January, complete with a fine that I was trying to pay off. She sabotaged my friendships with everyone else. As if it wasn’t bad enough that she had made it a very public falling out. She humiliated me.

And my father went off the deep end. No door on my room. Indefinitely grounded. No phone. No computer. No pager. No one in. And for a week, there was no school, and limited freedom within the house.

My ex Beck used my trip to Florida as time to gather support from our friends to backstab me, and destroy life as I knew it. April 1st, he dumped me. April 2nd, he moved his new girlfriend in.

April 8th, my ex Avi and I started dating. The following year, April 1st, we took what was a regrettable step into a year long lease together. A contract that legally obligated is to live together, in a small one bedroom apartment, in the worst of conflicts.

A year after that? We lost the apartment. We went flat broke and had to move into my house, which was then a complete shit shack. We ran a power cord over and lived in one room. Electricity in one room, and still living out of boxes and bags.

In late March, almost a year later, he made the admission that he cheated on me a year and a half ago. It consumed me so much that I was a woman possessed. It was all I could think about. I poured over the details. The emotion of anger, betrayal, guilt, and resentment was so much that it felt like it bled from every pore.

And on April 9th, three years after that first date, I decided that I wanted out. But, I was trapped.

Late March, before my wedding, I was tormented by my family. “You gained 5lbs!”

“Of course. I’m pregnant, right?”

“We can’t afford more alterations and it’s too late! We spent so much money on this, and you have to go and get knocked up! How irresponsible can you possibly be?”

After I had my son, this is the point in time where I started to show aggression and become violent. I was scared of myself. It was at this point that I knew I needed mental help.

A year after that, I started to have significant problems at my job. Even the thought of going there was agonizing.

Last year? The stress of putting together a children’s musical sent me flying into the ER with severe migraines. After that, I had a serious hypomanic episode. The first serious one I can remember.

And this year? Depression. Serious depression and self-harm. Marital issues. A lawsuit. A whole mishmash of events and looming threats that heap into a twitching shadow of depression and dreadful anxiety.

I have been reading references to research that has linked the turn of the season with mental health issues. March has the highest admissions into hospitals for those with mental illness. Different researchers have drawn different conclusions.

Today, I cracked it.

Today was my Pappap’s birthday when he was among the living. If he were with us today, we’d be celebrating his 96th birthday.

He has long since passed, almost 16 years ago. I was still young. He had been fighting a losing battle against prostate cancer for ten years. I was lucky to have had him in my life at all. When he was diagnosed, they only gave him a year.

My father was in and out of the VA hospital a lot when I was a child. My Pappap really stood up to be my father figure. And was he!

He was an amazing man. As a strapping young man, he and his brothers helped my church dig out their undercroft, by hand. It was the 40’s and wartime. Many men were called out to duty. My Pappap couldn’t go, on account of his severe hearing loss. It was mostly a result of working on the railroad. So, he, and other remaining parishioners took their shovels, and created a place where they could meet after mass.

He was always a man you could ask for help. He’d deny no one. And he was a jack of all trades. Plumbing, heating, electrical, building, anything. And if he didn’t know how to do it, he’d figure it out.

He had so many friends. Everyone who had ever spent any time with him was deeply touched by him. He treated everyone like family, and he treated his family like gold.

In times of need, he had offered everything he could to his extended family. Various family members had lived with him throughout his life. He was a faithful and dedicated man. My grandmother was his wife for fifty years before his passing.

He visited my mother every morning at 10AM for coffee after his morning walk. He knew that she needed him most. She was mostly alone with a severely autistic son and a deeply troubled husband, scarred by the war.

He came to every one of my school functions. I remember riding in the back of his station wagon. The only thing that ever made him angry were bad drivers. He always gave me $2 bills for my good report cards, and bragged to everyone about how smart and beautiful his granddaughter was.

I remember the first time I got a card from him with a $2 bill in it. He liked to tease people, so I thought it was fake. I got really mad at him. And he showed me his whole collection of $2 bills. And then he joked that I was a “brat kid” for disbelieving him.

I’d go to church every week, just to see him. He was an usher, and took collection. My Pappap was a devout Episcopalian, and so was I. He threw me a party when I reached my First Holy Communion.

We were very poor growing up. He often volunteered at charity events. The church had a flea market, and I fell in love with this little purple bunny. I was four, and the bunny warmed my heart. She made me happy and safe. He bought it for me, even after my mother lambasted me for begging for the bunny, as if I was trying to embarrass her in front of the other parishioners.

I named her Furry. Some kids had imaginary friends. I had her. She was imaginary in some ways. We talked. She always made me feel better. We shared a bed, and talked late into the night. I was less scared of life with her.

She still exists, and lives on shelf in my bedroom. She has been well loved, with patches of fur missing, dingy ears, paint chipped eyes, and a few obvious seams where she was sewn. Most of the time, I forget she’s there. She’s a relic, the only thing that survived my childhood. But, sometimes, I know she’s watching over me.

I remember the year that followed my Pappap’s death. We celebrated my uncle’s birthday, but it was somber. They shared a party every year. And he wasn’t there anymore.

Really, nothing was the same. Christmas. My birthday. Anytime I got a report card. My mother had removed the dining room table entirely. That’s the same dining room table in my house now. The same one I sit with during meals with my family. The very same that my friends gather around.

And, I never made the connection. I have only started considering a connection between a childhood amnesia and his passing. I never realized that it could have such a profound subconscious affect on my life as an adult.

I miss him. And most of all, I believe I mourn the time we missed most. I mourn the loss of the role in my life he could have taken.

When I joined the showband, I knew he’d be thrilled. His own granddaughter, so talented in music that she would be invited to travel the country each year to compete. I knew he’d be even more proud when I joined choir. All of those years watching me sing in church paid off in solos and special choir assignments.

When I graduated high school, I wondered if he’d be proud of me. I graduated with honors. The choir needed me and a friend so badly at graduation that we actually had to run back and forth from the stage to the other stage!

What would he think of my husband? I know he’d adore my son. My son loves cars and trains, just like him. They’d play with his model train sets all day.

If I ever do have a daughter, she’d be the light of his life. He cherished his girls most of all. He had always told me that girls were God’s gift to the world, and children were life’s best blessing.

He’d just be tickled about my job. He always believed in public service, and thought the people who did it were saints in disguise as ordinary people. Yes, he was a little bigoted, so he might have made a remark or two about it being in a city neighborhood. But, anyone in need – it didn’t matter who they were. He always believed that people were people. No less, no more.

He’d make a joke about me getting a report card. And I’d tell him that I do, every year in May. And he’d probably still slip me a card with some odd currency in there. A JFK silver half dollar. Oh god, a couple of Saqaguia’s! How he would have been so tickled by that!

He played piano. My parents both sing. I know where the talent came from.

Would he have said anything about the bipolar disorder? Maybe one thing. “You were always sensitive and moody. It’s a sign that you’re human.” That would have been that. I am who I am, and that’s more than special to him.

If he were alive, I’d join him and my mother for coffee in the morning, even if I don’t drink coffee. I know he’d pick up my prescriptions if I asked. He might poke fun and call them “crazy meds”. Just for a giggle.

He was the light in my chaotic childhood. He was the rock in my life. He was the father my dad could not be at the time. I was lucky to have my Pappap at all.

I do hope he rests peacefully and happily. And I hope he knows, that even after all of these years, and although I was young, I still remember him and everything he was to me.

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33 thoughts on “The Mapril Curse

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your pappap was a very special man. My father-figure was actually my mother’s uncle and he died when I was 15. I still miss him to this day and your post reminded me of him. I’m sure your pappap would be very proud of where you are today!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, as well. I’m actually kind of relieved to hear another person who has experienced a loss like this. I don’t often talk about it, so I don’t consciously think about it. Mostly, because of the odd looks and comments I have gotten about it. People saying, “It was how long ago?” and “You were so young.” and “He was just your grandfather.”

      I suppose there aren’t a great number of people that have had an extremely close and unique relationship with an extended family member. It’s not really a loss that ever goes away. It’s almost a forbidden topic in my family. Besides, I was just a child when he passed. – at least that’s what they all think when I’ve mourned his passing aloud.

      I hope he only gets the edited, nice version of my life. You know, in the afterlife. Because there are some things I’m so glad he didn’t have to watch me go through. Alcoholism would have been the most for him. His father was a vicious, abusive alcoholic. He never had a sip, and never laid a hand on anyone.

      I would never have wanted him to witness that.

      Sometimes, I think that if he were alive all of that time, it would be incredibly likely that none of that would have happened. I would have been heartbroken to have done anything that disappointed him.

      • I am sure he’d be proud of the good moments Lulu. We all make mistakes in life, and while difficult, he would forgive you if you received help. Don’t beat yourself over something too much. Afterall, it didn’t happen.

        • No, I try not to. It’s kind of a strange thing for me. I’m pulled out on the rug for just about everything from one source or another. Except my extraordinary screw ups. I mention my bad run with alcohol as alcoholism. And people scoff, as if it didn’t happen. “You’re not an alcoholic.” I was a habitual drinker for two years, and no one ever called me out on it.

          I am rarely called out on a lot of other things. I’m not up to discussing them. But, we’ll just leave it at serious college screwups, work malfunctions, etc.

          I’d rather people harp on me about serious things than minor things. Daily things. I didn’t get the mail before I went to work. I forgot to turn the thermostat down. Etc. It makes me nervous. I walk around all of the time feeling like I forgot to do something.

          Yell at me about the late car payment! Speaking of, I forgot to pay the electricity company, and I think it’s due today. Ugh. And if I were nagged and harassed about that instead of did I remember to stop at the store, then I’d remember!

    • I had / have (?) always felt like my husband was a lot like him. The criticisms used to be a lot more sparse. If there were any, they were gentle and meant to be encouraging.

      I could always rely on him. He never let me down. He always stood behind me, and made me feel like I was one of a kind. In 6-something billion people on the planet, he chose me. Because I was something unique, rare, and special.

      That was a hell of a thought. It blew my mind. To be chosen – we can’t choose our family. And sometimes, we can’t choose who we fall in love with. But, we can always make the choice as to who we dedicate our lives to in marriage.

      Really, some days, I would do anything to have that all back. In my worst days, I wish I could hear his gruff voice. “Hey brat kid. Why are you feeling so bad?”

      “Because I’m so terrified that I’m right. No one actually loves me. Most tolerate me. And the people who have affections for me just love the idea of me.”

      “How could anyone who ever meets you not instantly love you? You’re just all mixed up right now. We gotta straighten you out!”

      “How?”

      “You got a good mallet and a couple of pairs of vice grips?”

      *laugh*

      “No, really. How could I ever be right?”

      “You are human. You are perfect, the way God made you. One of a kind. A diamond in all of this mess today. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, even if they are a doctor or not. There is nothing wrong with you.”

      “You really think so?”

      “I know so. Don’t be such a brat, kiddo. Or I’ll have to give you a knuckle sandwich.”

      “Thank you. That is everything I’ve ever needed to hear.”

      “Don’t thank me. Thank yourself! Thank God! I was only helping you find the right mirror. The one that doesn’t lie.”

      I can imagine all I want. It’s pretty close to a conversation I had when I was a kid. I told him I didn’t like myself. And he asked me why I thought that. I told him that no one liked me. I had a mean teacher. No friends. And parents who seemed too preoccupied to spend time with me. I was second to my brother.

      How could a person not like me if they didn’t take the time to know me. It’s their loss. Because if they knew, they’d realize they lost the opportunity to meet the sweetest girl that would have changed their life. I changed his. He changed mine. I learned how to be a good person through him. And he tried his hardest to convince me that I was more than good enough. He almost did.

      He listened. He never thought my feelings were silly. He never regarded me as just a child, going through child things. Everything was important. I was important, period.

      And since he passed, I felt so small and insignificant. One person. That’s all I wanted. Just one person I could believe when they told me these things.

      • it would be great if you thought those things of yourself and belived yourself. I don’t really know you that well but out of all the people I talk to on here, I consider you to be one of my top favorite people. But I can’t tell you what you need to hear. You have to make yourself belive it yourself. Of course God belives in you too. You should make yourself write a list of all the positive things there are about you. Just so you can read it to yourself, Then keep it and add to it when you think of more things.

        • I am really touched. Seriously.

          No one should have to tell me, I know that. It has to come from within me, or my self-worth will hinge on others forever. And that opens the door open wide for all varieties of manipulation.

          Against what measure? You know, I tell people all of the time that if they went out there into the world and did all they could that day, then that was good enough. I guess there is some kind of expectation that I’m not fulfilling. But, I’m reminded, once again by myself, not every day can be a five star day. And I shouldn’t take a measure of one against another.

          Especially since I’ve been charting. I haven’t found that I’ve been very up, but there’s a lot of up and down between very low and about mid-range from day to day. I guess that’s to be expected in. In a typical mood chart, anything between 1 and 4 could be considered depressive – ish. 4, of course, being on the lower side of the “stable” range.

          One day at a time.

          • yeah when we have really good days we start expecting every day to match up and when it doesn’t we aren’t fulfilled but really it is just an average day is all

            • I’ve been trying to tell myself that some days will be better than others.

              That’s so difficult in depressive states. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but I would say that I’m reactive right now. Again, we’ll go back to the two constants of bipolar disorder – reactivity and irritability. Those two are a fierce combination. It’s all to easy for them to work hand in hand.

              Which gave me a serious reminder. I have to fill some meds today.

    • I try. I loved that incredible man, more than my own father. He was never hesitant to show me emotion and affection. He was grumpy sometimes. But, the last thing he’d ever want to do is hurt anyone. He had empathy beyond anyone I had ever met. The world deeply affected him, but he was always the optimist. He believed in God, and was the only reason I ever had faith in anything.

      He believed that if a person put in an honest, hard days work, and if they were pure of the heart and truthful with themselves and others, then they were entitled to all of the most wonderful things in life.

      But to him, the most wonderful things in life were not sandy beaches, a big house, a great car. No, they were the smallest things. The smile of a grateful stranger. A good cup of coffee with a friend. Another day to wake up to. A warm bed, with someone to spend the days with. A nice, sunny day. Everything that we take for granted today.

      I’m grateful for him. Even in the short time we had, he had a huge part in making me the woman I am today.

    • I remember him in his recliner like it was yesterday. His plaid shirts and pressed pants. His fedora! Ha! He always wore a hat when he went out. I never knew why. I always thought it was to protect his head, with wispy white hair, from cold and sun. Now that I’m older, I think it was a force of habit. A throwback to times long gone.

      I remember he only used four swears. Damn, Hell, Ass, and Jackass, or occasionally Jagoff. They are interchangeable here in Pittsburgh. Usually in traffic. Brown paneled station wagon with bench seats. It was hard to see over them. I just remember winks and smiles in the rearview.

      He had a round belly, but wasn’t exactly fat. His face was wrinlkled, and he had a long, straight nose, not entirely unlike mine. And he had the brightest crystal blue eyes that smiled at everyone. He seemed kind of boyish, but father-like at the same time.

      And he had heavy, plastic framed glasses, with coke bottle lenses. He couldn’t see well. (I can thank him for my horrivle sight). He didn’t ear well either. So, sometimes, he’d have to adjust his hearing aid when he yelled, “What?” He’d have his head cocked so he’d hear in his better ear.

      He was always very clean shaven. I remember that clearly. Not a whisker.

      I almost never saw him angry. Sometimes, he’d yell at their dog. But, he loved that dog. He trained her well. She slept in his bed. Never in his whole life would he let an animal upstairs. But, the dog shared a bed with him. He was so kind that he would try to refrain from moving, to not wake the dog!

      Kind soul. A hardworking, generous man. The best man anyone could have as a part of their life.

  2. Same here. I don’t know what it is with this time of year. My grandmother had her stroke in the spring of 1994; a year later she died on easter weekend. Just two and half weks ago, my closest friend dies. WTF? Not to mention i tend to do the switches and twitches with the winter to spring change. I can empathize. Love your candor and perceptiveness.
    Hang in there.
    Hugs xoxo

    • I am incredibly sorry for your losses. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

      My Pappap actually died in June of 1996. He was in bad shape by April, as you would suspect. I remember he was in a white undershirt and he was really cranky. It was so unlike him. He was a proper man who made it a point to get up at 6AM and wash and dress. He was rarely grumpy with anyone.

      I don’t know if it was like this when I was a kid, but I usually have some kind of mood shift around this time of the year. I have to review past journals and see what that has to say, excluding my pregnancy. Believe this or not, pregnancy agreed with my mental health! I had never been more stable!

      • Thank you Lulu. I really appreciate it. You know the same goes for you, my sincere condolence. I can genuinely empathize.

        As far as the seasonal change, I’m becoming more sure of it as I retrace the years.

          • I don’t even like looking through my old journals. They make me cringe. But I can’t bring myself to through them away. I guess they still hold special value and priceless information.

  3. When I read this, I wanted to cry because I remembered my parents doing the exact same thing: “And my father went off the deep end. No door on my room. Indefinitely grounded. No phone. No computer. No pager. No one in. And for a week, there was no school, and limited freedom within the house.”

    We’re survivors.

    • It was hell. I used to beg the teachers at school not to tell my parents what I did and just punish me there. I tried to explain what the punishment would be like.

      A few teachers that I had consistently finally got the gist. I got caught caught smoking on school property once, during band camp. The band teacher was my homeroom teacher. I suppose she had started to notice the correlation between major infractions at school and my attendance. She decided not to turn me in to the principal.

      Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t get off scott-free. I was hauling sixty heavy instruments on and off a truck three times a day for a week. But, I gladly did the hard, manual labor over getting pulled out of camp and isolated to a room, having dinner shoved at me in my doorway.

      Yes, she was protecting her own interests too. I was one of three tenor sax players, and the only reason I wasn’t the section leader was because I had no seniority in that section. I had first chair. And I was a third year member. I was valuable.

      But, I’m completely sure she would have made other accommodations if she needed to. She knew.

      My choir teacher protected me too. I remember her telling me one time, “I’m not stupid. I know what’s going on. I don’t care, because it’s not hurting anyone. Don’t get caught on my watch, please?”

      Part of that was her being a protective mentor. The other part was actually protecting her own interests. I held office in that group, I was a section leader in one choir, and one of only about twenty in the select choir.

      It was nice to have a few teachers protect me. Lord knows someone had to do it. And with their help, I grew. I started to learn how to be responsible, because I was given so much responsibility to carry. I had so much to live up to. For once, there were people who counted on me to get my shit together.

      I did stop smoking at school. With one exception. In my senior year, I had an honors course. I’d eat much lunch quickly, and sneak out to the senior lot, ducking under cars. I couldn’t function in an eight hour period without one, and I did better in my honors course, because my head wasn’t so foggy.

      I stopped screwing around at functions. I started leading. The best way to teach is by example.

      I guess that’s why work is so important to me now. When things are bad at home, I have a place to go to.

  4. This one breaks my heart, because you of all people can appreciate my biannual pilgrimages back to see my own grandfather, who is 93. He is the reason that you and I were able to meet last October, and why we will soon see each other again. I have never in my life loved anyone more.

    Your Pappap knows all that you have done, and he is still so proud of you. He is around somewhere, in some form, watching you, his heart full with your triumphs and the strong, beautiful woman whom you have become.

    And he sits with you in your worst times, your darkest hours, watching out for you and keeping you safe and sane. His love, support, and guidance will never leave you.

    • You speak so well of your grandfather. I know you love him dearly.

      I do think that if there is some kind of invisible reserve of strength, and Lord knows there has to be, because I haven’t ended up too far down in the pit yet, it comes from him.

      Hell, for I know, he may have been tortured by the same demons I face. I have yet to ascertain which side of my family this came from.

  5. My dad died when I was 23, he was only 48. He had a brain tumour and went from diagnosis to dead in just over 2 weeks…
    To say that I worshipped the ground he walked on would probably be an understatement.. he was my friend, mentor, teacher, playmate (sometimes), hero, but more importantly he was MY dad.
    He was clever ( a medical GP ), intelligent (he had been to Cambridge University to study medicine ) and quite a handsome, well groomed man
    I could talk to him about anything ( almost),he was practical, he helped build my motorcycle,did loads of DIY stuff round the house, he stuck up for me when I needed him to, and i would have done anything for him.
    For many years I wished that I could have changed places with him,that it should have been me instead of him ( for all the reasons above) and it took years to get over his passing.
    It was his 30th anniversary last july 12th and I had planned to do a post all about him, but my mum’s struggle to stay alive and all the stuff happening around us trying to get back just blew that in to the wind- at one point we thought that mum was going to die on the 12th too.. how spooky would that have been, exactly 30 years to the day later?

    I never knew my grandad on my mum’s side- he died of liver cancer in 1947- and on my dad’s side my grandad died when I was 6ish so sadly I can’t really remember much about him except he was a kindly old gentleman, who I used to play darts with and that he used to go to ” business meetings” every weekday at 11.00am and come back a few hours later… I took me an awful long time after he died to realise that he was actually going to the pub for a lunchtime drink with his friends 🙂

    This is a great post Lulu and a great tribute to your Pappap, thank you for telling us about him.
    Hope all is well with you
    love n hugs
    xxx

    • Oh my, Seadog…I almost thought you were writing about my dad & my undying daddy-worship (a term I used to dislike when it was first thrown at me by a doctor, but now embrace with pleasure and pride). My father was also a medical GP (went to McGill Medical School in Montreal), handsome, always impeccably dressed, generous to a fault, and more than my best friend — all the words you used, hero, friend, mentor, I could just go on with every positive thing about him, truly. A psychiatrist asked me (after I told her my dad taught me everything I really care to know about this life, and how to best live it), if I was aware of his character defects. I said, “Of course, I find them quite humorous!”. That’s when I got the Daddy Worship diagnosis.

      He died in 1997 after many years of suffering. I used to pray that I could trade places with him, that he could have My cardio-vascular system and I could die in his place, for he would have put it to good use as a fine physician, and I was just drinking my bipolar life away. Growing up, he took me with him everywhere he went, everything from short errands to medical rounds and house calls. He took us travelling all over the world, and bought us the finest clothes. Dad & I were just born so much alike. I felt privileged by his special training and life lessons that he didn’t bother teaching my sisters, because they weren’t interested. They feared him for reasons unknown. He & I were such like clones that my sisters used to yell at me “You’re just like Dad!”, intended as an insult, and I would just smile, thinking “Thank you for the compliment”. Only in later life did the siblings express their regret, wishing they had known him as I did. It was too late for that, far too late.

      One of my favorite memories of our times together was our daily lunch, just the two of us, before I entered 1st grade.. I would stare out the window, ten minutes in advance of his arrival & as soon as I saw his car coming, I’d race to the back door, and hold it open “butler style” so he could cruise right on in. We pretended each day that we’d never had lunch together before, but what a fine idea it was. My mother would serve our lunch and take a hike, disgusted that he and I were so crazy about each other, that we found each other so amusing. We were quite the polarized family, but Dad was always my safety net, my Rock.

      I had always hoped to find a husband I loved that much. I ended-up with some fellow with a huge stack of law degrees and zero integrity. (Divorce can be a happy thing.) I suspect I’ll always love my dad more than anyone in this life. It might sound weird, but the memories of him are priceless to me. More than that, I feel like he’s with me more days than not, giving me strength while I battle with illness & poverty & God knows what. I miss him so much, my best friend forever and ever. Thank you for kindling the memories today.

      • I remember character defects of my Pappap. He had road rage something awful, and his temper was pretty explosive. He was prone to snap judgements (though his mind was easily changed, he was not as stubborn as people say), and he was a racist and a sexist. Sorta a sexist. I mean, by the time I was in the picture, he had accepted the societal norm of women in workplace equality with men. But, he didn’t accept that women didn’t stay home to take care of their kids. And he certainly didn’t encourage my mother to go to college instead of work and then get married.

        He would get worked up over little things. I remember spilling stuff, and he’d get upset. He’d apologize later. He was very emotional. It wasn’t states, as much as it was extreme responses to stuff. Oh, and when he wasn’t around my grandmother, he swore like a sailor!!! (And of course, he had dirty old man tendencies. Most men of his time were like that.)

        I don’t idealize the man. And I know that if he would have lived through my teens, things would have been a hell of a lot different. My mom didn’t dare screw up in front of him. She was never drunk in front of him, and was always trying to earn his affections. But, what she didn’t know was that she didn’t have to try. He was very free with his affections and let it be known to people if he liked them or didn’t, in a polite way of course. I’m sure she wouldn’t have dropped the ball, and probably would have continued to do everything to throw herself between my father and us. She claims she was the protective umbrella when we were kids. I believe her, because when we were teens, he was on a rampage.

        It probably relates back to her own problems. This is something that I’ve been trying to tie together forever. What does my disorder have to do with my grandfather’s death? Why did my mother go from being a decent parent to completely screwing up? I don’t have any awful memories of either of my parents as a child, apart from isolated incidents. Anyway, she lost her dad, the only person who ever showed affection for her. She was left with her mother that did nothing but abuse the hell out of her. And, I’m sure she clung to my dad, who was abusive at the time.

        Heaven help that man, because as an adult, I know he was in bad head space and couldn’t get out. He tried. I know he did, or else he wouldn’t have been in and out of the hospital all of the time. He’ll never admit it, but he’s more terrified of losing my mother than she is of losing him. Which is pretty bad when they sit there and do that stupid back and forth of “I hate you, don’t leave me.” Except, I know my father doesn’t hate my mother – he just thinks that she hates him. And she thinks she hates him sometimes.

        It’s totally screwed up. And I look at all of this, and as emotional as it makes me, I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. If one person just would have spoken up, revealed their vulnerabilities (but that’s not a good idea in my family because someone will prey on it and use it to their advantage later), then maybe all of this BS could have been avoided. But no. Like I said, someone will use something against you later on. I’m still getting crap for things I did over ten to fifteen years ago when I was a teen. Seriously, fifteen years ago when I was a wild child pushed into a corner. It’s too long to hold something over another person’s head.

        But, they’ve got a hold on me, as usual, and my whole life is contingent upon a few decisions or a serious altercation. I’ve attempted to take over this mortgage several times, but they tell me lies about why they can’t sign the property over to me. I know that they want to keep it in their name, so that they have something to lord over me. Until they die. Ugh.

    • For some reason, my comment got lost in the translation between my Blackberry and here. As I’m starting to notice, that was the norm.

      I’m glad you were able to have that kind of relationship with your dad. And I’m glad that you have those fond memories in your life. It hurts like hell to lose someone close to you, but at the very least, you know without any doubt in your mind that man loved you with all of his heart. Some people never get that. And I’ll tell you, it’s torturous to have to live with parents that you are unsure of their feelings toward you.

      Sometimes, it hurts like hell that I didn’t have a parent like that. I thought to myself, “Why?’ I mean, I wrote about this some time afterward in Forget Family. Despite everything I know about my parents, and all of the perfectly good reasons I can come up with that would make them incapable for being supportive, understanding parents, I still can’t rationalize it. (Funny, because if I try hard enough, I can usually rationalize anything for a person I care about). My dad, well, I can kind of get it. He wasn’t in his head. It doesn’t make me want to accept it as logical fact, because I can’t justify it.

      You know, and I think about it. Sometimes, and especially recently, incidents will come to me just out of nowhere. I guess when I hit that surface that sparks it, then it comes back alive for a brief flash. I remember things when I was a kid, seeing and hearing things. I guess parents don’t think that their children are listening, or that they will even remember it, or figure it out. I remember my dad was really sick, and I didn’t know why. And I remember he really let himself go – he was so painful to look at. He was badly underweight and his deep brown hair was long, almost shoulder length. It was unlike him.

      He was mostly unresponsive, and I tried so hard to get him to say or do something. I wanted to make him feel better, but I didn’t know how to make adults feel better. So, I did what I knew how to do. He laid on the floor in front of the fan, unmoving. And I sat quietly beside him and brushed his hair. It looked like it could use some brushing.

      But, the times that he was unresponsive when I was a young child don’t compare to the overreactions when I was an older child and especially a teen. I remember an instance where he told me he wished I was never born. That, I’ve remembered and resolved that. We say things in anger. But, when you stack it up against other things that come back to mind, like when he told my mother that I was ruining his life and his marriage. When he suggested that the best solution for the entire family would be to send me away. When he yelled, in front of all of us, at my mother in a heated argument that she trapped him in this family with children, and that he never wanted kids in the first place. And that she never consulted him on it.

      I try to continue to tell myself that he wasn’t in his head, and if he was, he wouldn’t have said things like that. I remember when I was pregnant, and I said something to the effect of knowing his grandson. And he responded to me, “That boy will grow up not knowing me apart from Adam.” They are the best of friends today, hardly going more than a few days without seeing each other. I see that he has the capacity to express positive emotion toward someone else. Sometimes, that makes it worse, like, was I so bad that you couldn’t express it for me?

      I know, I know. I have to get over the whole “my parents never loved me” bit, because everyone knows that all parents love their children. Except, they don’t. Not all parents. We see it in the news every single day when a parent does something unthinkable to their child. I’ve personally known women to abandon their children, and I wouldn’t consider them to be awful women either. Confused, immature, and unprepared for a child, yes. Evil? No. But, try explaining that to their kid.

      The only person that I could say I knew loved me without any doubt in my mind has been in a box for the last sixteen years. (Sixteen in three days). And I know that event has something to do with my spiral into all of this, because it’s the starting point for everything in my adult life.

  6. Hi there…I haven’t seen any new Lulu posts in my inbox lately, and I wanted to reply to what you shared with your arthritis recently, but first I just had something I wanted to add on to this dialogue, hope it’s ok. It’s like getting it off my chest.In contrast to my tribute to my great dad and how much I loved him and always will, my mother and I had an opposite relationship that haunts me to this day. We are completely estranged and she has cut me off financially as well. At least I get what my father left me when she dies, cuz I’ll never make it through old age on disability and no husband, it’s literally impossible here in California in this economy.

    Why she seemed to loathe me from birth is sort of ridiculous, I mean I understand how parents can have favorites whether they try to hide it or not, but she was one sick lady in her hatred of me, and that is another reason why dad was so important. I had three older siblings, but when I turned four, their marraige turned to zero love. There I was, a clone of my dad in the way I spoke, acted, attitudes, I was like him and his family, not her and hers, not like my sisters that she loved. The middle sister (rage-a-holic who needed a diagnosis for sadism) used to beat me without mercy about five days a week. I didn’t have to provoke her, she would just come tearing at me from out of nowhere and beat the hell out of me for “being dad’s favorite” and would admit her reason for the endless throttling. At the end of every “fight” she would throw me down my my hair, pin me down so I couldn’t move, and conduct a disgusting spitting ritual, really sick and extended ritual, all over my face. I honestly think all this childhood abuse contributed to my developing bipolar disorder. She was out to destroy me.

    My mother could not only hear me screaming endlessly for help, help, please stop her…she would actually walk right by us and see it all going on without saying or doing a thing. My other siblings wouldn’t come to my aid either, like this was normal behavior. God, it was real abuse and not some sibling rivavlry. It haunts me to this day that they all got away with it. (The beatings started when I was four but their overblown jealousy of my closeness to my father lasts to this day. It was like a vicious circle — the worse they treated me, the more I clung to him — then they hated the both of us.)

    My dad worked a lot. Nothing he did or said to them could put an end to the madness, and he wasn’t there physically to protect me when it all went down or it never would have happened in the first place. In a better world he would have done more to protect me, like have my sister removed from the home, but I don’t even think he knew how torturous it was, how loud the screaming was, because I didn’t complain about it to him — I grew accustomed to it and I whitewashed it. My mother enjoyed it. She once just sat alone and watched me almost truly drown when I was learning to swim, that’s how sick she is. When I was about nine, my pediatrician yelled at her at the top of his lungs (when I told him my story), over and over, he screamed at her “You don’t even protect your own child”. It didn’t change a thing.

    Even though I kept trying to play forgive and forget as we all aged into dysfunctional adults, “faux mom” as I call her decided I was dangerous as a bipolar person, and just wrote me off completely after my dad died. She’s getting senile to boot…It’s not worth the details, but I feel like I’m just waiting for her to die so I can finally get what my father left to me. What a stupid will — I bet he never dreamed she would pull a stunt like this after he died, not after all they put me through growing up. I’m surprised I’m even as normal as I am.

    Well, if anyone read this, thanks for reading, I feel better for getting it off my chest somehow.

    • I am certainly glad that you had the opportunity to share this. It had to have been painful to relive it, but at least liberating to get it out in the open. I thank you for sharing with me.

      My heart hurts for you. Though I was brutalized by my brother who has pretty low functioning autism, it was largely ignored. I would get things like, “Your brother can’t help himself.” And it was all swept under the rug. It was swept under there so well that it’s only now beginning to surface and haunt me.

      My Pappap was my only saving grace. No one would misbehave around him. Everyone loved and respected him too much, and was too afraid of letting him down. Lately, I’ve discovered that it wasn’t until he died that all hell broke loose in my life. I used to blame myself, saying it was my own fault for everything that happened, because I became symptomatic shortly after. I started to put the pieces together. My parents were never outwardly abusive to me until after his death.

      The man was my angel. Now, we’re getting around the holidays. My grandmother is senile now, and because of all of the events that have taken place over the last year (too much to get into), the family has broken up. I’m better for it, I know. But in a way, I feel the sense of loss for a family I never really had in the first place. Does that make any sense?

      Oh, and by the way, I’ve moved blogs. I post at Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon now. I’ve been there for a few months. I moved blogs around the same time I moved house. It was a symbolic thing for me. It’s a long story, but it’s in Sunny’s first post.

      Hope to see you there!

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