Field of Dreams

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This close

Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within… y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they’d consider it a tragedy.

Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham: Son, if I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes… now that would have been a tragedy.

Of all the lines in the movie Field of Dreams, this is the most poignant and painful for me.

From the spring of 1999 through June 27, 2003, I was on the radio. It was like a dream come true. From the time I played ‘make believe disc jockey’ when I was a kid, spinning 45s on my plastic turntable, I wanted to be on the air.

And for a little while I was. I had my own call in talk show. I interviewed some famous people, make a lot of headlines and got decent ratings.

me

Me! Younger. Happier

Around three or four weeks before I got fired because of my then out-of-control mental condition (let me be clear – I would have fired me too), I spoke to one of our ownership’s consultants from Providence R.I. He liked my tapes and wanted to set up a meeting soon to discuss my future.

If I had been able to keep that appointment, God only knows what could have happened; where I might have landed up. I’m not going to be modest here – I was good. It was a small market station and I gave them a big market talk show experience straight from the memory of the Cleveland radio I grew up with.

I produced my own comedy bits, scheduled my own interviews, screened my own calls, ran my own board (that big thing with all the sliding knobs), did my own show prep, created my own promotions and even, in one instance, got my own sponsor for the promotion.

Nobody could tell me that with a little more polish and the right guidance I could have made it big.

This close.

I got blackballed from the business and never worked in radio again.

Long ago I converted my hours of air checks (tapes of my show) to digital. I have not listened to them since I prepared them for resumes over a decade ago. It’s too painful.

KeithBeth&Ben

Sometimes I look at the photos to remind me it really happened once

For years after I was fired, I would have the most vivid dreams of being back on the air again, running the board, talking to people.

And then I’d wake up – just not right away. There would be that twilight zone of disbelief between sleep and wakefulness where for 20 seconds or so I would believe it was real. And the crushing disappointment when I realized it was just another one of those dreams.

I have never known such psychological pain before or since, and I’ve experienced some real gut-wrenching times.

Unlike Dr. Graham, I can’t say with a straight face that if I had only gotten to be a government flack for five minutes that that would have been a tragedy.

I bring all this painful shit up because of a piece I read from therapist Annie Wright in The Mighty titled 15 ‘Adulting’ Truths You May Relate to If You Struggle With Mental Illness.  It’s a good read so, if you can, give it a few minutes of your time. I could write a piece on each of the 15 truths, but I want to concentrate on this one:

  1. There comes a point where you have to grieve the paths you didn’t take.

It’s not quite the same because I did take a path – I just self-destructed and was never able to go back. THEN I took the convoluted paths that led me to where I am now.

But the chief concept here is the one about grieving. Annie says its right and proper to grieve about these paths not taken or paths derailed. What she doesn’t say is how long one should grieve them; when does a health grieving give way to a lifelong funeral dirge?

The radio dreams stopped about eight years ago. But sometimes, when I can’t fall asleep and stare at the ceiling, I think about those times – the only time in my life I couldn’t believe I was being paid to do a job I considered fun.

And it still hurts 14 years later and I still grieve. I understand and have come to terms with how and why it happened but that doesn’t erase the memories, the ‘being on top of the world’ feelings I experienced for a brief period in my life.

Earlier this year my wife and I were at Rockefeller Center in NYC and took the studio tour. At the end of the tour, the tour group gets to take the places of people on a recreation of a Jimmy Fallon-like Tonight Show. I landed up as host. I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I did.

See, I did really well. No, I KILLED it. For a few brief moments I was on stage again, engaged again. This time I was making love to a camera instead of a microphone but it was all the same. It felt natural, like I was born to do this.

NBC sent everyone a video link to the five minute show.

I have never watched it.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me amputated. I’ve heard that old men wake up and scratch itchy legs that been dust for over fifty years. That was me. I’d wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet… The thrill of the grass. . . Man, I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game… The sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball or a glove to your face?

Ray Kinsella: Yeah.

Shoeless Joe Jackson: I used to love travelling on the trains from town to town. The hotels… brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I’d play for nothing!

 

Posted in baseball, Borderline Personality Disorder, BPD, Field of Dreams, getting old, good memories, mental health, radio, regret | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Aftermath of a bad trip

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Not me

I’m in the last day of a four-day break. I needed it.

I had three interviews for a job out of state. The first two interviews were electronic, the last was on site in Missouri where the agency shelled out $1500 to fly me in. All the interviews happened within a 10-day period. It was a whirlwind.

I thought I was a shoe in to get this job. I did not get the job. The why is not important here. What happened afterwards is.

I had one of the worst mixed bipolar episodes I’ve had in years. I went down a spiral I never want to go down again.

It was what psychiatry calls a ‘breakthrough’ episode – one that despite maintaining a medication regimen, the bad thing happens anyway.

When I got back from Missouri and got the bad news the very next day, it was being stunned after being hit over the head with a shovel.

The episode lasted a little over 48 hours. I was fully engaged in hurt, confusion and not a little anger. I was wrapped up in these emotions like a straightjacket.

And when it lifted, it was like a light turning off – it was that fast. I was having lunch with my wife at a local diner and I realized – I’m OK. I can think rationally again. Yeah, I’m still upset over how the interviews went down, but the rage-y confusion and emotional overreacting had lifted like the sudden disappearance of a thunderstorm.

I’m more concerned about this episode than losing out on the job – I’m cool with that now.

I’m seeing my psychiatrist this afternoon. Whether a med switch can help is the question and I think I know the answer – no.

You would think after all these years and all my study of bipolar, that I would recognize what was happening to me and find a way to take myself out of human interaction. I didn’t. I filled Facebook with invective and woe and what can charitably be described as suicidal ideation.

A comment from a good friend telling me to pull myself together resulted in an overreaction leading to a mass unfriending. I can’t get those people back and I don’t blame them for being upset with me.

As with most bipolar episodes, I wrote an apology to all my friends on Facebook trying, again, somewhat in vain, to try to explain what I can’t understand – the loss of control followed by the self-hate and the usual refrain – ‘My God, what have I done.’

I’m sick of saying ‘My God what have I done.’ Damn fucking sick of it.

Life is full of disappointments – some of them severe. Tragedy and loss is our lot often in life – it’s the way things are. I absolutely cannot allow this to happen every time I face some kind of disappointment or adversity. Right now, I’m groping for answers. But at least, I’m OK now.

But like a California earthquake, the farther you are from one episode, the closer you are to another.

Posted in bipolar, mental health, Mixed episode, mood swings, self care, work | Tagged , | Leave a comment

If

I have a lot on my mind today.

Although I have been working out and lost weight, I am experiencing periods of lightheadedness and shortness of breath doing light work, like waxing the car. I have a doctor’s appointment Monday. I’m not sure what this indicates.

Mentally, I’ve been all over the map lately and I can say I don’t like it, but that would be redundant. My lifeline to rationale behavior and civility has been very, very weak at times over the last few weeks. I had to take a mental health day recently for my sake and for my co-workers also. I was afraid of what might happen if I got set off that day. I guess you could call that ‘triggered’ but I think that term has been misused or used as a smear.

I have been mourning over the situation at work. I went through my co-worker’s Facebook pages and once again looked at all the connections between employees in my section, past and present. This is why I can’t be FB friends with anyone at work. And, frankly, it makes me sad.

I will never feel a part of where I work. I will always feel disconnected. The worst feeling is the one where I believe that since the effort to fire me failed, they’ve pretty much decided to humor me with as much work as I can handle but still look for an opportunity in the future to push me out.

Tolerated. I believe I am being tolerated because at this point, they have no other choice.

There is no way I should be working there. Even under the best conditions, simply being there, in that building, where so much negativity happened, being a part of an organization that did me so much harm (and my wife as well), is corrosive to every facet of my mental and physical health. I have tried in vain to leave or at least find another section of the organization to work in outside of public affairs. All attempts have failed and I believe that the word has gone out – he’s nuts, let public affairs deal with him.

I am grateful for a wife that has stood by me through all of this. I am grateful for my house and everything I have. I have more than most and I don’t often give real thanks for that. I get very wound up in myself and my vision becomes myopic. I see only the threats, worries and fears.

of-all-the-liars-rudyard-kipling-quote-620x620The whole idea of getting into a fitness regimen is me fighting back against all of this. I tell myself that I did not lay down and die, I fought to get my job back and now I must fight against the corrosiveness to my being that working at the VA engenders. I keep fighting. I am tired quite a bit but I did not and do not plan to quit.

I have quit too much in my life. At my age, I might as well go for something with all the intensity and strength I have left. It’s better than sitting around waiting to die.

I don’t want a cookie. I want a break. I want to be proud of myself for something more than not killing myself.

Switching gears.

I can’t deny that the state of the nation and the world has not affected my moods. Many people are in distress over the state of the world. I feel that I have walked through a looking glass to another version of reality where everything appears the same as on the other side, but it isn’t. People in this mirror-world have changed into something I don’t recognize.

The things we knew that were stable and unchanging – things we could trust to function, like our government, are instead, acting against the principles they were founded on.

Today the government announces the first step to deporting 800,000 people who were brought to the US as children by their parents illegally. The government, acting supposedly for us in a republican government, is about to punish the children for the sins of their parents. This is unconscionable.

CRp741xW0AAfx4_We may be on the verge of nuclear war since both antagonists are people that can’t back down.

Another catastrophic hurricane is heading toward the US while many still close their eyes to our responsibility for global climate change.

And suddenly, if we think about it, our day-to-day concerns seem trivial by comparison.

I remember the opening lines to Kipling’s ‘If:’

If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating;
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can keep your head. . . .

If you can keep your heart. . .

If you can keep your humanity. . .

No one said it’d be easy.

Posted in advice, bipolar, depression, existential dread, gratitude, mood swings, Rudyard Kipling, stigma | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Take that flag (and all it represents) and shove it

I just can’t take it anymore.

North-Carolina-Confederate-plate-AP

Yes, exactly like this.

Last night I quit the Red Mustang Registry Facebook group. I saw one too many Confederate flags. And let’s make a distinction – it was the cross of St. Andrew battle flag, NOT the official flag of the CSA, known as the ‘Stars and Bars.’ Most redneck hicks wouldn’t know the difference anyway and it doesn’t matter to them. That flag stands for all their collective hates and fears.

So, the flag was on the back of a Mustang’s license plate. I called it “that Goddamned flag,” which, as you can imagine, started a shitstorm. I knew then and there I was leaving the group so I didn’t care. I let ‘em have it. Of course, I was ‘triggered’ and I suggested the commenter could trigger something else on the business end of a .45.

Yeah, buddy.

Another defender of the traitor flag had the US flag as his Facebook banner. I asked him which one he loved and served. Silence. Yeah, fuck your heritage asshole.

I was even threatened with being ‘SWAT-ted’ for being such a ‘violent liberal.’ I can only imagine what they thought when I wrote the SWAT team had already been to my house once.

Im-with-stupid-confederate-flagYou know what – I DO look down on you. I do it because you deserve it. Yes, I’m an elitist and damn proud of it. In America, it is now a sign of patriotism and a badge of honor to be stupid. I refuse to be stupid.

(Yeah, I know you don’t burn your draft cards in Muskogee. You just fuck your cousins).

Last night, the fascist in the White House pardoned Sheriff Joe and signed the order banning transgender people from the military – all while a superstorm was bearing down on the Texas coast.

Trump, you are a piece of shit. And if you support this vile, excretable bigot, so are you. Fuck off.

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I made this point on my radio show once. No wonder I was fired. Wouldn’t take it back then or now.

Just do me one favor – pick the flag you want to fetishize as a deity – the American or the Confederate battle flag. Because there’s enough flag worship going on that, as a nation, we should only deal with one. I thought we were only dealing with one anyway. But the Nazi flag is popping up here and there too, so maybe we have three flags.

(You know why Alabamans use their fingers and toes to count to 10? Because they can’t use their teeth. Butthurt yet?)

America, you are one sick puppy. Maybe you’ve always been, just beneath the surface.

You weren’t expecting this kind of column, were you? Am I off my meds? Not at all. Just mad. And I’ve had it up to here with what is happening in my country. Of all the -isms you can name the one I can’t abide in the least is fascism – because that’s where all the other ‘isms’ come together. But make no mistake – that is the ism that is now stalking the masses.

I hate Nazis. I hate fascists. Henry Ford was a fascist. So was Charles Lindbergh. But they’re America heroes. Funny that.

I have had to admit to myself that I probably will not join a real gym for powerlifting nor go back into Jiu Jitsu. Ask yourself – how many people even a little right of center are involved in both those endeavors? I would put my money down, work hard and then reach a point where I couldn’t take the locker room chatter anymore and leave. Five years ago, no. But now, yes.

I cannot and will not countenance this (for the semi-illiterate hicks and Trump supporters out there, countenance: as a verb, admit as acceptable or possible, i.e. “he was reluctant to countenance the use of force.”). I use a lot of twenty-dollar words. I am agnostic and do not go to church. Do not pray for me. But if you wish to make me and others like me a receptacle for your hate, feel free. Just understand that I will always, always, always be able to destroy you in a fair debate.

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Substitute wife for daughter

And, surprisingly, I probably own more firearms than you. Molon labe, you Nazi fucks.

Last Thanksgiving, innumerable articles were written about how to deal with your fill-in-your-most appropriate ‘-ist’ family’s Trump supporters around the table. In most cases, avoidance, or an uneasy truce was the solution many chose. Those days are over. Just as in the last Civil War, families are being torn asunder and friendships cashiered, probably forever.

If my parents were still alive, I’m sure I wouldn’t be speaking to either of them.

There is no neutrality here. You are either for it or against it (like George W. Bush told the rest of the world post 9-11). To paraphrase Lincoln, into your hands my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, the future of our nation rests. If you choose fascism, the last 241 years of the American experiment were for nothing.

Just Do it Nazis Facebook (1)

No, nothing THIS bad. Yet.

I have 163 Facebook friends. Of those, 89 are in the restricted pen, meaning they can only see what I post publicly and I follow none of them, so I can’t see anything they post unless I specifically look for it.

Why don’t I simply unfriend them? Because, as I always say, I find such people fascinating. When it comes to their stupidity, hate and madness, I want to see how far down the rabbit hole goes, so to speak.

 

Link to fascist sites and commenters? Gone

Wave your faith around as a weapon and justification for your hate? Gone

Racist, sexist, homophobe? Gone

Blather on about the ‘thin blue line’ and fetishize cops? Gone

Engage in ‘whataboutism?’ Gone

But I will peek in from time to time and check out your ravings. I can’t help myself. You’re my incubated test subjects. Many of you I went to Catholic school with (the sorriest lot of all, but I shouldn’t be surprised). If you, as a control group, are inclined to believe something, it’s a sure bet the rest of the mindless authoritarian morons out there believe it too. You are my canary in the coal mine.

 

Posted in black lives matter, Confederate flag, donald trump, Facebook, my father, nazis, Police, police shooting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Drowning slowly

imagesBrain fog. Depression. Tiredness.

All part of my world for the last 48 hours.

I take the same pills every day. I go through the same routines every day.

I have been working out and for a while, the endorphins have been amazing.

There was a crushing blow to my sense of competence Wednesday evening that may be responsible for some of this, but not all.

I can get out of bed. I don’t want to.

I can go to work. I don’t want to.

Ever since I started working here, I have literally fought through one obstacle after another to keep and work this job as well as I could. It may not seem apparent, but the way I was put together, I have a hard time sitting at home and cashing a disability check.

I am avoiding my co-workers and people in general as much as I can the last few days. Explanations only go so far when I have trouble putting how this feels into words. Explanations also fall on bewildered ears. I can’t expect others to understand the landscape my mind inhabits – it is as foreign to them as the dark side of the Moon.

So I’ve been working out with weights both at home at work. I have been attempting my best self-care. But when you have this condition, sometimes all the king’s horses and king’s men can’t stop you from being smacked in the head with the bipolar bat.

I isolate myself in my office. It is a blessing management has been gone on a government paid junket to Nashville all week. I can have my door closed and suffer in silence. I grind my way slowly through my work, trying to pace myself while fighting to stay away and stay focused. Sometimes I lose the battle and put my head down just like we used to do in elementary school; a five minutes heads-on-desk rest before we get back to phonics.

I am not looking forward to this weekend in this respect – I will spend it crawling around the house in a daze trying to get my mojo back before having to come back here on Monday and knowing the shit storm I will be greeted with when all the projects that have lingered without management approval suddenly become priority one missions.

Yesterday I messaged my wife that if someone had come up and put I gun to my head, I would have begged them to pull the trigger. I just didn’t give a damn – about anything.

Can anyone understand this? Or, can anyone who is not affected by this damn disorder understand how much we hate living like this? Yes, there are good times. But when the bad times return, and they always do, we’re reminded they always will return and any plans must take into account the grenade in our brains may go off at any time.

The day the SWAT team came to my house, the phrase that led to the event, the words that set the whole chain of events into motion were in the form of a very simple question I asked my co-worker: “did you ever have one of the mornings when you wished you hadn’t woke up?”

It’s still a legitimate question. And one I almost died for asking.

If it happens again, they can take their best shot.

And, no, I know you don’t understand that at all.

Posted in bipolar, death, depression, existential dread, PTSD, self care, shame, stigma, suicide | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

September of my Years

One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And the springs and the winters of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all? – Frank Sinatra

I never thought about getting old until about six years ago. It hit me at 48 that the numbers were getting higher and I was getting slower. I tried my best to ignore it but here I am.

c15c2af97faebd106e71d1fd281cb304--autumn-leaves-autumn-fallI find it, perhaps, something of a condition that many people, when the reach a certain age, look back upon their parent’s music and culture with a bit of wistfulness. The world of the 50s and 60s seen through rose colored glasses and, indeed, our world of the 70s and 80s as well.

At some point around this age, my mother started watching Lawrence Welk. This was a woman who had come into the music scene with Elvis Presley and Bill Haley. Now she was listening to champagne music.

And so at some point I started becoming a big Sinatra fan – not of him personally but his music. It wasn’t all that long ago I first heard ‘The September of My Years.’ I had to sit down and contemplate that, as so many people made his songs their own, this song now applied to me.

And the song, included in the album of the same name, won a Grammy after its 1965 release. I was three when it was released. I do remember hearing it play at my maternal grandparent’s house in Cleveland late in the decade. The album they owned is now part of my collection. Amazing how things sometimes come full circle.download

Indeed, the years and seasons flew by and whatever happened to them all? I tell kids a truism: time crawls when you’re young until you reach about 25 then it starts speeding up. By the time you’re 45 it starts racing a breakneck speed and then you remember the hurry you were in to grow up and wish you hadn’t been.

I collect old things – radios, matchbooks, coins, magazines and newspapers. I guess my basement is my own private museum of the past and if I want to, I can get lost down there and never come back. I can speak only for my own mental condition that when one has blazed through their life with reckless abandon, the memories as less sweet and more regretful. If a few clear-headed decisions could have been made, so much grief could have been avoided.

It’s a trap, of course. The constant ruminations of a life that had seemed so vital is buried in regret and shame without giving thanks for the good times and relative health. People like us tend to be that way.

And so the only way out is to plunge headfirst into some venture without thinking that, depending on what it is, time is so much shorter than it was. At some point, those who reach my age and are able to comfortably retire (which I could have been now if not for some of those decisions referenced above) find it more pleasurable to travel and hang out with friends and discuss the new and old over cocktails.

I suppose that would not be a bad way to spend one’s twilight years. For men, it can be a number of hobbies – golf, travel, volunteer mentoring, the arts – all the things there wasn’t time for when working for a living.

I face the prospect of working another eight years at least, perhaps 10. Truth be told, if I was to retire now, even with enough money to pay the bills, I’d be adrift without anything to do. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. But when you’re still working, well, for me, that holds on to a certain portion of youth where you can still imagine making grand plans with your time off. Some time off is good. Eternal time off would present me with problems.

The key thing in my life was, despite my numerous disastrous grand plans and personal reinventions, I always had another mountain to climb, another thing to experience, another vista to reach. Now it seems, as far as work, that I have gotten as far as I am going to go. With print journalism and radio dead as careers, I am stuck here making the best of it. There is no longer anywhere else to go.

I keep thinking – there must be one more mountain to climb, one more objective to reach. That has been my life. The things I reached for may have exploded but at least there was some sense of linear progression. Keep moving forward was my unofficial motto.

So what is left to do? In the song, Sinatra sings about slowing down to enjoy the parts of life we may have missed in our hurry to grow up and be successful. We become wistful and nostalgic.

As I man who has never paused at wishing wells
Now I’m watching children’s carousels
And their laughter’s music to my ears
And I find that I’m smiling gently as I near
September, the warm September of my years1c163c5ba988b6a5bdee10debbf7ec1b--forever-young-forever-love

There is something to said for aging gracefully, but although I have given up hiding my gray hair, I do not find wandering around musing at the sights and sounds I missed as a young man to be for me.

The last refuge of the spent career man is self-improvement. If I can no longer be the next Walter Cronkite, I can be someone better than I have been.

I am trying to accomplish something I’ve never done before. I have never lived quietly and I do not plan to die quietly but reaching out for one last goal. The September of my Years will be the September I never had. I’ll write about it next, but here is a clue:

Dead coaches live in the air, son   live

 In the ear

Like fathers, and urge   and urge. They want you better

Than you are. When needed, they rise and curse you  

they scream

When something must be saved.

EPSON MFP image

Posted in bipolar, Catholic school, fear, getting old, Lake Catholic, men, mental health, middle age, passion, Sinatra | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

An open letter to my dead father

Trigger warning: lots of them; read at your own risk.

That young boy without a name anywhere I’d know his face. 
In this city the kid’s my favorite. 
I’ve seen him. I see him every day. 
Seen him run outside looking for a place to hide from his father, 
the kid half naked and said to myself “O, what’s the matter here?”  — Natalie Merchant

child-abuse-660x350When I was a child, my father used to berate me for my moodiness. Being a child of the Depression, he couldn’t understand why I would not find my life an endless series of blissful experiences.

“I’m tired of feeling sorry for you. You are so spoiled you don’t know what it’s like to have it rough!”

I always wished I could tell him that whatever the problem with me was (and he always thought I had a problem) that I couldn’t turn it on and off like a light switch. He might well have hit me for being insolent and I kinda liked my teeth.

“I don’t know what your problem is kid, but I’m tired of you complaining all the time!”

You know what dad? You gave me the greatest gift you could have given me by dying when I was 20. God forbid you would have been more disappointed in me had you lived to see what kind of adult I became.

I hated you.

There was another reason. And wherever you are, you know what it is you sick pervert.

I’m tired of the excuses everybody uses, he’s your kid, do as you see fit,
but get this through that I don’t approve of what you did to you own flesh and blood.

I hate being fucked up. You never knew how much you made me hate myself. Almost as much as I hated you.

Heaven knows what you would have thought of my three marriages, all the jobs and careers I had and lost and all the goofy, embarrassing things I did. I’m sure I would have cut all communication with you at some point.

But even though I was a fucked up parent as well, I never did to my kids what you did to me. My parenting guidance was simple – remember everything my father did and do exactly the opposite.

But what I did didn’t always work. And I take full responsibility for that. My son’s standoffishness bears witness to how my actions made our families disposable. And I will never forgive myself for that.

I have only come to see the deep wounds you gave me were mostly mental and not physical. Not physical because I spent my entire childhood in mortal fear of you and therefore walked on eggshells until you died.

But hey, I had a roof over my head and food on the table and private school education so I should be grateful. That’s how it goes. So what if I lived in constant fear and shame? Hell, I remember taking calls on the radio and hearing people tell me their old man beat the shit out of them when they were kids and they turned out just fine.

Sure they did.

In America, violence is the norm. Once you make a friend of violence and all it encompasses, you too can grow up to be a hard and tough man and take on the world and be a winner!

Just like you dad – the carpet salesman who spent his married life grinding his teeth over the fact that the woman you married always out-earned you. And you made her life hell for it too.

You made life hell for everyone except your hunting buddies. And when I didn’t fit in with that crowd, you emotionally abandoned me for the rest of your short life.
You died at 51. I’m 54. I beat you.

Remember that wonderful color Olan Mills portrait of our family that you and mom paid extra to have it look like a painting? The one that hung on the wall of the living room until mom died and I sold the house?

Yeah, well, a month ago I took it out to the back porch of MY home and poured lighter fluid on it and lit a match. I watched that motherfucker burn. And I enjoyed every second of it; especially the part where your face caught fire and crumpled into ash.

I also didn’t mourn when the fire consumed my psychotic sister (it does take one to know one) and my mother who enabled you and never greeted an aspiration I had that she didn’t discourage.

Hey mom, I started going through your old photo albums and guess what — yep, into the dumpster too.

And then the fire reached me. I watched me burn too. It was a cathartic moment, I assure you. If I could burn my entire past of my memory, I would too.

It’s so easy and cheap to blame your parents isn’t it? Even when they deserve it, you’re supposed to conform to our social tastes and worship them for simply not killing you.

But you did kill a part of me dad. I’ve spent an entire life trying to get it back. I probably never will.

So here’s to all the happy families on Facebook. I wish you all smiles and exotic vacations. I look at all the love and togetherness and wish you the best. I love it when the happy smiling Facebook people post pictures of their parents and memorialize them and thank them for making them the men and women they are today.

And I tried. Honestly, I tried to play the happy game. But I just can’t. It’s a lie. Dad, I will no longer put that photo of you holding me as a baby with that smile on your face on Facebook for Father’s Day. Because I know what came later. And mom, you too — sorry, but you were part of the package as well. And I think you know why I can’t. But I might write more about that another day. Maybe I’ll post my sister’s mug shot from the Lee County Florida Sheriff’s Department. It really captures the essence of her soul. May I never speak to you or see you again.

Ungrateful little bastard, aren’t I?

When you grow up in a dysfunctional family, often you don’t realize just how dysfunctional it really was until years later, when you can look back on it with a clear head and realize – that shit was really fucked up.

The reason is simple – we lie to ourselves that it was just the way it was. Fathers terrorize their children, mothers enable it and siblings land up resenting you for being born first.

It’s just the way it is. Despite all the memoirs (I’m looking at you Augusten Burroughs) and self-help books, no one really wants to admit they came from a fucked up family. It doesn’t get you hits on Facebook and most conservatives generally dismiss it as whining.

But if I’m going to write about my family, I have to be truthful. And things do happen behind closed doors. And I needed to write this. Take it for what it’s worth – an admission that life is not as ordered or pretty for some people as it may appear on the outside. And, finally, that some of us who deal with mental illness are also dealing with a host of other issues that impact on our ‘recovery.’

So my advice is — burn your family portrait if you need to.

It’s cheaper than an hour of therapy.

Answer me and take your time, 
what could be the awful crime he could do at such young an age? 
If I’m the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear. 
Oh these cold and lowly things that you do I suppose you do because he belongs to you 
and instead of love and the feel of warmth you’ve given him these cuts and sores don’t heal with time or with age. 

Posted in abuse, anxiety, bipolar, Catholic school, childhood terror, existential dread, growing up, mom, my father, parenting, parents | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment