Nearly a year has passed since I last added to this blog. So much has happened since then, though things are still far from over. I'll warn you that this entry will be extremely long. But I have nearly 11 months worth of stuff to write about.
In my last post, I mentioned my attempt to get through to my youngest brother, about our dad. At the time, it seemed like it got nowhere. But, a few weeks after that conversation, I called to talk to my mom (who ended up not being home) and got my brother instead. Seemingly out of nowhere, he thanked me for talking with him. He said that he had talked to his friend (who had lost his mom to meth, and had a sister and a brother who both had meth addictions), who told him most of the same things I did. He said that appreciated that I had tried to talk to him, and that the stuff I said now made sense. He started trying to work on his relationship with my mom (which is still very fragmented, but is better than it was). And he stopped playing my dad's games as much (though, he has chosen to not cut off contact). Armed with this new knowledge, my brother was able to start seeing things more clearly. Later on, he even watched my dad actually creating
these "rubbings" right in front of him. My dad really thought he was seeing impressions, but when he showed my brother, there was nothing there.
In mid-July, my grandmother threw a barbeque for the whole family. My cousin, Jason, was going to be home from teaching in Japan for a week or so, and thought he'd like to see the whole family. His sister, whom I hadn't seen in years (but used to be close to), was also coming down. I agonized over whether to go at first. I was reluctant to see my dad, but I really wanted to see my cousins. Ultimately, I decided to go. I arrived a little late (I had actually been out of town that weekend, and had just gotten home an hour before). At one point, I was sitting at a table with my cousins, catching up, when I heard my dad talking to my aunt at the food table only a few feet away. He was ranting about my mom, and some stuff she was supposedly doing. I immediately tuned out of the conversation in front of me, and locked onto what my dad was saying -- even though I didn't want to. The stuff he was saying was garbage, and I was so angry and hurt to be hearing him saying it.
Shortly thereafter, my grandmother walked into the house, alone. I followed her inside, and confronted her in the kitchen. I told her that while I really wanted to be there with the family, it was really hard for me to be around my dad. I told her that I didn't want her to think that if I didn't come to something that it was because I didn't want to be around the family
, and that I was afraid of people thinking that.
I also told her I had wanted to talk to her about my dad. Instinctively, I started to cry, and my grandmother ushered me back into her bathroom, where we had some privacy. I told her about my dad's drug problem. I told her how my dad had been accusing my mom of all kinds of crazy things, and how they weren't true. I told her how I was scared for my dad, because he seemed to be delusional and putting himself in a lot of danger. I told my grandmother that I had a lot of information that I wanted to share with her. Then she asked me if it was true that my mom was a prostitute. I flat out told her "no." She then told me that when my dad first came to live with them, he had helped them install a new screen door. In the process, he had cut himself, and my grandmother got his blood on her. She then looked at me with fear in her eyes, and asked me if she needed to be checked for AIDS, in case my mom gave it to my dad. After getting over my initial horror and disappointment that my grandmother STILL thought my mom was a prostitute, I explained to her that even if my dad did have it, he didn't get it from my mom, because she wasn't a prostitute, and that unless she had an open wound, just getting my dad's blood on her wouldn't transmit the disease. It was obvious, though, that my dad had been saying a lot of stuff to my grandparents, and had really been trying to convince them of all of his conspiracy theories about my mom. My grandmother told me that she was really worried about my dad, and that her and my grandfather were getting kind of fed up at some of his behavior. She told me she wanted to help him, and I suggested that we get the family together, and have an intervention to help my dad. She agreed that she wanted to do that. However, it never ended up happening.
In September, my middle brother turned 21. My dad decided to have a dinner for him at this local Italian place. He sent me an email, inviting me and Jon. I couldn't possibly go. I was still so angry at my dad after what had happened on Jon's birthday. And, the barbeque in July was just way too hard. I couldn't even bring myself to respond to him. My youngest brother went, but wasn't looking forward to it. He was prepared to get up and leave if my dad started any crap. My brother said my dad mostly behaved, though.
My dad was really pissed that I didn't show up. The next day, I checked my email, and found this horrible message from him. I had just gotten to work, when I read it. I immediately ran into the bathroom to try to compose myself, because the tears were already flowing. He wrote:"I may be a drug crazed, wife beating mother fucker, but I'm not stupid. I get the message. I just want to say a couple of things before we part ways. First and foremost, My door WILL ALWAYS be open to you. And I will always be there for you if you need me to be. ALWAYS. Second a little unsolicited advice because I do love you and want to see you happy. The event that made me concider a divorce may suprise you. The night of my execution (Sunday May 2) it was explained to me (with your eager agreement) that to ask for 20 minutes of your mothers time was to demanding of me (I believe you said she is so busy). Well honey, if you believe that the person you choose to marry and love is not as important as the things you want to do and the other people you wish to have around you, you're going to end up like Mom and me. 40+ and divorced. Don't let this happen. Your lover should be THE MOST IMPORTANT person in your life. You grab them, hold them close and never let them wonder if it isn't so. If you ever want to find me ask one of your brothers. They'll know where I am. And please don't give up on your g-parents and aunts and uncles. Keep as much family as you can. They're ok with everything. They just don't want to lose you either. Good- bye sweetheart. FOR NOW. Love you, Dad."
First of all, nobody was accusing him of being a wife-beater! Drug addict, yes. And, he had been emotionally and mentally abusing my mom. But, I had never seen him physically abuse her, and she had never accused him of such. Secondly, I never "agreed" that it was too much of my dad to ask for "20 minutes" of my mom's time. However, my dad had been badgering and harassing my mom about his conspiracy theories constantly
, and it didn't seem she ever really had a fair chance to defend herself. My mom seemed to genuinely want to fix things, while my dad seemed to just want to get my mom to admit to all of his accusations. I resented him putting words in my mouth. Thirdly, it's funny how he tried to give me marital advice that HE really should have tried following himself. But, what pissed me off most was how blatantly manipulative his email was. And, it only got worse.
As if his first email weren't painful enough, he decided a second, even MORE manipulative email was in order. Only three and a half hours after sending the first one, he sent a second email, with the subject line of "Chip." It read:"I'm sorry to bother you again but I forgot to say something to you the last time I saw you. THANK YOU for being there when Chip got executed. I had to do the same thing with my childhood dog when I was in High School and it's not easy. But I'm glad Chippie had you there at the end. I won't go into my feelings over how it was handled except to say the reason I wasn't there was because I could'nt think of anything as cruel to do to him as not being allowed to see him for 5 weeks, have him see me, be happy, then kill him. I'm crying now, as I cried that day. I just wanted you to know. Thanks. Love Dad."
"Executed?" That really did me in. Chip was NOT executed. I was there. I was involved in the decision to put him down. I saw how hard it was for my mom. And I saw how incredibly sick Chip was getting. It was very obvious that there was little other choice, except just waiting for him to die. Before we put him to sleep, the veterinarian looked him over, and confirmed that he didn't have much time anyway, unless we used some very expensive treatments to prolong his life by maybe
a few more months. Putting him to sleep was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But, it was the right thing. And it disgusted me that my dad had the gall to try to manipulate and hurt me with it.
In late September, I learned my mom was dating again. She told me that she had begun seeing a guy named Tony, who was a friend of two of her friends. According to my mom, he had asked her if he could date her, and my mom accepted. He was only 35. However, he had been through a divorce not too long before, and my mom seemed to be happy about him, and told me that he had been very supportive. She said that both agreed they weren't looking for anything serious. It was weird at first, especially since I didn't expect it so soon. But, if it helped my mom, I wasn't going to get in the way.
As the holidays approached, I became very apprehensive about how those would work out. I spent Thanksgiving with Jon's family. My mom had a belated turkey dinner a few nights later. It was my mom and Tony, me and Jon, my two brothers, and the girlfriend of one of my brothers. That night, I learned that my middle brother and his girlfriend were expecting a child. They are due on June 25. My brother later proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas Day.
A few weeks before Christmas (and the night before I was to fly out to New York for my company's Christmas party), I came home to a message on my machine from my dad. He sounded like he was crying, and asked me to call him back. He said "Please don't blow me off this time." I didn't know what to do. I was worried about what he wanted to talk to me about. I was afraid of not calling, and having it be something really serious. But I was also afraid of calling and being subjected to his games. So, I called my brother. My brother told me that my dad had been to the doctor, and was diagnosed as bi-polar, and that he had been acting kind of suicidal.
I decided to call my dad. We only talked for about 20 minutes, but he told me that his doctor diagnosed him as bi-polar and possibly schizophrenic. He apologized for all the pain he had put me through, and said that he'd do anything to win me back. He said his doctor had started him on medications, and that for the first time in a really long time, he felt "normal." He claimed that he had quit the meth the previous February, and only slipped up once since then. I wasn't really sure whether to believe that, and I'm still not. He said that he told his doctor about it, and his doctor told him he was at a high risk for a relapse. As a result, my dad was to start an outpatient chemical dependency program. As far as I know, he started in January, but I don't know how it went. My dad said he wanted me back in his life, and he wanted to earn my trust back. But, it also sounded like he still believes some (though maybe not all) of the stuff he had been accusing my mom of. I told him how angry and hurt I was. I told him how he had destroyed my trust after what happened on Jon's birthday. I told him that I really didn't know if I could have a relationship with him right now, and even if I could, what it would take. He told me to think about it, and get back to him with a list of the things he needed to do. I never sent that list, because I decided that I couldn't handle playing those games right now. I couldn't get myself so wrapped up after all the work I had done to unwrap myself from the mess.
For Christmas, I decided that I would spend Christmas Eve with my dad's family. I really wanted to be able to see my family on that side, even though I knew seeing my dad would be hard. I worked it out with my brothers so that we'd spend Christmas Eve with dad's family, and then Christmas morning with mom. Christmas Eve was incredibly hard. Traditionally, my family swaps names for Christmas. The only people who get gifts from everyone are the kids. When it came time to start handing out the presents, I quickly found a huge pile of presents at my feet -- more than anyone else. About 3 were from my aunt, who had pulled my name. The rest were all from my dad. I felt so incredibly embarrassed by the display. Not wanting to cause a scene, I quietly opened them all, and secretly fumed. I didn't want anything from my dad. I hadn't gotten anything for him, either. I felt like he was trying to buy my love back, and that just pissed me off even more. I cried the whole way home from my grandparent's that night.
The New Year passed, and the divorce marched on, as did everything else. I learned that my dad now had a new girlfriend, who had two little kids. Supposedly he called up my youngest brother and asked him "how would you feel if I raised two other little kids as my own." Both my brother and I were disgusted by it. My dad barely raised us, when it comes down to it, and now he wants to go screw up some other woman's kids?! My grandmother tried to arrange a lunch so that we could meet my dad's new "lady friend" and her kids. Fortunately, I had to work that day, so I couldn't make it. I really wasn't interested. I still have not met her. I worry for her though. Either she's just as bad as my dad, or she has no idea what she's getting herself into.
In February, my mom learned that my middle brother had taken some items out of the house for my dad, without consulting my mom, or going through the appropriate means (the court appointed my mom's dad to be in charge of dividing up the assets -- which both of my parents agreed to). He and my mom got into a huge fight. Andy felt like my mom didn't trust him. He also thought she was being a hypocrite because she had let someone borrow some of my dad's tools, and let someone else borrow the truck without getting all the paperwork signed. Yet, when my brother wanted to borrow the truck, she made him sign these papers along with her and my dad, allowing him to use it. So, my brother decided that he was being treated unfairly. On top of that, my dad was still manipulating my middle brother. Supposedly, my dad even told him that "You're the only one I have left. Your brother and sister have abandoned me." (More manipulation.) When I talked to my brother about the situation, I got him to agree to return the items, and do things through the proper channels next time. He told me that my dad told him that he was afraid my mother was going to sell or destroy those items, and that's why my brother needed to take them.
As a result, the relationship between my middle brother and my mom became severely strained. My mom ended up demanding the house keys back from my brother, and changed the locks. She made it clear that she couldn't really trust him, and didn't want them coming over unless she was there. My mother believes that my brother and his fiance were coming over there all the time to basically spy on her, and were reporting things back to my dad. I actually wouldn't doubt that something like that was happening -- even if it was just my dad fishing for information from my brother. After all, I had found out that early on, my dad had been using my youngest brother to get him to take things out of the house for my dad, and to spy on my mom. My dad had my brother taking papers and things for my dad's "evidence," and may have even entered the house while my mom wasn't home, with the help of my brother. (But, since my talk from last July got through to him, I don't think my youngest brother has done any of those things again.)
In April, my brother and his fiance had their baby shower. At first my brother wasn't going to invite my mom, but I talked to him, and convinced him to. I also convinced him to try to talk to my mom, and work out the problems they had. They had a talk, but I think my mother was too angry and scared, and ended up just lecturing him and going off on him, instead of handling things the best way. This didn't make things any better. My brother does not react well at all to being attacked and yelled at. It generally just gets him very angry, and makes him lash right back at the other person. You can get so much farther with him with calmness, and reason.
He did end up sending my mom an invitation to the shower. However, she ultimately decided not to go, because my dad was going to be there, and she was afraid of a confrontation, or of my dad saying or doing things. She was also afraid that my dad might bring his new girlfriend (which, it turned out he didn't, even though he put her and her kid's names on the presents). She decided she didn't want to create or cause any drama, and wrote a letter to my brother's fiance's parents explaining the situation. I talked to my mom about it, because I was worried about this becoming a habit. I didn't want her to sacrifice a lot of very important moments, just because my dad might be there. She promised me that she wasn't going to let that happen, but that for this particular event, she wasn't so sure she could even control herself
. (She was trying to negotiate a deal to buy out my dad's half of the house, so she could keep it, and my dad was playing games with her).
As a result, the only person on my mom's side of the family that was able to make it to the shower was my aunt (mom's sister). I got to the shower at 1 pm, when it started, and immediately ran into my grandparents (dad's parents). I was chatting with them for a few minutes, inside the hall. My grandmother suggested I sit at the table with them, but I told them that I was waiting for my aunt, and that I had promised her I would save her a seat (understandably, my aunt didn't want to sit alone, and asked me to hold a seat for her, since she'd be arriving late, after work). My grandmother responded by asking "Who?" I repeated "My aunt." Then, my grandmother very visibly rolled her eyes
and said "Oh" in a very disgusted tone. I fumed, but decided that this was neither the time nor the place to get outwardly indignant about it. Instead, I walked away. Besides, I knew my dad would be sitting with them, and I didn't want to sit near my dad anyway. Later on, my aunt arrived. My grandparents and dad said nothing to her. My dad's sister said hello, and her husband said hello too, and even talked with my aunt a bit. When it came time for everyone to leave, my aunt and uncle (dad's sister and husband) came and said goodbye to me and my aunt before leaving. After I looked up as I was chatting with my aunt (mom's sister), and noticed my grandparents at the other end of the hall with one foot out the door. They left without ever saying goodbye to me. Presumably all because my aunt was sitting next to me and they didn't want to have to speak to her. What makes it even more ridiculous is that my aunt has NEVER done anything to my grandparents, and the only reason they don't like her is because my dad has said a lot of horrible things about my mom and her family -- most of which has been untrue.
The baby is due in a few weeks. My brother is apparently really angry with my mom for not showing up to the baby shower, even though he read the letter my mom sent to his fiance's parents. He told my brother that he was mad because my mom told them that she would always be there for them no matter what, and then she didn't show up to the shower. He doesn't seem to understand that her not going has NOTHING to do with her not being there for him, and that actually she probably saved them a lot of embarrassment with her sacrifice. The relationship between my mom and brother is still incredibly strained. Granted, my mom hasn't done all she can to correct that situation. I've tried talking to her, and tried to help her see where she is making her mistakes. However, she doesn't seem to want to hear it. She's too hurt, and angry, and scared right now to do anything other than what she's doing. My brother is just as stubborn, and can't seem to see things from my mother's perspective. Plus, he's probably being manipulated by my dad, making it harder to be truly rational about things.
The divorce was finalized nearly a month ago, but things are far from over. The house will need to be sold, and the property divided up. Who knows how long all of that will take. While I'm certainly sad that my parents marriage is now completely dead, I'm also a bit relieved. A year ago, I was severely struggling accepting the idea of a divorce. Now, I realize that it's really the best thing for both of my parents. The relationship had become too toxic, and I think it was beyond repair. Certainly my mom is better off now. As for my dad, I think he still has a very, very long road ahead of him.
Father's Day is coming up, and I know that's going to be another painful day. I have no intention of sending a card this year, unlike last year. I'm still too angry at my dad. And right now, I just can't negotiate a relationship with him. It hurts like hell, and I seriously wish it wasn't that way. But, there is too much that is unresolved, and it doesn't seem like those things can
be resolved at this point in time. Maybe someday, but not now. I've had two dreams, in the past two weeks (after none for quite a long time) where I confronted my dad. It felt good to just let it all out, and tell him how I felt and how angry I was. But in real life, I don't think it would be as productive. Maybe someday I'll lay it all out for him.
I seriously worry about the family this little child is about to come into. I haven't met her yet, as she hasn't even been born. But, I fear for her so much. I've already seen so much betrayal and heart break and abandonment and separation in my own life with my own family growing up. I don't ever want anyone else to have to go through that -- especially not a little child who has absolutely no say. Of course, these aren't my decisions to make. The only thing I can do is vow that I will not abandon or betray her. The decisions other people make are up to them.