Roots 1.0

the causes of depression and anxiety, and for that matter ocd, are not definite. It depends who you ask. Most likely, there is a cluster of causes, and every individual is just that, an individual. But while there may be a genetic component, a chemical component, a behavioral and cognitive component, there is most certainly an emotional element. And upbringing, home environment, trauma and the resulting anxiety/hypersensitivity, these things are clear players in my own struggle.

Fact is, it's been a hard month and a half. The whole work/teaching online thing, while it has settled down now (and I have will be able to teach online at least two more years) completely triggered me. It felt all too like the insecurity and parental distance and disapproval I lived with my whole life. After having a couple of really good months, very hopeful months where I was not anxious or even obsessing, my symptoms crept back in as the work thing was unfolding. Now that I feel better about that, at least for now, I have more coming onto my plate: my brother had some interaction with my father this week, and I did also, and it brought up loads of feelings for me. When I saw my therapist Friday I feel as though I talked about my father in ways I never have. I'm sensitive enough now to how aware I really am that it feels like meeting Dad for the first time: oh yeah, that guy; the psycho who neglected me and messed with my head for twenty years.

This is going to be a raw post. A recovery community post. If that's not your bag, hit next blog.

My father is a tricky person. His most oustanding characteristic is his incredible withdrawal. He can't hold psychological contact for more than a minute or two. If we're on the phone, and I start talking about, oh, scuba diving or something, taking cert. classes with Mikey, he can stay into that about a minute. Then I realize he's moved on in his head to another topic WHILE I'M STILL TALKING. He's no longer listening. When he's at a table, say, having dinner with a group, he will look away, mutter to himself, sometimes look at me when I address him with this big smile on his face, but his face is loaded with emotion. And it has nothing to do with what's happening at the table, or what I'm talking about.

He can't take care of himself. He forgets things. His keys, his checkbook, his wallet.

His other oustanding characteristic, besides his away behavior, is his extraodinary self-criticism. He is terrified to take risks, to try anything. He can't take any criticism or anger directed towards him. Zero. I mean none. This means, that along with my mother who had the same problem, I was unable, not allowed, to express ANY ANGER in my home, throughout my entire childhood. I shut everything I felt up into a box and grinned like my fucking father and pretended everything was great. Except...I just couldn't stop feeling anxious, from, oh, about first or second grade on.

Right now, I hate my father. And I have a list of reasons. I have tried to re-establish a relationship with him, unlike my brother who wants to have the very minimum contact. Understandably. I'm too nice in some ways. Sure, some of my desire to speak with him has come from working through so much of my stuff over the years (plenty to go, no worries). I understand him. He is emotionally about eight, and a disturbed eight at that.

He views himself as the victim in every interaction. When I was seventeen, he remarried and decided to move to Lake Elsinore. I lived in Lakewood. I was going to City college, but I had a girlfriend who I had been glued to for three years; her family fed me, took care of me, as if they were my own almost. I thank God for them. But my dad decided to move without providing for my situation. He never asked my opinion. My brother remembers them telling me 'we don't really have room for you in Elsinore' but I admit I don't remember that until after they moved. What I know is I ended up living wherever I could after they split. I stayed with my stepsister for a few months, paying rent, until I turned 18 and she put all my stuff in garbage bags. Just like that. I was an adult now. I called my buddy Jeff, who at 16 was living with drug addicts and dealers in the house he grew up in because his mom split with a biker gang, and I lived there. Eventually, later that fall I think, my mom moved into the area and took my brother and I in. My bro had been living, as I recall, in an entry way in this house in Elsinore, while my stepmother's grandson had his own room.

Am I getting any of these facts wrong? Have I forgotten how it actually was? My brother reads this blog from time to time. Feel free to let me know.

I feel like I haven't really dealt with my father. I've avoided him, not seen him, almost since I was 17. Years have gone by with no contact. Then what typically happens?

Once, at least ten years ago, maybe more, my bro and I went to his house on his birthday. And we brought a cake, a card, some balloons. Tried to connect to this self-muttering person. He made some vague comments, smiling to himself, 'yeah, I should get you guys a key, you should come around more.' All nice. My stepmother cornered me and was telling me, 'oh, troy, you have to come around more, he cries at night because he thinks he's lost you both.' Do I believe she's supported things between my father and I? Not really, but she's another issue and only God knows her story. Mostly on her face I see disease and hate.

So after this, after what was rather a large effort (considering how things fell out in our teenage years) did my dad call us, say thanks, drop by? Nope. I might have gone over again at Christmas, but he's just not capapble of reciprocity, of adult behavior. And he thinks, then, he's the victim. It's our fault he never sees us. Even when he knows where I live. What I do remember is that that year my birthday came and went, sans card or gift or call.

Ah, I'm just beginning. I've felt so crappy since Friday, except for sharing about dad on a phone call with a friend Sunday, I might as well keep going. Feel it to heal it.

I hate how manipulative he is. Oh, I love that word. He uses anger, even rage, even threats, and when we were children, some physical violence, to get his way. And fear. He's afraid of bloody everything. As is my mother. And I wonder why I have a fear core, why I have ocd? Jeez. I just mentioned some of this work stuff to him and he said, so sternly, in a peremptory tone, 'now don't go making any drastic moves; you have it great where you're at.' Something like that. But if you could have heard him say it. It was like, don't mess up your life completely like mine; you can't make choices for yourself; this is my rage/anger voice so you better do what the hell I say; above all, be afraid of ruining your life. Whatever, you freak. I was a professor at 34 years old. Bite me. I've held together a family (which couldn't have happened without the longsuffering love of my wife) in spite of all my history and my disorder. Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it.

You know, this is feeling good. Like I said, I don't think I ever dealt with dad. That's one horrible part of ocd: the obsessions take up so much time, so much energy, in and out of therapy, that when they start to receded...all that work beneath remains. Or so it seems to me. Thank God for exposure work and relaxation breathing.

Okay, so there you go. Enough for a beginning. I never felt loved by my father because he never showed me or told me. He hated, and hates, himeslf so much I don't think he's capable. He never held me. Neither of my parents could or would. And in the case of my father, he couldn't even hold a conversation; what little I got from him was mostly rigidity and terror. Can you imagine that? Someone with my psyche locked away in such terrifying isolation? I know he's got some kind of mental illness; he told me he was a prophet once, but then he was going to a pentecostal church at the time. That may have been standard. But his grasp of reality, his self-hate, his constant talking to himself...really, he is emotionally a very wounded child; not the best person to raise two of his own.

About six years ago when my bro got married, he went to see my father. They had not spoken in years and years. My bro invited him to the wedding, but asked that he not bring my stepmother unless he felt he needed to. That is no easy request. I wouldn't like it if my son asked me the same. But I'd fucking go. I would go. My father did not go. And he never explained himself...more years without contact went by. I finally found him again on the web.

Oh man, I'm tired. I don't think I can understand my own pain and dysfunction without taking a hard look at the feelings I still have for my father, the tragedy of my own childhood. I'd rather take a pill or do it some easier way, but gin is no solution, and I reacted poorly to ssri's as a class and got no real help from the tricyclics. All that means is I have to do it the old-fashioned way, for now at least. The only way I've ever known.

I'm not going back and re-reading this post. This is a share, not a post. The only art I can put into this is the art of getting well. Thanks for letting me share.

I'm going to long beach this week and those are always hard trips emotionally. Being in the old space, smelling the old air. Neither of my parents will be there, and I can see my bro's new baby girl and my darling nephew who is 3. But still. I guess the trip can't be any harder than the last three days have been.

Happy Thanksgiving regardless. How can I not love a holiday built around a meal?



Funkiller said…
The raw nature of this post was intense and appreciated. How hard it must be to deal with emotions of such a journey and still be brave enough to tell the truth. I have my own scars from my biological father. I have yet to work up the courage to blog or even really intrnally process them. You are a better man than I. Enjoy the holiday bro. Live to eat!
K Murphy J said…
Never a more conflicting pain than hating someone you feel you should love, or loving someone still despite the horrible hateful things they have done. Family wounds...too hard to look at, too painful to ignore. Thank you for sharing.
jiri said…
Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.
Sung Plato said…
Stop blogging right now!

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