Posts Tagged With: family

The Crumbling Pedestals Upon Which we Place our Parents

The Blackbird Song by Isaiah Stephens - Deviantart

The Blackbird Song by Isaiah Stephens – Deviantart

I watched an episode of “Bones” once (a TV forensic’s show) where the reveal of who done it had the young-ish mother (who belonged to a street gang) and her son (maybe 8-10 yrs old at best) sitting across from the FBI agents who tease out the truth – the son confesses to killing his mother’s abuser/lover. There’s a heartfelt moment when he bears his soul to her, wanting to protect her… then dead calm for 3os (a lifetime on TV) after which she launches herself at her little boy and tries to strangle him.

Her words were, “What gave you the right! He meant more to me than you ever will. I can make another child any time. He (meaning the gang by proxy) is my family – not you.”

The emotional impact of this scene and the horror plastered all over that child’s face is something I’ll never forget.

Just as I will never forget my father’s words to me (or about me to others) at various time during my teenage and adult life:

“I never wanted kids. If your mother hadn’t trapped me I’d have been in Europe by 25 (years).”

“Why don’t you ever finish anything you start?”

“That’s quite the bounce as she comes down the stairs.” (Said to an older friend & his son as they watched my ample bosom.)

“You didn’t do anything (in that play). Why did I bother coming?”

“I’m not sorry I didn’t walk you down the isle.” (I got married just after I turned 22. He thought I was too young. I’m still happily married 15 years later… his marriage to my mother was a rocky 6 years, ending when she was 23.)

And those are just the highlights that stay with me the most. That and…

“Send me a F**k**g email.”

That’s the one that started our 7 year estrangement after I phoned and cancelled last minute driving out over an hour to his place when I needed to finished marking papers for report cards that following Monday. That’s the one that had me fearing walking into his hospital room 6 days ago. Not because I thought he would make a scene (which was entirely possible) but because I was, and am, still so angry with him.

He died 2 days ago.

Nothing has been resolved and while I spent much of my life loving him dearly, I did not expect his death to hit me as hard as it has. The emotional ups and downs, the raw tears and reigning in of spent emotion so as not to scare my young son has left me far more confused than I was 8 days ago, before I even got word that he was dying.

You see, he was an alcoholic. 7 years ago he was hospitalized and told to stop drinking but his pride and stubborn nature only saw another man trying to tell him how to live his life… he said “sorry” to my step-mother when he broke the news to her. Nothing more. That’s the only apology he’s ever uttered that he didn’t take back a week later – though I suppose this time he couldn’t…

My father was always “the good guy” when I visited him on weekends as a child. My mother never spoke ill of him and let me leave her to try living with him and my step-mother at age 16… My mom later told me that I had to learn what he was like for myself – that nothing she could’ve said I would have believed until I’d experienced it myself. It was true but it was a lesson I wish I never had to learn.

It is often said by many an honoured writer that we must go to these places of hurt to be able to tell our story – whether it’s a memoir, fiction, or work of sci-fi/fantasy.

In book 2 of the Chronicles of Xannia, Cadence of Consequences (to be released this summer), my main character Taya must also confront a tumultuous relationship with her parents. Her understanding of self has already begun to crumble at the beginning of the story, but when she’s forced to face the demons of her past that delicate piece of her soul that once housed her understanding of family shatters.

I can only hope that in the days, weeks, months and years to come I will have a similar sense of fortitude to face my anger and find a place of understanding, if not a place of peace. And I will continue to examine those darker parts of my own soul through my characters and in my writing.

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dealing with Personal Faults

It is not easy for most people to admit they are wrong. I am a strange one when it comes to this concept. If I know nothing or almost nothing about what is being debated, I will hear someone out and then make a logical decision based on fact and proof. If what is being debated is something I am familiar with or know well, I will push to make my point heard and argue until I’ve convinced the other person that my point of view is the right one.

In that way, I’m a bit of a control freak.

at faultI have imbued my main character, Taya, with this trait in an attempt to view how I must be perceived by others – those who know me and expect this and those who don’t. She comes across as being kind of bitchy. At the same time, she convinces herself of the necessity of this trait in a world that tends to see her as “less than” the woman she is. She has had to fight tooth and nail to prove to the world that she matters and yet, the world is unable to see past her youthful exterior.

This was echoed in my own life when I moved in with my father at the age of 16. I didn’t know it at the time, but nothing I could have done would have pleased him, unless it was to treat his word as gospel and give up my independence. From the age of 6 I wanted to be a teacher (and the age of 9 an author). It stood to reason that I could write in the summer months and work during the school year. Just as I was filling out college application forms my father says to me, “Don’t expect me to pay for you to go to school to become a teacher. Find another profession.” My mother had no money to be able to help me, and I had saved very little working at a cafe that year. No self-respecting college was going to help me with a loan because my father made too much money (he was still a middle-income earner but in the upper bracket).

The only other thing I was interested in was writing. So I decided to try Broadcasting Journalism. Let’s just say that I found out fast that I could pass most of my classes with a mark in the low 80s with minimal effort, but I hated current events. I felt like a fraud surrounded by other students (my friends) who were desperate to have a career in Journalism and I was just going through the motions. This was not the right career for me.

My father’s response when I told him I wasn’t going to finish my diploma but go to university for teaching instead?

“You never finish anything you start.”

Then it dawned on me. He never attended any of my track meets in high school, he never supported my interest in archery (and I got a silver medal at a local competition), the only time he ever attended a theatrical production I was in was when I played a bit part in a musical in my final year (and he wondered why he even bothered coming)… are you seeing the pattern? I was. He knew nothing about me and yet he somehow got it in his head that I never finished anything I started.

When he looked at me, he saw my mother (not because I look like her, I actually have more of his features). I believe it had something to do with my mannerisms and my optimism because that’s where our similarities end. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother fiercely but the only role-model she played in my life was the “I’m never going to be like her” one. She never finished high school, she dated questionable men, she was a roamer, she wasn’t good with money… I learned how to live my life by being observant of her faults. One thing I could never fault her for though, was believing in me.

And that’s what my character, Taya, needed – someone to believe in her. For her it was an older-sister type character she met while working a job, but that kind of undeniable support does incredible thing for the spirit. No matter Taya’s need to be in control, her bitchy attitude, or the walls she’d built around her heart – someone finally understood her.

Don’t we all need that? Just one person to look past our faults and simply believe?

This I know and know well, and it is this driving force that I endowed Taya with to find out how both she, and I, might survive when that support disappears leaving us stranded.

Have you been there – when you’ve felt absolutely alone and yet you were supposedly surrounded by people who loved you?

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trying Something New

sew_closed_my_soul

Sew Closed my Soul by DestinyBlue – deviantART

Many of my personal journeys to self-understanding have come from trying something new. One of the biggest mistakes in my life was leaving my mother for my father at age 16.

I know that sounds strange. My parents have been separated (not divorced, no) since I was 2 years old. I have experienced a lot of strange ups and downs since that time, that were mostly due to other people’s choices. The summer I turned 16 my father decided to move in with his girl friend. He knew my high school was considering changing its boundaries and my special arts busing for being in the Regional Arts Drama Program was up on the chopping block. So he proposed that he would find a house, with his girl and her younger son (just turned 17), and that I could live with them and still be able to attend my high school.

Now, the idea for most teens to change high school half-way through is bad enough, but it was worse for me.

My mother was a roamer – her average stay in any one place was 2 years at that point (3 years was the longest she’d managed previously). Between the ages of 2 and 10 I had moved 7 times. During that time my one saving grace was the fact that my mother always brought me to my Grandmother’s house to attend school. My first 7 years of schooling took place at the same elementary school, which I loved. Then, after one of our moves when I was 11 years old, her boy friend at the time told her it was ‘ridiculous’ to keep sending me to school at my Grandmother’s house when there was a perfectly good school right across the street (or there abouts) from our house.

My world was shattered (a horrifying 3 year experiment that nearly drove me insane).

I did not want to relive that horrible experience during high school. After having half my soul ripped from my body as an adolescent (everything feels that much worse when you’re a kid), I didn’t want to experience it again. So I agreed to move in with my father (to try it out for one year), keep my high school and live like a traditional family.

Needless to say, not only did I break my mother’s heart, but I lost the other half of my soul when she moved 3 hours away before I could change my mind back.

Life with my father was not like my times visiting him on the weekends as a child. I learned very quickly that he didn’t trust me (like my mother did) and ruled the roost with a firm, “My way or the high way” state of mind. High school was still awesome but now my happiness at home suffered.

You might find it interesting that I haven’t spoken with him in the past 5 years (I’m now well into my 30s) – his choice, not mine… well that’s not entirely true. He misinterpreted a situation (more than one but he lumps them altogether) and refuses to apologize. As I have spent my entire life understanding the middle-ground of problems (I was a great mediator in elementary and high school) I would always be the one to make a compromise.

I refuse to be the one to apologize for something he thinks I’ve done, that I haven’t – and he’s too proud and stubborn to admit he’s wrong. That being said, he’s never met his grandson because of this.

I firmly believe that had I learned more about what was happening with the re-zoning at my school before making my decision to live with my father, we might at least still be talking right now.

It’s interesting how a simple decision can have such rippling effects in my life for years after, and has left me reluctant to try anything new.

Categories: Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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