I found it hard, as a child, to reconcile the memories voiced by my mother’s family with the truth. After all, what is a four year old to think, listening to her elders talk bout ‘gettin’ whooped’ while laughing heartily? I imagined a Dennis the Menace scenario. Something non-threatening and, ultimately, funny. Not a one of my aunts or uncles ever seemed to be angry over their past. ‘Whoopins’ were what you got. With a belt. Sometimes until you bled. But ha, ha, we all laughed about it in the end so it’s okay.
My dad, too, had stories. Stories in which he was always alone. Stories in which his parents grieved (and grieved and grieved) so much over the death of their first born that they seemed to forget they had another son.
And other hints. Frowning brows and dark looks now and then. A sharp tongued remark, quickly retracted. A tear that never fell from an eye.
I am a second gen product of abusive families.
Understanding – full understanding, the kind you only get with age and experience – hit me the other day. This is why my mother never doled out punishment when we were very little. She was too afraid she’d follow in the footsteps of her parents, and really smack us around.
My mother was an abused child.
And my father, a neglected child.
No wonder I am what I am.
I’ve often thought about my parents. How they got together. I know the story – a teacher in high school set them up on a date. What I never got was the why.
My father was very much into physical appearances. Comments on my appearance were usually limited to the ‘you’re a workhorse, honey, not a racehorse’ range. I was told I was beautiful only as a consolation, when I felt ugly and unloved. ‘Ah, honey! You’re beautiful just the way you are’ – which felt like a consolation and a lie. I was never freely told I was beautiful or even pretty. And I figured he had to say it; parents always have to say it, don’t they? Even if their kid is the butt-ugliest person on the planet.
At the time of their meeting, my mother was a slim and young size 12. My father was an extremely huge 350 pound linebacker for the school football team.
My mother claimed she saw beyond my dad’s weight. Saw he was a good person, a good man, and that’s who she fell in love with.
But there was another man in her life. A sailor. I’ve one black and white photograph of the two of them together. He went off to war. Mom never talked about him, other than saying she dated him.
I wonder now if Mom was just looking for a way out. Someone – anyone – to help her leave the house.
And I’m not saying my mother didn’t love my father. Just that the initial reason she got together with him might not be as noble as she would have me believe.
As for my dad…Mom was his first and only love. Again, not surprising when you take into account his past. He was starved for attention. First person to give him even a little bit of time and energy, and he asks her to marry him.
Never did get a straight answer on the pre-marital sex issue. Mom said no, they never did it, and Dad said yes, the were at it like rabbits.
I used to think my parents’ story was this great romance. Now…it’s just grey and bleak, like the weather hanging outside my window.
Bullshit ordinary things I need to keep track of: Tired all day yesterday, ’til I finally broke down and had some more coffee. Left 10 hours open to sleep, so naturally I was up after 8. Doing okay but not great with smoking. Getting down on the floor to do abdominal exercises these days. Sucks big time. Still not writing anything but these morning blatherings. Frustrated. Bored a lot. Feel very out of step with the world.
Everything’s weird. I’m weird. That’s the real problem: me. I’ve got that un-tethered feeling going on. Free floating fear. The dreaded triple F threat.