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December 14, 2010

Little Boy in 1924

This is a picture of my father. He was born 89 years ago today and is three years old in this picture. He had his sight at the time of this picture. At age fifteen he lost 98% of his sight. He and his friends would hunt in the woods and drink homemade hootch. Sometimes things like gasoline would be added to it. Ignorance is definitely not bliss. Of his group of friends, my father was the only one drinking bad homemade brew and it caused major damage to his optic nerves. I don't know what it would be like to be legally blind, but by the time I came to know him he was a very unhappy man. Just about every day I was around him which wasn't all the time as a young child, my father drank. A lot.

My brother and I watched our father lose control and a sadistic streak take over. He would burn our mother with matches and cigarettes and choke her. The spankings with a belt left my brother wounded and cut and bruised. He poured beer down the throat of my cat. His impulsive behavior affected each of us and stayed with us many years. Ironic that my father was the first one in our family to pass away.

By the time he died, I had come to terms with my feelings about my father. I had let go of the need to seek him out periodically in whatever state or country he would be residing, to try to establish a father-daughter relationship. The last time I traveled to see my father (my first husband), I left my then two young children with their father and I planned on spending a few days with my dad. He didn't make any physical advances to me, but when I arrived at his place he told me I would have to sleep in his bed with him as he didn't have any guest room for me. And he proceeded to tell me that he slept in the nude. I insisted that sleeping on his couch would be better for me. I thought I was just being silly about the uncomfortable feeling I was getting when he spoke of the sleeping arrangements.

The next day my father and I flew to another place to do some sight seeing. When we were checking into a hotel my father told the desk clerk we wanted a king bed. I spoke up and told the desk clerk that he was my father and we wanted two rooms. Things did not go well and after one day of sight seeing I told my father I was going home early. I changed my reservation and left that day.

That was the first time I found a therapist and visited her a few times. I was depressed after the time I spent with my father. The therapist helped me understand that I was repeatedly looking for my father to be something he just could not be. He could not be a father like I wanted. It was not going to happen. Finally I was able to let go and get on with my life. Not that I was suddenly healthy emotionally, just that the one expectation regarding my father was no longer bringing me disappointment and pain.

Over the years since my father passed away in 1986 I have continued to work on my own unhealthy survival behavior that I adopted while living with an emotionally disturbed mother and an alcoholic father. Today I send my father understanding and love to the best of my ability. The scars have pretty much healed within me, and I hope that wherever he is, his scars have healed and his sight is completely restored.

This is not a sad post. This is me, fumbling along in a lifetime of recovery, grateful for the redemption.

41 comments:

Jeni said...

I'm glad your were able to put your thoughts and feelings into words and express them. Cathartic, to say the very least, I'm sure.

Hilary said...

I'm so glad you had the strength and sense to cut that visit short. I can imagine that it was an important turning point for you. No child should have to live as you and your brother did. Nobody should fight the demons your father did. I'm glad you're healing. Hugs to you.

Anne H said...

Powerfully well-written story, TechnoBabe.
Expectations can set us up for the worst kind of let-downs. Glad you were able to distance your self and resolve - and forgive - your past with him.
Your inner strength just shines!

Rock Chef said...

That is a lot to grow up with, and a lot to deal with as an adult.

You are proof that forgiving is the best way forward. Recently I have seen what a failure to forgive can do to a person...

Thanks for sharing this very personal stuff, it is a great lesson to us all.

Cinner said...

TechnoBabe, you are a strong strong woman. Very wise words and good that you were able to forgive and resolve some issues. There seems to be so many hardships in peoples lives that we have to endure....a very powerful story to share. I wish you continued healing and continued success.

Brian Miller said...

thanks for sharing that part of your story...you were strong enough to walk away...now strong enough to share.

deb said...

you are loved TB,

brave, beautiful and helping others to heal too,

hugs,

TechnoBabe said...

Jeni, I am learning how much writing in a blog is helping with many things.

Hilary, Thank you for your encouraging words.

Anne, In order for me to heal, forgiveness is necessary.

Rock Chef, Writing about personal events is part of ongoing growth; I can now sometimes write in the first person.

Cinner, lots of people have harsh realities to deal with and we all need to move on and heal. Thanks.

Brian, yes, I am stronger today than ever.

deb, you made me cry. Thank you.

DJan said...

Thank you for your story. He was a very disturbed man, and I applaud you for finding your own way through to wholeness. You have stopped the cycle of abuse through your efforts, TB. I was very moved by your post.

Lori said...

((((Techno))) Thank you for sharing your story because like the person commenting just before me, your strength in sharing your story helps others to heal. Our stories are so similar and I am thankful that I share in the healing as well. I actually had a therepist tell me the same thing about looking for my father to be someone he couldn't be. My father is still alive and he is a miserable unhappy person...he still takes it out on my mom and us kids when he gets the chance. I still hug him and tell him I love him and I've stopped expecting him to be anything more to me. I know that his pain runs deep and that he is acting out on that.

Thank you for sharing your story...your spirit brings healing to my soul as well. XX

Jeanie said...

Your father's story is such a sad one, but yours is one of victory. Your strength and determination shine through in this story.

amycmartin said...

I appreciate your thoughts so much. I have watched a dear friend suffer through the break-up of her marriage to her husband's alcoholism. Here is to your continued healing and looking ahead.
amycmartin.wordpress.com

TALON said...

That you are brave enough to share your story, TechoBabe, speaks to the type of amazing woman you are.

Kristina P. said...

I do not have an abusive mother, but I have a very, very difficult, selfish mother. I had a therapist tell me the same thing. And write a goodbye letter to the mother I once knew, and wish I had. It helped me a lot.

Eileen said...

I think we all look for some sense of semblance in our unhealthy relationships, especially the unhealthy relationships in our lives that SHOULD be healthy, it's instinctive to want to right things. I would think it would be abnormal not to try to find the 'good'. I think even with our abusers, there is love there, and so a part of us chooses to hang onto what little good we can.
But it's obviously so much more emotionally healthy for us when we can accept that things are what they are. And that people are what they are. You are a wise woman.

And I'm so happy to read that you wish your father well. I wish you both peace.
All the best,
Eileen

Vinny "Bond" Marini said...

Talking it out always seems to help me. You appear to be doing the same.

Your life today is wonderful...stick to the present

Jillsy Girl said...

Thank you for sharing this TB. You were definitely handed a very difficult childhood but you were strong enough to overcome it and not succumb to it. I admire you.

Happy Frog and I said...

This is such a powerful post you have been through so much. I'm sure your strength will help and inspire many people who come to your blog and read your post.

Bernie said...

Oh sweetie, forgiveness is healng and I am so happy you are doing so well.....I am sorry you endured what you did, seems so unfair in many ways......:-)Big Hugs

Robert the Skeptic said...

My father was a alcoholic but he was never malevolent unless he was drinking. All told I think he was just a sad and broken man who drank to escape a sad and seemingly pointless life. I vowed when I became a father I would not be like him. I have two daughters and a step-daughter who adore me. I couldn't be happier.

Cricket said...

Yow. Reading a post like this is like ripping off a scab. Really, what is there to say except I'm glad it sounds as though you've found where you belong now. Good on ya.

My mom is a social worker, and honestly, sometimes she's a bit "buzzwordy" for my taste. On the other hand, she comes up with good lines every now and then. One of them was this:

Forgiveness is accepting that you will never have a better past.

I liked that one.

Unknown Mami said...

I admire you honesty. courage, and most of all aceptance.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

A powerful, powerful post.

My wife and I adopted two sisters who suffered similarly when they were young, and we've struggled with them to overcome its devastating effects. That you survived at all, let alone thrived to any degree, is a testament to your personal strength.

God bless you, and, to the extent that it's possible, your father, who must have been profoundly unhappy.

lisleman said...

Many good comments before this one and I agree with them. That situation would create much anger, hatred, and resentment in many people. It's good that you can raise above that and take a higher road.

Ina in Alaska said...

I am thankful the experiences with your father did not forever wound your soul and you have peace now.

My mom hated her dad, I hardly knew him, know very little about him, maybe saw him a few times when I was little but never alone, always supervised. I was told he was a criminal, drinker, gambler and abuser of women. I am not sure, but feel he abused both my mom and my aunt but my aunt took her wounds to her grave and my mom will not discuss him...

Between her experiences with her father and then with her husband (my dad), who cheated on her, then left her, did not make her entirely bitter, but did make her a bit of a man hater. I have distrust issues of men also but for reasons of my own.

Ina in Alaska said...

oh and I forgot.... we had fries with our dinner tonight, my French Fry Sista!!! Salty and a dab of ketchup xoxoxo

Syd said...

I am moved by this post. I wonder what happened to the little boy at three that would turn him into the person you describe here. So much innocence in that photo. What happened? Alcoholism took its toll to turn the little boy into someone hurtful. I am sorry that you endured what no person should have to. I hate the disease, but can see that each of us is born innocent.

Mama Zen said...

Realizing that someone (especially a parent) will never be who you need them to be and letting go of that expectation is one of the hardest things that you'll ever do. It's also one of the most freeing.

Big Dave T said...

Emotional baggage often re-surfaces around the holidays, doesn't it. I think it's a blessing that you can speak of episodes like this with forgiveness in your heart. It's a tough row to hoe but you sound like one tough mama.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Oh Techno-- Big sigh. I don't have the words to properly say how much your honesty and bravery is admired.
xoxoxo jj

gayle said...

I am so glad you area able to put the past behind you and are healed!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I don't even know what to say, except that I read this and really feel for you. Letting go of our justifiable expectations that a parent behave as our parent is one of the most difficult things to do, but absolutely necessary for our own healing and eventual health. I'm sorry that you have had so many hard lessons in this lifetime, but inspired by your determination to be your best self anyway.

secret agent woman said...

It's never easy to come to grips with cruelty in a parent. It defies everything we are lead to believe about life is supposed to work.

Juli said...

You said that it wasn't supposed to be a sad story, but my heart still aches for you. xx

Kate said...

I found you from Jillsy Girl. I love your site. I’m going to poke around a little bit, but don’t worry I’ll put everything back where I found it!!

terri said...

Okay... if this is not a sad post, then I won't feel sorry for you. Instead, I am impressed and inspired at your ability to survive, to still find the beauty in life and to have made a good life for yourself in spite of the way things could have gone. Hugs!

Casey Freeland said...

Wow. Your strength and acceptance is inspiring.

Cheers,

Casey

KleinsteMotte said...

You have remembered him and forgiven his foolish ways. God bless you.

Roxy said...

Thanks Technobabe for sharing parts of your childhood story. You've demonstrated a perfect example of how the human spirit can triumph over the negative impact of abusive behavior. I admire your strength and courage. Hugs to you!

Far Side of Fifty said...

Dysfunction really sucks..I am not quite sure why dysfunctional parents are allowed to have children. You have come to grips with it all..good for you. I am sure it was not easy:(

Marla said...

Being transparent with our past is healing to those around us. We might never know whose life we have helped change because of it. Thanks you, Techno, for being a willing heart.