Life with Father

This past July 1 was the eighth anniversary of my father’s shooting.  Normally, it comes and goes without any fanfare from me, and this year was mostly no different, except for the fact that I happened to be staying at my sister’s house so we had the chance to discuss it and commemorate it together.

As my sister and I are 10 years apart, we did not necessarily “grow up” together, but we did go through our father’s death together.  So, instead of reminiscing about life and childhood, we talked about what we did in the days following the homicide, the epic, the incredulous, the depressing, and even the ludicrous. Our memories of that time were bittersweet, we laughed a bit, no tears, as we just aren’t that way with each other, but we had our memories of that day, then we moved on from there and went about our business.

Since then, I have had occasion to think about my relationship with my father, especially as it relates to my exploration as “the flat girl”.

It has never been a secret that my father became very abusive when he was inebriated.  However, he was completely different when he was sober.  He was intelligent, well-read, and could hold in-depth conversations about a number of topics.  Yet, there was still something missing, at least with me, in his interpersonal relationships.  I never felt particularly close to him.

When he was sober and not being abusive, I could talk to him for hours about so many things, we seemed to have so much in common, but he could have been a college professor for as close as I felt to him during those times.  Then all of that would be washed away with one drunken abusive night.

I always felt that his relationship with my two sisters and my brother were different than the relationship that he had with me, but, for all I know, they felt the same as well.  They seemed to have an easy banter, lower expectations of each other; I wanted something more from him, and he from me.  I wanted perfection, a father that I had seen on the little bit of television that I had seen, like Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie or Mike Brady from The Brady Bunch.  He wanted me to be a straight A student who didn’t smoke, break curfew, cut school, or break the rules.  He (mostly) got what he wanted from me, I did not.

Growing up, I do not recall ever being told I was loved or being hugged by either one of my parents, something that is probably not a surprise in an alcoholic abusive household.  I certainly did not know any better.  But, it was at my high school graduation that I was hit with something that was so powerful that it affected my life forever.  My father walked up to me, shook my hand and said, “I expect to see you again in four more years.” I took this to mean he was indicating that I should be graduating in four years again from the university.

That was it… nothing more.  I was hurt at the time, as when my older sister had graduated three years earlier my parents had a huge party, invited relatives, and made a huge deal.  My graduation was much more low key, no fanfare really, just a level of expectation of what I was to accomplish, and that I was expected to accomplish again in four years.

Looking back, that was me and my dad.  He expected more from me than he did from my siblings, but with no touchy feely subterfuge that other relationships may have.  He wanted great things for me, but did not necessarily have the ability to show me in a way that was demonstrative in a loving, caring way. So, was this way I learned my flat affect?  Possibly.  Possibly.

14 thoughts on “Life with Father

    • I am so sorry, Rebecca…. If you have read my whole blog, you will know that my mother killed my father by shooting him. So, life was not really that pleasant. I am trying to make my life as an adult much better, though.

      Thank you for your comments.

      • I understand. I can see how that would change you. I am letting you know I understand in a different way. My life was difficult. Very much so. I decided to change it. It seems that is what you are trying to do as well. I only want to reach out and say though our experiences were different we both know the grief life can bring.

      • Absolutely…. we are different, yet uniquely, the same… through “alike” experiences. I am happy to know that you are working through your own difficulties as well. Life is a journey… lived alone, but, simultaneously together with everyone else on the planet.

  • I love that we have the chance to rise above it all and live the life we were meant to have. NO ONE is meant to have childhoods such as yours. My niece had a horrendous story and yet her children have the exact opposite… she gave them the life she ached to have as a child. Her story is an amazing one of success. A wonderfull, loving husband, two great kids that love her and each other,. a nice home, good friends… a beautiful faith…She broke through the lot the world gave her and you can too! You both are beautiful survivors!

  • Why do I feel your father is passing me the torch of high expectations for you? I am not here to apply pressure and I don’t want the role of father. I do have the belief that you could live up to high expectations and that is enough. You don’t have to prove yourself. I would rather you pursue your interests and put all your heart into whatever you do. Reading this blog I see your passion for writing and the mastery of this craft.

    I will channel your father’s pride since you are indeed living up to high expectations. This blog is a testament to giftedness and a drive to achieve. The writing draws me in, makes me to care, causes me to examine and share my own significant life experiences. I feel that I have known you for a very long time.

    One thing I have difficulty relating to is making a big deal about something like high school graduation. So many people had parties and made a big deal about graduating. Personally I did not want a class ring, I neither had nor wanted a party, and there were no gifts or congratulations from anyone. Maybe for some people this is a big deal? Maybe for some people it was something hard to do? I did know someone from “down south” who made one’s 16th birthday out to be a major life decision whether to drop out or continue, like more than half didn’t wherever he came from.

    Bottom line I don’t understand celebrating big life events. I didn’t celebrate high school graduation, I eloped for my one and only and current marriage which pissed my mother off to no end, and I did not attend my college graduation nor do I know or care where my diploma and transcripts are. I also did not bother with retirement celebrations although there was a fancy dinner thrown for me and others proximately retiring.

    Certificates and other credentials don’t mean anything to me. You can do something or you can’t, you choose to do something or you don’t. A celebration or trophy means nothing. A good meal is always welcome as is a fat paycheck.

    I do sense I’m needed and welcome, and that I myself am benefiting from hanging out here. I am proud to refer to you as my new online friend. I better post this comment before my iPad loses this. If this were to crash and get lost I don’t think I’d have the wherewithall to recreate it.

    Looking forward to the next entry!

    • Sir,
      Interesting how you would mention things like class rings and diplomas; I never had a class ring, and didn’t want one. I didn’t even have my senior picture taken. I think I was upset about the party because my sister had one three years earlier and there was always such a significant difference in the way we were treated.

      Diplomas… oh, what can I say. I have 160 college credits with no degree. There is a requirement of 120 credits for a Bachelor’s Degree; but I changed my degree from Finance when I was 3/4 of the way finished to Human Services Management. I lack 3 humanities credits. However, I had 15 surgeries in three years and school took a backseat. When I went back to the university and wanted to take a CLEP test I was told I was not within the time frame to finish my degree, as it had been just over three years since I had last attended school.

      I understood, as I used to work at a community college; however, I filed an appeal since I had a very viable reason. I was denied and given a letter stating I would need an additional 18 credits to complete my degree as the program had changed; to the tune of almost $10,000 more in tuition. There was no appeal process for the appeal.

      So, after a complaint to the BBB, and the university hiding behind privacy laws, I am without a degree, massive student debt; as I refuse, on principal, to finish my degree.

      Diplomas and pieces of paper have come to mean little to me…

      But, I digress… I have spent a lifetime attending celebrations that have turned ugly, or that were choreographed to a T, only to have somebody end up screaming because it was not perfect, I myself have found myself let down because somebody did not anticipate the perfect gift… as a result, I concur, the joys in life can be found in the spontaneity of the mundane…

      Always,
      Me

  • Being short one humanities class and then having medical problems for 3 years and then changing requirements for the degree. That all makes me angry at them. They could have had you take one humanities — more elective than core — and just given you the piece of paper. When rules and laws more serve themselves than people then they need to be cast aside. I hope you are never turned down for a job for lack of a piece of paper. And I do understand feeling the injustice of being treated differently, so much more powerful than getting a party or not.

    Your writing skills which reveal your depth of understanding make you a great prize in so many areas. What I perceive is that you are in the process of creating something special here that could blossom into a marketable venture. I don’t really see how to make that turn financially, there is great value in what you do here in the service of others. Odd how the person seeking answers and resolution and wholeness might be doing more for others than herself.

    Maybe I am unique in why I am drawn here but others will be drawn for their own reasons. I need to be needed, a powerful force in my own life. And you seem greatly in need. Given that, a relationship is formed. I read your articles, they draw me in, make me care, motivate me to compare my own life and then respond. My perception is that this process is good for me. It fills a basic need in giving me something to care about (I have more to give than I am currently giving), motivates me to sort out some things for myself and this positive resolution is very therapeutic.

    How very tragic and heroic it would be if your main accomplishment here is in the service of others getting more in touch with themselves and sorting out their own lives. As you search you cause others to find, others to fulfill, others to become complete. Would it be so very wrong to submit to this role of serving others? To me it brings you full circle and wraps everything into one nice neat package. Gladly submitting to the service of others in all aspects of life not only provides the most wholesome and fulfilling purpose, but maybe the answers you seek within are better addressed looking outward.

    I so enjoy our walks.

    • Sir,
      I am enjoying myself immensely as well.

      Oddly enough, my degree in Human Services Management (the one for which I lack the 3 Humanities credits) was supposed to afford me the ability to help others. I thought I had the skills and compassion to do so; I have often been told I am easy to talk to and for some reason so many people have told me their secrets, not understanding why…

      That said, I did not pursue working in said field, knowing I would go home every night exhausted and emotionally drained; I would want to house every homeless person in my own bed, I would want to give my address to every wronged prisoner so they could contact me when they were finally freed, I do not know where to draw the line between my own life and the beginnings of another’s … perhaps, because I feel I do not live enough, instead, remaining flat.

      I invite everyone into my thoughts, my psyche, my stories, I want to share… for some reason, I feel there is something deep inside that others may learn from. I have made so many mistakes, and I have spent years pondering them…

      Thank you so much for being there… for stopping by here… for visiting me.

      Always,
      Me

  • I remember being rather directionless in high school with no ambition to do anything with my life. I seemed to be able to master any subject matter put before me. Maybe there was no sense of accomplishment from being able to do something with zero effort and thus no sense or worth in doing it? My parents, as a gift, had me go through three days of testing.

    These aptitude and preference tests were designed to correlate what you liked with other people who who like the same thing and very much love what they do in life. Their report stated that I could be successful in whatever career path I might choose, however I would be best suited in three areas: musician, writer, and social worker.

    They sat me down and said that I scored highest of all for social worker, that I would find great fulfillment in helping people who desperately need help, but that the paper work that gets between me and the needy might ultimately destroy me. Still, they insisted this is my one truest course and by far the most practical as well.

    I have always dabbled with writing off an on. I wrote stories when very young and my parents refused to comment on them, I think, because they did not feel qualified to comment or support or criticize. That vacuum of reaction caused me to stop for many years. But I did minor in writing in college and I have done a blog before with daily columns and I recently picked that back up here.

    I will breeze over the music as I will likely talk about that in my blog from time to time. I did perform professionally for ten years in a classic rock band and I am now retired from General Motors and teach piano as a meaningful hobby.

    Social work. I help people spontaneously when I see someone in need before me. Serendipity. On the large scale I have helped two households get out of financial ruin and back on their feet and I am about to do it twice more. My credit union has adopted two families and I volunteered to get a musical gift for a 4-year-old girl. I will blog about that when the time comes.

    So the testing agency was dead on the mark. And here we are, you and I, passing some spare moments together. In some ways we are birds of a feather. And you are flying south soon? So glad we have the power to make a thousand miles seem like a couple inches. Technology is grand sometimes. (LOL, I think I’ll just write the rough drafts of my blog here.)

    • Sir,
      I am so happy to have “met” you here.

      Yes, birds of a feather, so it seems…

      I have been quite directionless. Having no idea what I want from life; and, unfortunately, sometimes struggling with whether or not I even want a life. I have worked most often in a field that is very cut and dry or black and white. Being bipolar, I find that the mundane and routine often satisfies a part of my mind that needs soothing…

      Conversely, there is an incredibly creative person screaming to be set free. I have had very stifling experiences involving my creativity, and have thusly punished myself as a result. True, not very productive. So, I take a break from writing for years at a time… feeling disappointed in myself.

      Finally, I believe I am at a point where I will allow myself the freedom to express… to allow others to say, “I think you can write”. Because, darn it, I think I am a writer.

      I am beyond pleased that you will use this forum as a test drive for your blogs.

      I enjoy our time together, friend. I would miss you if you were gone.

      Always,
      Me

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