On Being an Enigma

imagesI am comfortable in the fact that people do not fully know or understand me.  There are those who like to believe they do, well-meaning friends who like to say, “Come on, I know you better than that” when they think they can detect my mood and wish to draw me out and comfort me or force me into banter when I wish to remain silent.

I know myself better and will recover in my own time.

I realize that most people mean well.

Still, the most interesting of all is the stalker who continues to harangue, harass, and darken my life pretending like she knows what I mean whenever I write something when she knows nothing about my life, has never actually spoken to me, and knows zero about my life.  Her constant threats, emails, and illegal behavior of breaking into my online accounts and calling places pretending to be me is laughable and only goes to prove how small her life is.

The very fact that she is so consumed with what I am doing all the while I think very seldom of her goes to prove that I am an enigma to her and she is a transparent manipulative crazy nut just like she appears to be.

Interesting.  Disturbing.  Funny.  But, at the same time, not even a microscopic piece of dust in the cobwebs in the furthermost corner of my mind.

No, when people say, “Come on, I know you better than that,” they truly do not.  They have no idea what I intended.

Internet Friend

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I had a friend on the Internet,

One I will not soon forget.

He gave me advice,

We volleyed and served.

Then one day he disappeared,

It was obvious that I no longer deserved…

I should have known after all these years

Not to look forward,

It only leads to tears.

Somehow I let down an invisible wall,

Someone came in and I let them play ball.

***

Now it is over…

And, imagine that…

It has left me feeling …

Of all things…

F L A T

The Swim

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She stood beside the ocean ready to jump in

Her lover called behind her,

“But, you don’t know how to swim.”

***

She leapt from the rocks high into the air,

Her lover staring in disbelief

Ready to cry out in despair.

***

Her body strikes the water with perfect grace and form,

The lover almost faints not watching what happens next,

She moves slowly with the ocean, swimming back towards shore.

***

His eyes are teary as he confesses,

“I thought you were going to die.”

She turns to him in her reply, “Silly boy, I’ve been taking lessons.”

Goodbye My Lover

imagesLast summer I went to my ex-husband’s parent’s house to visit; his grandparents had just moved in after his grandfather had a stroke.  His grandmother had always been kind to me even though her grandson and I had long since ended our relationship; we had even exchanged Christmas cards for years, me sending them from the past four states I had lived in during five years.

My daughters had not visited their grandparents in a while, and it had been even longer since they had seen their great-grandparents; so my youngest made a cake and we made the five minute car trip to visit.  My ex-father-in-law had been providing hospice care for his father in the home where he runs his business while his 80 something year-old mother did her best to help.

When we arrived, I was immediately affected by the scene; W, the great-grandmother, with her hair and makeup completely done, was standing by J’s hospital bed holding his hand.  The bed had been brought into the area between the table in the kitchen and the family room so he could be a part of everything; he looked so small and frail, not the healthy robust man I remembered.

W stood beside him as we all gathered around the table talking and visiting; everyone oohing and ahhing over my grandson’s bright red hair, and discussing my youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Every now and then, W would turn to J and say, “J look at your two great-granddaughters, didn’t they turn out to be beautiful young ladies? And here, meet their families.”  J would stare off vacantly, but W would talk to him as if he were completely present.

I watched her with him, trying to hold back my tears the entire evening; she never left his side.  When we cut the cake, her son tried to get her to come to the table to have a piece, “Mom, come and sit down, Dad will be okay for a minute,” he pleaded with her.

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I can’t leave him, he’ll know.”  She did not even want to let him go for a second; finally, somebody brought her some cake and a chair to eat next to the hospital bed.

When we left that evening and said our goodbyes, it was the last time we would ever see J again; he died a few weeks later.  He and W had been married over 50 years; probably closer to 60.  I saw W at my daughter’s wedding a few weeks later; she seemed utterly lost without him.

When I think of the way she looked that night, sitting with him, holding his hand, and refusing to leave his side; I cry.  I don’t mean in the way that my eyes well up with a few tears, I mean to say that I have cried so hard I feel like I cannot stop.  I do not just cry for them, but I cry for me.

As we drove away from the house that night, I realized something; I want what they have.  I want somebody to love me so deeply, so profoundly, that they could love me for 50 years.

However, nobody ever will.

If I live to be over 50, my parents will not love me for 50 years; my father is dead, and my mother has gone years without speaking to me, so she clearly will not love me for 50 years.

If I am still alive when my children are in their 50’s, they will not have loved me for 50 years; they do not speak to me now, so they clearly will not.

I will not have had a love for 50 years; I have already been divorced twice, not even close to 50 years…

I have not even had a friend for 5 years, let alone 50.

I started to think about the people who have come and gone from my life; friends, lovers, spouses…

I have given so much of myself at times; some say too much, others say not enough.  Regardless of how you look at it, I failed at something, at everything; at love.

Life with Father

Life with Father (film)

Life with Father (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

How Did I Become the Flat Girl?

English: "Biggest Little City in the Worl...

English: “Biggest Little City in the World” arch on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno, Nevada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest for peace in my life, I have started to consider what could have happened in my life to make me so flat in my relationships with people.  Working backwards, the most significant event that has happened that changed my personality in a very profound way was the death of my father in July of 2004.

Actually, “death” may be too tame of a word, it was not as if he quietly passed from a lengthy illness, he did not die of old age, and it was not as if he even died in a violent car crash that somehow took our family by surprise.  No, he died at the hand of my mother in what would be one of only 9 murders in Reno in 2004.

When I look back on the day that I found out about the day of the homicide, I remember it as if it was yesterday.  I was at work when my younger sister called to tell me.  I called my then husband to ask him to come pick me up, but then I continued working, as I was in the middle of an important journal entry and could not stop.  The co-workers around my cubicle had heard me on the phone and came to offer me comfort, but I did not allow myself to be comforted, I just continued working.  When it was time to leave, I knocked on the conference room door where my boss was in a meeting with the plant manager and some corporate officers, poked my head in, he responded gruffly, as I had interrupted… I stated, “My mother just shot my father and I have to go.”  Then I left for the day.

Over the next several days, I was with my family as necessary, but worked when I needed to as well, never breaking down once.

The next several months were hectic, my brother, sisters and I, along with our families all spent our evenings and weekends remodeling our parents’ home so we could raise money for bail to get our mother out of jail and to put on a proper defense.  Additionally, I had just started back to school, so was attending every Saturday.

The following spring (April 2005) the murder trial began, and things were more hectic.  I worked full time, took nine credits at school, and attended the trial 40 hours a week (working at night to complete my work and projects).  Meanwhile, my marriage was falling to pieces and my children thought I was a horrible mother, but that is another story altogether.  Still, I handled everything with professionalism, never breaking down, and managing to earn A’s in school.

When the trial was over, the sentencing complete, and my marriage in chaos, I felt more mature, more weathered, more grown up.  However, I do not think I felt all that different that I ever had before in my interpersonal relationships.  So, in my quest to determine where my affect for being flat with people began – if I am ever able to delineate that exact moment – I do not think it was that event.

Although, that was a crucial period in my life, defining other traits I still hold onto.