Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Through the Out Door (1997 - 1999)

I guess you can figure out what happened next. Now that my mother and I were estranged, my Dad and I started up our relationship again. I went for a visit in 1997 at his house and was struck by how the years hadn't been kind to him. He had aged, but he was still the same Dad-- loud, controlling, and conditional. He still had some sort of power over me, where I had a hard time standing up for myself, I allowed him to interrupt me when I was talking, accepted that he never asked about what was going on in my life, and treated me like I wasn't there at times. See subsequent posts: My Dad, the Narcissistic King and What Makes my Narcissistic Dad Tick. Other times, he seemed like he was happy that I was with him, and at those times, I was thrilled. I have always wanted my Daddy back-- the one before he met & married my step-mother. He changed after he met her. He changed, and he changed for good. It was just hard to accept.

I was working in a much better environment now, and I was enjoying life again. I was deeply conflicted about my mother, and I spent time trying to talk out the situation with friends. "Children of borderlines search for validation, for others who might confirm their reality" p 157 Lawson. Knowing only the basics of the workings of my mother and my relationship, however, didn't do the analysis any justice, so only a few select friends were able to actually give valuable and insightful advice. The situation with my mother and Dad was so convoluted, toxic, and in depth, that any isolated incident didn't capture the true nature of the dysfunction, so at times, painstaking effort had to be made to create the proper background before getting started with the issue at hand, such as I miss my mother, so should I try to make the relationship work; or what part of what happened my fault; or is my mother out of her mind?

I would try to talk to my Dad but he flat out told me, "If your mother died tomorrow, I wouldn't shed a tear". How compassionate!?!? How supportive!?!?! My goodness, how harsh! He also said, "I divorced that lady 17 years ago, and I want to leave it that way. She's out of my life". Again, what a terrible thing to say to your child, who still has this person as his / her mother. See subsequent post: Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome.

Trying to get any knowledge or understand from him was a big fat dead-end, which was AND IS a shame as he could help to heal wounds and give his children some peace of mind. Instead, he perpetuates the confusion, emptiness, and feelings of loss. Just as my mother feels that one's childhood has very little to do with one's success or failure in life, my Dad thinks all the events from the past should be deep-sixed. Neither parent's viewpoint helps the child who has been searching for answers and understanding. Neither parent, also, wants to claim any responsibility for the rubble left from the divorce bomb and the premature remarriages with ready made families.

My Dad's mother passed away from lung cancer in 1999. My Dad flew my brother out to the funeral but didn't offer to fly me out. I didn't understand why I wasn't offered, but I couldn't afford the flight across country compounded by missing work, so I sadly was unable to attend the funeral with my Dad and brother.

During some of the visits in 1999, my Dad would pull me aside and slip some money into my pocket. He would say, "Keep this quiet, this is between you and me". The sums of money were rather large: $500 here, $1000 there. Years later I found out through my brother that my grandmother (Dad's mother) had left all the grandchildren money, and lo & behold, that money my Dad was slipping me under the pretense it was from him, was from my GRANDMOTHER. Remember how he had me sign over my inheritance from my great-grandmother back in the early 1980's!? Here we go again. The trust factor is zilch with my Dad, but the hopes of having a trusting relationship, of having him accept me, of having him love me were high. Why!?

So, Mother's Day 1999 rolls around, and my brother and I were talking. We decided that we'd give our mother a call, out of the blue, and see what happens. He hadn't talked to her in 9 year, and it had been 3 for me. He called her first, and after they spoke, he called me to report all went smoothly-- almost like nothing had ever happened. My mother and I spoke after that, and sure enough, all was like nothing had happened.

My mother and I visited, and then we started to hang-out again on Monday nights. Her illness was progressing, and she was on high levels of steroids and other medications (placquinil for example). By July she ended up in the hospital for a pulmonary embolism. The condition was serious, and she wanted to see my brother, so I flew him down, got him from the airport, and had him stay with me.

I had to work during this time (4pm- 4am) so trying to get him to the hospital and back to my house before I had to be at work was quite the feat. My mother could have loaned him her car while she was in the hospital to make matters easier, but she wanted him to spend the night in the hospital with her. He didn't feel comfortable with that, and I don't blame him (it had been 9 years since they had seen each other and only a few months into the reconciliation). I went out of my way with friends picking him up and taking him around as my mother and step-father didn't offer up any assistance.

My brother's stay was WONDERFUL for me. I had the BEST time seeing him (we had visited the year before up his way), and we made some long-lasting and precious memories. He saw my mother in the hospital when we could get him there (the distance between my job and home and the hospital were all scattered and far), and she seemed happy.

To my surprise when I was at work, I got an abrupt and angry call from my Dad. He drilled me about my brother, his whereabouts, and what he was up to. I didn't want to get in the middle of anything, and since I didn't know what he had told our Dad about his visit, I didn't want to say anything at all. I continued to tell my Dad to talk to my brother and ask him the questions. My Dad didn't like my responses at all, and eventually I was able to get off the phone because I was at work. My Dad ultimately was angry with my brother for coming into town and not spending time with him, but my brother explained the circumstances for the visit. Our Dad didn't understand, but my brother had a good visit anyway.

Once my brother was back at home, my mother voiced her disappointment with my brother not spending the night in the hospital and how she was upset that he didn't spend longer time periods with her. I explained that some of the issues were with logistics while some had to do with feeling comfortable with the situation (after all they were just getting to know each other again). She was very harsh with her opinions and was rather angry at the outcome. I expressed to her that she was expecting too much too soon and to be happy that she saw him. I was also surprised to hear how unsatisfied she was with the visit-- AND the fact that she didn't acknowledge how difficult the time was for me, worrying about her health while trying to work & accommodate the trips to the hospital. All the times that are like this, where she's lashing out at my brother or my step-father, I am always wondering when it will be me... when is it my turn to be the whipping post?

That Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was back to the juggling of holidays again-- trying to see both sets of parents, trying not to disappoint anyone, and trying to appease all. Which of course, all the efforts meant I didn't enjoy my holidays. I was happy, however, that I had a job that required me to work holidays because I could always fall back on that I had to work.

1 comment:

  1. Thank who-ever, I *did* have my Dad, but the PAS was intense and started from my earliest childhood memories/experiences even though they were married and remain so until he initiated divorce proceedings when I was 17. Even as young as 3, I used to wonder why "Mommy was so mean to Daddy."
    He had a very serious MI right at midterms, my first semester of university. He was 65, had been married to her for 22/23 yrs. and was not expected to live. I flew home immediately. In those days, an MI patient was put in ICU, given aspirin-and hope for the best. I was present when my Dad's Primary threw my "mother" out of ICU and barred her from returning. She was screaming and berating Dad-I could hear her out in the Waiting Room. Also at that time, a patient in ICU was only allowed 1 visitor/hr. so I took the over-night shift. After she was evicted from his room, she went home and giddily planned her widow's weeds etc. Much to her everlasting rage, he survived. Dad told me later he also had a near-death experience which was interesting as there was not yet any information on this phenomena.
    Four months later, the following Feb. he left her. He was *not* a "Dishrag Dad" or a "Fisherman" at all, but he travelled extensively for his businesses (which led to some real craziness.) It took all this-and a huge chunk of his assets to divorce her. He later re-married a lovely woman who had been widowed and whom he had dated many years previously. They lived together very happily until he dropped from a massive MI 15 yrs. later.
    I have so much respect for my Dad for making every effort to protect me and Nsis from "mother" and for having the courage to finally divorce her entitled, hell-cat CB ass. It was wonderful to see him happy, contented for the first time since I came to be....
    I have been so very, very fortunate.