Monday, July 23, 2007

Me & The Old Man

[Warning: This is gonna be one of those soul-baring blog entries that make people squeamish, so, if you're one of those, you might wanna skip and go to whatever your next destination would normally be. Having said that, I'm not looking for sympathy, this isn't bathos, this is me rooting through the cobwebs of my mind...that is all.--tbo]

The 7th anniversary of my dad's passing happened earlier this year...

I only bring this up because I'm going through yet another moment of reckoning about the old man. This is part of the process of grieving, and it's something you never really stop doing...

I think I've hinted around that he was an abusive alcoholic; if not, well, he was an abusive alcoholic, and as the oldest of the five kids, I was the usual target for this vehemence. Like most subjects to this kind of treatment, I used to take the abuse.

It couldn't have come at a worse time either. Already reeling from the culture shock of moving from PR, then to Denver, then to Nurnburg, DEU (living among the army brats), figuring out just how rigged US society was, last thing I needed at the time was the soul crushing, confidence draining abuse of an angry substance abuser.

Thankfully, my mother was undergoing a sort of awakening at the time (her father was worse than my dad - her husband), and towards the end of our stay in Germany, she started letting me know that I should start building an emotional shield from the bullshit.

Easier said than done, but at least it let me know that what was coming at me had very little, if nothing, to do with me.

The last time I simply accepted the abuse happened within 48 hours of our leaving Germany...a tale too disturbing and subjective to get into here (it involves a public beating and berating through downtown, rush hour, Nurnburg). I was 13 at the time.

In the following four years, my level of resistance grew exponentially until the climactic fist-fight/wrestling incident in Colorado Springs.

It is the nature of this resistance that is currently the focus of my attention...Because I find that it is informing how I deal with interactions of an argumentative nature. Thankfully, most of those interactions tend to be settled early and amicably. The longer it goes on, though, the sooner my patience and good nature dissipates.

So far, there a couple of triggers that I can recognize in hindsight:

*There is a percieved injustice (worse if it's egregious). Actually, more than anything, if it's being done in a high-handed manner...that shit will burrow under my skin and embed itself like that parasite that climbs into your uretha and hooks on for its dear life.

*If my point, whatever it may be, is never recognized in the course of the argument; or if it's dismissed without any kind of consideration; if it isn't discussed on its merits...That's just about as bad as the high-handed thing.

You'll probably note that the solution to these triggers is communication, and more of it. Really, it's a matter of approaching a subject as equals, or if a snag is hit, then it's a matter being able to step back and approach the matter from a different angle.

You'll also note that the electronic medium is not exactly known for providing clear, distinct communication...

You may also be wondering why it is that I am sharing these things, especially when I claim this isn't for the sympathy...I'm not sure. I think that by noticing, studying and then mentioning it all, it would increase my awareness and force me to take a step back sooner rather than later when things get heated. May not take right away, but one can hope.

And it seemed like a big revelation at the time; that my more stubborn and pernicious instincts can be traced to a more violent time in my past, and then be able to identify exactly what it could be traced to...

As for me and Pops, after the wrestling/fist fight, I endured a few more hours-long diatribe, but the spell had essentially been broken, and the agita between us went undiscussed for a number of years.

Until I left. On the night before leaving the family for good (as I was moving to Seattle), I went back to bid everyone adieu. At one point, my father and I went into the same room we'd ended the wrestling/fist fight, and we awkwardly faced each other.

"I just want you to know, that despite anything that has happened over the years, I love you and I'm proud of you."

This was the only acknowledgement of the bullshit he'd put me through, and I could've asked for more...But really, it was enough. Enough for me to forgive, at least.

Yadda to the bladdah to the yappyyapyap.


At 9:32 PM, Blogger Sereena X said...

Intense. I have thoughts on the subject, but they sound all wrong when I try to type them.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger mynx said...

thanks for sharing, man. i've been waiting for this.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Stine said...

Dood, thanks for posting this, seriously. Takes a lot of balls, and hey a few people just might learn some things, myself included.


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