I’m talking Family.
I’ve never quite felt like I belonged. My biological father left my life soon after I was born and joined the army. I didn’t see him for several years. “Why doesn’t he want me?” I remember crying out to my mother. I had a wallet sized picture of him in his army uniform that I kept next to my bed. When he finally came back to our hometown, he had a new wife in tow. Their wedding date – MY birthday. My absent father couldn’t call me on my birthday, but he sure could get married on it. My entire childhood my birthday was never my birthday. During the times I would see him, at the urging and coordination of my dear great-grandparents. and my birthday was approaching, the scene went a little like this:
Me: Dad, dad! My birthday is coming up! I’m going to be (insert year here)!
Ron the “dad”: It’s going to be me and Shelley’s (insert year here) anniversary.
Me: no words, just thoughts of feeling unloved, unseen and unimportant.
Now at the ripe age of 40, I do not call that man dad, or even father. He is my biological father, sperm donor douche bag. And his wife’s first words to me when she met me at my grandparents house the very first time: She was sitting on the floor in the living room folding clothes. Enter me, unsure of this woman, unsure of myself. “Hey brat,” she said flatly. But “I was kidding!” she told my mother after I came home crying. My sperm donor douche bag and bitch wife also smoked cigarettes inside their house. During one of the few visits I had at his house, I told him, “I don’t like it when you smoke in the house.” I was a kid, maybe 6 or 7 years old at the time. What courage it took for me to tell him that! His response, “Then go outside.”
So, yeah. Family is the “F” word to me. I am now surrounded by my husband’s family and I do have a dad – his name is Joel and he used to be married to my mother. Wait. That doesn’t narrow it down. He is the father of my two sisters I grew up with. He practiced basketball with me. He helped me with my Spanish homework. He stayed up all night when I was in elementary school to do a school project that was due the next day – he made a homemade kaleidoscope. I still have it to this day. Well I did. When my mother’s house went into foreclosure and she was cleaning out the attic, she texted my sister Jessica (the only sister who still talks to her) and asked, “What does Kristin want me to do with the bench Pap-pa made her?” All of my childhood memories, stuffed animals, coins my grandfather gave me from his time in World War II, school projects, everything was in that attic. And I was not about to answer every text about what should my mother do with X, Y and Z. With the help of my now husband, this was my response to Jessica, “Please tell mom that she can choose what she does with my belongings.” I didn’t receive any more text messages. I can only assume she threw my stuff in the garbage.
Now, the only childhood belongings I own are items from my great grandparents house after they passed away – coffee mugs, quilts and wine glasses (and a pencil and notepad with my grandmother’s writing, and their collection of dog tags from the dogs they had over the years). I also have my grandmother’s…well essentially her snot rag! It’s beautiful – delicate with blue flower stitching along the edges. And, I may not have the bench Pap-pa made me, but I do have the chalkboard he built for me from scratch which was kept with Joel after me, my two sisters and my mother moved out when they divorced (I was about 8 years old). I felt the adult emotion of relief when we moved out. No more screaming. No more hitting and pushing and locking Joel out of the house. No more calling 911 because the fights got so bad. And despite all my mother put Joel through, he still took me under his fatherly wing and helped mold me. Without Joel, “Papi” as me and my sisters call him, I don’t know where I would be.
Do I hate my mother? Yes. Do I hate my sperm donor douche bag? Yes. This hate has been eating me alive for four decades now. The hatred and anger I have toward them I turned inward and I have wanted to kill myself since I was a child. Now, at 40, I’m getting a new line of therapy for my depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation (read Kristin on Ketamine). I don’t want to negate the loving relationships I have with Papi and his wife and my four sisters. But I do still feel out of place. Untethered is a great way to explain how I feel when I think about family.
More to come.