Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Good, Bad and Ugly

One of my regular commentors, davidshag, pointed out that I should also blog about good memories as well. While there are not a lot, I will try to do that here.  But since I have people listening, let me vent about the present first.   I mentioned how this has really screwed my siblings up to, tonight is a prime example.  My brother that has been sober 7 years, fell off the wagon last year, tonight was bad.
He was drunk, left and I finally found him, I kept calm, I know you cannot argue with a drunk, but all of the sudden he became my father... I mean, my dad was killed when he was 7 so how he has so many of his traits is amazing.  I am only there to help him and all he did was scream insults at me, shove me down the steps and knocked me into the wall several times.

Had it not been for someone stepping between us, and me being in this situation way too many times, so I have a very good since of when to duck, or go right or left... I would have a black eye.  He is so mean and vile when he drinks, his words cut like a knife.  Usually he doesnt get violent with me physically but tonight he did.  I called his wife and begged her to just leave him be, not to call, or go after him.  I was scared he may hurt her.  I have seen him in a bad way many times, but never this combustible.

Ok... but let's see, I said my next blog would be good memories and considering what has happened tonight that is hard but here we go...

My fondest memory of my father stems from the Temptations song "My girl"  We listened to a lot of music in my house, a love I carry to this day, but anyway, my dad, would dance around the living room and when "My girl" came on he would always have me stand on his feet and he would dance me around the living room.  Out of my ten years I had with him, I can say this is when I was truly his little girl.  I can remember looking up into his face and being so happy.  I felt loved.  

My dad was very spontaneous and since he did not work he had a lot o free time.  I remember one afternoon we were riding down the road and crossed a river.  He decided it was a good afternoon for a swim, so me, my brothers, mom and him all got out and he had us strip down to our underwear (we were young so nothing inappropriate) and we went swimming in the Eno.  I can remember how excited my brothers and i were because days like this, moods like this were not often.  I can still remember the tension in my mom's body though, her wondering if this was a good idea, always wondering if something may set him off.  Funny, even as young as I was, I was always VERY aware and in tune with her moods due to her body language.

We spend a lot of time at the lake.  It was nothing for us to go up to Kerr lake for the day for my dad to fish and him just decide for us to stay the night.  Now as kids, we thought this was amazing.  I can remember sitting at the water's edge, with the big moon above us.  Everyone laughing.  Dad would give me and my brothers each and empty beer bottle and we would go around the lake and woods and collect those tiny baby frogs and stuff as many as we could in our bottle.  (I know, not nice for frogs but we were kids)  Looking back I can see how stressful this would be for my mom, at the lake with my dad, drunk, and him deciding we were not going home and us having no clothes, shelter, blankets, and not much food aside from snacks we brought, but to us kids, it was an adventure.

My father also let us do a lot of target practice with his guns and bow and arrows.  I preferred the guns, because the first time he let me shoot his bow, I was not strong enough to pull it back, so he pulled it back for me, and when he let go, I was not strong enough to hold it, so it shot, but my arm was in the way, the string on the bow hit my forearm and it was instantly purple from the hit... I can remember it hurt like hell... but it was still cool.  He took me hunting with him one day and we had a deer in our sites, we were in a tree stand, and right before we took the shot I lost my nerve and shoved the barrel of  the gun up in the air.  He was behind me holding it too, but it was still enough to throw the shot off and save the deer.  Of course, this was my last hunting trip with him, and he was mad, but I still had fun.

Usually we rode the bus, but sometimes my dad would pick me up from school and even though we had very little money, any day he picked me up he would stop at the local "Cow store" (the store actually had a big plastic cow on top) and he would get a 3 musketeer candy bar and a pepsi for us to share.  I really thought that was something because treats were rare for us. Funny thing is I did NOT like that candy bar and do not to this day.  But I NEVER would have dreamed of telling him that or asking for something else, for fear of ruining everything and making him mad, because I knew, even though I did not like 3  musketeers, this was a special treat between us that my brothers knew nothing about  :-)
Wow... Ok, that is about all I can squeeze out for tonight.  You have no idea how hard it was and how much time it took to sit here and think of random "happy" memories.  As I said, few and far between.  But David... I thank you because you are right, they are there and I guess to tell the story right, I have to include those too.  I think in the future I will try to weave them within the general blogs if they apply, it will be easier than trying to approach it as a task all on it's on.

Again, thank you everyone for your feedback and thoughts.  Even though this is still really new to me, the feedback I am getting is truly amazing and makes me feel validated, like this isn't just buried inside.  I mean, I am not the "Hi, my name is Jane Doe and I am a _________ (whatever may fit)" type but this is just as good as shouting it from the rooftops.


  1. Wow - now your Dad sounds exactly like mine (but my Dad was never violent physically). These spur of the moment decisions, your Mom's watchfulness, the never saying anything about not liking the candy bar for fear of "setting him off". This is straight out of the "Adult Children of Alcoholics" textbook. I urge you to read it even if you don't join a group.

    These do sound like fun memories - and the singing thing - I think your dad may have been bipolar like mine was.

    As to the brother - WHY is he in your life now? If you continue to associate with him while he is still "off the wagon", these episodes are as much your fault as his (well, ALMOST as much). You have NO obligation to admit someone to your presence who treats you like this, regardless of his relationship or what might happen to his wife if you cut him off. Really, so long as you continue to see him, you are retaining the childhood days as much as he is. I know there is a kind of sick connection to people you were kids with, when you come from such a background as we both did Pat Conroy's "Prince of Tides" is the best book on this I ever read), but like a gangrenous limb, it will kill you if you don't amputate it. You can tell yourself that when your brother has been sober for a full year you might reconsider, if you can't bear to say it is forever. Chances are that association with you are as bad for him mentally, and for you physically, not bcause you are a bad person, but because you probably represent negative memories. It is NEVER OK for a man to push or hit a woman EVER, unless she is attacking him physically. Real men never hit women. Never.

  2. Hmmm... never thought of it that way. I mena I know I enable him to a point,. When he drank before he always lived with me and I took care of him. This time around is different, I guess because he has been on his own, had a house, married, kid, business etc... he takes the "I am a man I can do what I want" approach now.

    Luckily my brothers remember very LITTLE from childhood. When we moved in with grandma they were 7 and 8 and for some reason both of them were spared and have very sparse knowledge of life before that.

    And I have never made them any wiser

  3. This is some really intense stuff and I sincerely hope that venting is helping you to feel a little release. I know from personal and family experience that talking about things like this to the people around you can be extremely difficult, especially if the attitude is 'we don't talk about that'. So I think that blogging might be a really good way to get what you want to say out there.

    With regard to your brother I can imagine the sense of responsibility and loyaly you might feel towards him and, although we all want to help and be there for the people we care about, it's impossible to help somebody who won't help themselves. Just be careful that he doesn't drag you down with him, because that won't help anybody.

    Acknowledging your happy memories is good too, even though they might seem few or far between at times. It's really cheesy but I have my down days and I find that finding something to smile about or be grateful for helps.

    Other than that all I can say for now is keep at it. My mum is a counsellor(therapist?) and she reckons that nothing is more effective than getting all your demons and issues out there.

    I hope you start to feel the benefits soon. Xxx

    P.S, I was just about to post this and the word verification was 'brave' and it made me stop and think. It's only right to acknowledge how incredibly brave I think you are for telling your story as well as for making it through all that you did, even if you don't always feel like you made it through that well. You seem like a good person and that's what counts.

  4. I agree. You have to 'amputate'. I know it's hard and it hurts and you don't really want to because you love your brother and all that... but it's better for you. And sometimes you have to try and be selfish. It's not your responsibility.