Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Here's a shocker for you:
He called me first thing this morning and left me a message on the machine saying "I didn't mean to upset you! I wasn't mad! I was just playing with you! Don't be upset! ANd don't worry, we'll pay the ticket.....that district up there has a really bad reputation for doing this...I know it's not your fault. So I hope everything is okay."


Who are you and what have you done with my father???? I think I scared him.

I called him back and said it was okay, that I was glad he called and then we spoke about the fact that I was running a yellow light and not a red one. And that was that.

I'm telling you, I got all upset, and my parents have been taken over by POD PEOPLE!!!

In his defense, I admit I went a little knee-jerk on him, but that's a reaction left over from decades of him pulling the kind of shit I assummed. I love my father and I always have, and I will always respect the fact that he worked every single day as hard as he could to provide for us, and make sure that we grew up safe with a structured home life, manners, and God.

But the fact is, he's an alcoholic, and has been since well before I was born. He's a very, very angry, verbally abusive and moody man. He was extremely difficult to live with, because he had the house run like a military base- we feared his discontent, no matter how irrational; everything had to be spotless, we had to be perfect, and there were never to be any discussions or questioning of anything, ever. And if you did something wrong, it was a MAJOR deal, and the punishment wasn't the worst of it. It was the lecture and the humilation you had to deal with about how much you had failed and his utter disdain. Couple that with his not wanting to be involved with us outside of that ( he really didn't want to know his kids or what was happening in their lives or attend any of our events or share any of his with us) and trying to emotionally distance us by being completely unappraochable , and you don't have much of a relationship that tells you "I think you're okay. You're a good kid." The man spent so much time being frustrated with me and disappointed in both me and my brother, neither of us really had much self-esteem going out into the world.

I think, in retrospect, he's got a profound anxiety disorder. He was in Vietnam, and he's always been very high strung ( he hates crowds, is very sensitive, has a bad temper, is quite insecure, shy and controlling- all symptoms of PTSD ) so he carried all that around. He worked all his life in what's called "The Black Hole" for Boeing ( secret government contracts) so it's not like he could go to anyone with stress about work. I think he feels deeply for his kids, and was just so afraid of anything happening to us, and yet, not feeling like he had alot of room to cope with it if it did because of his own baggage that he just shut down. ( In addition: his dad was absent alot and his mom was a totally, totally manipulative woman who was terrible to her kids and he ended up really having a problem with women, period.). I don't think he's always meant to be like this, to his kids, he's just had his own disorders and his own issues of feeling fearful and out of control most of his adult life. It's not right, but I understand it now. I say this after on and off therapy since I was 18, and some of the distance that age brings.

When I was 31 and finally properly diagnosed after a very, very bad breakdown, both of my parents totally changed. I was about as sick as I had ever been at that time, and while I had been sick and hospitalized before, I don't think they got a good look at it prior to then. Plus, I had a doctor who finally said, "I don't know what the deal is with your family, but she needs you very much right now. She is not a bad kid. She is a very bright, beautiful girl with a very, very serious illness. She needs you to step up to the plate and be her family and quit blaming her for 'bringing this on' and 'making it a problem' for you. " ( I had sorta warned him going in that their reaction to my needing any help from them would likely be that, so he worked it pretty hard on them.) For some reason, that event and that conversation snapped them out of whatever dream world they were living in before. (He even came to the hospital, which he is quite phobic about and which he NEVER did before. Ever. )

And ever since then, he's been totally different. If I have a problem with something he does, and I confront him, he listens. We may have it out, but we eventually get there. And he always wants to know how I am and if I'm okay. It's not perfection, because it's not all of the sudden like it's a Hallmark card and we talk about our *feelings* all the time. I think it's a combination of his age, maybe being really scared shitless that I might not make it once , and MY age and my willingness to accept what he can give me at this point in my life.

But you have to understand: part of me always expects to get what I got as a kid, and I always will. He can still be a real sonofabitch when he feels like it, and while I'm not usually the brunt of it anymore, I *know* that place like I know my own name. One of his triggers is Authority and one of the others is Money, and my instantaneous thought was, "Duck. Here it comes. "

Apparently, so was my mom's because when he called today she was chewing him out about it . And Sassy, who's know both of them since I was 17, had the same response of "Oh Christ, there's Ross being Ross. Same old crap."

Without any history, it does look completely innocent and silly, like a goofy thing that he did, "Oh, ha, ha, Merry Christmas, to ALL of us, damn them.". In this case, it was, but now you know why it was hard for me to assume that. I feel kinda bad that I didn't, but then again, I just think, "you reap what you sow....." and I WAS quick to forgive him when he called. I do love him alot.

And I hope that the man he is now sticks around for awhile so I can learn to enjoy it a bit more.