Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It ends with me.

I've come to two important conclusions recently.

1. I can't make my father be the man I want him to be.
2. I was powerless to change my deceased mother into the woman I wanted her to be.

For too long, I've carried this expectation that they'd change and become the people I want them to be. Too many years of cutting them slack. Too many years of making excuses. How illogical of me! I can no more expect my parents to change than I can the stars not to shine. People are who they want to be; nothing more, nothing less.

Many years on, even through all of his faults and transgressions, I idolized my father. I thought he was impervious to the darker side of human nature. Even when he was physically and emotionally abusive, I made excuses for his behavior. Oh, his father abused him... and his father before him. He can't help it. Perhaps that was my own fault. How can a man reach such lofty expectations?

At this stage in my life, I can look back and understand the scope of my situation. I'm a little bit wiser and a little more jaded. My father is going to be who he wants to be -- a civil servant trying to be a part of the 'in-crowd'. The problem? The 'in-crowd' despises him and laughs behind his back. He's stuck in a podunk community that neither likes nor appreciates him. He's also a devoted subject to a "god" that bestows no blessings. A man without a family, either by force or by choice - what kind of "god" does that to a man? To explain away the death of your own wife as a possession of evil spirits and the devil? That's absurd and foolish. Yes - you said this father. Dare not you try to say otherwise.

Father, remember that conversation we had many years ago about the Book of Job? The story of Job is a core element of my atheism. That's why I don't believe in your "god", or any other. Any "god" that would destroy a man, all for the sake of winning a bet, is no "god" at all. Children make bets over games at recess. Gamblers make bets on sporting events. Such a being is petty and foolish. Even if your "god" were real, I'd curse his name to the ends of the Earth. I'd rather die faithless as a decent, compassionate man than blindly support a god of pettiness and cruelty. A man that ventures to the grave with honor needs no shepherd to light his path into the darkness. What does that say about you? A man of logic and reason... I think not.

Understand this - Mother didn't die because the devil performed some bit of trickery. Mother died because she smoked cigarettes for more years than I care to count. She valued her smoking habit more than her own health. That was her choice - not the result of some absent "god" or even an attentive "devil".

And here we are... Mother has been gone for almost two years. Her being gone is mostly irrelevant - she took no more of an interest in my life than a rock. I actually feel more guilt for not being upset that she's dead than any real sadness for her truly being gone. I find myself unable to sleep at night; I toss and turn battering my brain. I ask of myself "What kind of monstrosity must I be for not being upset? Am I really this cold and detached?" Father has moved on to someone new, though I suspect my mother wasn't even dead yet before those new "waters" were being tested. Ahem. He has his "god" and his new partner. Good riddance.

But he doesn't have me. He doesn't have two of my siblings. Our family as we once knew it is no more. The unit is dissolved. Mother's passing destroyed the last unexplainable linchpin that held this shambling laughing-stock of a family together. Without her, we are free of any due responsibility to each other. In that, I probably find the most sorrow of all.

I just wanted a normal family. We could have lived on a normal street with normal neighbors. Our friends could have been normal. We could have taken normal vacations without yelling and fighting. The holidays could have been normal and free from guilt. My first date could have been normal. I could have actually hung out with school mates and done normal things - parties, movies, weekend adventures. I could have had a normal self-image with a normal degree of self-esteem. We could have just been normal people in a normal world.

I realize normal is a subjective term. Some would even say there is no such thing as normal. For a child, there is a sense of normalcy, though.

Normal is loving your child and not treating him or her like a possession. Normal is not employing your child like hired help. Normal is not hitting your child. Normal is not making your child feel helpless and pitiful.

All I ever wanted was for us to be normal. I wanted my father to be normal. I wanted my mother to be normal. I see now that I expected too much. Moving on with my life is my only choice.

On one of the last occasions my father, mother and I spoke, they chastised me for not wanting children. "When are you going to make us grandparents?" they would say. For that matter, I can recall many moments in even my early and mid-twenties when they heckled me for not having kids yet. There's no way I'd ever be responsible for bringing a new human life into this horrible world. More importantly, I'd never allow even a glimmer of a possibility that I'd treat a child as poorly as my parents treated me. That beast is in me, no matter how much I diminish it. I couldn't live with myself if I ever yelled at a child... if I ever hit a child. Yet, they could not understand why.

The sins of the father will not be repeated... not on my watch.

It ends with me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fumbling and stumbling.

If I've learned anything from the last week, it's that I usually fail to recognize when I'm enraged. When I'm caught up in a moment of anger, I have a hard time seeing that I'm mad. Instead, I usually feel remorse after the fact when I've calmed down. This has taught me one thing - I must learn to recognize anger as it happens, process if it is logical, then calm myself down. Here's one example...

Earlier this week, I went for a bike ride as I do normally. As many of my friends know, I've started to ride a bike in order to lose weight. My large size is quite hard on my bike (just as hard as the riding is on my joints, but that's another story). Needless to say, lots of things will malfunction on my bike and require regular maintenance. Take my handlebars of instance. Regularly, they will rotate downwards as I ride the bike; so much so that the break grips will pitch straight up. At that point, I can't even use the breaks because I can't reach them. It seems no matter how hard or often I tighten the handlebar joint, they'll still eventually slip and rotate. Well, I reached my breaking point this week and lost my cool. I couldn't get my allen wrench into the handlebar socket to tighten it back down. After fumbling and stumbling, all the while getting madder and madder, I finally flipped out. I was already mad before I even attempted to fix the handlebars; my ride was totally uncomfortable and both of my wrists were screaming in pain.

Now imagine this next part...

I literally ripped my shirt off, hurled my water bottle and stormed off inside my house. I left everything in my bike bag - phone, wallet, keys, everything. I finished stripping, hopped in the shower and just let it all out.


The take away from all this? I let my anger get the best of me. I 'hulked' out over nothing. Instead of staying calm and getting the right size allen wrench to fix the handlebar, I probably had the wrong size. Much less, I was letting my pain and frustration manifest in a manner that's not positive. What did I have to show for acting like a jerk? Nothing. This got me to thinking. What could I do to remind myself that my anger is in control WHILE I'm actually caught up in the moment? I need some sort of visual cue to tell myself that I'm not in charge at the moment. I'm still trying to decide what to use in order to cue myself. If any of my readers have suggestions, they're totally welcomed.

On a partially related side note, I came to see that my lifelong weight problem is absolutely linked to my emotional distress. The extra weight that I carry is a physical representation of my emotional baggage. As long as carry this extra weight, the emotional baggage that I carry will continue to haunt me.

I'm a thirty year old fat guy with daddy issues. Crazy, right?