And so the snow will fall the morning through, into inches and crusty inches. I will shovel, and shovel, and shovel, and then shovel and throw, and pack, and pack more, and then I will burn, burn, burn.
My father is, I believe I’m finding, a narcissist. I can look back through my life and pick up on behavioral traits and patterns as I read about them from “experts”, though I could very much stand to find an authority text on this subject and devote some time to it. I’m very much interested in the idea of FLEAs, those learned behaviors I’ve unconsciously picked up through my childhood, living as the target of nurture from this man. I say that a bit sarcastically, as if I look back, I notice more the times he wasn’t there, or the times that when he was, it was explicitly on his terms without deviation (lest everyone around him suffer the wrath of exposing him to things he didn’t want to do). I don’t think I’ve really ever had a deep, meaningful conversation with the man my entire life, childhood or adult. I was never taught about masculinity in a manner other than “your blah blah distant relative was in the war, and a good man”, as if that was the only requirement. I never had a birds-and-bees talk, he never talked to me about girls. If anything, he was so repressed about his own sexuality (both sexuality, I have a theory about that one, and just his general sexual nature as a human male, which to me is categorically foundational) that he shunned any talk of it with others, no one could talk about it around him, people who had conversations about sex (any aspect, their own, on tv, in books, in general, whatever) around him brought out what I’m now referring to as The Child Beast, or that general temper-tantrum behavior he’d throw around at everyone who displeased him. Irrational anger and stubbornness, bullying you into his worldview and acknowledging only his opinions as the authoritatively correct. That haughty How-Dare-You-Even mentality. I had more conversations regarding sex, and right and wrong, with my mother. I can explicitly remember one of the first, I was young, the movie Braveheart had come out and the parents loved it, but Mom was concerned about the subject of prime nocte so she sat me down and explained it to me, and I was all “wow, that sucks. But battle scenes!” and then we watched the movie and I got bored until the battle scenes and then I’d get all excited about them choppin’ each other up with swords, and I got to marvel at the filmmaking and the practical make-up effects. But I never had that with Dad. Not once I can remember. Never once explained polarity between the sexes, never once talked from a Paternal state to a Child state about how to deal with his budding hormones and giant goddamned throbbing erection he wants to throw everything at, never once explained how to ask girls out on a date or even how to go about dealing with the constant need to get their attention, or even just how to basically talk to a girl and just fucking say “hi” without shitting your pants.
And now I’m starting to think that, with my current situation, that fact has been a bit detrimental overall.
The thing is, I’m not trying to be a victim about all this. Sure, Pops was a self-centered emotionally-unavailable occasional tyrannical authority figure that provided no healthy masculine guidance through your childhood. What the fuck are you gonna do about it then?
I’m just trying to identify, as I’m seeing all this clearly for the first time. And I keep tracing back my own negative and toxic behaviors to these things in my past, and wondering if just acknowledging the bond between the behavior and what I think the source is, is helping. Or even beneficial in the first place.
For instance, for years, decades perhaps, every morning, the same questions. Even before the dementia came, the same questions. Is there any coffee left? What’s the weather like outside today?
Benign statements in and of themselves, but if you apply context and some history, they unfold like onions. Let’s translate.
“Is there any coffee left?” Did [narrator] drink all of my fucking coffee on me again? Did you make a FULL carafe for just me? And it better be fresh, I won’t drink the leftover mostly-full carafe you made me yesterday. And you had better microwave my cup with water in it for a full two minutes before you even think about pouring that fucking coffee in it, it just gets fucking cold so fast in this fucking house because its so fucking cold! Fuck, this tastes like shit! Its cold!
“What’s the weather like outside today?” You obviously are always cold like me and you obviously like the same exact temperatures outside that I like, because everyone thinks like me and likes the temperatures I like, because those are the correct temperatures to like. So since you obviously know the exact Fahrenheit I like the temperature to be at, even thought that temperature fluctuates daily more than the actual temperature does, is the temperature outside the exact temperature I want it to be today? What do you mean you don’t know what exact temperature I want the day to be at today! Why are you so disagreeable? Stop disrespecting me, I demand respect!
There are other examples, but these two came to light this week, crystal. As he loses his masks to the specter of dementia, the behavioral patterns he can no longer process become apparent and surface level.
Constantly, throughout my whole life, when he’d buy something involved in dinner or the basic household functions, it was the same question. “Did I get the right thing?” “How do you like (dinner, food, thing)?”
Both validation-seeking targeted goodboy-points questions. Did I do good Mommy? Was I a good boy? Did I do right by you Daddy? Will you give me validation and tell me I’m good and right?
I only found out recently that he was voted, in his high school yearbook, “Most Smooth”. How apropos. He’s always been a schmoozer, always a talker, always a surface-level conversationalist with everyone else under the sun except his direct family. Everyone’s always been “friends”, “buddies”, “buckos”. We rarely met any of these people, and the ones we did meet were few and far between. I don’t know much of his side of the family, as we never went to many of their functions. When we did, I always felt really fucking out of place, and it wasn’t because people didn’t like me, in fact I was one of the little darlings that got doted on, but it was an overall feeling that the people around me didn’t think that someone didn’t belong, it wasn’t me, but it was me, in the sense that it was My Party. Or perhaps, in a need to reframe this with healthier language, it was the Party I Happened To Have Been Dragged Along Into. Years later, I hear rumors that most of my father’s family have disowned him or otherwise cut communications, after (what I assume were) many years of him sapping money and loans from them. Apropos.
There are other examples. Hundreds, if I really care to dwell and delve.
A thought that crosses my mind, which I also wonder might just be personally defending the situation because it’s so close and personal, or trying to rationalize a very shitty situation. How much of this is me trying to fit my father into a narcissistic mold, because I want to judge and pass the blame for my own failures? How much is a perceived victim mentality, He Did This To Me And Now I’m That Way Forever And Its His Fault, versus how much is actually true and I just don’t want to think ill of one of my biological ties, that raised me and did sacrifice years of his life to do so? Another thought, how much of this is the lifelong influence of my feminist teachers and my outspoken feminist mother, who has blamed men for her problems the entirety of my life and even acknowledges she does so?
But some feelings I just can’t shake. When I read about overarching narcissistic behavioral patterns, and how they live in their own narrative and bully (covertly or not) everyone around them into that narrative, I see the patterns through my own upbringing crystal clear. It’s one-sided too, but in a way that I still need to acknowledge my mother as being a co-dependent and possibly a very willing enabler for my father. Or my own influence, staying in the nest for almost two decades longer than I should have, driving my own enabling of his behaviors and possibly (my theory) that I have become his greatest disappointment and he resents me through and through for it.
I have a lot to slog and work through, still. Still.
So this is where it goes. What the fuck are you gonna do about it? Identify, acknowledge, move on, adapt. Maybe grow. Grow is the key, really. It’s either that, or pull a Hemingway.
As that has been a different, but definitely related point, through these past months: Hemingway. And Hunter S. Thompson. Two of my favorite writers, coincidentally two self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head. And while I don’t call it suicidal, it’s not outright suicidal, it is more nihilistic longing to simply not exist. So I don’t call it suicidal, but it’s the closest societally-accepted word for it, but I’ve been it more than I care to admit the last 12 months, in waves, in shades, and I haven’t thought about suicide for years before this. I thought I was passed that. I thought I dealt with that years ago when Jay decided to go home and wrap a rope around his neck and introduced me to the first friend I ever had that ended his own life on his own terms, and introduced me to the measure of how silly life can be sometimes, and the silly things people do to themselves and then later to the people around them.
I have my father’s depression. I think I’ve always had it, but never realized what it was when I was younger, and then just got angry about it in my 20s, and it took my 30s to put 2 and Two together. All future thoughts and actions need to acknowledge this and to make sure to not stoke those flames. He’s been Sad since I can’t not remember. I’ve heard “I’m done” from him most of my life. I’ve heard that since I was sixteen, if not before. Getting plastered drunk at the kitchen table, sobbing into his wine glass (maybe it was whiskey then?) telling me to take care of mom and that I needed to go see Dennis in Florida for him after “he was done”. I legitimately thought he was going to die that night. I held his hand as he sobbed and sobbed, curling up into himself, staring off into the vastness of the kitchen table or beyond into the pulled curtains of the front yard window, so drunk he dribbled his words out like the drool that actually came out. The next day after talking with my mother I realized he was just so shitfaced that he became helpless, and that right there, I think was the beginning of the realization that I might actually hate my father, deep down. I certainly don’t respect him. I don’t think I ever have. I can respect certain decisions, he did raise me, he never beat me, he was present at least financially. He was never outright abusive. I didn’t have a bad childhood. I’m just emotionally numb in my present adulthood and I can now pinpoint certain memories and moments that I think were key variables.
Drums were always too noisy. Guitars are too noisy. Don’t get your clothes dirty, no you can’t go play you’ll just ruin your outfit. You have an opinion, oh it’s different than mine? Don’t talk about that, keep it to yourself, no one else wants to hear it. Don’t do that, you’ll make a scene. Don’t draw attention to yourself. What are you doing, being animated and happy talking to people? Don’t talk to those people, they look dirty. What do you mean they’re your friends? I don’t like them. Their house is a fucking mess, I can’t believe you’re friends with those people, they’re so dirty. You should be friends with my friends kids, they’re good people.
Small things, add up, add up, up and up, to a mountain of shit you get to sift through when you’re older and “understand things better”. What a crock of shit fuck.
I have 35 happy girls in the next room, with a twin in a big cooler ready to go and be trained. Named the cooler “Gemini” since its a dual little cute clover and I will have two hopefully identical little bushes when I’m done. This is my ongoing project, and my insurance policy.
The ideas for blogs are rolling. I have a few I should implement, and a few money ideas ready to be worked on and molded into something.