The situation with my father has gotten rather dire.
He spent 7 months of the year in a rehabilitation center, however, he left before he completed the program due to it being shut down by COVID. Once he was out in the world, it was a sign that his 7 months were wasted. My aunt decided to move to Mississippi and brought him along with him, until things got very bad and, after he physically abused her, she left him in a hotel in Laramie, Wyoming.
If Laramie, Wyoming sounds vaguely familiar to anyone, it’s because that is the town where Matthew Shepard was murdered. I, myself, made it a point to visit Laramie in 2007 while on a road trip back to California from Chicago. Laramie is a desolate, husk of a town compared to anything we have in California, and even all those years later, I knew it was not a safe place for me.
Apparently he has remained there, locked in a hotel room, and the consensus from nearly everyone in my family is that he’s probably just going to drink himself to death a` la Leaving Las Vegas (Leaving Laramie?).
Unsurprisingly, no one has actually asked about my feelings on this. This is yet another gentle reminder that my family seems to believe I’m a robot without emotions. To my detriment, I tend to play into that and not show any emotions, mainly because my thought process is as follows: why would I share thoughts and emotions with people who don’t really seem to care whether or not I have them in the first place?
However, there are some startling details in the telling of the story that frighteningly parallel my own life, and I began to wonder if my own apathetic attention toward my father isn’t partially responsible for not discovering some hidden aspects of my own personality.
Apparently, in his drunken stupor in the middle of the night, he lie awake in bed reciting every perceived sleight he had ever received since childhood. I am someone who has a remarkable memory and it suddenly occurred to me that this is something I do. I can remember the day, time, and face of shit that happened to me in 1986. In thinking about how psychotic that is as a behavior, I tried to upend that and think of all the kind things that had ever been done to me… and I drew a pretty resounding blank.
Now, some pretty horrible things have happened to me in my life, I can’t pass 9/11 without being reminded that I lost my love that day… but why is that the point of the narrative of my life with Joe? Ironically, when I was writing my novel, it was a fascinating reflexive exercise because I wrote about everything besides his death, which was the only real part that was fictional. Most of the qualities and dialogue of the character were things that really happened to me, and for once, in telling my story, I only wrote about the positive things that happened in that relationship, instead of rehashing the real-life tragedy of it for umpteenth time.
Writing that novel, whether or not it ever is read by anyone else, actually brought a lot of healing that I didn’t realize I needed. For example, I didn’t even realize it was 9/11 a few days back. Usually I’m moping and depressed and drunk, but I actually had a great day… More importantly, when someone finally did remind me of the date, I didn’t reproach myself for forgetting, I congratulated myself. I’ve spent too many years mourning him, it’s time to remember the happiness we had because I think that got lost for too long.
As I thought about this, and the way my father sat up drunk off of a $8 bottle of cheap vodka in a shitty hotel room in an even shittier city making a laundry list of horrible things people did to him in the 1960’s, I realized that I need to start letting go of the things people do wrong and start remembering the kindnesses, because, truthfully, they are fewer but ultimately more important for my sanity.
There was also the issue about the violence that he waged against my aunt. As I heard her describe that situation, I recognized that capability within myself and I realized how neglectful I truly have been. My father wasn’t in my life until I was 27, and so I rather kind of wrote him off as some fascinating man that only had a tangential influence over my development. But the truth is that due to our biological bond, I am 50% this man… and while there are some positive things I know I got from him, there are some really dark qualities within myself that I could never reconcile that I now see as part of his legacy in my life.
So what does that mean?
Well, whether or not my father survives, sadly is not really relevant to me right now. I know I’m not exactly one for attachment to my family, but there is nothing I can do for someone who won’t help themselves. My aunt sacrificed more than anyone else I know and she was met with violence and abuse, so that’s not really something I need to welcome into my life (I just hope my little sister doesn’t fall into my father’s web of deceit).
But these are things I need to watch out for myself. Before factoring my father, I have cut way way back on my drinking, but I’m glad that that choice was made. I think I just need to be mindful. I need to find an outlet for the anger that plagues me.
I know I don’t really talk about how angry I am, but as I began to think about it, the reason we hold on to the memories of the times we were wronged, is because we are still angry about it. We have nowhere to put that anger and it just gets pushed away in a little chamber in our brain, and sometimes our drunk selves open that door and all of the anger we’ve had comes rushing out at whatever direction we’re facing.
That problem means I should probably seek out professional help, which I guess is my next step. Someone else shouldn’t suffer because I’m still angry about the fact that Justin F*** tied his jockstrap around my neck after PE because he didn’t like the way I looked at him.
I guess I need to learn from the sins of my father so that I don’t repeat those things and drink myself to death in a hotel room in Laramie.
Last updated September 13, 2020