WATER IS THICKER THAN BLOOD

father and daughter

It’s been five years since I’ve seen or spoken to my father. Five years since he flew into a rage because I looked at him wrong and he threw me out of his home. Five years since I decided I’d had enough of being his verbal punching bag.

Occasionally, I’ll get news of him through my stepmother—how he’s ailing, and not handling ageing well. I often wonder how I’ll feel when he dies. Will I regret not letting bygones be bygones? Glorify the good and forget the bad? Long for closure? He was my father, after all. The only thing that comes to mind if I were asked to describe him in one sentence is: He was the nastiest man I’ve ever known.

That’s it in a nutshell. My male role model, first male figure in my life upon which I model all men and relationships (which probably explains why I’m single). The experts say that a girl who doesn’t grow up with unconditional love and support from her father suffers from poor self-esteem and an inability to form healthy relationships with men. Go into any strip club and ask a stripper how her relationship was with her dad growing up and nine times out of ten I’ll bet you they’ll say, “He was distant, or emotionally unavailable, or abusive, or had unrealistic expectations, or…”

Some women can channel the burning desire to win Daddy’s elusive love and make him proud by turning into an overachiever, a workaholic, an anorexic even (if he’s overbearing and critical, and it’s the only thing they can control about themselves). Or they can go the other route like I did—assume the victim role and become depressed. I internalized all his anger and verbal abuse.

If my parent, who’s supposed to love me like no other, claims I’m no good, then it must be so. If my parent thinks I’m a failure, I’ll never succeed at anything. If my parent doesn’t love me, it must mean I’m unlovable.

Well-meaning people think you can just shrug this stuff off. “You’re an adult. Get over it.” But you can’t. Not without years of intensive therapy anyway. Your formative years mold your entire state of being. They influence your psyche in a more pervasive way than even genetics do. So if you’ve been screamed at your whole life and made to feel worthless, it’s going to impact you negatively no matter how many positive affirmations you recite. And when you’ve been forced to deal with a parent who’s unstable and explosive, you learn you can’t trust anyone, because you’re expecting to be ripped to shreds at a moment’s notice.

I remember one time being in the car with my dad and half-brother, who was around two years old. We were stopped in front of my father’s office and my brother was climbing all over me. “You’re such a little monkey,” I told him, laughing. And my father stopped what he was doing, and began screaming at me. “Don’t you ever call my son a monkey again. Howard Cosell was fired for calling a player a monkey. Did you know that? How would you like it if I called you a cow?”

Wait, wha-?

Instead of telling him what an asshole he was like I should have, I always took the passive approach just to try to make the screaming stop. I held back the tears and clammed up. My entire childhood and young adulthood was spent holding back the tears and clamming up whenever I was around him. So when I look back and try to remember something, anything nice, like him telling me he loved me (never) or giving me a compliment (only one in my lifetime and it was about my nails looking nice), or being proud of me (He once told me a monkey (that word again) could do my retail job), I can’t seem to find a thing.

So will I have any regrets when he dies? Yes. I’ll always regret he wasn’t a better father.

Advertisements

OH WICKED MOUTH

Photo by dawnzy58

It was a truly craptastic week. One of those weeks where I wanted to lock my son in a closet and keep him there until he turned eighteen. Course with the way kids are now, he’d be off to college for a few years, and then inevitably come home to live with me again. Leave for a year, then come home to live with me again; marry, divorce, and come home to live with me again. The joke nowadays is to wait until you’re forty to have children, because by the time they come home to live with you, you’ll be dead.

The problem with my son is his sassy mouth. He’s ten, and already I get “Yeah, whatever,” when I ask him to do something. I thought that kind of crap didn’t happen until the teenage years. The advice I get from everyone is: “You’d better nip that in the bud, ‘cause it’ll only get worse.”

When he says stuff like that to me, I have to squash my first instinct due to those pesky Child Protective Services laws, so I try the calm, reasoning approach, instead. “I am your mother, and you are not to speak disrespectfully to me.”

You can imagine how well reasoning with a child works. It doesn’t. I’ve tried the taking stuff away approach, too. No 3DS for a day. He could give a rat’s ass, really.

“Wait until your father gets home,” is usually the go-to for frustrated moms at their wit’s end, except in our case, there is no father coming home, so I continue to get the rolling of the eyes, and the “Nah,” when I tell him to do something.

I’ll admit I, as a person, tend to let a lot of things go until they build up to the point of explosion. My college ex used to call me an earthquake, and it wasn’t because I rocked his world in bed. I have a temper. It comes out of nowhere, and it’s nasty. It’s not something I’m proud of. Every therapist I’ve ever had has told me when I get mad, I need to count to ten before I speak or act. If I could count to ten first, I wouldn’t be sitting on their freaking couch talking to them.

My son’s father told me on more than one occasion, “You’re mean and nasty just like your dad.” Did I get my temper from him? Who knows, but taking meds has done nothing to curtail it, unfortunately. My ex tells people he left me because I slapped him across the face. He lunged at me and grabbed me. What would someone else have done? Count to ten, and in that time hope to not get punched?

My brain reacts; I think later. A few weeks ago, a group of twenty-somethings were hanging out on the grass in my complex, drinking. I had to pass them on the way to take out my trash. The diva followed me, and being the yappy Chihuahua she is, she started barking her little head off at these kids. “I’ll kick that fuckin’ dog’s ass,” I heard one of the guys say.

Do you think I counted to ten? Hell no. I flew off into REACT mode. I wasn’t thinking, period. I froze, and turned toward him. I said, “If you touch my fuckin’ dog, I’ll kick your fuckin’ ass.”

Now, there’s a situation that could have ended badly. Luckily, the guy backed down and denied saying anything, but let’s face it—I’m not very intimidating. I’m a 5’5” 130 lb. white girl, almost 45 (middle-aged, for God’s sake!), college-educated, from a middle-class background. My visible tattoo is frou-frou flowers on my back. The women who live around me are Hispanic, maybe have GEDs, a kid or two, or three or four, and their visible tattoos are skulls, and words written in script on their breast, like “Love is Pain,” and one of their baby daddy’s lips on their neck.

Moral of the story: One of these days I may very well get my ass kicked if I don’t watch my mouth. And watching what I say needs to apply to my son, regardless of how mad I am. Yesterday, we went to one of those Do-it-Yourself Recycling Centers. If you ever go to one, pray to God you don’t get stuck waiting behind homeless people who recycle for a living. When we were finally done throwing all our cans and bottles onto the tiny conveyor belt, I asked my son to take our empty bags back to the car while I settled up with Mr. Recycling Dude.

Son rolled his eyes, said “Whatever,” and walked to the car, empty-handed. Not only did Mr. Recycling Dude look shocked at the gross disrespect, but Ms. Homeless Gal even gave me a look like, “Oh no, he didn’t.” I stomped to the car, thinking “Ugh, I hate my life. I hate being a mother. Kill me now.” When I got into the car, I faced my son and told him, “When I ask you to do something, you’d better damn well do it, and if you ever disrespect me in public again, you will be sorry. That’s two days without your 3DS.”

And there’s where I should have stopped. But I didn’t. I had to throw in, “I will not raise a fuckin’ spoiled ungrateful brat.” I couldn’t help it, I was furious. Truth is, one of my biggest fears is my son growing up to be a spoiled, ungrateful, disrespectful,the world owes me, self-centered bratty adult. We all know everyone blames the parents when this happens.

So what am I supposed to do? Should we spend a week living on the streets in East LA, eating in soup kitchens, hanging with kids who only have rocks and broken toys to play with? Should he receive only a roll of toilet paper for Christmas? Ship him off to military school? Marry a drill sergeant?

All I know is at the moment, I’m at a complete loss.

I LOVE YOU-I HATE YOU

Yes, I’m still obsessed with the break-up of Seal and Heidi. Yes, I keep reading the articles about the “vicious fights and jealousy.” Turns out Seal has “anger issues,” according to US Weekly.

Disclaimer Alert: I am about to make a sweeping generalization regarding men. Okay, here goes: Most men have anger issues.

I think it has to do with testosterone, or machismo, or evolving from gorillas. I’d love to meet a man who doesn’t explode every now and then, but I don’t think he exists. I know you’re thinking, singlewritermom associates with the wrong kind of men, due to some f**ked-up reenactment of childhood issues. My dad was (is) an irrational powder keg, always destined to explode at any moment. So it’s only logical that I would attract that kind of man into my life, right?

Maybe. But here’s the thing. If you’re repressed, or an artist, then you have anger issues. Most men are repressed to a certain extent. They’re conditioned practically from birth to NOT display grand expressions of emotion. (Unless they’re watching football.) They are taught to be “in control” at all times, lest they be branded a “pussy.” The only acceptable emotion left for a man to express is ANGER.

Then you have the men who come from jacked-up childhoods. They carry a ton of repressed anger inside them; I don’t care how much therapy they’ve claimed to have had. Every single man I have known that has come from a crappy home life has been an exploder.

Artists are a different breed. They have so much emotion and passion bubbling up inside of them; they don’t know what the hell to do with themselves. They feel everything SO intensely, and they have to in order to produce any kind of creative work of art. This is why so many of them appear to be insane. And they don’t want to take meds to control their pendulum moods, because then their creative genius may become stymied.

So when an artist is happy, he’s REALLY happy.  And when he gets angry, he gets REALLY angry. Unfortunately, Seal has the double whammy of having had a less-than-ideal upbringing, coupled with being an artist. And when artists get together with other artists (and I use that term loosely with Heidi Klum), what results is a kind of “passion overload” in the relationship. Passionate love=Passionate fights. The two go hand-in-hand.

Celebrities live such extreme lives, filled with so many ups and downs, that any kind of stability is such a foreign concept to them. I imagine it feels downright uncomfortable. When I did theater in New York, I was on such a high during a run of a play that when it was over and done, the crash was excruciating. I imagine it’s similar when you’ve finished filming a movie, or back from a tour. Hence the need to go out and try to recreate that high all over again (usually resulting in affairs, DUIs, and dalliances with hookers).

I had a “passion overload” relationship with my ex. I’m an artist, and he was repressed from an awful childhood. As is often the case, when things were good between us they were great, but when they were bad…they were pretty bad. We’d have vicious fights, filled with lots of yelling, name-calling, and disrespectful behavior. Ultimately, it escalated to a point where we would have probably killed each other. Sure, the sex was passionate during our relationship, but how can I enjoy it if I’m dead?

Up and down love affairs were fun in my twenties; all that fighting, then making up. Then one day in my thirties, I went to Magic Mountain and came off all the roller coasters feeling dizzy and nauseous. I was too damn old for this kid shit, I realized.

Now that I’m in my forties, that’s exactly how I feel about crazy, tumultuous love affairs.