Before getting in to see Ann, I can truly say I hated life and just about every living person. If you had money, you were hated. If you had two parents, you were hated. If your parents were still married to each other, you were really hated. Skinny? Most definitely hated. I did not need a reason to hate.
I was so envious of my schoolmates who had both parents or came from families with money I could not see straight! Their parents were able to take them on vacations. Honest to goodness vacations! They were able to go to places like Disneyland, The Grand Canyon, their summer homes (whether they were near Lake Michigan or one of the oceans, it did not matter), any state in the U.S. and some even were taken to foreign countries.
During that point of my life, I was not able to see beyond my pain and my darkness. I had no clue as to the home lives of those I was envious of. I only saw what was in my face. People laughing, smiling, enjoying life.
My father had what I call the ‘Bigger, Badder, Better Syndrome.’ Regardless of what a person said or had done, my father had done the same thing except he had done it bigger or he had done it better or he had done it better than the person. When he opened his mouth, bullshit came spewing out. He talked the talk but never walked the walk to back up his claims.
A a child, Daddy was my world. I wanted to be just like him. I paid close attention to what he said, what he did, his mannerisms, the whole nine yards. As I grew older, I emulated him. After he left, my ‘Bigger, Badder, Better Syndrome’ went into high gear. I started to spew as much bullshit as he did. Then, I got called out on it. After having my ass handed to me on more than one occasion, I stopped. From that point forward, if I talked the talk, you can best believe I backed that shit up – I walked the walk.
By abandoning us, he actually did us a favor. We were thrust into a life no one should have to experience. However, as my mother was forever telling us, “That which does not kill us only makes us stronger.” There is truth in that one little statement.
Being abandoned by the most important man in one’s early life leaves some pretty deep mental and emotional wounds. Each person is unique in how he/she handles being abandoned. Being abandoned by a loved one is similar to losing someone to death. Most people will go through each phase of grief. How long one is at each stage is as different as each person is.
I was 12-years-old when my father walked out on us. I had no clue how to begin processing the shock and denial I felt. Hell, my mother was as clueless as we were. The first year, I think we all were in a constant state of confusion and numbness.
Anger and depression seemed to arrive together. I spent at least 15 years living in these two states. If someone asked me about my father, I replied with, “He’s dead.” It upset my mom to no end whenever she heard me say it. I told her he would be if I ever saw him again. At first, she thought it was the hurt and anger speaking. It did not take long for her to realize I meant every single word, though . . . Especially after I began describing exactly how I would kill him. It was the sense of calm and the coldness reflected in my eyes that spoke volumes to her.
I grew cold inside. I cared about no one. I cared about nothing. Essentially, I felt dead inside. I hated myself. If my father did not love me enough to stay around, no one else ever will. It did not matter I had a mother who loved me unconditionally. A mother who never once abandoned her five children . . . even when we were hideously awful and acting like Satan’s Spawn. (Had I been in my mother’s shoes, I probably would have murdered us the minute we all turned into demonic children.)
At 18, I left home to earn the title, United States Marine. Dad had been gone for six years. There were still days when the mental wound felt raw, but they were not as often. Shortly after arriving at my first duty station, I met and married Mr Potato Head.
I was open and honest with him regarding all aspects of my life. After I left home, I lived my life by the three Fs young men seem to live by: Find ’em. Fuck ’em. Forget ’em. I felt if a man could be like that, so can a woman. I shared with him what happened with my father. I shared all of my insecurities and my lack of self-esteem with him. My life was an open book to him. I hid nothing . . . Until it was time to start hiding things.
Mr Potato Head is an abusive man. He was 29 to my 19 when we got married. He was absolutely awesome at mind games. I seriously thought I knew all about life and all the ugliness which can be doled out. Yeah, right. It was more like I was a babe first discovering my toes!
After opening myself up to him, it did not take him long to figure out what buttons to push with me. During the first two years of marriage, he would continuously threaten to leave me the way my father did. He knew just what to say to send the carefully reconstructed walls surrounding my heart crashing to the ground. For two years I listened to him threaten to leave, until one day I had enough.
By now, my father had been gone for almost 10 years. I was slowly inching my way toward accepting the fact he was never going to return. At the same time, I came to the realization if Mr Potato Head really wanted to leave, he would have. I realized I was giving him power over me. Mr Potato Head tossed the threat out one too many times. So, I called his bluff. After I did, he no longer threatened to leave.
The dark and twisty feelings were like best friends for me. As long as I remained in the dark places emotionally, no one and nothing could hurt me.
It was when I had my children, I began to realize I could not live my life like that any longer. I asked myself how did I expect to love my children unconditionally, be able to do right by them if I could not move past the anger, bitterness and resentment.
My children helped me to Face Everything And Rise. They helped me to move into the Acceptance Stage of Grief. My three, beautiful, sweet, perfectly imperfect babies helped me to let go of my fear of abandonment (well, mostly let go).