Aha!! The voices in my head are still going at it. Oh sure, it’s been a few days since they last ranted like this, but I think that’s just because they’ve been saving it up for a nice explosion. One where not many people come out happy or unscarred. One where the majority of people who read this won’t give a rat’s ass and others will either be embarrassed, offended, or so confused they won’t know which opinion to choose.
Things are just stupid all over and I have no idea why. I hate chaos and disorder except when the disorder is created by me. Then it just looks like disorder to others but I know where everything is and I don’t want anyone touching it. But the past few days/weeks have me remembering more in the continuing story (which I’ll get back to soon) and watching things happen that just have me shaking my head in disgust and frustration.
Example: Husband read a post by Half-Sister on her Buttleaflet account. She made a comment. He replied to the comment. Nothing offensive, just an opinion. She called him an asshole and de-friended him. So what? They’re adults and can do whatever they want. What I thought was strange was that she did the de-friending after calling him an asshole and that prevents him from seeing it. He didn’t know that she’d responded until I was on my account and saw what was posted. Not that either of them care, I’m sure — they’ve never gotten along for a laundry list of reasons (some I know and some I don’t) and I don’t think either one feels slighted and/or vindicated by the actions.
So it seemed strange to me when I was reviewing my account online today and found that one of my Sisters-in-Law had de-friended me. This was weird because quite a while ago we’d had a bit of a difference of opinion regarding something I’d posted somewhere and what she typed to me hurt my feelings. I let her know how I felt and she replied and I realized that we were both reading way too much into things (which we both admitted) and mutually apologized to each other. Just recently I’d been seeing posts from my niece but nothing from her mom. I thought maybe she was just being unusually quiet recently and had even received an email from a mutual friend wondering if she was okay. Now I know why I’ve not seen anything. Am I sad? A bit because we were close in age and had a lot of things in common and always have enjoyed each other’s company. But, if that’s her choice, then I have to respect it.
So, all of the voices are now trying to get me to continue with the retelling of my story (’cause we’re getting to some of the juicy parts) and argue over whether or not being able to contact family members online is a good thing or a bad thing and lamenting over yesterday being Mothers’ Day and not hearing from Eldest Son. He sent a brief text, but that’s all. I don’t want a parade or anything like that but he doesn’t call or return messages anymore. He didn’t say or do anything for his step-father’s birthday and the last time I sent him info about what Youngest Son was doing he seemed disinterested. I always take his calls, regardless if I’m at work or in an appointment. Just as long as answering my phone won’t cause a dangerous situation (like when I’m driving) I answer because I worry about him being far away from home.
But is it “home” to him? He lives closer to his biological father and paternal grandparents who give him everything he wants. I see him for maybe a week around the Christmas holidays when I pay for the Amtrak tickets to get him here and back. He should be graduating from college soon and I certainly don’t want to miss that, but I can’t get an answer out of him when I ask when he thinks he’ll be done. He used to call me for everything — even issues I couldn’t solve for him but he knew that I’d give him my best advice and intelligent options for him to weigh. Now it’s nothing. No texts. No calls. No emails. And he dropped Buttleaflet and the other thing with a plus sign after it when he wasn’t interested in it either.
I don’t really know what to think about much of anything anymore. I make up my own mind and have my own opinions and invariably someone gets offended. I explain that my opinions are just that — mine — and that anyone who is offended should (1) say something to me so that I understand that their opinion is different than mine and we can come to a mutual understanding that I’ll have mine and they’ll have theirs and be respectful of it or (2) be quiet about it if all they’re going to do is try to shove their opinion down my throat and tell me what an awful person I am for thinking or believing the way I do. I have seen and experienced a lot of things I’d never wish on anyone else. I have friends who have seen and experienced a lot of things — some thousands of times worse than anything I’ve had — that they’d never wish on anyone else as well. We all come from a damaged background in one way or another. It was different when people lived tens/hundreds/thousands of miles away from each other and only called/wrote every now-and-then. With the Internet, everyone is in everyone else’s business 24/7 and people don’t understand that sarcasm/humor/anger/despair won’t translate well through printed words. So we all (and, yes, I include myself in this) jump to a conclusion based on what we see and what we believe that person would say/do/think.
I try to make a point of stepping-back and thinking about what I’ve read and how it could be interpreted different ways. I’ve been doing that with a lot of things from my past recently, too. That’s one of the reasons the voices in my head keep telling me to write more and get things down on paper. It’s not to beg for pity or to embarrass someone else by airing anyone’s dirty laundry. It’s trying to see things objectively and get them out of my system once and for all. The voices have been rummaging through the cabin trunks in my brain to clear out the crap and make more space for the penguins (if you’re a Douglas Adams fan you’ll get that reference).
So now that I’ve gotten that mess out of the way for now, I’ll pick up where we left-off in the story. My parents decided to divorce and the summer between my 4th and 5th grade years of school they took me on a really long “family” vacation. Then they waited until the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years to actually finalize the divorce while I was away at summer camp.
I talked briefly about 6th grade but it needs more information. Not only was I again attending a school where my biological father was the principal but his mistress was the school secretary there as well. Oh joy. As if I needed further reminders of how much my life was going into the crapper. But, I was an honor student and was meeting even more people because the school district had two elementary schools and the students from both combined into one class during 6th grade. Yay….not only did I have the ones who knew me and knew my dad was the principal but I had a whole new set who would look at me as if I was the privileged one because my dad was the principal.
I can assure you that being “privileged” was far from the truth. Some of my teachers liked me because I was a good student and I worked hard. Some of my teachers just outright hated me because they didn’t like my father or his mistress or both and were determined to make my life hell and were upset that they couldn’t fail me because I made high grades in all of my classes.
There was an instance, however, where people felt I was being given too much privilege during my 6th grade year. Previously I mentioned that I began playing the flute in band in 4th grade. When I finally made it to the middle school where grades 6-8 attended, my father said that he was going to try to get me into the beginning band (7th grade) because I’d already had band experience. He also knew that I was going to be bored to death in the 6th grade music class because I’d already learned to play the recorder and the keyboarding part of the year would be equally as boring since I’d been taking piano lessons since 1st grade.
One afternoon, my father told me to bring my flute to school with me the next day and I would be allowed to play with the woodwind class. I happily entered the classroom the next day and was excited to get back to playing. The band instructor said that it was “Challenge Day” and we would have to play a section from the book to see who would be placed in which chair based on our performances. The students in the classroom had already been playing together and were in their “chairs” so I was told to take the last seat and would play first. I played the piece from the book (which was the exact same book I’d already completed in 4th grade) and did better than the person next to me, so I took her chair and moved up the line. This continued over and over again. Each time I would play, then the next student would play, and then I would be moved up another ranking by taking their “chair.” Finally, I had moved all the way from last chair to second chair. This is when I got really, really nervous because the person in first chair wasn’t just the child of my 6th grade science teacher but was also a boy. I’d not played against a boy before and I’d heard that he was very, very good. He took lessons from the same piano teacher I had started with in our new town and if he could play the flute half as good as he played piano I knew I had no chance. I was so nervous and I actually made a mistake while playing the same line that I’d been playing all day. He, however, played it perfectly and remained in the top spot. I was humbled and highly impressed at the same time.
I didn’t even get to finish the week. Word spread quickly of what I’d done and how I’d nearly unseated the top player in the class. How dare I, just a simple 6th grader with 2 years of previous playing experience, walk into a classroom of older children who happened to live in a district that didn’t allow them to begin band (in school, they could have taken private lessons though) until they were 7th graders and do so well? How could this happen? Who would allow it? After enough teachers and parents complained, my father wouldn’t allow it. He yanked me out of that class faster than I could think possible. He tried telling me it was for my own good that I stayed with my “regular” classmates but I knew better. He was always trying to be popular with everyone and if someone said something negative about me being in band, he took it as a personal assault on his character. It never mattered if I excelled at something — if someone said or even thought anything negative he would immediately stop me from doing whatever it was so that people would think highly of him.
And it just wasn’t in school that he did this. He enrolled me in golf lessons at the local country club. I wasn’t the least bit interested in playing golf the way he was. He bought himself the newest Jack Nicklaus “Golden Bear” clubs and made sure that he was seen playing with anyone he thought could get him viewed in a more positive light. I had a teeny kids’ set with a 3-wood, a 9-iron, and a putter in a vinyl bag. Yeah….that was going to get me into the LPGA someday.
I suffered through the lessons and one day went with him to play a round at the country club. I’d never played all 18 holes but he wanted to be sure he was getting his money’s worth out of my lessons. As predicted, he did much better than I did on every hole (and he had me teeing-off from the men’s tee instead of the women’s). Every hole….except one. There was one hole that had the longest par 5 on the front-nine and from a short kid’s perspective seemed to go straight up instead up a sloping hill. I got there in par — a feat I was never able to reproduce but I was thrilled. My father did not fare as well. It took him more strokes to complete the hole than I’d made but he was still ahead in the game. It didn’t matter to him. That wasn’t even the last hole on the front-nine. He was angry. No, he was pissed-off in a way I’d not seen for quite a while. He was shocked that I beat him on that hole. He couldn’t fathom the idea that a young kid could get lucky (with a bit of training) and make a par on that hole when he couldn’t.
Immediately, he said he was done and didn’t want to play anymore. Just like a spoiled child, he took his toys and said I couldn’t play in his sandbox anymore. He wouldn’t finish the entire game. He wouldn’t finish the front-nine. He never asked me to play again.
So, with my broken family and the semi-acceptance of “friends” from school and church and my mother’s depression and ranting at me as if I was the cause of everything evil in the world, what was I supposed to do? If no one was happy seeing me or wanted me around, why should I be? But, I wasn’t quite ready to give up breathing yet. Summer was coming and my favorite thing was just around the corner — summer camp in Mississippi.
I escaped to Mississippi by begging my mother to take me a day earlier than usual and spending the night in the nearest town so that I could arrive very, very early the next morning. All of the campers were allowed to pick the cabins they wanted to stay in, the hobbies they wanted to learn, and the bible classes they wanted to attend. But, all of those were first-come, first-served. If you weren’t there early enough in the line, you didn’t get anything you wanted.
I needed this to be a good summer. She agreed and we went early so that I could be one of the first in line. I knew that my second week I would get pretty much anything I wanted because they would allow me to pick my cabin/hobby/class before the others would register so that I could help show people around the camp, answer questions, and make sure that parents were comfortable leaving their kids. I even had one father who, when he heard the name of my hometown, demanded that I look-after his daughter ’cause she’d never been away from home and anyone from where I was from had to be “good people.” I said that I wasn’t a babysitter and that she’d be fine but we were going to be staying in the same cabin so at least she’d have a friend from day one there. We actually got along and had a blast that week she was there.
During lunchtime, all of the campers would get excited about mail call. Some kids were shipped items they’d forgotten from home. Some kids got care packages from their families as if being in the middle of the forest prevented them from obtaining decent food. (We got decent food, and lots of it!) Some would get letters from boyfriends/girlfriends back home but most never received any. I usually didn’t get mail because it would take 3 days to get there from where I lived and by the time a letter would arrive I’d either (1) have already been able to call home on the weekend (’cause campers weren’t allowed to call except in emergencies during the week) and found out everything or (2) I’d have left after the second week.
This year, though, there was a letter for me. I was stunned. The Camp Director enjoyed teasing the kids by pretending there were things written on the outside of the envelope, usually the gooey-eyed type of phrases people thought that people in love would say to each other. It always got a big laugh and usually helped whomever received the letter he chose to play with feel better. My family and I were good friends with him, so when he saw this letter I became the target of his humor. It was funny and I proudly walked through all of the applause and laughter to receive my letter.
It was from my father. This was very strange. And it wasn’t handwritten. He’d typed the envelope and the letter.
After lunch we had a mandatory 30-minute “rest period” in our cabins so that our food could settle before the swimming pool would be open for the afternoon. Yes, we had a huge lake there but it was much safer to swim in the pool!
I sat on my bunk in the cabin and read the letter. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I still have the letter somewhere in my house. I’ve packed it away with other important items but made sure that I’ve put it somewhere where I won’t casually find it but also where it will remain for a long time because it was a great turning point in my life.
My father typed a letter to me saying that (and I’m paraphrasing here) he knew I’d be having fun at camp; that he hoped that I got to be in the classes I wanted that summer; and, oh by the way, that the day I’d left for camp he and his mistress had traveled to Arkansas and gotten married. He gave a half-assed excuse for not inviting me or letting me know about it before I left for camp and that I should be prepared for them (him, her, and her 2 kids) to pick me up at the end of my second week.
I don’t really remember much after that. I was shocked and hurt. To think that he purposefully didn’t want me to know what was going on was the worst. I can only remember them coming to pick me up in his diesel Chevette and me being crammed into the middle of the back seat between her kids (both of whom I was older than by many years) for the 8-hour drive back home. No stopping except if they wanted to stop. No eating anywhere except where they wanted to eat. It was if coming to get me was a huge chore and not an attempt to help mend any wounds or begin to create a family. I couldn’t stand it. It still makes me ill to think about it. I was ignored the whole way back and dumped-off unceremoniously at my house.
“Well,” I remember thinking to myself one day around that time, “this is it. Mom’s mad because she’s divorced and has me to take care of on her own and Dad’s being a jerk as usual except he’s rubbing it in my face with his new ‘son’ (step-son, actually) that he’s always wanted. What’s the point anymore?”
I went to the church camp sponsored by our local church that summer as well. Fortunately, they drove a bus to get us out there and back so I didn’t have to suffer either of my parents’ unwillingness to deal with me. I tried to have fun and I remember our group of girls (we were divided by age and gender) doing well on contests, but there were many who didn’t want me in their group. And I dreaded every day having one or both of my parents showing-up to give me some additional news that should have been told in person but was just haphazardly typed-out in a letter. It didn’t happen and I don’t think I could have stood it if it did.
Well, poop….looked at the clock and all of my time is gone again. The voices are still trying to cram words down my arms and to my fingers on the keyboard but I’ve got errands to run. Need to get things done or Husband will be irritated that I stayed inside all day again. I know he says he’s not but I also know that it does upset him because I used to be very outgoing and my disabilities are not getting better. Maybe in the long-run this “therapy” I’m trying with these posts will help.