Monday, September 05, 2005

So... About my Dad...

My Dad is 61, divorced, and a gay priest. Time for a little background. He was born in D.C. to a histrionic mother and absent father, who worked on steam ships and wasn't around when my dad and his sisters were growing up. Dad was diagnosed with lupus when he was about 10. My grandmother carried on, screaming that he was going to die, and screeching to my aunt 'Marge' "why couldn't it have been you, you ugly pig!?" Years later, once he moved out of his mother's house, his lupus went into complete remission. Hasn't had a lick of a problem since, which leads many in our family to believe it was probably psychosomatic. Auto immune diseases can be psychosomatic, so this isn't really too far of a stretch.

He married my mom at 25, when she was 29. She knew he had lupus; she also knew that she had MS (what the doctors at the time believed her condition was), but told my dad that no one knew what her symptoms were from, becoming symptomatic at 24. My dad said he liked my mom because she was beautiful, kind (a nurse), fun, and really listened to him; he thought she really 'got' him. My mom liked my dad because he was handsome, well mannered, polished, came from good breeding, had style, knew how to really cut a rug and was funny and sociable. Seemed like a good match at the time...

Flash forward to about 20 years later. My dad remembered, during a therapist's appointment, that he had been sexually abused repeatedly as a child. It seems that sometimes, my grandmother would join my grandfather on the ship and they would sail to Europe and go on vacation. After my aunt B, who is 10 years older than my dad, married at 18, my grandmother would find someone - anyone - to baby sit my dad & aunt M, who is 4 years older than my dad. This would usually involve buying a bottle of liquor and asking someone dodgy to "watch the kids" for a month or so. You do the math.. This person would then use my dad and my aunt in whatever way suited them at the time. I'm sure anyone reading this would be horrified at the prospect of doing this to their child. Well, this is what makes you a good parent, and my grandmother an unconscionable one.

When my dad went through this in therapy, it was really quite a blow - he kind of went through an identity crisis, grew his hair long, got an earring, leather pants, and asked my mother to go to therapy with him, so that he could figure out how to process this. To which my mother responded: "It's your problem, not mine; you deal with it." So they were unhappy for the next 9 years. Eventually, my dad got so miserable, he figured out that if he had 5 years left to live, he wanted them to be happy. After drawing up the courage over the following year, he finally told my mother he wanted to leave. My mother, who had been just as miserable as he was, didn't take this very well. Now generally, you just don't leave a Scorpio. It's dangerous, and you should have an escape route/alternate identity planned out. Generally, I'm just saying. My parents went back and forth, his lawyer, her lawyer. She filed for "cruel & unusual punishment", but after quite a while, her attorney finally convinced her to file irreconcilable differences, being that my father did not, in fact, deliver any cruel and unusual punishment. That's just how my mom perceived it.

Now during this time, I lived fairly nearby to my mom. She called me everyday, crying and wanting to die. My heart tore for her. She told me how awful my father was, what a bastard, and because my mother is convincing to the last, I believed her. After many long months, my father contacted me to get together and meet. I had no interest initially, but eventually we agreed to meet in NYC. My attitude was, fine - what do you have to say for yourself? When he did talk, I realized, embarrassingly, that there are always two sides to every story. I realized that my father was not a bastard, not a cruel man, and he told me what he had to say without once speaking ill of my mother. I quickly realized who the cruel manipulator was in my family.

Long enough for today, the tale will continue...

4 Comments:

At 9/06/2005 6:53 PM, Anonymous Manuela said...

OMIGOSH!!! What a horrific series of life-events! I hope your Dad is whole and healthy today... then what, then what!!!

 
At 9/07/2005 3:04 PM, Blogger NME said...

Quite a story. Your poor father.

I'm anxious to hear more.

Hope you and the Chipmunk are well.

 
At 9/20/2005 12:33 PM, Blogger Captain Hambone said...

Hey Anna!
Just checking in and hoping things are going well. Haven't heard from you in a while, post when you can and let us all know how things are going!
Emily

 
At 9/21/2005 4:12 PM, Blogger nyl rebma said...

Hey lady, just checking in -- I hope things are going well for you and the little one.

 

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