21 October 2004

A Small Bright Spot

"It requires more courage to suffer than to die." ~ Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)French statesman and soldier (Emperor: 1804-1815)

It is with great trepidation that I begin to recount the period of my life extending from the time I was ten till I was eighteen and moved out of my parents' house. As I look back on it, I'm amazed I managed to survive and/or managed not to murder someone. I was actually able to talk at some length about this time to my therapist last week. It appears that there is, indeed, some value to this retrospective.

I don't feel quite up to just wading in today. I've decided to recount the only positive thing that happened during the year I turned twelve. Just how pathetic that is will soon become apparent.

Once again, my uncle reappeared on the scene, without wife or twin boys he fathered. He seems to have just abandoned them. They were probably fortunate that he did. He stayed at my parents house while my dad helped him find a job and lent him money until he had some of his own. my grandmother didn't accompany him for some reason. One of the things I recall about this visit is his comment to me that I would be pregnant before I graduated high school. You cannot imagine how much this still raises my blood pressure. I wonder if he anticipated taking care of that job himself. He did buy a ring for me during that visit. I suspect it was a form of bribery, but it did him absolutely no good.

There came a day when he and I were at my house alone. I was very wary and trying to keep my distance. At some point, he grabbed me and started tickling me. I could see where this was headed. As soon as I was able, I escaped, ran out to an old truck parked in our backyard, got in and locked the doors. I was terrified, but I was also committed to not letting him abuse me ever again. He could no longer pick me up and force me to allow the abuse. He came out of the house and banged on the windows of the truck for a while and then went away. I stayed in the truck for quite some time, in fear that I would get out and just encounter him again. Finally, I came out of the truck and he was gone. I can't remember if the pregnant remark came before or after that incident. It was the last time he ever touched me. I recognize what a victory that was and what courage it took.

Sometime after that, he moved out and started to live with an aunt of mine who had moved to the city in which I lived. She had a little girl herself at that time. What a coincidence. My aunt told my mom that she thought he'd raped some woman while he was living with her. There was some news about a woman being raped and then, according to her, he refused to go out of the house for a couple of weeks. Incidentally, this aunt told my mother a couple of days after my dad's suicide that my dad had raped her when she was a teenager. Great timing. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if that was the case. I've always thought my dad was sexually abused by his father. I know for a fact that one of his sisters was; my grandmother and the rest of the children hated her because of it. That was the aunt who was institutionalized several times. I've also wondered if my grandmother wasn't committing a little abuse herself. I'll never know the answers to those questions. Anyone who could tell me (other than the abusive uncle) is now dead and, even if they weren't, I could never trust information I got from anyone in that family.

I saw my uncle again briefly when my grandmother became ill for the last time. I worked at a political fundraising company at the time and it was difficult for me to get away to see her, but I caught a plane and arrived at the hospital at about 10 in the evening. I saw the family members camped out in one of the waiting rooms, but I just kept walking and found my grandmother's room. I sat with her for a while and then my dad wanted me to go out to the waiting room and greet everyone. Yes, he knew at that point that I'd been repeatedly sexually abused by this uncle. I refused to honor his demands. Needless to say, he was angry with me and pointed out to me that my intractability was really making this terrible situation worse for him.

The last time I saw my uncle was at my grandmother's funeral. He stood directly behind her casket at the mortuary, holding his daugher's hand. It literally turned my stomach. I had no doubt he was using her sexually. I never exchanged a word with him, nor did I even look in his direction until I saw flash bulbs going off. He was photographing my grandmother in her casket.

When my father killed himself, my mother never heard anything from him. One of my cousins called him and my uncle said that he didn't want to call because he'd just end up paying for the funeral expenses. He didn't call because he knew I might well be confrontational. I had dreaded my father's death for so long because I was afraid I'd have to bar him from coming to the funeral. at least I didn't have to do that. By the way, I paid for the funeral. Asshole. I hope he lives a very long life and suffers every single day of it. No, I haven't forgiven and I don't think I ever will.

Alcoholism, Revisited

Tuesday and Wednesday I went with my husband to the coast. I was able to escape my sadness for a couple of days. It was so wonderful to be near the ocean again; it's one of the only things I miss about leaving the town where i grew up.

My husband talked with my stepson last night and found out he's having marital difficulties. I'd been concerned for several years about the amount of alcohol my stepson (I'll call him norman) consumes. However, I recognize that i have a thing about alcohol, because it was always one of the things that provoked my father to violence when I was a child.

As it turns out, I had good reason to be concerned, though. Norman told my husband that he's had a couple of bed-wetting incidents when he was drunk. This past weekend, he was supposed to be playing somewhere, but when he got onstage, he was so loaded that he threw up on himself and then passed out. It wasn't the first time this has happened, either. This weekend, his wife went on stage to check his pulse and couldn't find one so she called 911. When the emt's arrived, they told her he was just wasted. His wife has been unhappy with him over this issue for some time and I guess this weekend pushed her over the edge. She's going to go somewhere this weekend (Saturday is their wedding anniversary) and mull this over. I find all of this very alarming. It really indicates that there is a serious alcohol problem here.

Norman told my husband he's thinking of "getting some help." Unfortunately, thinking about it isn't going to solve anything. His wife told him that she's tired of hearing him say he's going to address the problem and then not doing anything about it. My husband is optimistic that this may help Norman get it together and stop drinking. I hope so, too. He's a musician and plays in bars, so I anticipate some problems right off the bat. Furthermore, it generally takes a few tries to really get to the point that someone is able to do the difficult, ongoing work of learning to live without the addiction. As a former smoker, I know how hard battling an addiction can be. I'm so sorry that I was right about his problems with alcohol. It's one of those times when you really wish you could be overreacting.

Monday is the anniversary of my dad's suicide. since I've been trying to get my history down on paper, I vaccilate between guilt over not having been there to stop him and anger over the many, many ways he fucked up my life. Suicide was just the final fuck over. As I write this, I can feel the anger rising up inside of me. Emotions can be so inconvenient. I'm at work; I can't have a meltdown right now. I have to calm down now, maybe I'll have more to say later.