Sunday, June 8, 2014

Father's Day

Anyone that reads my blog definitely knows two things about me...I'm fat and I'm crazy and I own both with pride! I know I always say that my blog is for me to get my own issues out and I could care less who reads it, but from comments I've received throughout the years, I'm beginning to think that there is a bigger purpose here. People tell me that my stories sometimes help them better understand their friends/family who have similar issues to mine. That's a pretty big responsibility that I'm not sure I'm ready for. But, back on the subject of me, I've been threatening to do this particular post for years and have always found an excuse to put it off. I'm not sure why now is the right time, it just is. The biggest story I can ever tell about me is the one of me and my daddy. To say that this is going to be a long one is putting it mildly, so buckle up and hold on tight, it's gonna get rough in Keebles World tonight!

Let me add another caveat by saying that my use in capital letters for "daddy", "mother", etc is intentional. I don't for my dad because I'm trying to convince myself that he doesn't matter (to no avail). I do it for my mother because I don't feel she deserves it. My grammar still sucks, but these "mistakes" are on purpose, so ignore them.

The thing about people with Aspergers is that we don't love the same way that "normal" people do. There are people that I love...my Sister and my T-Boo, as well as a couple of others, but it is a reserved kind of love that is more about trust and dependency than heart-felt feelings (I don't know any other way to describe it, and I know they don't understand and it hurts them to hear that, but I'm about to explain why). I do have feelings of love, but it's typically from one extreme to the other and it's also pretty much centralized around my obsessions and passions, aka stuff rather than people. People can piss me off as much as they can make me happy, but they can't truly cut me to the bone because there isn't that deep-seated, heart-felt emotion on my part. Which is why, when relationships end, as they invariably do, I can completely shut off all thoughts of them as if they never existed. It's that simple rule that defines me. But there is one exception to every rule...and my exception is my father. I've spent an entire lifetime trying to shut off my feelings for him to no avail. I can't allow anyone else to make me feel the way he does. Ever. So I choose not to feel at all.

I only have one memory of my parents being together, and despite what the experts say about not remembering things before the age of three, I had to be no older than one or two at the time. Our car (which I remember to be red) had died on railroad tracks and we had to walk home. They were fighting like mad, him blaming her for the car dying, and her blaming him for everything else. I remember seeing my fat little legs, I remember feeling my plastic pants rubbing me raw (the kind you used to put over cloth diapers, yes, I am that old). I was trying jump from one plank to another (which was probably more of my daddy lifting me from one to another since I was holding his hand). At one point, there was a huge gap between the planks that I could see though (probably a bridge), so my dad picked me up and carried me. I remember her bitching because I "should be walking because I had to learn sometime", but I was without a care in the world because I was with my daddy (and I can even remember secretly wishing my mother would go away and leave us alone). He never slackened or increased his grip on me, no matter how much they were laying into each other and how mad he was getting at her. I was clinging onto him for dear life, not because I was afraid of falling or because I was scared at their fighting, but because I loved him so much it hurt my little heart and I wanted him to feel it oozing from my every pore. Despite their arguing, he and I were bonding like I never have with anyone else...that day wasn't about the fight, it was about my daddy and me! I must have fallen asleep or something after that because there is where the memory dies out.

I have always believed that my mother was jealous of me and that's the real reason why she left him, to punish him for loving me more than her (and, I found out later in life that my father felt the same way at the time). Whether or not there is basis in that belief for either of us is irrelevant. It is what it is. As an Asper-girl, my perception is everything to me, be it massively skewed or not. Her subsequent actions in the years following confirmed that for me anyway, so point - moot. She knowingly put me in a situation that no mother that truly loved her child would ever do. I can never forgive her for that and have told her so numerous times without hesitation (and often with glee at the sight of the pain it inflicted). My issues with my mother are not the topic here.

There is debate in my family about when they actually got divorced. My father would say that the second she divorced him, she married my step-dad (whom she dated briefly before she even met my father). My mother would say that there were years in-between. I do know that we lived in various places for a while including a stay with relatives (the source of the situation I was referring to above...I'm not ready to publicly discuss that and might not ever be, so subject closed). I know we lived in an apartment complex across the street from said relatives after we moved out of their house when the big tornado of '73 came through because I remember watching it from our doorway (one never forgets their first experience with a tornado). What I can state with certainty is that I was 4 1/2 years old when she married again. I'm sure that they are probably both right in some ways and wrong in others, she's probably closer to the truth considering what I do know for certain, but either way, it doesn't matter.

What does matter is how things went down afterwards. Up until the age of 7, my step-dad was the only father figure I really ever knew and, until that point, he was a good one, so much so, I called him "daddy" too (much to the chagrin of my real father). My real daddy's parents would come and get me and I would stay with them for a while, but my father would only stop long enough to have a meal and tell me how much he loved me, then he was gone again. I rarely ever saw him during those years, but I lived for those moments. Even with a good substitute dad, I still thought about my father constantly. I put him so high on a pedestal that even god couldn't knock him off. He always made me feel that I was the most important thing in the entire universe to him, which was good, because he was that for me. But I never saw where he lived or knew he had another life apart from me (and he purposely made me feel that way, I didn't know at the time why, but we'll get to that).

Eventually, Amber came along and, despite my horrible trauma in younger years, her arrival is what changed me the most (and for the worst). I suddenly no longer existed to my step-dad (or his parents) because blood is always more important (or so I was told). Now, not only was my real daddy out of the picture, but I had lost my substitute daddy as well. I turned ugly after that and most of it was all directed at my poor, innocent sister (who still swears up and down that I once tried to smother her with a pillow which I don't remember, but it's entirely possible!). She was protected from everything I was exposed to and I hated her for it. She never saw me as crazy or fat, she only saw me as "cool" and as her big sister and she worshipped the ground I walked on. She felt the isolation from our mother just as I did, but instead of rebelling against it, looked to me for that motherly influence only to be rejected time and time again (yeah, I suck). To this day, she's still the "perfect" one and I'm still the fuck up, but at least we get along now (most of the time).

But Am's arrival wasn't the worst moment of life, oh no. The real pushing-off-the-cliff moment came on one of the rare occasions my father ever picked me up himself. Instead of taking me to Nannie and Papa's (as he always did), he told me he was taking me to his house! I thought, "Finally! I got my daddy back and I needed to convince him to let me come live with him!". I was excited and terrified at the same time, but I was once again that "good little daddy's girl"! It was very short lived, however, because, what he didn't tell me was that there was a wife, an adopted step-daughter a few years my junior, and a toddler half-sister waiting there for me as well. To this day, I don't know if my mother knew all along and just didn't tell me, and, if I'm honest, I don't want to know. I don't need another reason to be angry with her. But, if the arrival of Amber wasn't enough to push me off that proverbial cliff, the fact that my daddy wasn't just mine anymore was the end-all, be-all of my entire life. I was crushed like I have never been before or since and that's when I truly shut down emotionally (but my Asper brain was kicking in about that time too, so that was probably the real reason for operation-shutdown, logically my adult brain knows this, but emotionally, I don't really believe it).

I remember, during one visit with my daddy, not long after doomsday, my cousin and I wanted to have a sleepover, but my step-sister wanted to come (and, despite her adoption, she has ALWAYS been considered my step-sister by all parties...I finally GOT the "blood thing"). I was emphatic that in no way, shape, or form was she welcome. My daddy took me on a walk, trying to explain how she was my "sister" now too and how it hurt him for me to be mean to her...I wasn't having it, bitch was going down, one way or the other. She came to the sleepover, but called her mom within 20 minutes to come pick her up because she didn't want to stay around us (luckily, at the time, my cousin didn't like her either and was a willing participant in torturing her). The baby was different because she was at least partially, blood (as was Amber, although I didn't see it that way at the time). I now see that Amber is my only "real" Sister, capital "S". Hindsight is 20/20.

Throughout my childhood, I lived with my mother, step-dad, and Am, but the short times I spent with my dad were the best, even with the extended family attached. I couldn't have found myself in two more opposite worlds. The 'prim and proper', 'children must behave like adults and be kept at arms length', 'you must appear normal and hide every single emotion or fear to the outside world','meals are always eaten at the table' world of my mother; versus the 'laid back and cool', 'eating dinner on the couch after daily trips to the store for just enough groceries to get you through a meal', but 'still having time alone together', loving world of my daddy. I lived with high walls built around me most of the time in my mother's world, so much so, that it took me a couple of days in my dad's world before the walls would lower, but they always did lower, eventually. The absolute second I was dropped back home, they slammed up, like steel trap doors, and I was miserable for weeks (sometimes even months) afterwards before I leveled out a bit. My mother used to threaten me all the time with not ever going to see my dad again because I behaved so badly when I came home.

So, as you can imagine, I eventually grew to accept my new family, I didn't really have a choice. But in my other world, my step-dad became even more horrible to me and, because he did it from the prying eyes of others, no one believed he was mean to me (despite my constant declarations of such), least of all my own mother. After all, he kept a roof over my head, kept food in my fat belly, and kept clothes on my back, so I shouldn't be complaining (or so I was told numerous times by EVERYONE). As much as I loved my daddy, I HATED my step-dad more.

I remember, one time in particular, I broke down and told my daddy how my step-dad really was. He was so pissed when he dropped me off that he basically tore my mother up one side and down the other. He hadn't been civil to her since the divorce, but he had never been mean either. This day was different. I remember my mother gripping my shoulder (quite hard actually) and forcing me to tell my dad I had been lying, which I reluctantly did. He left mad and I didn't see him for a long time after that. Of course, I blamed her. I was punished and it was never spoken of again (although, sending a social-phobe to her room alone was never punishment, the fools!).

Throughout the years, I visited him during the summer for a couple of weeks and I got Christmas afternoon with him, but really no other holidays and no long extended stays. I became more and more introverted, my issues got worse, and I started to believe all the negativity my step-dad spewed at me. Thus was my life. But I did get two Christmases and two Birthdays a year, one parent always trying to out-do the other with gifts and an aunt trying to out-do both of them together (no wonder I'm spoiled rotten!).

By the time I was 19, I decided to drop out of college, not only because because I was insecure with my talent and my direction, but because I wanted to move and live with my daddy. I had finally had enough with being ignored and bullied, it was time to live "the dream" with my other family. It lasted all of a month. Staying with them for a short time was one thing, but living there was a completely different beast. My step-mother suddenly wasn't as beautiful and perfect and cool as I thought she was, she was just as unemotional as my mother, all-be-it in a different way, and my two sisters were just downright awful. My mother may have been unemotional to me and blind to my step-dad's mental abuse, but we ignored each other and I liked that, nay, missed that. There is nothing but drama, drama, drama in my dad's house. I continued to live in that town for another year with my dad's mom (who I later also turned off all feelings for as well), and I continued to work at my job there for another two years after moving back "home", but my relationship with my father changed and we would have our first deliberate break that would last for three years.

It took my step-sister to stop that break. She convinced me that I needed to give in because he never would and he was hurting too much without me. She said I was being horrible and selfish, and considering my past behavior with Amber, it wasn't so much of a stretch to believe it. Once again, it was all my fault. So I caved, but it also made me realize a very important fact about me and him...I was a strange, all alone weirdo with tons of mental issues, but, then again, so was he. He may have had another family too, but he wasn't happy without me either. Our relationship changed at that point. But, instead of my emotional attachment lessening toward him, it only grew stronger. I may have no longer wanted to be around him for longer than a couple of hours at a time (it was too much like looking in the mirror and I wasn't ready for that back then), I also couldn't stay away because it just reiterated the point that he was truly the only person who could understand me because he WAS me. The walls that I previously took down for him as a child, started to stay up past this point though and they haven't been down since. We had several other deliberate breaks from one another throughout those years, but I was always the first to give in and stop it.

As time went on, I ended up married to a man who was actually more screwed up than me, so luckily it only lasted two years. My father retired from the force (he was a cop), went to work for a big steel mill company and subsequently retired from them 8 years later. He bought his first Subway restaurant in another state and moved away, but I was OK with that because visiting was all I could stomach. I only went there once. During that time, I started to work on myself and started to change, so, although I still loved him fiercely, I finally focusing on me more. Eventually, he moved to the town I currently live in, bought up all the Subways here, and set up house within spitting distance from where I live (I don't know where exactly they live now, but they are still here in the same town). Not once did I ever step foot in the house near me (any emotional attachment to my step-mother and sisters was dying by then and I didn't want to be around them). We started having weekly father-daughter dinners together, just him and me. I was his first born and therefore his most important daughter (and he told me so more than once) and I loved him more than ever, even if we saw each other no more than an hour at a time and I was walled up higher than Hoover Dam.

Funny story (well not funny ha-ha), but the first time my step-sister got married, me and my husband actually went, the two most anti-social people on the planet. She had a proper wedding, right down to the typical father-daughter dance. Once they started in, I started tearing up, which led to eventual full-on crying. Watching him dance with her was truly heartbreaking even with my high walls. He was my daddy, not hers! I tried so hard to control myself, but I just couldn't stop it and the harder I tried, the worse it got. Everyone was staring, most of which didn't even know who I was or why I was crying (EVERYONE knows I have three sisters, but very few in their world knew I existed - Clue #362). But getting the attention of others is a social-phobe's worst nightmare and I was mortified which made matters worse, plus I was ruining her reception. I know my ex was whispering in my ear, probably saying calming things, he was holding my hand, and patting my leg, but I heard and felt nothing for him. I only felt pain at watching my daddy betray me with the non-blood. Finally, my dad comes over and whispers those words in my ear like he had done so many times before, "you know you are my life and the most important thing in the world to me, you are all that matters and always will". I was still crying, but now at a "normal" level. I couldn't have gotten out of there fast enough when the moment arose.

Throughout those years though, I discovered a lot about my horrible, before step-dad, childhood years I didn't know. There were restraining orders (which is why we had to keep moving around) and there were threats of taking me away from my mother (and despite their completely opposite parenting approach, I would have been just as fucked up in my father's house as my mother's). But I also learned that I didn't see my father for years after their divorce because, and I'm quoting my step-mother here, "it hurt him too much to see me". LAMEST EXCUSE EVER!!! At least it did soften my feelings for him, if only a bit. Jerk.

One rather bland day, close to Christmas, we had the following conversation (and I remember it verbatim because I have played it over and over in my head trying to figure out what I did wrong). Him: "We're coming to get you this Sunday to go to the 'baby sister's' house and have Christmas". Me: "I don't feel like doing the family thing this year, but if you guys want to come over and get your presents to take with you, I'll be here". Him: "OK, that's fine, no problem, we'll see you Sunday". Me: "OK, Sunday then, bye". Him: "Bye baby, I love you". Me: "I love you too daddy". As an FYI, I don't throw that word around lightly, rarely ever use it to anyone else. He and I used it constantly.

That Sunday, I waited all day, left them a voicemail message late that afternoon saying the following, "hey, just wondered what time you guys were going to come over because it's getting kind of late. Call me when you can. Love you. Bye". And that was eight years ago. Not a word has been spoken between us since and neither one of us have made any effort to break it. Like I said, I had always been the one to cave before, be it my fault or not, I sucked in my Scottish Pride and wavered. Never again. He has to be the one to make the "grand gesture" this time. Enough is enough. If we both go to our graves without another word spoken, then so be it. The only problem with that is, I still love him more than ever. I have never stopped thinking about him and his pedestal is still as high and as unwavering as ever, much to the chagrin of everyone else in my life as I still whine over his absence constantly.

Two weeks after the "call", I ran into my step-sister and her second husband in Wal-Mart (where another one of their Subway locations were). I thought I was safe because it was 2 am, Subway was closed, and it was a weekday (she's a teacher), but apparently not. I tried to have a civil conversation with her (we were sort of close then), but she was rude and hateful, so I just walked away. Haven't seen her (other than glimpses around town) since. I have not been able to step foot in that Wal-Mart since either (or that edge of town for that matter). I drive to a completely different town if I need to go to Wal-Mart. Yep, I'm that bad.

A few years ago I was at my then-eye doctor and guess who walks in the waiting room but my step-mother. After years of avoidance, here we were, face to face and I'm panicking, but I try to play it cool. To make a long story short (WAY too late for that Keebs!), even though I had no intention of talking to her, much less going off because I was the better person, it took all of two seconds for her to mention my dad and even less time for me to blow. I quoted the phone conversation verbatim (as I often do) and said it had been three years (at that time) since I'd even spoken one single word to him. She didn't act at all shocked, but stated she didn't know anything about it and she would have to ask him. I knew she was lying and she goading a response out of me but I got called to the back and that was that. I said I polite goodbye as I was leaving and I haven't seen her since (and I also switched eye doctors not long afterwards).

In even more recent years, the hospital across the street from my job started having Subway Tuesdays (brought in by, you guessed it, the Blair clan). I couldn't step foot in that hospital for over a year after they stopped (despite my need to for work purposes) and the thought of doing so caused me to have massive panic attacks. I now have to go over there everyday and can do so without much discomfort, but I still can't walk on the side of the entrance where you turn to go to the cafeteria and I haven't stepped foot in there since (and I used to each lunch there every day). Funny thing about that was, knowing how much pain I'm in from the "lack" of my father didn't seem to affect my mother. She worked at that hospital, had Subway Tuesdays, and even eventually had conversations with my father during their brief, sandwich transferring sessions (something they were never able to accomplish throughout my youth). Seriously? If I was her, I'd been in his face in a heartbeat giving him a "what for" for hurting his child so much! Not her. It's never been about me, it's always been how she appears to be and all appearances must give the impression of normalcy.

My mother has done a 360 and is now extremely affectionate and tries to be the perfect mother everyone always thought she was, but, at this stage of the game, it's just too little too late and I find it quite offensive as well as extremely aggravating (much to the chagrin of Am who thinks I should forgive and forget like she has...bollocks to that). With my mother, it's all about 'her' guilt and 'her' shame. I see through her like glass (and always have). I may look vaguely like her (which everyone thinks...until they see my dad), and I know I hear the sound of her voice coming out my mouth a lot, but we are nothing alike and never will be. I'm grateful for that. Suffice it to say, she's getting her comeuppance in little ways now (although there can never be true retribution in my eyes, people are dead now and proper punishments can't be dished out). But she finally feels the coldness that I have been throwing at her my entire life and it finally bothers her (although, how much exactly is debatable). My step-dad treats her how he used to treat me and now everyone else also sees him for how he really is, not the kind, unselfish man who took in another man's child as his own, but the sad and insecure bully who is as fat and ugly as he accused me of being all those years ago. Pot and kettle. I don't hate him anymore. I just don't feel anything where he is concerned. That's what I'm good at.

My father and his family know nothing of my head and Ferg-id, my ever annoying brain tumor, nor do I want them to. It's benign, it "probably" won't kill me, and they wouldn't care anyway, just like they didn't care when I had cervical cancer. I don't want Ferg-id being the reason why my father caves in and contacts me, I want him to do it because he wants to. He obviously doesn't. I still can't help but believe I did something really horrible to make him not love me anymore, hence the constant replaying of the phone conversation. The truth I guess I'll never know.

Toward the end of our relationship, my daddy used to tell me that there was something he always wanted to tell me about my mother that would change everything. He never could do it, always saying "he wasn't ready", but I doubt he could tell me anything I didn't already know. She's pretty forthcoming now about her past, almost to a fault, and I really never cared about her life anyway. Sometimes, I think that maybe he thinks the "big secret" is that I'm not his real kid. It's obvious that I am, but I've got nothing but assumptions anymore and will grasp at any straw I can think of. I have as many possible scenarios for this mess as there are paragraphs in this blog post (and I'm not even done yet)!

People tell me all the time I should; A) forget about him because he doesn't deserve me or; B) be the first to break and call him because it's hurting me too much to be without him and families shouldn't be apart (obviously they don't know mine). I can't do either (and hate to be told so). I've spent most of my entire adult life fixing my other issues with family and myself and being able to function in society. I may still hold some grudges, but the biggest have died out (despite how some of this rant sounded). He will, however, always be the golden fleece that will forever elude me. It's just easier to do without than to deal. But the side effect of losing him forever is also losing that single part of me that did actually truly loved someone. Unfortunately, the love for him still won't die and I think my view of it keeps getting more and more distorted.

See, the thing about Aspergers is that, despite all I can do to change some things about myself, I feel what I feel and I'm perpetually a child inside with rarely bendable beliefs or thoughts. My growth stopped at the initial loss of my father when my parents divorced. I've learned to appear "normal" and behave like an "adult" since then, but I don't FEEL that way. The adult-Keiley may know that her daddy was useless and a bad father who never paid his child support or took care of her financially in any way (even if he is a great father to his other kids who are set for life). She knows that he has never done a single action to deserve her love and therefore should be ostracised from her life forever without regret. She also knows the adult thing to do is to forgive and forget and be the one to call the bastard first (yet again). But, inside, I'm not really that adult, I'm that little Keebles girl that my daddy always affectionately called "shit-head". I still believe that my father is Mr. Perfect, I still love him more than ever, I still believe we are exactly the same and no one will ever love or understand me as much as he does. I will always be riding in his arms, holding his hands, feeling that elusive "real love" feeling I have never felt with anyone else. Love is nothing more than a memory for me and with that crappy poetry, it's time to wind this down.

Hopefully, if you managed to make it through this entire post, maybe now you can understand a bit better why I can't let him go. I just don't want to. If I lose the thought of him, then I feel like there is nothing of "me" left and I'm just that walking cardboard facade of an adult that I have become to please others. It's why I live in a house filled with Disney toys (where I least I can be that little girl who was loved so much), love my dogs more than people (because they couldn't hurt me if they tried), and want to be alone 90% of the time (because I like my walls and don't want to feel emotions for others like I do my daddy and can't take the stress of "people drama"). I may be able to control my OCD, my Social Anxiety Disorder, and even my Aspergers, but they are still who I am and I can't change the fact that some things I just can't or won't be changed, no matter how skewed or wrong they are. He is rooted in the 'me' that I am and will forever be, come what may.

I had hoped this little diatribe (yeah, right, nothing little about it) would be the closure I needed to finally let him go, but no, I'm just a crying bag of bones who still misses her daddy. Welcome to my world!

2 comments:

Miamina said...

Thank you for sharing that, it can't imagine how difficult it must have been to put all of that down. I did read it to the end, every word!

Families are horribly complicated with a real mix of feelings thrown in there, mine included. I'm not going to offer advice other than to say, that generally people's actions are rarely about you and mainly about them.

Tiffany Pincombe said...

I hope sharing all this deeply personal history helps you. I read every bit and yes, I think you can definitely help other people with Asperger's, SAD, and OCD by explaining your life dealing with them. I don't comment on blogs a lot, or have enough time to read them, but I always make time for yours.