Thursday, July 3, 2008

Going forward, looking back.

Spent last weekend at Orcas Island with my Mom, step-dad, brother, and our wives. I don’t know how much to tell you about my family history. One because I don’t know how much you care, and two because it’s not pretty and who wants to write about the dark and ugly bits of their lives? I’ll start with this; when my mother brought what is now my step-father to meet me, after 10 minutes I marched over to my mom and said “I don’t LIKE him.” Things went down hill from there. By the time I was 13 I had a full on melt-down: Depression, thoughts of suicide, utter apathy, I quit playing sports, and I started eating like they were going to stop making food and drinking as much alcohol as I could get away with. My mom took me to a shrink, and my step-father and I stopped interacting all together. We would talk through my mother like she was an interpreter.
I slowly got my self esteem back, and started playing sports again. I stopped drinking, and saw it as a crutch, a sign of weakness, which is why I don’t drink now. It reminds me of those days. Sports and self-esteem got my weight back under control. By the end of high school my step-father and I would talk, but only on a level of “will you help me do this?” “Yes/no.” One day after I’d graduated college, he started flipping me shit about the fact that my mother and he had paid my tuition, and I was still.. Lazy/stupid/incompetent.. something of that order. I pulled out my checkbook, and said “I am so sick of hearing that bullshit. I could have taken out student loans, but YOU offered to pay, well here’s $200, I’ll get you the rest as soon as I sell my car.” His jaw hit the floor. My mom backpedaled, and that was the last time he mentioned it or anything like it.
Now he and my mom are getting older, and my brother lives in Wisconsin with his wife, and they are starting to notice that we’re about as emotionally close as we are geographically. I am ok with that, my mom is not. My grandfather was an abusive drunk, and my grandmother has mental problems. My mom and her siblings (best I can decipher, as stories are not very forthcoming) grew up in a war zone. They are more than close, they are damn near inseparable. My cousins fit into this mold, and live a few blocks away from their parents. They do the same things and spend all of their free time as a group. My brother and I do not. I send my folks gifts for Christmas and their birthdays. I talk to my mom once every six weeks or so mostly about my aunts and uncles and cousins, and that’s about it. We were never close. When my step-father came into the picture she could have kept control of my rearing, but in stead let my step-father (a man who admittedly “hated children” and drinks far too much) handle my “disciplining.” I don’t know that I can forgive her for keeping quiet.
This weekend we had fun together, but we are all too different. My brother is a typical type ‘A’ personality. He works 70-80 hours a week, and when he’s off can’t sit still for 5 minutes without getting bored and having to “do something.” The wife and I love the outdoors, and the islands, but we move at a more deliberate pace. We’ll go for a hike, or climb around on the rocks near the beach, but we also like to sit and read. My folks still sport drink. My step-father can’t make it past 10 am without having a beer, and goes through a 12 pack in a day (not including drinks at dinner and cocktails in the afternoon). They sit, and they drink. My brother is fun and funny, but he got frustrated with the lack of action. His wife is sweet, but I think she was going to throttle my brother after we all went on a 10 mile hike on Saturday. I wish we saw them more, but thanks to email we talk all the time and I don’t feel like my life is incomplete without seeing him more often.
The islands were amazing, more on that when the pictures come through.
My folks are my folks. I talk to my step-dad about current events, sports, or the weather. He’s a jerk, but my mom loves him, and now that’s enough for me to tolerate his existence. My mom has my respect, and I guess my love but not my friendship or forgiveness. I can’t spend time with them without feeling sick for not feeling for my mom the way “I’m supposed to feel” about my mother. They went back to Missouri yesterday, my mom is trying plan another vacation for us all, but I think this was probably the last. I don’t have enough free time or money to spend feeling that way, and I don’t really know how to tell her that, which makes me feel even more guilty. I don’t think I ever will.
Not much training in the past week. I went on the aforementioned 10 mile hike Saturday. I went to jiu-jitsu on Monday night, and last night. I was due for a de-load week, and there it was. Tonight, I start lifting heavy things again.
Have a great 4th of July.


Jesse said...

Thanks for sharing, JB.

It was good to read about your roots. Be they happy or not, they shape your character. And I always like hearing how different folks came to be who they are.

J. B. said...

Thanks man.
This was a tough one. I almost didn't post it. No one in my family reads this blog, which is why I was able to. None of this is a "secret" per se, but it is kind of ugly.