As I have already written I know my stepfather had a terribly dysfunctional family and as I was growing up it came out that my best friend’s father, she lived two houses away from my house from three years old until our family moved out of town when I was 15, had served on a jury many years before I was born for the trial of my stepfather’s youngest brother, who was on trial for the murder of a 16 year old retarded girl and his youngest brother was also 16 and fairly close to being retarded as well (which I didn’t know until he was released from prison at the age of 40 after having spent 24 years in jail and I actually met him and he was definitely mentally deficient which is probably why he was released from prison as he was convicted of a lesser murder charge because of his mental state), though my girlfriend’s father told us there had been rumors that the girl had been having sex with my stepfather’s father as well as his brother. When I was a teenager my mother and my girlfriend’s mother took us to a cabin at the coast for a spring vacation from school one time and my girlfriend and I found an article in a “True Crime” or “True Detective” magazine about the murder of the girl that my stepfather’s brother went to jail for and it also speculated that his father could have possibly murdered the girl who was found to have been pregnant and her murder was speculated to be to get rid of the evidence of the pregnancy and it would have been in more of my stepfather’s best interest to get rid of this “problem” than it would have been for his son who was convicted of the murder. In any event the whole event shows more of what a screwed up family my step father came from.
Back to my mother, she died of cancer several years ago and while she was dying she apologized to my sister for being a terrible mother. She had asked me if I believed that she loved me after she had failed to help me five years ago for the first and only time I asked for her help in my entire life and I told her that I believed she loved me as much as she knew how but it wasn’t love the way I believe real love is supposed to be. That was an honest answer and as far as I am concerned it is the truth. I found a paper she wrote for a philosophy class she took from a teacher I had taken the course from, that I recommend to her to take because she had gone back to college as an adult and was looking for good classes to take, in some papers of hers she had saved and that my stepfather gave me after she died and it did nothing to uncover the mystery of why she was so screwed up only to enforce that she was. Here is what she wrote:
“Truth is stranger than fiction. So it’s said, and in this case, may be more enlightening. I have already raised my children, so my opportunity to help them become psychology healthy has already occurred. One of my children did have serious problems to deal with and it seems appropriate to this paper to explore what I did that was right or wrong and what the effects seemed to be. Related to this will be some of my own psychological problems and the insights I have gained about their causes. When my daughter was three years old, I discovered that she had a rare form of muscular dystrophy, which was not life threatening but crippling. How much crippling would occur was not then known. Two attitudes I held made dealing with my child’s handicap particularly difficult. Because my own childhood had been so miserable, I wanted the opportunity to be a super parent and make a child truly happy and I harbored a lot of guilt feelings toward my child because I was the one who wanted children so bad, not my husband. He had been killed in an accident, so I had to deal with this for a while by myself. I believe these guilt feelings led me to put up a front for my emotions of stoicism which I did not feel, while compelling me to feel more anxious concern about my child than was good for her I did not express these feelings, for obvious reasons. You can’t tell a young child, “I feel so terribly sorry for you because you are crippled.”
When Michele was six she had to have operations on her feet. I obviously did not prepare her for these operations as well as I should have. She is 27 now and the other day she said “when I overheard you talking to someone about that first operation, I became so frightened I nearly died!” I think that I should have taken her to visit the hospital before the operation, but even more importantly, I should have talked to her about her feelings, even though she didn’t ask any questions I could have said, “I know you are very frightened about this operation and I know it will be unpleasant and you will have some pain, but you will be able to walk better and I will be there with you to help you.”
When she returned to first grade on crutches, as we approached the classroom she didn’t want to go in. Her teacher suggested that I leave her and gently restrained her from going with me. I did leave her because I felt she could handle it, thought was difficult for me. I was right and within a week her classmates were competing for turns on her crutches and her adjustment to school has always been good. Her stepfather and I tried to bolster her self-image by encouraging her to do the things we knew she would be able to do well, despite her handicap. She learned to play the piano, she rode a horse well, did good art work and was always a good student. When she was in high school, despite a tendency to stumble easily, she played the flute in the marching band and never missed a step.”
Well the truth is stranger than fiction and I did miss many steps and fell down but I had pride and never told anyone and since no one who knew my mother was there when I fell down she apparently fooled herself into believing that I was alright when I wasn’t. She needed to believe I was alright in order to deal with her not being alright. The real tragedy here is the lack of my mother’s ability to confront reality. I don’t know what the cure for that is and since she is now dead I guess I will never know what it could have been in her case. Unfortunately she passed on her incredibly bad feelings about her parenting abilities to my sister, who if I thought read my blog I wouldn’t write this but I know she doesn’t so I can explore the question of what went wrong without hurting anyone although I still would love to save the family I have left from the total state of dysfunction it now stands in.