divorce, Ex, family, narcissists

Maybe Ex did me more than one favor…

Apologies in advance for yet another post about Ex. Now that Donald Trump is going to be back on mainstream social media, my fixation on her could be coming to an end soon. Or maybe not. After all, I’ve been married to her ex husband for twenty years, and I still can’t seem to move past the awesome fuckery of it all… Luckily, Bill is worth everything and more.

I’ve often said that Ex did me a favor when she divorced Bill. He’s the best friend I’ve ever had. We are disgustingly compatible, except in the mornings and the evenings. Case in point, last night at barely 9:00pm, Bill was sitting at the bench in our dining room, eyes closed, head leaned back, mouth open, and practically in a REM state. I was still quite wide awake.

This morning at 5:45 am…

He was really animated, trying to tell me about some film… He got annoyed when he realized I was taking a photo, but it was mainly because he’d inspired me, yet again.

I wasn’t quite awake at 5:45 am. I had just read a letter sent to an advice columnist in The New York Times. It was written by a second wife whose stepson was getting married. She and her husband had reached out to the bride’s parents, hoping to form a bond. Stepson discouraged her from contacting the bride’s mom. She soon found out why…

My stepson is getting married this year. His father and I embrace our future daughter-in-law and looked forward to meeting her family. I began corresponding with her mother and expressed our interest in flying out to meet them. My stepson discouraged this; he said they would be visiting our area soon. But we weren’t introduced to them when they came. Later, I received a call from his fiancée’s mother, who clearly mistook me for my husband’s ex-wife. She said she loved meeting me and referred to “the new wife” — me! — as “not blood.” At Thanksgiving, my stepson and his mother flew to visit his fiancée’s family and made lots of wedding plans, including for a rehearsal dinner for which we will pay half. How can we get past all these hurtful exclusions, some affecting our pocketbook? (I note: My husband’s relationship with his ex-wife is frosty.)

I hadn’t yet read the columnist’s advice as Bill went off on his early morning tear. I also hadn’t had any coffee, and wasn’t quite ready for Bill’s insane early morning energy. I did, however, see some of the crappy comments on Facebook regarding the situation in the advice column. Lots of people were projecting their own experiences in their reactions to this letter. Some people were downright mean!

I wasn’t focused on Bill’s early morning chatter, because my sleepy brain was still processing the advice column and people’s tone deaf comments regarding the situation. Stepmothers so often get a raw deal… even as I will admit some stepmothers deserve it. But not all stepmothers are assholes. Just like any other group of people, it takes all kinds. I saw a lot of people saying the stepmom in the letter was “whining”. Others wondered about the circumstances regarding how she and her husband got together. I notice that few people assume stepfathers are “the other man”, but stepmoms often get that assumption, especially if the first wife is still living.

I’ve mentioned before that more than one person has asked me if I caused my husband’s divorce. Um… that would be a NO. I had NOTHING to do with it. I didn’t know Bill when he and Ex separated. I didn’t meet him in person until almost a year after their divorce was final. And, thanks to Ex’s extreme parental alienation tactics, I didn’t have a chance to fuck up what was left of his daughters’ childhoods, either. I only saw them once when they were still kids. Meanwhile, Ex got her very generous child support in full and on time every month.

It’s not a secret that I’ve been pissed off at Ex forever for being such a hateful, mean-spirited cunt. Sorry… not a nice word, but in her case, it’s absolutely warranted. And I don’t feel that way just because she severely alienated the children, which was bad enough. I don’t even feel that way because she “invited” me to my own in laws’ house for Christmas. I feel that way because she abused Bill in ALL ways… including the ways that are too horrible and humiliating to mention.

Put it this way. If she were a man, she could have gone to prison for what she did. She absolutely could have gone to prison as a woman, too, but that would have meant admitting to being a sexual assault victim and reporting what she did to the police. It also would have meant seeing what she did for what it really was, which, at the time, was much too horrifying to ponder.

That all being said… and I am being totally serious, here. I do realize that there’s a certain freedom in being so alienated from my husband’s daughters for so long. The wedding scenario in the letter above will never be a concern of mine. Bill wasn’t invited to his daughter’s wedding, which I gather was not official, as younger daughter and her husband are devout Mormons and no doubt did the religious ordinance sans the “unworthy”. Younger daughter did tell Bill she’d wanted to invite him, even though she got married before they started speaking again. I guess she figured inviting Bill would be more trouble than it was worth. I doubt Ex and #3 were there for the temple sealing, as they are reportedly not temple worthy. I doubt they got that way for a religious ordinance.

Because my husband’s daughters were so alienated, there wasn’t too much drama coming at us from them. I remember when we first got married, Ex ominously wrote in an email that she would never want the children to get in the way of our relationship. And then she did all she could to make it so they rejected Bill. That decision was calculated to hurt us, and it did. However, instead of breaking us up, it made us a stronger unit. Twenty years later, we still laugh at each other. We still inspire each other. Younger daughter speaks to Bill, and is now getting to know him again. And I’ve never had to worry about any weird or awkward situations involving weddings, graduations, baptisms or other family events.

It’s hard to think of this as Ex doing me a favor. The truth is, it was all very hurtful. I totally understand the letter writer’s pain. What makes it even worse is that society, in general, has no regard or empathy for stepmothers. We’re often seen as interlopers, at best. While stepfathers are often commended for “stepping in” for bio dads who weren’t there… whether or not the bio dads wanted to be, stepmothers “can’t win for losin’.”

Over the past twenty years, I’ve heard that my husband’s kids are “none of my business.” I’ve also heard that I “must love them as if they are my own children”. I’ve been asked if I broke up my husband’s first marriage. I’ve been told that I should regard younger daughter’s children as “my grandchildren”. I’ve only met younger daughter in person once, and that was twenty years ago this summer.

I don’t think the vast majority of people really stop and think about the many scenarios that cause subsequent marriages. This is a subject that is so personal and painful for so many that people tend to come up with a narrative that they apply to all situations. It’s a type of prejudice. Many people who hear that someone is a subsequent wife wonder how she became a subsequent wife. I guess we can thank fairy tales for that image…

Stepmothers are presented as money grubbing evil shrews with no feelings. The bio mom is always innocent and sweet. The stepmom is a selfish bitch who steals other women’s men from them. It’s laughable, in my case. I barely ever dated before I met Bill. I’m definitely not a man stealing hussy, although sometimes I legitimately can be a bitch. 😉 I try hard not to be a bitch unless a situation calls for it.

In my case, being a second wife has been a weird experience. My parents never divorced. In fact, there’s very little divorce in my family, as a whole. I don’t have stepparents, and never expected to be one myself. So, when Bill and I decided to get married, I optimistically figured I’d just do the best I could. Bill had warned me that his ex wife was a mean person. In fact, he once told me she would “rip me to shreds.” Maybe she might have done that, if I took anything she says or does personally.

I don’t take Ex’s behavior personally, because I know that it wouldn’t have mattered to her who Bill married. She would have been nasty to ANYONE. She saw (and probably still sees) Bill as her possession, even though she threw him away, and she would have resented any subsequent spouse. I’m just glad I can see that for what it is and feel quite free to tell Ex to fuck off. She deserves it. Being nice to her would not have changed the way she would have treated me. In fact, it might make her feel even more threatened. If I was a “Snow White” type, all sweet and kind, she would have probably been even more spiteful and jealous, like the wicked queen in the aforementioned fairy tale. Ex doesn’t like other people showing her up, and being determined to fake keeping sweet for the sake of optics would have probably made her behavior much worse.

My husband’s ex wife is so incredibly dysfunctional that there was never a hope of my having a normal relationship with Bill’s kids. She treats them like possessions, rather than people in their own right. Fortunately, younger daughter claimed her own self-determination. Older daughter, I fear, is going to stay stuck. I don’t think my situation is necessarily the norm. Most mothers aren’t as hateful and selfish as Ex is. They don’t wish for their children to be mistreated or disliked by others. Ex talks a good game about being a good mom, but her actions are opposite to what she says. I was never going to get a chance, no matter what. So, I never had to worry about my feelings getting hurt by being snubbed by younger daughter’s mother-in-law. But we also didn’t have to contribute money toward her wedding.

Of course, now that she’s talking to Bill again, younger daughter does get financial and other help from her dad on occasion. Bill gave his daughter and her husband some money for the deposit on the place where they are now living. To her credit, younger daughter offered to pay Bill back. Apparently, Ex would make her older kids pay her back for things, even as she’d happily take their birthday money to buy diapers for their younger siblings. Bill was horrified, and told her to consider the money a wedding gift. She was very grateful and thanked him profusely.

I think, if I were the stepmother in the above scenario, and my feelings were really hurt, I might consider having my husband go to the wedding alone. Then I’d hit a spa, take a short trip, or do something else fun for me. So many people were commenting that the stepmother should just step aside and know her place. I figure in a situation like that, my “place” might be outside the wedding venue, somewhere where I’ll be welcomed. But that’s just me. And, in fact, this was the approach I took in 2004, when Ex invited me to my in-laws’ house for Christmas. I stayed home, and Bill went to see his kids… for the last time, it turned out, until 2020.

If going to a spa is too self-indulgent or ballsy, then maybe the stepmom should just enjoy the wedding like any other guest. Don’t offer to help in ANY way, unless it’s specifically requested. Let the moms do the heavy lifting. And then, if the wedding gets too boring, cut out and go do something more interesting. It sounds to me like the stepson doesn’t like her very much, anyway. She married his dad, not him. Let Dad handle the bullshit. Stepmom can detach and please herself. Some will say this is a self-centered solution, but it doesn’t sound to me like the stepmom can win in this scenario. Either she cares too much, or not enough. So she might as well please herself.

I am a very lucky woman. My husband is wonderful. He’s kind, generous, reasonable, and adorable to me. He’s his own person. He accepts me for who I am. In fact, he even celebrates it. Bill told me this morning that he enjoys my outspoken personality, because I often say the things he’s thinking. He worries a lot more about offending people than I do, so we balance each other out. If I were more like him, I doubt our marriage would have lasted twenty years. People would be constantly violating our boundaries.

Below is the columnist’s advice… which I think was pretty sound:

I totally understand your bruised feelings. That phone call on which you were mistaken for your husband’s ex-wife sounds awful! I suspect the explanation lies largely in that “frosty” relationship between your husband and his former wife. Visits seem to have been organized to keep them apart and to prioritize your stepson’s mother. (I get that: I happen to be a mama’s boy myself.)

Now, your stepson certainly could have handled introductions more deftly. But ceremonial occasions — like “meet the parents” — can be tough for children of divorce if their parents are antagonistic. So, unless I am misreading this situation, try to forgive your stepson and take the long view: Life won’t end at the wedding! Getting to know your stepson’s in-laws may simply take longer than you expected.

As for splitting the costs of the rehearsal dinner — which I assume was acceptable until you were treated unkindly — I would stick with that plan. If my assumption is wrong or if the price exceeds your budget, speak up. But don’t make a fuss on principle. Letting the small stuff slide in favor of building better relationships is often a wise strategy. I hope it works for you and your husband.

Again… if it were me, I might consider making other plans for the wedding day. It would depend on the level of disrespect shown to me, and my husband’s feelings on the matter. I don’t enjoy getting into conflicts with people or going to places where people don’t want me around. Stepmothers have feelings, too, and I’m not one to show up for things just to promote the status quo. But that’s me… and my husband is the type of person who understands. My focus is my relationship with him, because I married him. The stepson in this case is an adult, and presumably intelligent enough that his perspective isn’t the only one that matters.

I know a lot of people read my rantings about Ex and think I’m the problem. I’m being honest when I say that I married Bill because I love him. I always hoped to have a good relationship with his daughters. I was definitely willing. At first, I was willing to be cordial to Ex, too. She made it very clear from the beginning that she saw me as a competitor and an adversary. She didn’t want her daughters to get to know me, and did all she could to see that we never interacted without her close supervision. I’m not Ex’s ass monkey, so I opted out of the arrangement she unilaterally made for me without my input. I think, as an adult, I have the right to opt out of her plans for handling me. She made it abundantly clear that the kids weren’t “mine”, and she would heavily moderate any influence I might have. So I figured the best thing to do was to let her have HER kids. I had no rights to them, but neither did I have any responsibility.

Now Bill’s daughters are adults, and they can theoretically decide for themselves what’s best. I’m glad that younger daughter gave Bill a chance and is now able to bond with him. Maybe if more stepmothers saw themselves as wives first, there might be some less pain in these situations. But then, sometimes stepmothers really are second moms. Like I mentioned above, everybody’s got a story, and not all situations are the same. The right way to handle any situation depends a lot on the people involved. In my case, Ex is so toxic that it’s best to simply opt out to the extent possible.

I will say, though, that opting out of Christmas 2004 was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. She tried to punish me for doing that… I guess, assuming that Bill would resent me for the way Ex retaliated. But Ex is an adult, and responsible for her own actions. If she wants to try to punish me for not dancing to her tune, she can certainly try. I don’t accept her punishment. And it’s clear that she never knew Bill, nor did she ever love him. I do love him, and because I love him, he probably won’t be alone when he’s an old man. Ex, on the other hand, probably will be. And now that the kids are grown, I’m having a good laugh at her. 😀

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Ex, family, funny stories, LDS, Twitter

Turns out I have both knotty and nutty family ties…

I woke up at 5:41 am this morning, after having had a vivid dream about a southern town somewhere near where I came of age. I don’t remember much about the dream now. Sometimes, I wish I had Bill’s discipline, when it comes to recording dreams. He writes his down and sends them to his Jungian analyst. They talk about Bill’s dreams every week during their video chats.

I have vivid dreams, too, but I don’t remember most of them for long. Maybe I’m genetically less inclined to remember my rapid eye movements. It’s possible that this is a family trait.

Several years ago, I submitted samples to 23andMe and Ancestry.com. I started with 23andMe, because it seemed to be the more health focused of the two. It also had no ties to Mormonism. Some people may not know this, but the LDS church is big into genealogy. It’s so that members can “baptise” their dead family members who were around before Mormonism was. That way, those dead people can choose to be LDS in the afterlife.

Living members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go to temples and do proxy baptisms for dead members of their families. Some also do “temple work” for dead celebrities, too, although they’re not supposed to do baptisms for people who aren’t relatives.

I know that, historically, descendants of Holocaust victims got pretty angry with the Mormons for “dead dunking” their family members murdered during World War II. Frankly, I find that practice pretty offensive, especially for people who died in the Holocaust because they were Jewish. These were people who literally died horrible, gruesome deaths for their beliefs. It’s beyond tacky to do a proxy baptism to allow dead Jewish people to be Mormons, as if they were wrong all along.

Faithful church members who do proxy baptisms for non-related people will simply shrug off the thought that they’re being offensive. They say that if the church isn’t true, it doesn’t matter if they “dead dunk” Holocaust victims. The ceremony is meaningless.

If you’ve been following this blog, you may already know why I don’t like Mormonism. These days, I’m somewhat less vitriolic toward the church than I once was. I still don’t like the church’s doctrine because I think it’s harmful to some people. My husband’s ex wife used it as a “reason” to alienate Bill from his daughters. She got everyone to join the church. Then, when Bill realized he didn’t believe in Mormonism, she told his daughters that he wasn’t worthy to be their father. He wouldn’t be going to the Celestial Kingdom because, when he ultimately resigned his membership, he turned his back on the “one true church”. Never mind that she’s not going there, either.

Ex has now apparently given up on Mormonism. It doesn’t suit her purposes anymore. However, Bill’s daughters are still believers. Younger daughter is particularly faithful. I also know that the church, which Ex had once tried to weaponize, was very helpful in helping younger daughter escape her mother’s clutches. I’m grateful to church members for that… and I know there are good people in the church. Nowadays, I try to be less negative about the LDS church, even though I still don’t like the doctrine. In fairness, though, I’m not a very religious person, anyway.

Ancestry.com has no legal ties to Mormonism, but it was founded by church members who, no doubt, tithe. I know that church members can be very persistent in tracking down inactive members. I don’t like to support organizations that make pests of themselves, especially religious organizations. After some time, I changed my mind about Ancestry.com. It probably happened when Bill started talking to younger daughter again, and she proved that she isn’t completely brainwashed.

23andMe recently made me .2 percent less Brit… 😉

After I changed my mind about Ancestry.com, I finally did a DNA test with them. The results were very interesting. DNA wise, my results were very similar to what 23andMe found. Both tests have my DNA down as extremely British and Irish. There’s a slight discrepancy on some of the other DNA predictions. 23andMe has me down as having a little Finnish and Spanish ancestry. Ancestry has me with Norwegian, Swedish, and Welsh. However, on both tests, my DNA has me as well over 90% British and Irish. Ancestry.com breaks it down even further, indicating that my DNA is (at this writing) 56 percent Scottish. No wonder I feel so at home there!

My people were homebodies, I guess…

One of the other advantages to Ancestry.com is that there’s a ton of genealogical data there. Recently, a lot more data has become available for my own family origins. I’ve been updating my family tree accordingly, finding little historical twigs from people who came from Switzerland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, and France. Earlier test results on the DNA tests had indicated that I had some origins in those countries, too. The results change as more DNA is added to the databases. For example, at one time, 23andMe indicated that I had Swiss DNA. Then it changed, and the Swiss connection went away. But based on my family tree on Ancestry.com, I do actually have some Swiss family members.

Neither test shows that I have any French DNA, but I’ve found French people in my family tree. Ditto for Germany… I actually know for sure that I have some German relatives. However, when it comes to my DNA, the connection isn’t as clear. Maybe that’s why I’m so short! I think it’s helpful to remember that the DNA analysis traces all the way back… not just within the past few hundred years.

So far, all branches of my family tree go back to about 1500 or so, which may be when people started keeping records. But the DNA goes back much further than that. It’s pretty mind boggling, if you think about it for too long. Bearing that in mind, it makes sense that my DNA would be overwhelmingly British and Irish, even though I can spot random other Europeans in my family tree. That French and Swiss DNA would be a tiny contribution, compared to the huge number of Brits who went into making me. 😉

And now, you may be wondering… what does all of this have to do with my post’s title? Well, now I’ll explain.

As I wrote further up post, I’ve recently been adding new people to my family tree. Some of it has been truly fascinating. I’ve mentioned many times that I was born and raised in Virginia. Indeed, the vast majority of my relatives were also born and raised in Virginia, starting from the 1600s, or so. My family was in Virginia from the very beginning of its existence.

I can see how they migrated from Scotland, England, and Ireland to Virginia, working their way down from Massachusetts or Pennsylvania, and settling in the Shenandoah Valley or further south, near the North Carolina border. Both sides of my dad’s side of the family are mostly from Rockbridge County. My mom’s dad came from Grayson County. Her mother came from Amherst. However, I did have at least one relative from way back who was born in Gloucester County, which is where I grew up.

All of these discoveries were fascinating to me. But then I stumbled across one that really gave me pause… Behold!

You will notice the name Fraser…

I was updating my tree yesterday, when I noticed that my great grandmother’s ancestry connects her to the Fraser family. The Frasers are a prominent Scottish clan. I know this, in part, because a few years ago, Bill and I were on a Hebridean whisky cruise, and there we met a very obnoxious fellow American. Her last name was Fraser. She wore the Fraser tartan at the two gala dinners. When I met this woman, I didn’t know much about my ancestry. I just knew that I liked the Scots. 😉 Anyway, the American Fraser woman on our cruise was very proud of her heritage and never ceased to let us know about it.

A few years later, I started to pay more attention to my husband’s ex wife’s online antics. Over the past year or so, she’s been claiming that she’s related to a certain aristocratic Scottish family. Now, I have no way of knowing if Ex is really related to this family or if this is another one of her fantasies… I do know she was adopted. I don’t know if she’s claiming ties based on her DNA or her adoptive family. But this is what she’s been posting lately…

Hmm…given that, I now have hope that my stories will make it to print. The method you enjoy…works! Please, just keep doing it; you create lives, no small feat! Remember me, though; it would be a delight to collaborate. I’m a Fraser du Lovat, by the way, & that’s fun!!

The above quote comes from a post I wrote May 16, 2022. Ex was trying to engage the actors on Outlander. I don’t watch the show myself. I just know it’s a Scottish historical romance. Ex is so swept up in it that she’s claiming to be related to a well known Highland Scottish clan, Fraser du Lovat, which has origins in Inverness. I don’t know much at all about the Frasers du Lovat, or any other Scottish clan, for that matter. I never claimed to be of particularly noble breeding myself. But, if I’m to believe Ancestry.com, I’ve also got ties to the Fraser clan… although my ancestor is Sir Alexander Fraser, 8th Earl of Philorth, which is a Lowland clan.

Apparently, I have a Fraser as a grandfather on my dad’s side…

I know from cruising on Hebridean Princess, that Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland run right into each other. We visited the Glengoyne Distillery, just north of Glasgow. The guide told us that the distillery is located on the Highland Line. Consequently, Glengoyne’s stills are in the Highlands, while the maturing casks of whisky are across the road in the Lowlands. It’s considered a Highland whisky, even though the Lowlands are literally just yards away.

I wonder if Ex would react like Blanche if she found out that we could be extremely distant relatives… Maybe she might even quit bragging about her Fraser connection.

Again, I don’t know how accurate Ancestry.com’s family tree suggestions are. I also don’t have any reason whatsoever to believe Ex’s own claims about her ancestry. She has a long history of stretching the truth. She also has a very active fantasy life. BUT… I can’t help but be amused that I apparently have ties to the same big Scottish clan that she’s so proud of… which clearly seems to make her feel “special”. She feels so special that she tweets Sam Heughan on Twitter and claims to be descended from the Fraser du Lovat clan. And I… the hated homewrecking whore (which I’m actually REALLY not)… am apparently related to the Frasers of Philorth. 😉

Of course, all of that was very long ago… and I have other family ties that are interesting for other, and frankly better, reasons. I wish I could look at the whole tree at one time. But now it’s gotten very big and unwieldy. My ancestors were very prolific babymakers. It’s a bit mind boggling to realize that when I die, so will my particular branch of the tree. Oh well. It’s probably fitting that my branch got pruned… I also blame that on Ex.

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book reviews, family

Repost: 20 years… or things I have in common with Pat Conroy

This is a repost. I composed this on December 7, 2013, when we lived in Texas. A lot has changed since I wrote this post. My father died in July 2014. My husband now has contact with one of his daughters and they have done a lot of reconciliation. This post was true as of 2013, at least from my perspective. It’s now 2023, so please bear that in mind… I’m just reposting this because it includes a book review. Incidentally, I believe Pat Conroy’s daughter, Susannah, eventually came around, too.

Yesterday, was my husband’s daughter’s 20th birthday.  Surprisingly enough, we didn’t talk about her.  We usually talk about my husband’s kids on significant days like their birthdays or on Christmas.  I don’t know if he thought about her at all, though I did, in a fleeting way.  I have only met her once, but she’s still my husband’s kid and he loves her, despite her painful rejection of his affections. ETA: My husband’s daughter is a totally different person since she got away from her mother.

I don’t like my husband’s kids.  I liked them when I met them and I know they’ve been used as pawns and were lied to.  But that doesn’t change the way they’ve behaved.  I never had enough time to get to know them and understand why they are the way they are.  I’ve only seen the aftermath of their actions, which were devastating and deeply painful to their father and to me, simply because I happen to live with and love their dad.  And so, as curious as I am about them and as sorry as I am that things are the way they are, I don’t want to know them. ETA: I’m glad I know younger daughter better today.

Curiously, as I write this, I am also thinking about Pat Conroy’s latest book, The Death of Santini.  Pat Conroy and I share some common experiences.  We are both children of alcoholic, abusive military officers.  Pat and I were both born and raised in the South.  We have lived and spent time in some of the same places.  We both have Celtic origins.  And like my husband, Pat Conroy has a daughter who doesn’t speak to him. 

Conroy’s daughter, Susannah, is a product of his second marriage.  She was born in Italy, where Conroy and his second wife, Lenore, were living at the time.  If you read Conroy’s novel, Beach Music, you get a sense of her.  It seems to me it was around the time that novel came out that Susannah quit talking to her father.  I’m sure the book and her parents’ divorce had a lot to do with that decision.  As I don’t know what it’s like to live with Pat Conroy, I can’t say whether or not the decision was ultimately justified.  I will say that based on what Conroy writes in The Death of Santini, his second wife had things in common with Bill’s ex wife.

Conroy’s latest book also deals a lot with the divorce and death of his parents.  He adored his mother, though admits that she was a very flawed person.  Conroy’s books always feature a beautiful mother figure who is both vain and ambitious.  He had a complicated love/hate relationship with his fighter pilot father, whom he alternately describes as a heartless tyrant and a comical, larger than life, hero of a man. 

While my own parents aren’t quite as vivid as Conroy’s parents apparently were, I am familiar with the roles.  My dad was an Air Force navigator who had ambitions to be a pilot and once told me that had he done it over, he would have joined the Marines and been a fighter pilot.  My mother is a beautiful, classy woman who always seemed to aspire to better living.  Without benefit of a bachelor’s degree, she ran her own business for about 30 years and played organ for local churches.  They are still married and will celebrate 56 years of marriage three days after Christmas.  Or… maybe my mom will remember it. My dad has pretty severe dementia these days.

Conroy’s book has him sort of reconciling with his parents.  I don’t know if it really happened the way he describes it, though it makes for a hell of a story.  It’s unlikely I will reconcile with my dad because my dad is not in his right mind and lives about 1500 miles away from me.  I mostly get along with my mother, when she’s not in a mood. ETA: My mom is a totally different person since my dad passed.

I have three sisters, too.  They are much older and we’ve never been very close.  I have a cordial relationship with two of my sisters and pretty much avoid talking to the third one.  Like me, Conroy has a sister who is at odds with him.  However, my sister is not quite as brilliant or batshit crazy as Conroy’s apparently is.  Carol Conroy is a poet and, reading her brother’s book, I’m led to believe that she’s brilliant.  I see on Amazon.com that she has one book currently available called The Beauty Wars and on the book’s cover, she’s called Carol “Yonroy”.  I don’t read a lot of poetry, but somehow I don’t doubt that Pat’s sister is talented… though not nearly as famous as he is.  She might deeply resent that. 

On the other hand, Conroy seems to have a mostly convivial relationship with his brothers, two of whom worked at “Bull Street”, which is where the state mental hospital in South Carolina was located. I am familiar with that complex because I, too, worked there when I lived in South Carolina.  It was when worked for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) as a graduate assistant.  I want to say the state mental hospital had been relocated by that time… I think it’s now on Farrow Road.  But the buildings are still there and if you read Conroy’s novels, you will read his references to it.  It’s where they used to send the crazy folks. 

Pat Conroy’s youngest brother, Tom, had schizophrenia and spent a lot of time on “Bull Street”.  He spent a lot of time as a crazy derelict, wandering around Columbia, getting into legal trouble, and eventually taking his own life.  Pat writes about this in his book and it was eerie to read, since his brother killed himself by jumping off the 14th floor of the Cornell Arms apartment building, which is just kitty cornered to the South Carolina Statehouse.  I used to walk and jog around that area a lot and I know just where that building is located.  Tom Conroy died in August 1994, just months after I finished my college degree at Longwood College and only a few years before I would matriculate at the University of South Carolina, where Conroy (after earning a degree at The Citadel) and his siblings also studied. 

In one part of his latest book, he writes about delivering a eulogy for James Dickey on the campus at USC… in the Horseshoe, where he could easily see the building where his brother died.  I spent a lot of time on the Horseshoe, a beautiful, historic, lush part of campus.  And when I was a student at Longwood, I had a couple of professors who earned their doctoral degrees at USC.  One of my professors studied under Dickey and went drinking with him.  

Though I didn’t study English at USC, I often felt a tug toward that department when I would see writers come to speak there.  Pat Conroy spoke at USC in 2000; he was a last minute replacement for the late Kurt Vonnegut, another favorite writer who had to cancel because of a house fire.  I would have gone to hear either of them speak, but I was delighted that Conroy visited… I even flunked a healthcare finance exam so I could attend.  Granted, I probably would have flunked the exam regardless, but Conroy gave me a good reason to quit studying.  In the grand scheme of things, passing the exam ultimately wouldn’t have made a difference in my life.  Technically, I got a D on the exam, but ended up passing the class with a suitable grade.

Anyway… this post has rambled on long enough.  I just wanted to put in words these thoughts, which don’t really belong in a book review, but are still in my head.  I really feel a kinship with Pat Conroy, not just because he’s a southern writer, but because his life has many parallels to mine.  And we both share a love of ribald humor.  If you’re a Conroy fan, I recommend reading his latest non-fiction effort.  In fact, I would say that as much as I like his novels, his non-fiction books are far better in my opinion.  But I guess he had to become famous by fictionalizing his life story in several novels before people would care about the real story.

And below are the comments on the original posts…

AlexisAR

December 10, 2013 at 8:29 AM

I took a class in regional literature last year. The only thing of value I took from it that I didn’t have going into it was exposure to Conroy’s writings. I’m not a southerner but enjoy his works nonetheless. 

Replies

  1. knottyDecember 10, 2013 at 3:16 PM Most of Pat Conroy’s books are basically the same story. But he has such a way with language that his novels can be a joy to read. I didn’t like his last one, South of Broad, so much, but the others are very entertaining. I love his non-fiction books even more, though. He has led a very interesting life. I imagine he’s not too easy to live with, though.

The Author

January 22, 2019 at 4:32 PM

Pat Conroy’s brother didn’t jump from the 14th floor. I lived there at the time and was with a friend on that floor at the time and actually saw him fall past the window. He may have jumped from the 15th floor as he was helping a wheelchair-bound tenant there. But more likely the roof, as it was easily accessible at the time. After the suicide they made it virtually impossible to access the roof.

Replies

  1. knottyJanuary 22, 2019 at 5:02 PM Interesting… and very sad. Thank you for commenting. This post gets a surprising number of hits. Pat obviously meant a lot to many people.

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condescending twatbags, Ex, family, holidays, mental health, narcissists, psychology, social media, Twitter

Christmas should not be a time for a grand performance…

I wrote a “mushy” post yesterday. It was because I realized how much more I enjoy Christmas than I did when I was younger. Watching my husband put a duvet cover on a weighted blanket he bought for me gave me all kinds of warm, fuzzy feelings. I realized that I don’t care about things. I care about the one person who makes me really happy and loves me for who I am. And Christmas is fun and relaxing for us, because we’re compatible and satisfied with each other. It’s a beautiful thing. Last night, Bill read my post and cried.

I’ve written a lot of posts about Christmases past… ones with my family of origin, and one that directly involved Ex, who is the Grand Poobah of Holiday Misery. Last year, I wrote a post about this topic that I absolutely stand by today. The post was titled “I refuse to let anyone mess up my holidays, and it’s a good policy to have.” It was about realizing that we all get a vote. Christmas is for everyone who wants to celebrate it. It should be a time of peace, love, understanding, good will, and enjoying the good things in life. If you’re Christian, it is, above all, about honoring the birth Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of man.

The religious part of the holiday is not what I want to focus on today, although I know it’s important to many people. What I want to focus on is the stress that inevitably comes from all holidays, but especially THIS one. Christmas is, after all, the biggest holiday of the year. But when it comes down to it, it’s also just a day. It shouldn’t be a day for grand performances, and by that, I don’t mean actual performances involving singing or dancing. I mean people who do things to make a judgmental point, being sanctimonious, or trying to be someone they’re not.

This morning, just before breakfast, I read an AITA (am I the asshole) post on God’s page about a woman whose turn it was to host Christmas. She decided that she wanted her dinner to be “dry”– as in, no booze allowed. When I first saw the title of the post, I immediately had some sympathy for her position. It was, after all, her house. If she doesn’t want to serve alcohol in her house, that’s her prerogative. But then I read the actual post. I note that the Redditors labeled her the “asshole”.

Yup. I agree. She is the asshole.

It sounds like the OP unilaterally decided that there shouldn’t be any boozing in her house. It’s her right to decide that, of course, but her attitude toward her husband’s family is not very kind or charitable. She doesn’t make a polite or respectful request, nor does it sound like she told people a long time in advance about her rule. What would have happened if her sister-in-law hadn’t called to ask about what she should bring? It sounds like that was when she mentioned her “no booze” rule, not when she issued the invitations.

I would have more empathy for the OP’s position if she had stated outright that she preferred the dinner to be booze free, rather than allowing the rule to be spread on the family grapevine. And then, she reveals that she thinks people in her husband’s family are “childish” and need to “grow up”. Those are insulting remarks that aren’t very Christmassy at all.

Her sister-in-law decided to host her own Christmas dinner, which she is well within her rights to do. And the family has decided they would prefer that invitation to the OP’s, who refused to budge on her no booze rule, with no hope of compromise. And she assumes they are going to the sister-in-law’s house because they can’t stay sober for one day, not because she was disrespectful to them.

Sister-in-law even invited the OP and her husband to their house, so there wouldn’t be any booze in the OP’s home. But she’s butthurt about it and refusing to go… and she’s “making” her husband stay home and spend Christmas with her. As if she has the right to dictate where another adult spends their time… I wonder how she would like it if her husband told her she “couldn’t go” somewhere she wanted to go. Some people would call that abusive.

What if the OP had compromised and allowed beer and wine below a certain ABV? Maybe she could have allowed wine only during dinner, or operated a “cash bar” set up, with people paying for libations. The money raised could then be donated to an agreed upon charity, or put in a pot for the next family gathering. Or maybe she could have come up with some other compromise that didn’t involve shame and judgment. That might have cut down on the drunkenness and sloppy behavior, while still allowing adults to have some fun. If she really didn’t want any alcohol in her home, she could have stated it kindly and lovingly, instead of with a judgmental and insulting attitude. Even if drinking alcohol to excess is unhealthy and can lead to obnoxious behavior, offering to host a family dinner and self-righteously lecturing people about their habits on a holiday is very poor form. No wonder alternate plans were made.

And then there’s the “grand performance” intended to put someone in a good or miraculous light.

How sweet.

Against my better judgment, I took a look at Ex’s Twitter page last night. She made several posts directed at Oreo, Betty Crocker, Wilton Cakes, and Spangler Candy. She videoed her supposedly severely autistic son, whom she has said is “non-verbal”, and her youngest daughter. They were decorating cookies and making what appears to be a train made with Oreos, frosting, and candies. She’s presenting her son as “miraculous” somehow, as he reads aloud, reminding everyone again that he’s “non-verbal”. And yet, obviously he ISN’T really non-verbal. Non-verbal would mean he can’t or won’t talk. Obviously he does have the power of speech and uses it. She’s mentioned before times when her son was “trained” to say things (that was her word for it). It serves her when he seems worse off than he actually is, as it gets her sympathy. But she’d rather he not be worse off in reality, because that makes life harder for her… or her daughters, who are evidently the ones who look after him most of the time.

I didn’t watch the whole video, because hearing Ex’s voice was too upsetting for Bill. But she also taught her son a song and dance, which he gamely performed on the video. I was torn between feeling good for him that he was trying so hard and having some fun, and feeling disgust for Ex, because it’s obvious she’s hoping to go viral and, perhaps, score some money from big companies. I don’t think her videos will get that kind of traction, but she plainly has high hopes. It seems to me that maybe it would be better to turn off the camera and focus on her time with her family, rather than trying to pitch her son’s handiwork with sweets to corporations.

@BettyCrocker⁩ Autistic children are amazing, beautiful perfectionists!!! How do you like ***** sugar cookies?

@Oreo⁩ a gift for you from ****!!!

I could see making these kinds of posts for friends and family members, but she only tagged big companies, and it was kind of obvious that she hoped they’d think the display was cute and offer her some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal. Once again, it looks like she’s making her offspring perform in the hopes of scoring some “easy” (for her) loot. I can see now why a couple of her kids have moved far away from her. Because I have a feeling that this kind of thing is a regular occurrence, especially at Christmas. There’s an image to project to strangers, but very little love for actual family members. I also never see her posting about her husband, who was so much “better” than Bill.

The funny thing is, I’d bet $100 that Bill had a much nicer holiday than they did… And he also got to share messages with his mom and his daughter yesterday. There were no performances or pretenses. It was just everyone being themselves and genuinely wishing each other well. Nobody got drunk or obnoxious or had a meltdown, either. And… everything I bought for Bill is paid for in full. I don’t know if he can say the same thing, but I do know that he can pay for everything if he needs to. Ex can’t say that. In fact, she was recently lamenting about how she had no money for Christmas… but she had lots of money for sweets, which she is now promoting on Twitter. Go figure.

Anyway… it’s not my business. I need to end this post, too. We have a lunch date. Hopefully, steroid mad Arran will stay out of trouble while we’re out… my first time out in a long while. If he stays out of trouble, maybe that will be our Christmas miracle. 😉

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Ex, family, mental health, narcissists

WordPress suggests… “Talk about your father or a father figure in your life.”

Fair warning, y’all. This post is a downer, and it’s brutally honest. Not everyone will like my candor, but I’m not one for sugarcoating things. I don’t suggest reading this if you’re not in the mood for negativity. The featured photo is of me and my dad in my maternal grandfather’s garden in Buena Vista, Virginia.

Good morning, folks. It looks like our part of Germany is finally emerging from the recent deep freeze. Unfortunately, I have an unpleasant reminder of the super icy conditions we had yesterday. I had gone out to the backyard to clean up any deposits left by Arran and Noyzi, as Bill was trying to chip the ice on his car and the driveway. Thanks to some melting and refreezing of the ice and snow, the road in front of our house was a sheet of ice. And, sure enough, I slipped and fell on my ass. Fortunately, I was wearing my soon to be retired parka, which somewhat cushioned the blow to my left buttcheek. It’s a bit sore this morning, which is too bad, because my right hip has been hurting since last week, when I repeatedly had to get out of bed to take care of Arran in the wee hours of the morning. I think I’ve got some tendonitis in my hip.

Nevertheless, it’s a new day, and we’ve got stuff to do… like cleaning the toilets, washing the sheets, and writing a new blog post. I was having a touch of writer’s block today, mainly because I don’t feel too much like ranting about the news. Lots of people are already doing that, probably better than I ever could. So, I decided to see what WordPress suggested that I write about today. And, as you can see, they picked a doozy of a topic!

I’ve already written a lot about my father in this blog, who passed away during the traumatic summer of 2014. Seriously, that summer sucked so much! Bill retired from the Army on June 30th, and we spent several anxious months wondering what would be happening next. We lived in a rental house near San Antonio, Texas that we didn’t like, which had a lease operated by a property management company that we’d tried very hard to avoid. They took over managing the lease two weeks after we moved in, and I soon found out that they totally lived up to their terrible reviews on Google (although at least we didn’t have to sue them). As the fateful last day approached, we worried about transitioning into the next phase. Meanwhile, my dad, who was 81 years old and suffered from Lewy Body Dementia, suddenly got very sick and landed in the hospital for emergency gallbladder surgery. He recovered from the surgery itself, but was unable to recover from the anesthesia. That surgery turned out to be his exit from a terrible disease that had completely stripped him of his dignity.

I remember getting the messages from my sisters letting me know that our dad was ill. As we rode in the car toward San Antonio to meet one of Bill’s former colleagues, I recall saying to Bill, “Oh shit. This could be the end.” I meant it was likely my dad was about to pass. While I wasn’t that upset about the prospect of losing my father, I did think the timing of it was most unfortunate and inconvenient. However, in retrospect, I realize that it was actually a good thing that he passed when he did, because we ended up moving to Germany less than a month after he died. And that was when we met our psycho former landlady, who proceeded to be extremely annoying and very toxic for the four years we lived in her property. I won’t get into that, though… that’s a topic for another day. 😉

So… about my dad. We had a complicated relationship. As I get to know younger daughter more, I find myself empathizing with her a lot. My dad wasn’t a narcissist, like Ex is. He was, however, a pretty severe alcoholic. He had PTSD brought on by his time in the Air Force and tours in Vietnam. He was abused by his father, and rarely spoke about “Pappy” unless he was drunk. I didn’t know Pappy, because he died when I was two years old. What I do know about him was that he was also an alcoholic, and when he drank, he was very mean and sometimes violent. I heard about some incidents from my uncles that make me wonder if maybe alcohol made my grandfather a different person. My granny told me that Pappy was a really good man and very kind, but when he drank, he became the opposite. Again, my dad didn’t speak of his father very often, but I do remember him telling me one time that his father pulled a gun on him. My dad, at least, never did that. He never owned weapons.

I do have some good memories of my dad. I think he was, at his core, a very good person. He loved music with a passion. He was creative, and had a good sense of fun. He loved a good adrenaline rush, and had a daredevil streak. When he was in his 50s, he learned to hang glide. He loved roller coasters, white water rafting, biking, and jumping off steep cliffs into mountain water holes. He could be caring when he wanted to be. But he and I seemed to have a personality clash from the get go.

Some of my earliest and most vivid memories of my dad involve screaming and tears. I would get into trouble and he would yell at me or deliver a painful spanking. I remember that spankings were his go to punishment, at least when it came to disciplining me. And they usually came without warning, or any cooling off periods. I don’t remember my dad ever talking to me about the things I did wrong. My mom would often side with my dad, although there were a few exceptions. For instance, the time I got paddled in school in front of my entire class of fellow fourth graders, my dad had wanted to deliver another physical punishment. My mom stopped him, and said it was wrong for the teacher to paddle me, especially in front of my peers. But she didn’t go down to the school and raise hell, which is what I would have done if I had been a mom in that situation.

Whenever there were any problems involving me, my dad would often take the opposing side. He almost always blamed me when things went wrong, with a few exceptions. He didn’t protect me– not from the neighborhood pervert, not from bullies at school or church, and not from his own alcoholic rages. In fact, I seemed to be a gigantic pain in his ass. I remember him getting super mad at me for some reason and raging to my mom, “I’m SICK of her!” And another time, he looked at me and snapped, “You are an ARROGANT person.” He would touch my back and say things like, “You have some fat you need to lose.” Or he’d grab my head and comb my hair, none too gently, complaining that it looked bad. He called me names, too. One time, he called me a hog. Another time, he called me retarded. He frequently referred to me as fat, crazy, or unlikely to ever make more than minimum wage. And he would make me do things like give him back massages, which was rather inappropriate. Looking back on it, I think sometimes he came to me for affection, when my mom was freezing him out. Especially when I was a young child. It was never a sexual thing, though. In fact, my dad was very conservative about sex, at least around me.

My dad loved to sing and many people enjoyed his efforts. I was not one of his admirers. When I started singing, too, he would compete with me. When I decided to take voice lessons as a means of easing my depression, he got wind of it and decided to take lessons from the very same teacher. He would deliberately pick fights with me, and disrespect my property. When I was in Armenia, he went through my CD collection, got it all completely mixed up, and lost a few of my favorites. When I confronted him about it, he got all pathetic and shitty. He didn’t respect me. I was just a product of his loins. 😉

Later, when I married Bill, it was clear that he liked Bill more than me. He wanted to see and talk to Bill, but would ignore me or get my name wrong. When Bill was deployed to Iraq, my dad called me– one of the few times he ever did that– and lectured me about being unemployed. He felt I should be working while Bill was gone, even though we would be moving in a matter of months. I told him my employment status was none of his business, which seemed to take him aback.

One time, we did my parents a favor by driving them to my sister’s graduation. It way May 2003, and I was 30 years old. While we were watching the commencement exercises, some woman was sitting near us and had a problem with us talking. The ceremony was in a gymnasium, and there were people screaming, cheering, ringing cowbells, etc. For some reason, the woman said something to my parents, and my dad turned and bellowed at me that I was “disturbing” people. I was absolutely mortified and humiliated; he spoke to me like I was six years old. I got up and stormed out of the gym, so angry that I told Bill I wanted to leave right that moment. It would have meant taking a train home, since we’d driven my parents’ car. Bill was trying to get me to calm down and change my mind. This happened during our “broke” years, and we didn’t have money to spare for train tickets. My mom tried to sweep the incident under the rug. I ended up being passive aggressive, by ordering several cocktails during our celebratory lunch. Oh, it also happened to be Mother’s Day, so when the restaurant gave me a potted impatiens flower, my dad loudly pointed out that I’m not a mother. I was a stepmother, though. At the time, Bill was still able to talk to his kids.

And then there were the times when my dad was violent with me. He hit me in the face more than once, and one time throttled me after I rightfully called him an asshole. The last time he ever physically struck me, I was almost 21 years old. He hit me in the face and bruised my arm. I told him if he ever laid a finger on me again, I would call the police and have him arrested. That, of course, enraged him. But he knew I meant what I said, and the next time the impulse came to strike me, I asked him if he remembered what I’d told him the last time. In spite of his love of libations, he did remember and backed off.

I remember a lot of fights and arguments with my dad. I remember times when I would get so upset that I’d hyperventilate. My mom would hand me a bag and they’d keep fighting with me, criticizing me for everything from my appearance to my laugh, which my dad hated. I remember going to school with swollen eyelids from crying, and sitting out in the cold at the barn where I boarded my horse, because I didn’t want to go home and deal with him after a fight.

I don’t think my sisters had the same experiences with our dad that I had. I do remember there were some pretty epic fights involving the two middle sisters, but when they were growing up, he was often away on military missions. I, on the other hand, came around when he was at the end of his military career. He started his own business when I was eight years old, and ran it out of our house. So he and my mom were always around when I was growing up, and I grew up like an only child. My sisters were significantly older than I was. Consequently, when he died, they were sadder than I was. I’ll be honest… although I am grateful for the good things my dad did for me, and I realize that he’s certainly not the worst parent there ever was, the truth is, he really traumatized me. And when he passed away, it was kind of a relief for me. I’ve also noticed that in the years since my dad’s death, my mom has become a much nicer and happier person.

My dad was a well liked person in our community. He was a well loved member of our family, too. When he died, a lot of people came to pay respects. I sang at his memorial. No one asked me to speak. They wanted me to sing. There was probably a reason for that. A religious song written by someone else would be more appropriate than anything I might say about my dad. On the other hand, it’s kind of funny that I sang at his memorial. I don’t think my dad was proud of my musical gifts. I think he was jealous of them. I don’t remember him telling me that he thought I had any talent for music. Instead, he would usually criticize me, even as he’d ask me to sing duets with him at church.

I grew up wondering if there was something really wrong with me. I had a hard time relating to other people. To this day, I’m pretty weird and people don’t seem to know what to make of me. But as I’ve gotten older, and become part of Bill’s life, I now see that there was a place for me. I do have a purpose. Because maybe my life would have been easier growing up if I had been more of a people pleaser… but being a people pleaser and marrying Bill would have been disastrous. I needed to survive my dad, because learning how to deal with him made me prepared for dealing with Ex. And I think it’s given me a lot of empathy for younger daughter, who is “nicer” and “kinder” than I am, yet still very resilient and emotionally intelligent. She knows her mother is abusive. She has impressive boundaries. But it still really hurts to have to enforce them against a parent. I can relate. I had to do the same thing with my dad. I wasn’t as resourceful as she’s been, though. She’s a very strong person, with a kind, forgiving, heart. I, on the other hand, have a very long memory, and seem to hold onto anger more than she does.

A few years ago, I had a revelation about my dad. I realized that he was very much a product of his upbringing. My Uncle Ed, who passed away earlier this year, was a lot like my dad in so many ways. They even looked alike when they were elderly men. Ed was younger than my dad was, but they both went to the same college– Virginia Military Institute– and they were both Air Force veterans. Like my dad, Ed was an alcoholic. He could be a lot of fun when he wanted to be. There was a really awesome, fun loving, hilarious, adventurous side to him. But he was also racist, and a proponent of MAGA… a total Trump devotee. Ed used to send me political emails, most of which I ignored. One time, I responded negatively to one he sent about how “great” Trump and Pence were. He sent a totally vile drunken screed to me that brought back awful memories of my dad when he was at his very worst. He called me a “liberal nut job” and spewed all kinds of hatred at me. Unable to tolerate that kind of abuse anymore, I told Ed to fuck off, and warned him to leave me alone before I delivered him a verbal ass kicking. Those were the last words I ever said to him before he died. I’m not sorry about it, either. But it was at that point that I realized that my dad and Ed, when they were going off on these abusive tears, they were basically vomiting up things they heard from their own father. I’ll be honest. It makes me glad I don’t have children to pass this baggage to. Because it’s pretty awful.

I’ve always loved my family, but for so many years I had a distorted view of them. I never realized just how fucked up it was, or how it affected me on so many levels. It took getting out of that environment to realize what I couldn’t see when I was growing up. And now, I’d just as soon stay away, which is what makes living in Germany so perfect for us. I don’t miss that traumatic shit at all. So, when younger daughter talks about her mother, and how the prospect of having to talk to Ex gives her nightmares, I completely understand. She just wants to have a healthy, loving, relationship with her family. But doing that is impossible when you have to deal with someone who is incapable of being mentally healthy… and can’t or won’t address their demons, take responsibility for their part in conflicts, and do what they can to be loving to people who are supposed to be their closest allies in life.

Whew… this post turned out to be a lot heavier and longer than I expected it to be.

Anyway… it may not seem like it, but I truly do believe my dad tried his best. I do think he loved me, in spite of the way he behaved sometimes (which wasn’t all the time). He did have a genuinely kind side to him, and he was always there when I was growing up. He was a good provider, and as responsible as he could have been, given his issues with alcohol addiction. I think most of his problems stemmed from being abused by his father, spending time in a war zone, and being addicted to booze. Ex, like my dad, was also abused, but instead of becoming an alcoholic, she became a narcissist and probably a borderline. Dealing with people who are damaged is very difficult. Maybe if I could have stayed a cute little girl, like I am in the featured photo, we wouldn’t have parted company on such sad terms. And again, I do have some good memories of him. But I sure am glad I married someone who only shares the military and the first name “Bill” with my dad (and actually, my dad’s name was Charles… he just went by “Bill” because my Aunt Jeanne started calling him that and it stuck).

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