"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Patricide

As is typical, the preceding Waiting for the Miracle idea is mostly distilled from my own experiences, so there is one glaring caveat to the subject that I should address.

That sense of waiting is something that had just always been there. I have never had a real point of comparison so my cause may be different from someone else's, yet I know "waiting" isn't rare. I've seen it in several other people: it seems there comes a time, perhaps with the realization that time's no longer our friend, when we begin to see that the miracle just isn't coming and we'd better get off our asses and start looking for answers ourselves.

Reading Bly's Iron John the other night, it occurred to me that this habit stems from being raised without a father. For me, waiting for something became my reflexive second nature way back in disco-era antiquity! I didn't understand until recently, but I waited for an education on life and indoctrination into manhood for years. You know, coming from that silly thing parents do when they're not preoccupied with escaping their own shame and embarrassment: parenting. 

The idea of reparenting ourselves is something an old friend, Brian, mentioned long ago. I've touched on it a time or two, and it's a liberating task to accept: the act of relinquishing the victim title and reclaiming control of life from this point forward. 

I concluded long ago that, despite a historical sense of low self-worth, inadequacy, and rejection, I was truly lucky! Despite that lingering out-dated residue, I wouldn't change my history nor would I switch upbringings with any of my "new" siblings. The painful uncertainty and quietly longing for answers to what were seemingly unanswerable questions that followed me from adolescence thru adulthood has helped nurture a relentless sense of curiosity and a (usually) healthy skepticism/distrust of official narrative.

I only wish that, rather than wallowing in a hoping-for-the-best self-pity, I would have come to this 15-years earlier. I perhaps could have bucked my father's load of transferred shame and embarrassment by placing responsibility for what he is squarely upon HIS shoulders and internalizing the fact that I have nothing to do with his defects and am not required to carry their burden. My father was disconnected and distant before I was born and he clearly, by all accounts, still is. That trait wasn't conceived with me! 


Perhaps these judgments are unfair? Who can tell? I have no way of knowing and after everything that's happened over the last year-and-a-half, I'm defiantly invoking my observationalist right to draw conclusions based on what limited information I have. Spanning two visits, I've spent a total of 3-hours with my father in 40-years. That's resulted in exactly 3-pictures and a slideshow presentation.

In the meantime, I made it clear that I'd like to get to know him better via a letter and email, and even volunteered for unbelievable anxiety by agreeing to go to their family gathering before I had even met anyone in '09. He replied by saying that it would "make people too uncomfortable." Translation: "it would be too uncomfortable for me to acknowledge him in front of the family"; a family that already knew everything.

In return for these efforts I've gotten exactly nothing from him. Not one call, letter, return email. Nothing. In fact, I learned while I was at his place in '09 that, two-years earlier, and two-years AFTER my olive branch letter, he was across the country RVing literally five miles from my house. Sorry, but that's just too fucked up for me. What would you do? I have "done" enough.

Don't let my seeping, habitual, residual anger deceive you: whether my judgments are right or wrong, it was painful to concede that this will be the final story of my relationship with my father.

It's important to know where you come from, and my patriarchal genetic goo is not from the most noble of stock, and keeping the door cracked open is becoming tedious. Irrational, unanswered hope inevitably leads to anger. Whatever anger is left likely stems from extending the benefit of the doubt, exercising empathy, yet being constantly disappointed and unable to reconcile how someone in his situation could be so devoid of a sense of honor and possess such a staggering immunity to shame. Maybe there's more work to do here? Remind me to go into "identity" one of these days! 

There are people who preach that fathers are interchangeable and irrelevant. They're kidding themselves, at least regarding their sons. No, I wouldn't change much in my life, but showing someone how to be a man is still something no mother can do. And, it certainly shouldn't be left to TV and friends.  Cognitive Dissonance 101: reconcile that conflicting thought!

What's funny is how my mother, despite everything screaming to the contrary, holds to her story that he's "a good man" and speculates on what may have "made him that way." On the other hand, she rightfully takes a great deal of satisfaction in hearing me say, "I was lucky" especially considering how difficult things were financially (and otherwise) when I was a kid. 

I suppose that, despite not being raised by him, I have learned a great deal about how to be a father by vowing to be his antithesis and at least refraining from the task until I know I can be.