Friday, January 25, 2008

Family History, Part I

I put my sadness and confusion out there in the open for all to see, cringing a bit, hoping that it's going to be well-received. The support and wise words that have poured in, in immediate response, have amazed me and buoyed me up.

The online relationships that I've developed in the past few months have had a big impact on my life. People are so generous and understanding. No matter how long I write online, I will never take these responses for granted. I'm very grateful to all of you. (Lurkers are included - stats tell the story of quiet folks who keep coming back to visit, and I'm glad you do.)

It's time for me to share some more of the story of my mom and step-dad's history, so that you can understand better what their separation means to me.

My mom and step-dad got married in 1980, when I was 8 years old. I remember after the ceremony I addressed him as "Dad" for the first time. He was very pleased and scooped me up into his arms. Everyone who overheard me cheered and made a big fuss. I immediately felt that I'd gotten in over my head. I was just experimenting to see what it sounded like, but then it was too late to go back.

My folks had been dating for 5 years before they tied the knot, and during that time I had grown to like my step-dad. However, once he moved into my mom's house with us, things took a sudden and definite turn for the worse. I was jealous and territorial. He was equally so. And my mom was stuck in the middle of a conflict that would not end until I moved out at the age of 23.

My step-dad was, and still can be, an aggressive man. I hated to go out to restaurants with my parents because he would always raise his voice, bullying the wait staff, trying to get faster service or a better table. He's been known to drive through the automatic barriers that block the entrances and exits of parking lots, breaking the wooden arms right off, from sheer impatience.

When I was still in grade school, he would pick fights with me just for the hell of it, because he was feeling bored. One time we even had a discussion about it. He was perfectly aware of what he was doing. It was how he amused himself.

Home was not a pleasant place to be. Two out of the three of us were always fighting. When he fought with my mom, I tried to mediate, and she tried to mediate for me, but it only complicated things. We went round and round in cycles of fury and misery.

To Be Continued...

15 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

I'm sorry you had to endure that sort of situation. I don't understand people that enjoy fighting, especially with a child. If you ever delve into the deep thoughts category on my blog you will see I understand what an abusive parent is like. The good news is it seems like you turned out to be a pretty good person :)

Solomon Broad said...

Yikes. Sounds like you're better off now you don't live there.

Maxie said...

This may sound silly, but I've always said that they way a person treats a waitress or waiter at a restaurant says A LOT about them.

jameil1922 said...

what a headache!! my father likes to pick fights with people, too and also knows he does it. sometimes i ignore him, sometimes i fight back.

like maxie i'm big on how people treat waitstaff. i don't want people spitting in my food.

honestyrain said...

this kind of thing troubles me. it makes me sad that you had to go thru it and it makes me even more committed to making my marriage last. i don't ever want to put my kids through having to put up with some fool either i or dan ends up with.

Tink said...

I'm looking forward to the next installment!

My Step-Dad and I don't always get along either. He's very aggressive and immature, which is funny since he's a retired Navy Seal. You would think he'd be the ICON for self restraint! One time he was bullying my little brother in front of a hotel. He and I actually got into it physically. They kicked us out! How white trash. I still can't believe that it happened.

The Ex said...

Wow, he really broke off the barriers? Jeessuss. I can't wait for the next part!

Kell said...

Well no wonder this divorce is so hard. It's got to be hard to know how you feel. Glad because your mom won't be with him since he made your homelife unpleasant, sorry that your mom will not be with him since that's all she's known for so long.

Waiting for the next installment . . .

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: Thanks. There are so many of us out there. Happy childhoods seem to be the exception, rather than the rule. It's amazing how we manage to survive.

Solomon Broad: Yup, moving out did wonders for my relationship with my folks. ;-)

Maxie: I totally agree. Respect is a two-way street. Some people just don't understand that.

Jameil: It's weird when parents misbehave. What can you do, really, especially when you're still living with them and fully in the "child" role, in their mind.

Honestyrain: Your kids are lucky. I hope that your family stays safe, close, and loving. :-)

Tink: Wow, you're a toughie! Good for you for standing up for your brother. What is it with step-dads, anyway?

The Ex: Yup, he sure did. I wasn't in the car at the time, thank god. I laugh, now, picturing it, but it wouldn't have been funny at the time.

Aurora said...

What a bully. Doesn't anyone ever tell him off? I wonder what his own childhood was like.

Karen said...

Hmmmm....not the greatest situation. I am looking forward to the next part. I think I need to read more before I pass judgment.

Nicole said...

Awwww, humans can be so complicated.
He must be an unhappy man at most times of his Life.
Making Life miserable for other people as a sport.....nice....not....

I can relate to this story. Not that my Moms partner is a Bully, at least not no more, but it never was easy.
I was thinking of writing that story down (at least as much as I remember, pushing things out of my memories is a thing that worked well, too well, for years), when I do, you will know what I mean.

I guess your Mom might be better off without him after all....

Jenski said...

How did the front of his car look? Sounds like a tough situation, but I also get the impression there was an attachment as well. I'm glad you were old enough not to follow those examples he set!

Sparkling Red said...

Kell: That sums it up very well. Part II will give you a better idea of why my mom stuck by him.

Aurora: Sure, people tried to tell him off, but in the past he never listened. He could always out-yell them or fight them.

Karen: You're right - I couldn't fit the whole story into one post. Part II puts it in a new perspective.

Nicole: I'd be very interested to read about your experiences. It's helping me to write it out because that forces me to be clear about what I feel and believe. Or if not 100% clear, at least less confused.

Jenski: I swore I'd never be like him.
I don't remember any scars on his car, but I do remember the car. He drove a banana yellow sedan with a dark brown, fake leather roof. It always smelled like chlorine (from his wet swim trunks on the back seat) and cigar smoke. Charming!

R.E.H. said...

Sorry to hear about your situation growing up. As you know, I've been through much of the same - so I can understand the hurt and the sadness.

I'll be looking forward to reading more (been strapped for time for a couple of days, so I see Part 2 is already up).