Today is day 23 of the #30daywritingchallenge. The topic is to write about a family member you dislike.
I don’t think any of the authors participating in this felt like this was an okay challenge. It’s very negative compared to the others, and who wants to concentrate on negativity in the morning? We’ve all been dreading it, to an extent. I know it’s taken a third cup of coffee for me to get this far, and that tells me exactly how antsy this assigned topic makes me feel.
Part of being a writer is confronting that which makes us uncomfortable. If we duck and hide from topics, use soft language because we don’t want to anger our demons, eventually our readers are going to figure it out. That’s not good.
Consider the fact that we aren’t the only ones with disappointing family members, or that one drunk uncle who pisses everyone at the dinner table off about politics. Everyone has one, right? The jokes about family members hidden away in attics or basements aren’t always jokes.
So, enough stalling. Let’s do this thang. Throughout this article, I will be using family lore, which may or may not be true.
The man who provided the other 50% of my DNA comes from an interesting family; one not exactly bound together by much of anything. There were the two parents, of course, and four children. Yes, four.
The mother had to go away for a little while. When we were kids it was the insane asylum. Now it’s probably the psych ward. My guess would be postpartum depression, now that I’m older and I know more, but as a kid we just thought insanity ran in the family.
When we were learning about traits in school, I automatically assumed I, or one of my siblings, would pop up with the whole crazy thing. I was closest (wink wink) and a lot of that was self-induced.
Though I’m not using names here, I would like to mention that all four children’s names rhyme. Three boys, one girl, all rhyming names. That’s right up there with using the same first letter, if you ask me. It can be cute but not always.
My father went to a nice, religious family in a town near their hometown. We called them Gramma lady and Uncle dude. So that was weird. “How is your gramma married to your uncle?” We just called them what they suggested they were most comfortable with.
My aunt went to a family located in my town of birth. They were a well known and well respected family. When we were kids, they gave us a puppy they had raised. Katie had been trained to be a seeing eye dog but failed because she had a double row of eyelashes. So she became ours.
25 years later I learn my aunt did not have the easiest of times there. I don’t want to imagine, and I’ve never asked questions. My heart aches for her, however.
I’m not sure where the other boys ended up. Eventually the family got back together, and all was supposedly well.
My mother and father married after high school. Yes, they were high school sweethearts. They had my brother, bought a house, had me, got a boat and stuff. My sister came along a few years later.
My parents always had problems. My mom isn’t straight edge, but she’s close. A lot of that because of my father, I assume.
My father was a partier – alcohol, weed, and cocaine for sure, there may have been other things, but I wouldn’t know. Eventually real life became too much for him and he chose a party lifestyle over straightening up his act and loving three children who thought he was damn near God.
He left when I was 9, my brother 11, and my sister 2. I was awake and heard mom kick him out. It was awful. As an adult I wince whenever I think of it.
There are assholes out there who think my mother is weak, to their own detriment. She is anything but weak.
At first we saw him often. He found an apartment near us and, if it was convenient for him, we could visit whenever we wanted.
That tapered off. Then his mom died. I was in 8th grade. It was so sad! I loved my gramma M so much and she had a heart attack. Everyone thought she would be okay but shortly after that she passed away. My heart was broken.
I imagine my father, with his issues already well established, lost his shit. That’s the only thing I can think that makes this next event make sense.
When I was in 8th grade, one of the well-off snobby girls at my middle school – I lived in a very affluent area without being affluent, it sucked – came up to me at lunch, waving a newspaper article.
“IS THIS YOUR DAD?” at the top of her lungs. Everyone looked over.
It was a damn mug shot. My father had been arrested for breaking into someone’s house with his cocaine dealer to help the dealer pick up money owed. I assume my dad had a debt and this was his way of paying it off.
The guy they went to collect from wasn’t home. But the pregnant wife was. Or came home. That part isn’t totally clear.
They beat her up with a baseball bat.
Yeah, you read that right.
My father received 2 years in prison.
“IS THIS YOUR DAD?”
*shakes head* “Nope, don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Everyone knew I was lying, but whatever. How classless was it to do that to someone? I hated that girl for years. I still kinda do. When I first joined FaceBook and saw her on here, all those feelings of shame came back. And that’s not fair. I shouldn’t feel shame for something someone who disowned me (essentially) did.
And, for me, that was enough. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but goddammit I can now. And not only can I put it into words, but if I chose to, I could obliterate this man. But I don’t know that I actually need or want to.
My mother acknowledged her children have varied interests. I like to shoot guns, and I did as a kid, even if I was weak and a whiner. It was not my father who taught me to shoot a gun.
I like riding ATVs and fishing (and I’m a damn good fisherwoman even if I don’t touch fish), but it wasn’t my father who taught me how to do these things. Because I was a girl, and a girl who read all the time, I was basically ignored.
My little sister was too young to have any bearing on anything. That makes me more mad than anything he did or didn’t do for me. She has absolutely no memories of this man. I’m glad, personally, my memories aren’t the best. Lots of feeling abandoned and like I came in second place to my brother.
My brother, the outdoor loving, football playing man’s man, is exactly the kind of kid my father wanted. And he bailed on him, too. That makes me more mad than anything he did or didn’t do for me.
As a child, I was jealous of my brother’s short term relationship with my father. As an adult, my heart aches for the young boy and girl. We didn’t deserve any of the feelings we had.
All three of us are screwed up. I won’t go into all of the ways, but we are.
I don’t talk much with that side of the family. I think they were embarrassed by how our father treated us and it was easier to look away. My mother’s family stepped way the hell up.
Between my grandparents and my mother’s siblings, we didn’t feel unloved for a single day.
My mother struggled financially. Life was hard. She’s strong and not only did she make it through, she’s thrived. Discovering she could be independent when she was still in her late 20s, early 30s, was a good thing.
She can build, plumb, garden, and cook. She’s a damn superwoman.
My father owes six figures in back child support. Something my mother will never see. The few times we received checks, it was like a celebration was in order. We’d go on shopping excursions for clothes, and late bills would get paid off.
But those checks were sporadic. After a while, mom stopped agreeing to let him out of jail without a check. I can’t believe Family of the Court gave that option to begin with, but whatever.
My mom survived without those checks.
My siblings and I survived without that father.
The last time I saw him in person was 20 years ago, this year. He had the balls to come to my grandfather’s funeral with a new girlfriend, one that was about the same age as his son. So, yeah, that was awesome.
My mom received notice a while ago that my father applied for disability. That wipes out all back child support owed, among other things. In a way, that just figures. That man found a way out of every responsibility he ever had.
I speak with his sister. I haven’t seen my aunt in person in far longer than I’ve seen my father. We chat now, on FaceBook. She has beautiful daughters I’ve seen once in person. It’s all so sad.
One night, not too long ago, I got absolutely hammered at the bar. For some reason, that side of the family was on my mind. I knew my aunt didn’t really talk with any of them, but I was curious so I asked.
She sent me a photo of my father. I think he’s younger in it, than I am now, but it matches exactly what I remember of him. I come across it on my phone here and there. I’ll keep it there until I stop wincing when I see it, then I’ll shove it into the cloud and forget about it for a couple of years.
I’ve got his eyes (blue), skin tone (we don’t get sunburns, or if we do, they disappear quickly), and hair color and style (I’m a brunette where my siblings are blonde, and I have natural wave/curl where they have straight).
I also inherited his high tolerance to downers. Just saying.
I don’t like my father … as a father or as a person. He’s selfish, and troubled, and probably has a mental health illness. He never abused us, but he did ignore us, which is the same thing, I think.
He’s missed out on so much. All three of his children are married, and he didn’t see them, probably doesn’t even know. He has 4 beautiful grandchildren who are all better off for not knowing him.
On my darkest days, I wish for him to live for an excruciatingly long time. I want him to bask in the knowledge that he did no good for this world beyond donating sperm to create three amazing individuals, and even for that he gets no credit.
So, yeah, day 23 of the #30daywritingchallenge is complete. Do I feel better for having written this out? Not especially, but that’s okay.
Normally I’d put a question or something here for the readers, ask y’all to leave something in comments. I won’t this time, but if there’s something or someone you’d like to talk about, I’m all eyes and ears. I’ll approve all comments.