Monday, October 14, 2013

Skeletons in the closet......

   Oh, we all have at least one skeleton in the closet.  That one thing that we feel NO ONE should know, for it would destroy people and what they think of us, or just flat out destroy them mentally or psychologically.

   And it's about time I came clean with the skeletons in my closet.  I've been holding it in for a while now, and when ya'll read it, some of you may actually think, "Well, that's not huge."  But it is to me.  In many ways, in fact.  Some of my more immediate, important family & friends know my secret, but not everyone.  And it's something that's sort of shaped who I've become in the last 2 years.

  It was the morning of December 15th, 2011, the day after my 37th birthday.  I was sitting at the kitchen table at my mom & dad's house eating breakfast cereal when my mom came in and asked me if I had a minute to talk to her.

   With a mouthful of food, I motioned to her to sit next to me, and she then proceeded to tell me a story straight out of a fucking daytime soap opera.  The man I knew as my father, in fact, wasn't.  He assumed the role of my father after my mother had been raped, beaten and threatened with her life if she didn't terminate her pregnancy.  My "sperm donor " was a drunk, and his family proceeded to extend his threat if she didn't "take care of it."  After cleaning up the miniature mess I made from dropping my spoon back into the bowl and my mouth dropping open, I, of course, began to ask questions in rapid fire succession.

   My mother, to this day, refuses to tell me his name.  But she did go on to say that the man is now dead, the victim of his own drunken driving mistake, but not before he took others with him.  The whole kicker of the story is that he died in Colorado in 2009.  I was living in Colorado, in the Denver area from 1998 until 2007.  And I was living in Nebraska from mid-July 2007 to February 2011.  Denver was only a four hour drive from where I was at the time of his death.

   Naturally devastated, I begged my mother to say this was all untrue, that it was a joke, and that this couldn't be happening.  The look on her face told me that sadly, it was true.

   I didn't want to believe her.  I mean she's told me stories before, but this one, obviously took the cake.  This was just another bullshit tale in order to "keep me in line."  Unfortunately, the look in her eyes, and the way she was conducting herself told me that not only was this sordid tale true, but it had a purpose.

   "I just couldn't live another holiday without you knowing the truth," she said to me, as she closed the distance between us to give me a hug.  I was too numb to remember whether or not I returned her embrace, but I do remember telling her that the man that sleeps down the hall, as far as I was concerned, was my real dad.

   Hell, they even lied at the hospital so that his name is listed on my birth certificate.  So as far as the rest of the family knows, I'm my dad's daughter.  Everyone except, my "brother."  I use quotation marks because at this point, I consider him to be my half-brother, since we both have different fathers.  Apparently, many moons ago, my mother and the Monster half-brother, had a huge argument in which he called our mother a "fucking whore."  She then told him MY dirty little secret.

   To say that I was pissed beyond belief is a minor understatement.  We never really had the best of relationships growing up as kids, even less so after he sexually assaulted me when we were teens.  So this information just made it all the more surreal.  It was another piece of vital information that mattered to me that he knew well before I did.  The first one was when Mom & Dad put our German Shepherd, Susie, down after 14 years.  Mom told the Monster, and he helped her take the dog to the vet that day, and no one bothered to tell me until after the deed was done.  Oh, I was crushed.  It felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.

   And it was the same feeling 20 years later, when Mom told me that I wasn't really related to the man I identified as my dad.

   Now, I told you all of that, to set the stage for what follows.

   I've been trying since then, to figure out who the hell my sperm donor is.  With the help of modern science, DNA records should be able to prove who the beast was that raped, beat and threatened the one person I thought was in my corner my entire life.

   And I phrase it that way for a reason.  SHE is one of the biggest naysayers in my life right now that says mental illness is something that doctors and insurance companies have made up in order to get more money.  My dad is the other.

   I can't remember if it was last week or the week before, but mom and I had a chat while she was driving home from her weekly "fun activity" with my dad.  (She was using the car's hands-free bluetooth option, so it was safe.)  But during our conversation, I mentioned to her everything I know about mental illness, which is a considerable amount given the fact that I have a mental illness, and I have OCD to boot, so I tend to research the fuck out of everything I can.

   I spewed and spewed on and on about the statistics, about how I'm scared for my daughter since this shit has been proven to be genetic.  Ironically, she started the conversation with how my doctor's appointment went and with which doctor did I see.  After telling her how things went, because for some stupid-assed reason, I can't bring myself to close her off of that part of my life, and she had the gall to ask me with an air of indignation, "Which medications are you on now?" 

   I told her.  And then I told her that my doctors are actually listening to me, and that we are working hard to get a handle on things, because no one ever really has control over anything.  It wasn't the first time I'd had this conversation with her.  And I know for the life of me, it isn't going to be my last.  But we continued on, and I told her that my mental illness isn't something that's just going to "go away."  And anyone who thought that was more misinformed than anyone on the planet.

   I also told her that I INHERITED this shit from one of my parents.  She said, "So you're saying you got this either from me or your dad."  I said, "No, mommy.  Not from you, and not from dad.  Quite possibly, from the sperm donor.  Now you see why I've been bugging you to get his name?"

   She said she'd figured as much, and artfully steered the conversation in a different direction.  She's good at that, avoidance.  If you avoid the subject, it doesn't exist or matter.  Calling her on her tactic, I told her I was thinking about getting a DNA test done, and she asked me where I'd get the money.  I have more pressing things to take care of right now (and of course, there's a fucking BOATLOAD of shit going on right now, but it would really stray off topic), rather than find out the asshole who sired me was in fact, an asshole.  And a dead one at that.  What good would DNA do me if he was dead?

   I told her that it would prove quite a few things.  One, that I'm not making this shit up; two, I would know more about whether or not this is genetic; three, if my sperm donor may have suffered from mental illness too, driving him to drink.

   She had nothing to say.  I begged her, whether or not she believed it, to do some research of her own.  I told what I was diagnosed with (Bi-polar I disorder, rapid cycling with OCD, PTSD, and military sexual trauma), and I implored her to look it up on the internet, to do the research for herself.  I mentioned that maybe she'd see that, after all these years, there really IS something wrong with me, that I'm not being overly dramatic as she constantly accuses me of being.  This time, she changed the subject entirely.  And it was then that I knew she would never, ever honor my request.  Not for his name nor to look up the information.  Because to her, if you don't think about it, if you don't live with it, it doesn't exist and/or it doesn't matter.

   Which makes me feel like I don't matter to her.  Oh she'll argue with me that I do, that she's never shown me a time when I haven't mattered to her.....but then, I bring up my sperm donor, and the skeleton that she transferred from her own closet to mine.  I bring up the shame, guilt and horror of knowing my dirty little secret, and knowing that my dad knows, but that he has no idea that I've been brought in on the family lie.  According to her, my dad doesn't think I can handle it.

   I'm still here, so I guess that means I'm still handling it pretty well.  She's still here, so I guess that means she feels better.  The only player in this whole mess that isn't around, is the key player, the one who did the deed, who started this whole sordid bullshit in the first place.

   Were he still around, I wouldn't want to get to know him.  I wouldn't want to have any kind of contact with him.  I'd just want to use him for science experiments, and throw HIS skeleton in a closet.

The bottom line: If you want a happier family, bring those skeletons out of the closet.
Bruce Feiler

1 comment:

  1. That's a lot of skeletons... and I am glad you shared. These are not skeletons of your making, and there is no shame in acknowledging them. I wish there were ways to advise, help, mitigate, but there really aren't. Except to tell you that "nonpaternity events" are common in human experience, that people have been lying about the circumstances of their births, their ancestries and their situations in life for as long as there have been people. The skeletons in my family's closet are the primary reason that I refuse to acknowledge "race" for example. I won't lie (but I won't say, either). ;-)