Discussion in 'Ages 40+' started by NCBob, May 6, 2014.
Yeah, have a good one!
Thanks, Saville. Had a great time down south, then turned around and flew north to go to a funeral for my uncle. Beautiful ceremony - and a wonderful celebration of his life. He was a music teacher, performer, and writer, and many of his former students sang/performed during the service. His son gave a most moving eulogy, and spoke about his father in an entirely loving way. I know they had issues when he was younger, which made it even more remarkable that he was able stretch beyond the dysfunction and speak from his heart. It reminded me that I would be hard pressed to speak about my father in the same way if I were to speak at his funeral (hasn't happened yet and don't know if I would be asked or if I would want to). As mentioned previously, my dad is a control freak, and still running full tilt (at times) at 92. He had asked me to drive he and my mom to the service (which was slightly short of a miracle), and then proceeded to try and tell me how drive when we approached a "no right turn on red" intersection. I just patted him on the shoulder and said 'thank God I have 50 years of driving experience behind me."
I had good conversations with both of my sisters while I was there, which was great. My mindset was to focus on the good and leave it at that.
After about 30 hours with family, it was time to fly back home, and I was ready. When I got home, I realized that I had quite a few emotions unearthed during my visit; one of which was that I felt broken. Being around my dad and watching him try to control my mom while she was on the phone with my sister (she had just arrived and was trying to get into the retirement community), reminded me of of how much of a negative influence my dad was on our family. Not completely, for sure, and yet still with the destructiveness of a slow moving F5 tornado. I had a moment of clarity of just how fucked up my home was when growing up, and of how incredibly difficult it was on everyone, including myself. I have had to work through some major league shit these past 32 years.
So I just allowed myself to sit in my feelings of brokenness, and after about 24 hours or so, moved to the other side of it. I spent the rest of the week processing feelings about my dad, thought seriously about writing him a letter about what I was thinking, and finally arrived at a place of feeling OK about letting this go. This has been a good choice.
I've had a few excursions on the PMO highway over the past couple of weeks, and while riding high on the wave, have continued to feel exceptionally conflicted in that space. The stuff that I was exposed to at home in my formative years really impacted my core being - and while I have no cognitive memories of what I was exposed to, I sense that I'm still carrying residual emotional fall-out from my Dad's sexual abuse of my older sister. In some ways, my PMO excursions feel therapeutic, and in some ways, they feel like I'm staying stuck. I continue to feel shame-free and guilt-free after the fact of the matter (PMO), and that is a good thing. I do not beat myself up, nor do I get lost in the coulda, woulda, shouldas.
Business is great, and I feel blessed to do exactly what I want to do, and what I love to do. My relationship with my ex and with my daughter continue to remain excellent.
Still, more work to do, and looking forward to getting more of my shit worked out.
Truly a advanced soul. Compassion a wonderful attitude.
Thanks, Bobo - I appreciate that
Although some days, a little more advanced than others, lol
Wow, you processed a lot. It's remarkable how we're all still standing after so much dysfunction. Big kudos to you for all the work you've done on yourself and that you continue to do.
This is just a thought that struck me and, obviously, I could be way off-base. However, if you will excuse my foray into pop-psychology, this is what occurred to me: PMO is abuse. When we engage in watching actors on-screen have sex, while pulling on our pud, we are abusing our dopamine system. We are also saying to ourselves (at least I believe this is true) that we are not worthy of loving human touch. The fact that we don't necessarily feel much shame or guilt is because, on some level, we wish to remain stuck. PMO hides our feelings from us, it makes them inaccessible. When I was PMO'ing I couldn't even feel pride at my children's accomplishments. I was a detached eunuch.
I agree that feeling shame and guilt leads us nowhere and that shoulds and coulds and woulds, likewise, do us no favors. But, doing PMO and feeling fairly OK with it is not a natural state of affairs. Why? Because, in order to be a fully actualized person we must feel. What I'm reading is that you feel sort of numb about the whole thing, which I think is where you've always been. I remember reading in the early pages of your journal the exact same sentiment above. So, here's my pop-psychology observation. Because I think PMO is abuse, and because your dad abused your sister, you are continuing his abuse; except it is now on yourself. In essence, you've become the abuser. What your father did was an act of evil, an act of terror on a vulnerable and defenseless child. What better way to stop the abuse than to inflict harm upon yourself? A child, a brother, would do almost anything to help a sister he loved.
I apologize for getting heavy here. I'm laying down what seemed to strike me in the face. I acknowledge that I'm just a dude who is struggling the same as everyone else here. Anyway, I don't seem to be able to not say the things that go through my brain. I think my motive for writing them down is to be helpful, but perhaps I've way overstepped my bounds.
Hey Saville, I appreciate your thoughts and agree 100 percent with you
No way that you could ever overstep your bounds with me, Saville. If you ever crossed a line, I'd invite you back to the other side, and we'd still be buds
I'm clearly keeping myself stuck through continued PMO - and while I am able to tune into most of my emotions quite easily, I'm also continuing to medicate my emotions and keep myself in that traumatized state I experienced early on in life.
Since all of this began happening at such an early age, being immersed in this toxicity has been my normal from almost day one. Even though it isn't normal, my struggles with letting PMO go are fueled by having been in this toxic "relationship" for most of my life. On some level, I'm scared to death to be without it, as I'm not sure who I would be if this occurred. I also chuckle at that as I write it, because I do know who I would be, and it would simply be the good in me that I'm now aware of - on steroids
The letting go is the hardest part, and I appreciate you keeping me on track, Saville
Yesterday I found myself in a familiar place - wanting to get in my 'Ferrari' and drive headlong into the PMO highway. It was a residual effect from having done so the night before - strong, compelling, and all-encompassing. I had a little conversation with myself, and realized (for the umpteenth time) that my overarching goal for each day is to say no to PMO. And if I'm saying no to PMO, I'm also saying yes to something else. The yes began with saying yes to going outside for a run on a beautiful day. So I went for a run, and as always, my mind opened up and some interesting thoughts and perspectives bubbled up from inside. When I finished my run, I said yes to doing some writing on these thoughts, said yes to doing some laundry, said yes to doing some accounting for my business, said yes to watching the Auburn - VA basketball game, said yes to restringing my guitar, said yes to practicing my guitar, said yes to meeting a friend for dinner, and basically said yes to having a meaningful, enjoyable, and productive day.
So why wouldn't I want to say yes all the time, if saying no to PMO leads to all these yes's???
It's clear that the reason I don't want to say yes all the time is that by saying yes in each and every moment, is that I would open myself up to feeling more uncomfortable feelings, have to be accountable for cleaning up all of the unfinished business in my world, including the remaining financial fallout from the recession, let go of a well-oiled dopamine producing machine, go thru withdrawal, be in an unfamiliar state of mind, have an opportunity to make the most of my potential, and generally, be in a state of mind where I felt really good all the time. Which is insane, if you think about it
Saying no to PMO is simply saying yes to sanity. Simple, obvious, and not always easy.
Here's to saying YES today
Yesterday I was at a dinner and the desserts looked amazing! Everyone was having on and I was sorely tempted. But, then I went through my list of things. The dessert will be gone in 20 seconds (I eat fast) and then what? I don't want to be a fat blob with a double chin anymore. This morning I'm feeling righteous that I didn't succumb to the sugar!
We may be in trouble here---BIG TROUBLE ! Your feeling righteous?
Way to go
What an awesome post!
You must be some righteous dude, Saville
Way to go
Even better if I'm willing to do the yes work
Today has been a been a yes day, despite feeling really crappy because of allergies. Time for sleep
It's been way too long since I've checked in
My mother passed away about 5 weeks ago, and other significant events have been thrown into the mix, which have made for a challenging ride the past 6 weeks.
She had a good, long, and active life, and in the end, a very peaceful passing. Family was important to her, and all of us children and her husband/my dad were there at the end.
Not surprisingly, her passing has triggered all sorts of feelings, which I've been processing - as well as avoiding. As a result, I've had some fast and crazy times on the PMO highway - which have ramped up in intensity since her passing. I have been struggling mightily at times.
A couple of years ago, my mom gave me the book "Sycamore Row" by John Grisham. About 6 months ago, I started reading it. It was somewhat interesting, not compelling. Something inside me kept drawing me to the book, and I went through the motions of reading it, a few pages at a time. Saturday night, I started down the home stretch, with little expectation that it was going to be anything more than an average read, if that.
The ending blew me away, and on a level I never expected. In fact, it triggered deep rooted trauma that I'd been sitting on since I can't remember when. Too complex and detailed to go into right now, but...
The short of it was that my mom was wracked with tremendous guilt, which made any conversation about anything meaningful, depthful, and emotional impossible to do. She was also a very good and loving person, and tremendously thoughtful as well. I'm not sure what she went through growing up in her family as a child, that water was muddy. What is clear is that she married a military man who was verbally and sexually abusive, who used his authority as a way to mask/avoid taking responsibility for really fucking up his entire family. She was not ready, able, or willing to hold him accountable for his actions. If she did, the marriage would have been over.
So she stayed married, and found ways to cope, distract, deflect, and avoid - much of this was by living vicariously through her children. The upside was that we all got a lot of positive attention, and the downside was that she struggled mightily when any of us struggled. And I (as all of us children) have struggled mightily at times through the years.
We had a good relationship - she just could not constructively deal with the tough and uncomfortable emotions that reflect abuse and trauma. We spent more time on the surface side of things - for the most part. Every now and again, she would do something that was exactly what I needed, and at exactly the right time. This is one of those times.
In a wildly synchronistic way, my mom gave me a book that spoke to the one thing that she was not able to do when alive. Accountability. The horrors of what happens without it, and the unexpected ways that accountability creeps out of the woodwork to make things right.
I'm still processing what was triggered and what to do with this information. It is deep rooted and beyond painful. I need to be mindful of not sexualizing it.
To be continued...
Sorry for your loss. My condolences. Take time to process all this. This post shows that you're doing that.
There's definitely more than meets the eye to process here - along with a number of other interesting/challenging events going on in my life. If I stay present, some very good things will happen. The key is in staying present
I noticed I crawled down to the second page of listings - time to get myself back on the first page again. I've been doing a lot of writing, just not on YBOP. I started writing a book about 20 years ago, and have picked up and left off numerous times. About 3 months ago, my brain finally wrapped itself around where I was stuck, so I've been able to write in earnest again. Aiming to finish it in 2 months. Writing it has proved to be a challenging, enlightening, and cathartic process. If I'm to finish my book, leaving PMO behind will be part of the process. I'm in a good place with my choices right now, and committed to moving forward with this. The death of my mother in April has brought with it some important new awareness. Without her friendly presence as a buffer, I recognized just how much I dreaded being around my dad, something that I've always felt and never been able to fully articulate. I'm not sure how much detail I've provided in my journal, and my childhood was really fucked up. Again, my writing and passing of my mom have made this much clearer to me. My dad sexually abused my older sister as I was growing up, and yet details of what happened and accountability for his actions have been slim and none. We did a couple of family therapy sessions in the late 80's, and this served no real useful purpose. When I planned a visit to see my dad this summer, I was blown away by how much I dreaded seeming him. After my visit, I felt compelled to write him a letter, a copy of which follows:
This letter has been a long time coming, and yet it has only been
since the last day or so that I’ve been able to wrap my head around
what I’m feeling and how to articulate it to you. I have no idea as to
whether or not this will make any sense to you, that remains to be
As I was driving over to the lake on Monday, I recognized that I
was dreading coming to visit you. Because I was feeling so
uncomfortable, I thought to myself, how might I feel if I were coming
over to the lake to visit mom? I would have felt much differently. I
would have looked forward to coming to visit her. I would have wanted
to see how she was doing, and would have felt compassion and love for
Instead, I was feeling only dread.
What I have just realized is that I have felt dread my entire
lifetime around you. I have been afraid of you, I have disliked you, I
have felt more awkward around you than any other person I have ever
met in my entire life. Needless to say, I am not happy about this.
When my cousin Dave spoke at Uncle Don’s service a few months
ago, I was deeply touched by his ability to articulate his love, respect,
and reverence for his father.
This got me to thinking. If I were to speak at your memorial
service, I would never be able to do the same for you. I feel sad, angry,
and extremely disappointed about that. If your memorial service were
to be held today, and I were to speak, it would go something like this:
“Thank God my Dad has passed on. He has been the single biggest
obstacle I have ever had to face in my life, and then some. Instead of
being a nurturing, caring, empowering, and loving presence in my life,
my father was more like a forty-five pound weight attached around my
neck, and me being told to swim across the Atlantic while wearing it,
and carry on as if nothing were amiss.
My dad was not a nice person. He was not an open person. He
was not a friendly person. He was a controlling person. He was a critical
person. He was a brooding person. He was an emotionally unavailable
person. He was an abusive person.
And he had no clue as to how much shame, guilt, pain, and
trauma he brought to our family because of his behaviors. When I was
born into my family, my dad was sexually abusing my older sister. I
have no idea how often, or for how long this occurred, simply because
my father never took responsibility for his actions. He simply said he
couldn’t remember what he did. This makes absolutely no sense to me.
I have no idea if I was abused, or if my younger sister was abused.
Again, my father said he couldn’t remember. What I do remember is
that I grew up in a family where I felt a tremendous amount of shame,
which permeated every cell in my body. It was awful. How this shame
came into being was never accounted for, simply because my father
never took ownership of his behaviors. So his children and my mother
were left holding the bag. And the bag was full of shit.
I know somewhere deep inside my dad there is a nice person. I
discovered this in the weirdest way. Years ago, after my dad had
surgery for prostate cancer, I spoke to my dad over the phone. He was
on a morphine drip. And he was as nice and as friendly as could be. I
could not believe it!
And then my dad came down from his morphine induced high.
And that was that.
My dad was clueless as to the extent and the impact of his
controlling and abusive behaviors. As a kid, I watched him continually
berate, criticize, and demean my mom. It could have been at the dinner
table, when we were taking pictures as a family, or in the car. And my
mom just took it in silence.
As an adult, my father’s behaviors around my mom never
changed. When my dad was in his late 70’s and we were all at the lake,
my dad started criticizing my mom for some obscure little thing. I
stepped in and told my dad to back down. He became infuriated and
was ready to bull-rush me. In that moment, my dad was completely
insane. And clueless to being that way.
Several years ago, my dad was experiencing a health emergency,
and I took him to the ER. In observing his mannerisms with me, my
mom, and the nursing staff, I had a moment of clarity: my dad did not
believe that other people could think for themselves.
I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it was for me to grow up
in a home with a father like that. I am much more intelligent than my
dad ever was in so many ways, and yet I had to become stupid in order
to live under his authoritarian umbrella. Trying to gain approval from a
tyrant was simply a waste of my time and my energy. Now I know.
The last time I visited my parents, when my mom was still alive
and lucid, was in April of this past year. Two things happened that were
painful reminders that my dad was still stuck in his old controlling
authoritarian ways. My mom received a call from my older sister who
was outside the building and trying to get in. My dad started barking
orders at my mom and telling her what to say while she was on the
phone. He interrupted her conversation, and clueless to this fact. It was
just business as usual.
The next day I took my dad to a Red Sox game. I wanted to use
Uber because it was a much more convenient way to get my dad to and
from the game, and would save him having to do some walking to and
from the T station. My dad was being ungracious, as was often the case
when I tried to do something nice for him, and resisted my offer and
idea. Eventually he relented. On the way back home, my dad started
giving the Uber driver driving directions as to how to get back to his
place. He could not help himself.
Mind you, the Uber driver is driving other people to other places
for a living, and has a navigation system in his car to help him do this. I
felt so angry and so embarrassed. I had to keep telling my dad to stop,
over and over and over again, before he finally shut his mouth.
My dad was a control freak. I half expect him to appear at this
service and tell me that I’m not saying things in the right way. Or that
the folks carrying his urn are not holding it properly. Or that somehow
or another, the people in the pews are not sitting up with their
shoulders back or their backs straight.
And the good news is, he can no longer do this. It’s now between
him and God, and I trust that they will get this worked out. Just no
longer on my time.
One more thing. I would never wish my dad to be a father to
anyone, simply because of the burden that this would bring to that
person. The flipside is, because I have had the dad I’ve had, I have been
able to swim completely across the Atlantic, even with this forty-five
pound weight wrapped around my neck.
For having done so, I am now a much, much stronger person, and
a much better swimmer. And for that, I am eternally grateful. And now
it’s time for me to remove this weight.
Goodbye, Dad. I love you.”
While I would never say what I’ve just written at your memorial
service, Dad, given the way things are now, I’m not sure if I’d be able to
say much if anything at all. Because if I can’t speak truthfully, I’d be
better off keeping my mouth shut.
I would like that to change, and I need your help. If you’re not
able to step up to the plate, I understand. I’ve been waiting for you to
step up to the plate for 63 years, and it hasn’t happened yet. That
doesn’t mean that the game is over, though. You should understand
this, being a Red Sox fan.
My dad took my letter to heart, I met with him to talk about it a few days later, and we had a good conversation. He seemed committed to rebuild our relationship in his remaining years, and yet hasn't really done much since I met with him. This is consistent with how he has been as a father, so no surprise to me. I feel much better having gotten my thoughts off my chest, however. It took me 63 years to level the playing field, and I feel good about that.
All that being said, my childhood was extremely fucked up, and I'm much more aware of this now. Amazing that I've arrived where I'm at, given the shit I'd been given.
Helps me to be easy on myself, for sure
Separate names with a comma.