Father, Husband And My Demons Within

For many years I worked very hard in order to get started in life. I worked, I tried to get through college, I changed careers and got a tech certification, I started a family. It was very hard going and even though I was still struggling with the effects of CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), I had managed to get a footing in life and was able to function at a reasonable level.

But then there were more surprises in store and the past 20 years have brought illness, financial ruin and conflict to a level of just plain survival. Even so, we were able to maintain a standard of living which included a place to live and food to eat. This, of course is in contrast to many all over the world who have no home and are not certain where their next meal will come from. I often beratement myself for struggling as I do, when there are so many who have less and must struggle for bare existence more. It’s hard to reconcile and one of the things which angers me the most is that I’m seemingly not able to do more for those others. This is another reason why I’ve become a Quaker. If I’m not able to lead the way and help others, I can join a group and faith which does, contributing as much as I’m able to the larger efforts of the (Philadelphia) Quakers.

Part of this guilt and berate is part of the CPTSD. My parents always humiliate and shamed my siblings and I by pointing out that others have it worse in life. But this was an insult and an actual dismissal of those folks and what they struggle with. The actual reason for my parents telling us this wasn’t to make us aware of others, but to justify the life that they were creating for us: They were justifying the abuse by trying to make it seem more normal, even privileged.

I carry no physical scars, but there are wounds which the eye can’t see.

Perhaps I would never have developed and empathy or appreciation for the life threatening circumstances of others had I not been exposed to my own level of abuse. If this is the case, then I’m glad, to a certain extent, that I had those experiences. I find it unacceptable that anyone should have to be subject to any type of abuse, violence, displacement or starvation. But I may have gotten too much of a dose of it myself. I’ve been ground down over the years, to the point where just trying to do the dishes invokes acute resistance and intense emotional pain. Not being able to function, even for the benefit of myself, helps no one. I need time and space to heal.

I do what I can for those who are within my reach. My son has his own struggles, but he doesn’t struggle with the emotional and psychological deformities I do. His focus and interests are on “personal excellence,” which is the way my wife and I have raised him. His focus and efforts aren’t on comparing himself with others or trying to outdo others in achievements or acquisitions, they’re on achieving the best of what he’s capable of and manifesting his talents and abilities. This, I believe, is why he’s so liked and loved by others. He has no pretense. He’s willing to share of himself even while doing for himself. If I’m unable to presently help other children of the world, I can start by doing right by my own child. For now, that will have to be enough.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been supporting and encouraging my wife to reach out and find strong, talented, independent women to network with and further explore her own interests. When we started, she hated her job and felt trapped and unfulfilled in her life. Yet to do anything outside of what was familiar and comfortable seemed intimidating and impossible. She and I took many walks, for many hours. I encouraged her to talk and explore where she found herself, what was holding her back and how she felt about it all. I did research on women’s groups and women entrepreneurs. I showed her what I had found and gently challenged her and questioned her as my findings became our – and then her – exploration of possibilities. I didn’t push, but nudged her to contact some of these groups and women so that she could join them in meetings and lunches. I chased her out the door when she was trying to make excuses for not going to an event or lunch. I listened to her struggles and excitements. I joined in with her joys as well as her fears and struggles. In being there to help her take some first tentative steps, she became able to take flight and soar with her own determination and passion. This is what partners do for partners. If I’m unable to presently help other women of the world, I can start by doing right by my own wife. For now, that will have to be enough.

Supporting my own wife and son are easy. I have a high level of empathy and compassion. Knowing my own pain and fears, I’m able to help others overcome theirs. No, I don’t know the specifics and details, but fear is fear. Pain is pain. The validity of these things are found within oneself. Sometimes it just helps to have another person listen – to actually hear – and mirror back that which lays within.

While good with others, I still struggle with myself. Though I know I can influence and effect my thoughts and emotions, there are so many deep, festering wounds, that I need time and space to allow them to heal. Trauma can’t be turned off like a switch. It can slowly be dimmed and be metamorphosed into something else, but this takes time and a great deal of constant, determined effort (with the constant spike of pain and terror as part of the process). 20 years ago, those pains and assumptions (of thought) were fading. Things were getting better, to the point where I could function reasonably well. I was quirky and neurotic, but reasonably normalizing and healing. The past 20 years not only ripped open those wounds of the past, but they’ve multiplied and expanded their effects.

This is a path I must journey on my own. This has also been true for my son and wife. I could offer empathy, compassion, love and support, but their achievements are their own. My job as a husband and father is as a glorified cheerleader. I am not responsible for the successes they’ve achieved on their own, but I revel in them from my sideline perch.

At this point in my life, all I want is peace. If I could, I would find an isolated cabin in the Pocono Mountains (Pennsylvania) or the Adirondacks (New York) and spend the rest of my life walking through the woods in silent meditation. I would want to be alone to quiet the noises of the world I now live in and to silence those within my mind and soul. I would prefer this for the reasons Lord Byron wrote about “I love man not less, but nature more.”

I don’t know where my journey will lead or what the end will be. I won’t leave my wife and son because I made a commitment to them and have grown to love and adore the very sight of them.

…but the pain remains and I spend my days fighting off demons which never tire and know the most exacting ways to torment me.

I make my stand each day and do the best of what I can to heal in the best way that I can. But my soul is profoundly maimed and disfigured. Any movement of mind, body or emotion is excruciating. It’s difficult to deny and forgo a way of assumption and living which has been been so thoroughly imprinted upon my very soul. I’m working towards a way of life and living which a part of me is certain doesn’t exist. I’m trying to make my self see different things in those torturous assumed forms which seem so solid and eternal.

If I’m granted the time and space I need, I’m certain I’ll be able to work this all out. I’m not so sure this will be granted. To this point, life has had other plans for me, but I suppose this is the reason for faith. I do, because I believe in something I can’t sense and which there is no supporting evidence for. I soldier on because of my faith that there is more to my life and the larger world, than what I’ve been lead and taught to believe.

Be Well, My Friends,
Theseus

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7 thoughts on “Father, Husband And My Demons Within

  1. I admire your dedication as a father and a husband despite your own suffering.

    My dad left when I was about 6, I still see him on weekends, but he couldn’t cope with my sister’s autism or my mum’s depression but he managed to find some solace in another woman who he has a child with now however while he blamed others for his life he failed to acknowledge his own inner demons which now appear to be sabotaging his relationship with this other woman.

    Your son is blessed to have a father like you 🙂 Best wishes ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • (I wanted to send this to you directly, but I couldn’t find a “contact” link. If you don’t have one, I understand. With blogs, direct contact isn’t always a good thing.)

      I’m at a loss as to what to say, but I’ll try to relay something of worth and meaning.

      Though I don’t want to blindly critisize anyone else, I do know that you deserved better. You deserve to be appreciated and cared for and supported and loved. I don’t need to know anything in order to tell you this. I may not know the specifics of your situation…but I do know that you deserved to be payed attention to and snuggled with and cared for and loved in the way our parents were supposed to, but just may not have been able to. We may understand why we didn’t get what we needed, but that doesn’t make up for the lack of what we deserved.

      People do the best they can, but sometimes the reality of marriage and family is more than they thought it would be. And more than they could handle. I don’t want to say anything bad about your parents, but I do want to say that you deserved to be cared for and payed attention to. All young people do. I deserved more. So did (and do) you.

      If I am a decent father – and I’m likely not as great as I seem – it’s because there were things I wanted from my parents but never got. I use the lack I feel and the knoledge of what I wanted as a guide as to what to give my son and wife. One of my favorite sayings is “I want to do for others, what no one did for me.” If I’m anything like a decent spouse and parent, it’s because I want do give what I didn’t get. Somehow, this feels healing for me.

      To this day, I know I’ll never get the love and acceptance I always craved from my parents. Just thinking about my own need for it makes me uncomfortable and upset. I don’t want to have needed anything from them, but as their child, I did (and do) need and deserve love and safety. YOU DESERVE SUCH THINGS TOO!

      I don’t know if your aware, but I think I’ve written about the fact that my son has autism and it’s been quite a challenge. One thing I’ve seen with other families with disabled children is how increadibly difficult it is for the siblings. I can’t imagine the path you’ve had to travel carrying all of this. Yes, there’s compassion for the ill sibling, but there’s also understandable (and very valid) resentment and anger – often also a sence of loss and abandonment. Unfortunately, I know all too many families where the father has left when things have gotten tough in the family. I have no explaination and I can’t understand it myself. I am so very sorry to read about your situation. Again, you deserved better. I’m not critisizing your parents for anything, but you, for who you are, as you are, deserved attention, love and support…just because your you.

      My wife is a family law attorney here in Pennsylvania. The unfortunate thing is that she see’s situations like yours on a regular basis. There are nights when she comes home when she’s in tears as she comes in the door. She literally choaks with tears as she tries to tell me the things that she’s seen on a given day. She tries to help families and regularly tries to reach out to the children involved, but there’s not a whole lot she can do to help. She offers what she can and speaks from the heart. But as you must know, there isn’t much comfort or wisdom to imbue a 6 year old child when their parents are having such difficulties. I am so profundly sorry you had the experience of such a thing.

      Know this, you have survived! You are a beautiful soul! I’ve read your blog. I don’t know you personally, but I know that you are a beautiful soul and that you deserve to be happy, contented and loved! For myself, I had to look elsewhere other than my family of birth to find the love that I deserved. I didn’t meet my wife until I was 30 and before that time I searched desparately and had my heart broken all over the Philadelphia region. Today, there are things about my wife which drive me nuts! There are many things about her which drive me absolutly crazy…but I know she’s compleatly devoted to me and I don’t know how I was able to get through my own insanity to get her to want to live a life with me. Sometimes we just get plain lucky.

      I don’t know that I’m a good husband or father. I have too much of a screwed up history to be anything grand. I’m a real pain in the ass. I’m often irritable and moody, sullen and silent. I suppose I sound better in writing than I actually live. But I seem to have learned enough and am able to do enough to be of help and support to my own family. I don’t know. We all just do what we can.

      I hope some of this makes sense. I just got your message and had to respond. We may just be “blog-mates,” but I want to offer any help and support I can. You may not realize how much your “likes” and comments have meant to me. Just know that their effect on me is profound. I feel very honored and greatful. If I can offer some semblance of assistance and support, I would be more than happy to.

      Just know that you are worthy! You a beutific expression of life! You deserve happiness and contentment! You…are…and know that that’s quite a lot!

      From the bottom of my heart, I wish you profund happiness and a deep sense of peace my friend,
      Theseus

      (As I was writing, this song came to mind. I remember you said you wanted to “dance”….

      …my dearest friend, I hope you dance…Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmBSGlXqC4Q)

      Liked by 1 person

      • There’s a link to my email address in my about page though I should probably create a contact form. Thank you so much for your mind words that mean a lot to me. The chances of me meeting someone closely related to a person with autism are slim so its quite lonely because none of my friends understand what it’s like so it’s really cool that we’re blog-mates.
        The song is lovely by the way, thank you for linking it to me 🙂 even if you may not be the perfect turban I father just know that you’ve done right by your family for sticking around. Autism is hard to deal with and it breaks up about 80% of marriages so it’s awesome that you’re still a family unit and support your family as best you can while fighting your inner demons. It takes true courage to do that. To look at yourself and your life to try and learn from the bad and do better instead of blaming everyone else shows great maturity.
        My dad does that, blames others for the way his life is even though he could take control and change things any time but chooses not to, I love my parents but would not want to be like either of them when I’m older. I want to be braver, more independent and more emotionally available to my children (if i ever have any) than they were. Like you i want to learn from what my parents did wrong with me and use that to become better in myself. You can’t choose how you were raised but you can choose who you become from that upbringing. Thanks again 🙂 ❤

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    • No worries! I make lot’s of typo’s while I’m writing. I’m not good about going back and really reviewing what I’ve written.

      I haven’t been able to read your response yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m helping my son study for his trimester exams and I want to give your entry my full attention.

      Thanks so much for responding!

      Thinking of you. Be well, my friend
      Theseus

      Liked by 1 person

  2. normalistoomainstream,

    Yes, it can be a challenge. My son has really responded to therapy and doesn’t struggle with socially awkward issues as much as he used to. It’s hard. Often people will either laugh and mock or become angry an annoyed. Some (many?) seem to think that acting more normal is just a matter of will power or that my wife and I, as parents, have been lax and a failure.

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen how many marriages break up over illness and autism. I’ve taken my son to endless paces for endless types of therapy. I agree, 80% or more of the families I met were single moms trying to help their autistic child – usually trying to raise others as well. I don’t know why so many men check out. As a man, and a father, I’m so sorry to hear. It sounds like your mom really needed support and love. You did and do too! I don’t know the specifics, but I’m sorry to hear of it. Best I can do is be here for you myself.

    To be honest, I think the reason why I’m so fanatical about being a father and husband is because of what I went through when I was younger. Some people have this experience and raise their own families the same way because they say “that’s the way I was raised.” I don’t understand that. I specifically do things different BECAUSE “that’s the way I was raised.” I didn’t like being treated the way I was or what I saw happen to my parents and siblings. I know how I felt about it and how it effected me. Why would I want to inflict that on anyone else? Especially my own spouse and child?!

    I love what you say at the end: “You can’t choose how you were raised but you can choose who you become from that upbringing.”

    My parents and their families are similar. At this point, I don’t have any contact with them because keeping in contact is one of the reasons it’s taking me so long to change and heal. One of the things my family always seems to say is “I have reasons (for doing what I do), you only have excuses.”

    With respect to myself and my parents, I’ve come to understand that there comes a time when your not a child anymore and you need to face and address all the troubles, problems and difficulties.

    My father never changed. In the end, he had hurt and antagonized so many people, so badly, that everyone cut off contact. In the end, he died in a big house, surrounded by all the expensive crap he bought…but when he collapsed on the floor, no one was there to help him. He wasn’t found for days after he had died. It’s sad, but he created that end for himself. He didn’t want to change. He didn’t want to look within. All of his life, he was really just a selfish child with a temper. He wasn’t a bad person at his core. But he couldn’t free himself, from himself.

    Hang in there normalistoomainstream! Do what you can and know I’m here. I’m not always able to get back to “likes” and comments because of my symptoms and family obligations. But I’ll do the best that I can.

    Just know, I light up when I see a new entry of yours and you, as one of my blogmates, are often in my thoughts.

    Be Well, My Friend
    Theseus

    Like

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