The Death of a Family

It has finally happened. The day has come. A tiny bit of me feels uneasy because I just recently wrote about wondering when this day would occur and now, it has come to pass. Am I clairvoyant? No. But, if I were and could see where all of this was heading years ago don’t you think I would have hit the road sooner?

The man we once called “Dad” is dead. And now, the dilemma over how to react, or not, starts. Do we fake grieve or do we expel a long overdue sigh of relief? Do we cry and if so, how hard and for how long? But, if we do cry is it for the one who has left this earth or is it for what we never got in the first place? It’s impossible to know for sure but the one thing I do know is that I’m not sad he’s gone. I am sad, however, that we never had decent, loving parents. That, I have mourned for the past 30+ years.

There I said it, and while it may sound harsh to those on the outside looking in, the fictionalized version of this long dead family my mother so desperately wanted everyone to believe in never existed. You were duped, or maybe you always knew but just never said anything. Anyway, the instigator of great pain and personal torment is gone. And, here we are, still standing tall despite decades of bluster and boasting from the man who regularly berated, belittled and abused his children and grandchildren. He is gone and I feel no sorrow. How could anyone even ask me to?

The man who used me as a punching bag.

Gone.

The man who enjoyed grabbing a fistful of my hair so he could pull me across the kitchen floor to show me that I put something in the refrigerator WRONG.

Gone.

The man who dutifully went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night in order to cement his superior status as the righteous man.

Gone.

How should we remember him? As the smug, sneering know-it-all with a disturbing sadistic side or, as the dream of a kind and loving father we held in our heads? He wasn’t the latter, not even a little bit. Oh, he tried to be jovial at times but what started out in a joking vein usually disintegrated into a cruel strike to the jugular. When asked to come closer to him the first question that always popped into my suspicious mind was, “Why?” Near or far away, it didn’t matter which, he still had the ability to inflict pain. Even in his frail last few years the ever present shame, guilt and anger that he created in each one of us signaled his legacy was still very much in control.

I stopped talking to both of my parents in 2016, for a variety of valid reasons and, it wasn’t until a year or so later that I knew I made the right decision. At first I wasn’t sure and would go back and forth but became very certain upon learning that this man, this self-proclaimed Christian man, who my mother said so deserved his heavenly reward, was revealed to not only be a child abuser but also a child molester. There would be no turning back and I held firm because for so many years I always “overlooked” their past behavior and tried to live by the let bygones be bygones principle. I now understand that this was exactly what they were hoping for, a “just get over it” proclamation with no recourse for any of their victims and certainly no apology. Again, they controlled the narrative, standing together in twisted unity, and we were just whiny children who deserved everything that happened to us. No love from a mother and certainly no love from a father.

Speaking of mothers, mine obviously took great care in writing my father’s obituary. She was his greatest enabler and protector so it’s no surprise that “liberties” would be taken and the truth would be fabulously stretched. I found exactly what I expected when reading the glowing heavenly recommendation for this deeply damaged and morally bankrupt man. The manner in which he was now being eulogized/fictionalized could lead one to think the Earth’s trees should all bow in sorrow to honor the passing of such a great man! Such a godly man!

Great, he was not. Good at manipulating and posturing? Yes indeed! Sure, he held the various positions listed among the multiple conflated exaggerations but did he excel at any of them? No, he did not. This I know because I was there when he held most of these “prestigious” posts but I must have missed the day he was proclaimed “well liked” and “respected in the community.” Was he really? Be honest now. He can’t hurt us anymore so speak freely! We moved around a lot not because he was in such high demand but because he was either running from one bill or another or, possibly, trying to get out of being held accountable for any number of wrongs he may have committed. Who really knows for sure? The expert “Editor” made sure all tracks were covered well. Bravo mom! Good job.

Now, here is where things start to get a little bizarre, but not totally unexpected. When airing grievances about ones own children and grandchildren it is best to keep track of what lies you told to which people. Did you remember to exhibit just the right amount of confusion and innocent wonder over why some of your children did not rush to your side or “at least call” for heaven’s sake? It might have something to do with you vehemently striking out in absolute defense of an abuser and child molester but, it could also be due to you calling me and other siblings liars and embarrassments while expressing that you now know why certain animals chose to kill their young. Good stuff there mother! Good stuff.

Oh, and the person you lamented to? They knew you were lying. Just thought I should point that out. Use a flow chart dammit! It makes tracking lies so much easier. Gosh! Stop being so lazy with your hate tactics.

So, where were we? Oh, yes, documenting the long, slow, painful death of a family. We were a “family” after all. Born of the same parents, sharing DNA, physical resemblances and all that jazz. We started dying the day each one of us became caught up in whatever torment the two of you drug into your too young, too dumb and highly ill-conceived marriage. Each child was placed on the alter of your respective mental fuck-ups and each one of us was sacrificed as an offering to your egos. We had no say. You brought us here and you both worked together to try and destroy us. When it became evident that this was working too slowly another plan was hatched. Why not get us to feed off of one another? Why not plant the seeds of your own angry dysfunction in each one of us and then poke and prod until the fighting begins? Brilliant plan really. Just so deviously exquisite!

For the past 60 years this game has proven quite successful because, fast forward to today, it’s pretty crystal clear when you tally up the hurtful words, personal slights, abusive behavior and our blatant trampling of the feelings of one another. In that regard, dad has won spectacularly. Few of us talk to one another now and even fewer have anything to do with you, dear old mom. Did you see that coming? Dad really fucked you over with that one! Such precision. So much so that you didn’t even realize that the man you deferred you whole life to would see to it that, in the end, you were left with nothing but crumbs.

Game, set, match…

© 2020 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Chiaroscuro in Us All

There resides within us all an inherent darkness and light. Good and evil, whichever shading you choose to assign each of our halves, waiting to be revealed. The wish to do no harm while destroying everything within reach simultaneously. It truly is quite the dilemma is it not?

With every passing year, every forgone lesson, every opportunity to elevate ourselves to a higher standard of existing we continually turn away from that desired space between dark and light. We attempt to call our inaction Grey, or Gray as some conclude it must be named and state that this moniker explains it all away. No need to step forward, no need to step back, we just stay in the middle and watch the world burn.

Chiaroscuro in art is simply the ability to document on paper, wood or canvas powerful contrasts between the world’s light and dark elements producing a bold creation for all to marvel and proclaim profound and realistic. Artists engage in this technique in order to achieve the visual presence of volume in three-dimensional objects and human representation and similar effects are found in cinematography and photography.

Life imitates art certainly and, it can also be said that art rightfully masquerades as humanity with its sharp edges, dark curves and unforgiving lighting. It illuminates the very soul of everyone within its grasp, sometimes favorably and other times harshly. It is truth just as we are truth standing in the gap between our own dark and light sides. Not one soul is either all good or all bad, they just allow one side of their human equation to win more than the other.

So, what if we choose to wipe away that vague grey void? What if we utilize both sides that make up the whole being? To combine the dark and the light to make one bold statement of who we really are once and for all? Is THAT not truth? Is that not the definition of reality after all?

We are neither good nor bad, we just ARE. The very realization of the fact that we are here without any concrete proof of beginning, despite what those who wish to deny their dark side say should be grounds for celebration! We are and will continue to be so until our light is extinguished into darkness making us once again…equal.

Yet, we fear, we smash down debate, we drown those who refuse to carry the mantle of shame in condemnation and judgment. How does denying the very essence of your humanity make any of us undeniably holy? Is there even such a thing as holy, pious and pure when the actions of those who work so hard to silence others beg to differ? We can’t all be one and not the other, especially when actively working to discredit, demoralize and dismantle the spirits of those who see both sides and embrace the chiaroscuro within. And, in doing so doesn’t this make us dark while, at the same time, pretending to be light? Such a manipulative, convoluted, dishonest quandary!

https://www.calmdownmind.com/dark-nature-and-light-nature-in-humans/

The point of this is not to enflame the religiously indoctrinated, that position is a personal choice just as it is a choice to enact an alternative stance. Art, much like life is a mixture of varying elements used to create a visual representation of feeling and being. We look at the sky and can see different shapes of clouds,the subtle shade gradients throughout our limited line of sight. We believe what we see and assign it a value yet, at the same time are told to also refrain from believing that which is presented to us as fact or science only because the presenter has a differing belief system and not because what they are saying isn’t actually true. How can this be so? Are we also not asked to believe in a higher power we cannot see or hear? If this is true for some then why not imagine for ALL the possibility that WE not HE or SHE are that higher power when we work together in harmony?

If we are asked to believe in ourselves at every turn in life, whether it be in school, at work or in our relationships with one another then why do we suddenly become weak, indecisive and in need of divine guidance whenever life gets hard? Wouldn’t it be lazy to just throw all of our problems onto an unseen caretaker in the sky and expect them to deal with our self-made burdens? Arrogant AND lazy in my estimation but still, it happens daily without regard to presentation.

We are the light and the dark within our own lives. We create our own chaos, our own worries, our own anger and jealousy. No one else does this for us and again, if that is so then shouldn’t we be the ones holding the paintbrush, feverously working to soften the edges of our darkness and highlighting the lightness so others may see the positive artwork we are making for and of ourselves? To recognize the power within is not blasphemy either, it is relief and it is freedom!

With all the words I have consciously streamed above I have no way of knowing for sure if any of it makes sense or if it just enrages those dedicated to being eternally offended. Either is fine. And, so it goes with the way of life; we make our choices, we paint them in either strong dramatic colors or faint wisps of hesitation. Both make a mark and both are okay. The artist has the power to change their creation at any point in time after all.

I simply choose to look at life from all angles rather than just from one side because in doing so I can truthfully wish to protect all while also doing no harm to any. I see your light, I see your dark and both share a place in this world. Recognition mixed with acceptance creates a different color all together and that color isn’t remotely grey.

© 2019 L.A. Askew

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to “In the Land of Reverie” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.