Thursday, November 22, 2007


It is difficult for other people to understand why I'm not all gung-ho about going home for the holidays. I realize that most people want nothing more than to be with their families during this time of year. However, for me, I'm not feeling the holidays like that. As a matter of fact, I choose not to go home very often because I have so many issues with some of the things going on there. Perhaps most people grew up in with a nice home environment. That is not the context from which I draw my lived experience. Moreover, I believe that it is because most people had a "normal" home life, that they find it hard to understand when someone from a dysfunctional situation chooses to distance themselves from home.

For one, my mother's husband (until I see a blood test I won't call him my f____r), has had both legs amputated and is blind and still calls himself "pastoring" a church. He needs to sit down somewhere. How can someone in his condition effectively lead a flock of parishoners? On top of the health issues, he has so many psychological issues that it is not funny. I dont' have the emotional energy right now to go into detail, but suffice it to say ole dude is crazy. The sad part is that he thinks it's everyone else--a hallmark of people in his mental state.

The reason most people cannot wrap their minds around someone adamantly refusing to be involved in home life is because of what I call "The Script." Society has written a stage play in which our roles are defined, complete with stage directions. According to the script, any dutiful son should be home with family, sitting around the fireplace reminiscing on days gone by. I'd much rather skip meals for three days. (Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to eat.) People who deviate from the script are labeled as social misfits by society. I do not apologize for deviating from the script. If anyone had a home life like I had, and I realize that other people had it so much worse, then they would understand why I choose to exit stage left, rather than move in closer.

I have no desire to have a relationship with that man. He keeps calling me and I keep ignoring his calls. Last night I was duped into answering the phone. I have his number stored as Don't Answer, but for some reason I looked at the digits instead of the words and hit the talk button. As soon as the interrogation began I had regretted not reading, after all, reading is fundamental. The question about why I haven't returned calls came up. So as not to have a heated discussion in front of my company I simply said I'd been busy. Of course, he didn't like that answer and asked me if I was angry with him. That's the understatement of the freakin' decade. I didn't even have language to have that conversation with him so I had to end it so that my attitude wouldn't be bad, since I was on my way out.

When I talk to some of my friends about how I feel they try to tell me how I should feel and what I should do. I am not interested in how you think I should feel or what you think I should do. That's why I rarely discuss it because most people simply cannot wrap their minds around the decisions that I have made with respect to this situation. Their advice always heads toward trying to talk to him and getting over it, etc. I really can't be mad at them because those are the types of answers that should be given to someone based on what is printed in the script. What they don't understand is that the copy of the script that I received was markedly different from the ones that they read. One of my friends claims to "get it" but at the same time always remarks about how she thinks I'm wrong for this and that. That means that you DON'T get it!! What annoys me is that people want me to detail some life-shattering event that caused me to feel such resentment toward him. Since no single event exists (i.e. molestation, abuse, drug use,etc.) that would be considered "bad" enough for me to feel this way, people dismiss how I feel. Again, the script dictates that there had to be some capital offense before you can say that a parent is not worthy of your time, rather than the sum of all the years of your existence, with every passing day spent with a person more miserable that the previous.

When I am done with someone I am done. Come hell or high water. It is over. Finished. (Notice the pattern 5-3-1). The part I hate most is that I have withdrawn from my mother as well. She likes to encourage me to speak to him as well. That type of behavior only makes me reluctant to call her as well. As a matter of fact, it makes me resentful on some level, as she should clearly understand why I feel and behave this way. She's just a Christian though. It doesn't matter what someone has done, she believes in forgiveness. I do too. However, I subscribe to a brand of forgiviness that does not require that I still interact with the offender. I can wash my hands of you and be fine. Truthfully, when he's no longer in the picture I'll make up for this lost time between my mother and I. Given his health, I don't think it should be much longer.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Leave it to Hallmark

A part of my rearing was done in a town that had a population of about 872 called Screven, Georgia. It wasn't until 1989 that the family moved to Savannah, so I spent about six years in Screven. The town recently like in the last five years got an additional stoplight. It already had one stoplight and a caution light. There were railroad tracks that separated the Black side of town from the other side. Needless to say, there was little mixing--as a matter of fact I can only recall seeing white people at school and at the local grocery store. I don't ever remember seeing a single white person in my neighborhood.

Anywho, there was a revered former teacher who had been diagnosed with cancer. At age six I didn't know what cancer was, but I knew it would eventually lead to her death. I never had this woman as a teacher, but when the news about her illness spread through town, and I listened to people recount tales of how she chastised them when they were wrong and how she inspired them to greatness I wished that I had had an opportunity for my life to have been touched by her. Since I fate would not allow her to inspire me, I thought I'd do something to inspire her.

I decided to send her a personalized greeting card. I drew her a nice picture on the front and on the inside scribed the words, "Get well soon slut." I drew another picture on the back of the card and headed down the street to deliver my well wishes. When I reached her house I proudly knocked on the door and gave the card to her son. He was about sixteen or so I guess. He said thank you and glanced at the message on the inside. His countenance fell. I was perplexed, even though I didn't know the word perplexed at the time. He told me he'd make sure everyone saw the card. Of course my intention was that his mother got the card, but in my youthful ignorance I swelled with pride when he said that he'd show it to everyone. I asked him if it was okay for me to get a pear from the tree and he said yes. I scaled the tree and bopped back home.

I can remember using the bathroom and my aunt burst in and said that I was in trouble. I didn't know why, but somehow I figured that it related to that card that I delivered. She said a bunch of stuff that I don't remember or would never repeat and said she'd tell my parents when they got home. I was nonchalant because I didn't know what I had done wrong. All I knew was a lady was sick and I tried to cheer her up by giving her a card. When my parents got home I got yelled at and got my azz tore up! Nobody ever bothered to explain to me that the message in the card was offensive.

The reason I used the word slut is because my sister and aunt were in the next room while I was designing the card and I kept hearing them call this girl named Katrina a slut. They used the word so frequently that I thought it must mean something good. I was able to sound it out and spell it using phonetics. I think my sister and aunt are the ones who should have actually been punished. I was impressionable.

Years later I spoke to my parents about the severe beating that I received as a result of that incident and explained to them one of the numerous parenting mistakes they made. The realism is that it is not effective to punish someone without explaining why they are being punished. When I told them this they said they were disciplining me. I told them that punishment and discipline are not the same thing. Discipline seeks to replace negative behaviors and may involve consequences. Punishment only involves consequences.

In the future I think I'll leave the greeting cards to the professionals.