Sunday, July 17, 2005

Mirror, Mirror...

7/17/05 7:25 pm. I can start to feel my return to the US. There is a lady and a man that I feel personifies my disgust with my old life of which I am still guilty of the things I am about to mention. At first glance there is a man and a woman. He is a bad man, even a criminal. I could feel it as it oozed out of the pores of the innocent-looking whites of his eyes. But I could feel something wrong inside of him. I have the intuition to ask him if he is a criminal and whether he has broken any laws lately. But I know that would not be nice because many people who wear the truth on there skin don’t realize how much the truth about them is broadcasted out to the world.

I know my secrets, but I don't talk about them yet I know it shows on my skin and is felt by others. I am a mean person, behind my sheepish eyes and calm teddy bear-like appearance, I am a rabid dog with fangs and blood and drool dripping from my long red-stained teeth. But the blood that still drips is not my victim's blood; it is my own, left over from the open wounds that still bleed from the fight for my life so many years ago. I am rabid and I am fierce; my white teeth are swollen and my eyes are fixed in a tight stare. I have a growl that could put the fear of G-d into the angriest Doberman.

But in person, I'd never let you see that pain inside of me. I don't even see it most of the time because there are so many layers of manufactured calm which soothes the howling that bellows across the spiritual fabrics spanning across our world. This is all hidden, and I am skilled at masking that pain.

I've also moved past my pain and I have opened up with love which I have given to various people at various points in my life. They have all basked in the glory of my love and have enjoyed how great they must be to have been awarded the prize of my love. They used it, they flaunted it, and when their appetite was satisfied from digesting its familiar taste, they left it on the dusty floor to pursue their next cheap thrill.

The man brought with him a woman; they were sharing their visit to China as a pre-wedding honeymoon. They resolved to make this their romantic getaway one day before they boarded the plane because it was, as he described, "convenient". He had to be in China anyway on "business" (a.k.a. criminal activity). I felt sorry for this obese woman who was obviously staying with this slime of a man because she knew she would never get someone to love her at her obese state. However, it occurred to me after hearing them speak that they are two of a kind. The cheap words they used and the shallow romantic gestures reminded me about the times I would only fit a person into my schedule if I can couple it with some tax deductible business purpose.

I am disgusted by my attempts at past efficiencies. There was a time where I would not agree to visit a friend’s home unless they agreed in advance to allow me a set amount of hours with which I would use their telephone line (and my long distance access number) to prospect for clients and sell products.

While this is a sad part of the person I once was, I often wonder why I am having difficulty attracting good people (namely good shidduchim) and good friends into my life. I also had a difficult time understanding why seemingly good shidduchim have broken it off without explanation. My mom told me that it was a good thing that these past shidduchim have said no to me because I am not a good person. Her opinion of me is that I don't listen, that I am selfish, and that I wouldn't be right for these good girls because I am not a nice person. Yet if that were true, I asked my mom "who would go for a selfish, bad person who cannot listen?"

I am hurting while writing this because I don't believe it is true. However, I have a difficult time wondering whether what she is saying is true.

If what she says is true and I am this terrible person, what am I to do about it except to work on myself? I do carry a lot of pain inside of me, and I often get tired for being responsible for having these complications. After all, regretfully, she is the one who let my father beat me. She is the one who let it all happen. I don't forget the collection of her fingernails on my arm, or how I used to have to lie to my teachers about what happened at home. I used to feel stupid explaining away bruises, cuts, and collections of fingernails and scratches on my arm, my shoulders, and on my back that she used to do to me. My mom used to get angry at me when I would slip and tell people about the mess in the house, or how I had to fend for myself and look around and collect change off of the floor so that I could buy myself dinner or have money for lunch at school.

As if it is a terrible secret that I am given the burden of hiding from the world, she doesn't want me to talk about these things because they were factors which were out of her control because she was "at a bad point in her life."

Truthfully I blame neither my mother, my father, nor myself for what happened because in truth it was a lot of bad things happening at the same time with my mom and dad trying to get in control of their messy lives by making the best decisions they could (albeit harmful and destructive decisions) with the resources and the circumstances they were given.

Bottom line, I was neglected, I was abused, and I did live much of my childhood in fear for my life because I thought almost nightly from the screaming, the hitting, the holes in the walls, and the temper tantrums that my mother would instigate my father into one day killing her; my father would get arrested, and I would be out on my own. People conveniently forget that it was me who called the police on my father when I was thirteen and had him arrested more than once because I thought he was going to kill my mother. People also downplay the fact that I used to sleep with one hand on my knife hidden under my mattress because I spent a large part of my childhood in fear that my father would kill my mother or vice versa. I went to sleep each night with one eye open ready to kill if necessary to protect myself if I were next.

This obviously could explain away (but not excuse) any negative traits I once had and any lingering feelings of anger or hurts that linger beneath the surface of my many tough layers.

Does this mean I am a bad person for the sadness I carry? Does it mean that I can't fix what was neglected or broken? This emptiness that lies inside me needs to be excavated and resolved. I am trying to do good with my life, and the progress I have made since my childhood experiences has been nothing short of miraculous. I have a good relationship with both my mother and with my father, and they have been happily devorced since I was fourteen years old. I am now nearing thirty in just a few years, and I will have supported myself through high school, through college, and through law school with little help from my mother or my father. As you know, since law school started, I've been living with my father using a room in his home as my temporary dwelling place. He gets immense pleasure from it, and aside for the times my skin crawls each morning or evening when he kisses me on my neck to say hello or goodbye, otherwise, we get along. I don't think it is appropriate for my father to be kissing me on the back of my neck, and I've told him that MANY times because I am sensitive there and that is not a place I want to be kissed by a man towards whom I carry anger and hatred from my childhood.

I would stop this anger if I could, but it permeates my existence when I am around my family or in their respective homes. When I am on my own, while it is still there, it is dormant and unfelt by me and those around me.

ON SECOND GLANCE she loves him. He is a man trying to get by to find his way. It is only my eyes and my heart which has criminalized him. In my heart this makes me a bad person. What I see is a reflection of what is inside of me...


Pragmatician said...

This is a tragic and very thoughtfully written post.
I really touched me in a way.
If you can pen this down, it shows you still have a lot of feeling which is indeed miraculous considering what you've been put through.
I can’t imagine how hard it is to write this down, it takes some courage.

Rowan said...

They have all basked in the glory of my love and have enjoyed how great they must be to have been awarded the prize of my love...kinda sounds conceited don't you think?

You are I are like kindred spirits. I too was neglected and beaten. I used to hide from my parents for hours, run away for 12 hour stints by the time I was 6 or 7, and I know ALL about the having to keep secrets or else from everyone, even those that knew me best (or so they thought). I think you are not a bad person, I think, like myself, you are a careful, considering person who is not free to trust anyone until they have proven themself to you. That they are worthy of your affection and care. I'm only speculating of course, but I tend to have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I think the "meanness" is a mechanism for you and your soul to deal with cruelties done to others. This way, if you are mean and unapproachable first, even unconsciously, they can't really hurt you. Of course they can and do, but noticeablely they cannot.

I have been only able to really forgive my parents and move on sadly once they were both dead.

I mean, i am beginning the latter half of my twenties, and still feel sorrow and loss and fear and pain for the child that would hind behind her grandmotoher while her mother beat her begging, Momo (grandma) help me please!?!

Why won't you help me?
Now that I am a mother myself, I understand why she did not. It would have made matters worse in the long run, but from a child's eye view, it still hurts to know those that are supposed to love you most, are your boogeyman. they are the thing that bumps in the night, they are the monster in the closet.

I truly hope you can be at peace with yourself and it brings me anger that your mother would say you aren't worthy of a bride yet. I think you are more than ready, the fact that you are hoping and searching is a great enough indicator that you need meaning and purpose in your life. I do still think you have room to grow, as does everyone, but a woman can bring out the best in you. My husband & children are the ones who saved me. They brought some semblance of sunshine into my life again. I may not be perfect like eveyrone else in the world seems to be (i HATE smug, sublimely happy folk with a perpetual cheshire grin pasted on their clueless face). I do have an affinity for people who made it themselves (I have more respect for you that you paid your own way for school - I just assumed your parents were very rich) in spite of the crazy obstacles. I too still pay for my schooling that finished 5 years ago. no matter, almost done.

As for the kissing your neck thing, I don't know your dad, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone BUT my husband doing that since it is such an erotic spot. Yuck, do you tell your dad you would prefer he didn't?

Seems my comments are more about myself than I meant them to be, sorry. I just hope that you can get some useable information from my experiences and maybe we can all learn from one another.

Barefoot Jewess said...

Dear Frumpter,

I just happened upon your site.

My heart goes out to you. And no, I do not think you are any more or less selfish etc than the average person, and probably more self-aware. Given your mutual history, I would not be listening to your mother regarding your character.

And I find it interesting that rather than pointing out your fine qualities (we all have them) and being supportive , she prefers to tear you down. A loving person does not tear you down.

I can relate to your past. It is clear that you have been traumatised. I'm the child of war survivors- tho not holocaust survivors, they might as well
have been. I've just recently learnt in therapy how I have suffered trauma, partially due to that. What's worse, if one does not face one's history and look one's own story in the face, then it will passed to future generations, unconsciously.

I've had years of therapy off and on, and it's only now that this has come to light and it makes so much sense about my life. It has also left me shocked and appalled about how much I have lived my parents' resultant lack of faith in life my entire life, not a life that belongs to me only. It has given me hope.

Studies of holocaust survivor families shows that children are treated differently than the children of non-war families. It does NOT result in pathology but it does result in very different issues from the usual- and the wounds are so much deeper.

I would suggest you seek counselling, particularly because of your trauma. If you can, find someone familiar with Bowen Family Systems Theory (or just read about it on the net, and about children of holocaust survivors). I've had therapy in several different styles, and this is the first one that finally has brought it all together for me in a holistic manner.

It's a relief. I can stop blaming myself. But more so, what's at stake here is not only you, but your children and children's children, etc. I never had children and I finally understand why I never had the urge and made that decision.

Kol hakavod for having the guts to be honest with yourself. I suspect you are a good and earnest man; it's only that your vision of yourself and life have been distorted or muddied by the terrible traumas you underwent as a sensitive, tender, dependent child.

Kol tuv


PS As for the shidduch thing, read the blogs of so many wonderful people in their 30's who are having difficulty finding a match. This is more prevalent than you imagine. You are not alone!

Zoe Strickman said...

I read each one of your messages, and I wanted to respond with a heartfelt thank you.