Scary Ghost Stories

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Holidays are a bit of a mystery to me. I mean, I understand the concept behind holidays and all, but the Happiness that is supposed to go along with holidays? Not so much.

I grew up with a very unhappy father. Emily has never met him, and doesn’t even know his name. She only knows that her “Poppa” is my step father and that my real father was a “bad man, not so nice”. As an adult, I suspect that he is an undiagnosed bi-polar, among many other issues. He was a Marine and an enlisted Vietnam Vet. I have not seen him since I was 14 years old.

Now, believe me. I have had 17 years of therapy. I have held pitty parties for my bizarre childhood and myself. I have been angry. I have moved on.

However, I have to recognize at holiday times that there are forces that move within me. Forces that even 17 years of therapy don’t expunge. Dragging these forces, these undercurrents take a lot of energy, for they do not like to be examined and fight, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

Holiday’s were not happy times in my home. There were copious fights. Christmas trees were thrown down stairs in fits of rage. Christmas trees were hacked up in fits of rage. One Christmas eve, my father ran outside of our house on Base with his shotgun, yelling that if he saw Santa, he would shoot him. I was six. I locked him out of the house and hid under my parent’s bed. My mother unlocked the door and chased him through the house screaming, “She’s little, Donald, don’t hurt her!”. Or the Christmas morning that I took a nap and when I woke, all my gifts were gone. My father stood in the living room and told me that I was bad and that Santa had changed his mind and taken everything back.

It seems to be my instinct at Holiday times to pick fights with people that I love. You see, when you are angry with someone, they can’t disappoint you. Anger makes sure that you don’t have to face what, or why or who. You can just be Angry.

Most of the past seven years, I have worked very hard to make traditions for my daughter. For the most part, I have been successful. Terrance is gentle with me at this time of year and for that, I am supremely grateful.

So, be gentle with yourselves and the people that you love. I think that is one of the best gifts that we can give. Understanding.

* Title Taken from the Song “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. It was always the line that made me think, “What does this have to do with Christmas?”

9 Baleful Regards:

Anonymous said...

I can relate to your relationship with your real father. Mine sounds similar. ACOA, rage issues, emotionally unavailable - made for some really crappy holidays.
We don't really talk now because even though I forgive him for everything he did, it takes too much energy to have him in my life now. Most people have a hard time understanding that.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, that just... sucks. I wish I could say it more eloquently, but that's the best word to represent it. It sounds like you and Terrance and Emily are working hard to make Christmas a pleasant time of year, despite your negative associations.

You are right that this is the time to be gentle with ourselves and others. Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men -- not a bad goal this time of year (or ever.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, Dawn. I haven't seen my wildly anorexic, definitely alcoholic, probably undiagnosed bipolar mother in seven years. You're right, the undercurrent takes a lot of energy to keep under. I always get to about now in the most wonderful time of the year and wonder why I'm so friggin' grouchy. Then I remember, "Oh, that's right, I have an irreparably fractured relationship with the person with whom I should be most close. Ah, ha!"

It's worse for me during the one-two punch of my birthday and mother's day (one week apart), but this time of year doesn't feel so hot either. I'm trying to be up for The Bird's sake, but usually I just want to hide under the covers. It's amazing that you can catch yourself and identify the root of the anger.

If you allow yourself to simmer in it at all this season, just know: You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, I admire you so much for being able to overcome those sorts of memories, to reinvent what Christmas means to you so you can give your daughter something you weren't able to have. I'll take your advice to heart. Thanks for the early present!

Sugarmama said...

That sounds so rough. I think my mother and her 4 siblings had similar problems with their father. Among other stories, she's told me one about Santa brining her younger sister coal in her stocking one year and nothing else. I mean, who really does that to a kid?! The sister later went on to become a heroin addict, have all 3 of her children taken from her care, and die in a hospital at age 40 after a suicide attempt. I'm amazed that my own mother was strong enough to make it through to become a strong, sweet, healthy woman, but she did! And she was a very good mama herself, I might add. Great advice to be gentle with those you love. I completely agree.

Lisa said...

I am so sorry you've gone through that. Glad to hear that you've had some therapy and and you recognize what's happening.

I think when your daughter is an adult she will understand how difficult the holidays are for you and will appreciate all of your energies and efforts to make the holiday fun for her that much more.

halloweenlover said...

Oh Dawn, those are such terrible memories. I'm sorry this time of year is so sad.

I also have a strained relationship with my father for some of the reasons you've mentioned, although he was pretty tame compared to those terrible things.

I think that being gentle with those you love at this time of the year is a wonderful thing. Terrance sounds like he really gets you. I'm glad you two found each other.

Julie Marsh said...

I agree - being gentle and kind is a wonderful way to think of how we should treat others. I'm ashamed to think that I haven't been as gentle and kind lately as I could/should have been, and I've resolved to do better.

I'm so sorry for the terrible times you endured as a child. I wish there was some way to change that, but I suppose the next best thing I can do is to remember to treat my own family with kindness, as yours does for you.

Table4Five said...

I just read this post and I wish I could come to your house and hug you. It upsets me to think of you as a little girl, so scared of your own father.

I'm so glad that you have been able to put aside your bad memories of Christmas to make new traditions with your family. Hope you are doing well this year.

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