Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Withholding Taxes - Part 2

After Dad asked me if he had suffered a heart attack, in that small instant that I had to answer him, I thought about lying. But I knew that some other dumbfuck doctor would come along and tell him so I told him the truth. I’ve often wondered if that’s when he took a turn for the worse. That the fear of a bigger attack had turned him towards the light.

While Dad was in the ICU, my sister and I started bringing a flask of vodka on our visits. Every time there was an update from a nurse or we heard another family break down crying, we reached for the flask. And I did what I always did when something overwhelmed me. I joked around. One day Dad called me over to his bed and motioned for me to bend down close to his face. “The people here like you, they all tell me how you try and make everyone laugh. But you know what? No one likes a smart mouth.”

And there you have it. Knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door and that’s all he had to say to me.

Ever since my friend Clark died and I was not there for him, I am now the person who takes care of my friends and family if they’re in trouble. And no rejecting motherfucker of a father is ever going to take away that part of me.

Your father did the best that he could, you say. No. He didn’t.

I’m so tired of people using that as an excuse to absolve others of their behavior. I know when I’m being an asshole; a three year old knows when they’re being an asshole. Everyone knows. Everyone knows.

Dad's lawyers kept asking us where the will and the trust were and we couldn't find them. I suddenly remembered that years before he had sent me copies in L.A. I had no choice but to leave Dad and my sister and fly home to retrieve the documents. He died while I was gone. I don't think that was an accident.

I wrote a novel about my disastrous sex life and the story of my sudden addiction to alcohol after years of being a social drinker and how I eventually quit, then slipped, used it to get me through a surgery and then quit again. As I wrote it, story after story presented itself to me with the same ending. And I finally made the connection. My Dad had stayed on the East coast and yet followed me everywhere I went. The writing of the book illuminated my darkest truth; every time I had taken a drink it was to mask the pain of being ignored. It was really simple and yet totally complicated. I didn’t have a disease, I didn’t need a meeting, I needed to wake up and start issuing pink slips.

In the last two years I have finally rid my life of anyone that treated me like my father. The list was as long as it was variegated. I had surrounded myself with a cluster of Punishers because I was addicted to being ignored, dismissed and otherwise overlooked. It’s all I knew. And I carried it with me from town to town, state to state, country to country and person to person. It’s really no surprise to me that I became a standup comic. Approbation from an audience became a life’s mission, a subconscious and useless attempt to plug up a hole that could never be filled.

I’m hyper vigilant now with people I meet. In a way I’m lucky because if I’m around them for a while and suddenly I feel like drinking, I know that person is not someone I should keep in my life. In some silent sign language of the heart, they have communicated neglect and disregard to me and I’ve picked up on it. As time goes on, my reaction time gets shorter.

What if they apologized? You ask. Withholders and Punishers are not Apologizers. Because that would make them wrong and the one thing a withholding person can’t do is admit they’re wrong. They get defensive and re-explain what happened, thinking that it’s you that are dense and just don’t ‘get it’. I get that a person who thinks highly of themselves will think highly of others. They will apologize because they would want to be apologized to. But The Punisher has such self-loathing and low self-esteem that he or she projects it onto you. They treat themselves poorly, so they treat you poorly. Yeah, I get it.

I don’t blame any of the people I attracted; I take responsibility for that. I don’t believe in a random Universe, so I believe they all served to show me the way out of the deep hole I was in. The heartache over my breakup with Elvis, the love of my life, was what eventually sent me spiraling downward in alcohol. But ultimately he saved my life since I finally figured out what was wrong. And I will never, ever again have anyone in my life that ignores me. I’m all sold out.

End of chat.

12 comments:

  1. Wow. Suzy, this post (and the last) were amazing. You are one strong woman, and I'm glad to know you.

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  2. I think maybe you should become a shrink because damn, you nailed it. I feel the same way but could never have written it so elequently. Thank you for sharing some of your story with your readers. I know it will hit home with so many people. Oh and read the book Riding With Dead People by Monica Holliday.

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  3. The deepest insights often grow from the greatest pain, don't they?

    You are very right when you say that your father didn't do "the best he could." But you did, and continue to do so.

    Your story is moving and powerful!

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  4. Anonymous12:17 PM

    Awesome.

    --Abeyta

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  5. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Suzy, thanks for such an insightful and honest piece, and for sharing it for the good of peoplekind!! I always laugh when people give you that old "we did the best we could.." Hitler did the best he could too. You have to get a license to drive a car or have a dog, but you can pop out a kid without having a clue.. too bad for us. Hooray for you though.

    Elayne

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  6. You are amazing. You have figured out what many people spend a lifetime trying to, or never even realizing they need to. To be able to rid yourself of toxic people is the best thing you can do for yourself.
    It took me many failed abusive relationships and one failed marriage for me to hit rock bottom before I realized. I know now that when I am around people that are toxic to me I become a toxic person also.
    A beautiful post from a beautiful woman. Thanks.

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  7. Well- this is why I posted below I didn't want this to be my coming out post ;)

    I recently caught myself falling in line with the same type of men as my father- arrogant, a withholder and punisher...and just ended a relationship with the last person of this type ever...i swear- I too am spent.

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  8. surcie7:26 PM

    I read this during YOUR Seinfeld episode--while the commercials were on, of course. (My husband worked on a film with liquor store guy Frank Novak. So there were only a few degrees of separation between us, even before I found your blog!)

    I wanted to stand up and cheer for you, Suzy. It would be so much easier play the role of victim for the rest of your life. You've taken an honest look at your past, and that takes a lot of courage.

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  9. Jess: I'm glad I know you too.

    Stefanie: I owe you a lot and you know it girl.

    Michael: I don't know why life's lessons arrive in such an ugly box but they do.

    Elayne: I've always said that they put adoptive parents thru the ringer and then let the rest of us breed like rabbits. Ridiculous.

    Countrymama: So well said, when we're around toxic people, we become toxic.

    Jane is dating: Hey, you figured it out!! Good luck with the next one.

    Surcie: Talk about multitasking. I didn't even remember Frank Novak's name because I live in Hollywood and it's all about me me me me me.

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  10. I forgot Abeyta! Who is totally unforgettable!

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  11. nicki9:24 AM

    Some people are just shits. They can't help themselves and parenthood doesn't change them. My dad's last words to me were "Fuck you", on an answering machine at work. He wasn't a bad guy, just not a good dad.

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  12. My wife's father was much like yours.
    You could throw in controlling also.
    He was a Marine, who went through some tough things in his life.
    Weird how some of us can absorb the pain of our own lives, and not punish others for it.
    I've spent 35 years trying to help her get over the pain of the way he treated her.
    I don't think it will ever happen.
    I always grieve for those sad adults that never had the chance to just be a child.
    And wish, like me, they could learn to let their inhibitions down, and act childish when they feel like it.
    I’m glad we met in this big thing called the blogosphere.

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