Soulful Saturday: Daddy Dearest

Hey guys. Welcome to another Soulful Saturday! Today, I thought it’d be really good to talk about my relationship with my father in a bit more detail.

Most people know me as being very close with my dad- we tell each other everything, and we get told we’re a lot like a sitcom family by people that meet us and see us together. We make fun of each other a lot, but it’s all in good fun. In fact, my dad encourages it. But, before I talk about how close we are, I feel I should talk about a time where we weren’t so close… Which would be the time when I was a small child.

See, my dad used to yell a lot, especially at my mom. With my hyper acuity syndrome (that makes me hear up to ten times louder than normal), I could hear it through the walls and make out words being said. I didn’t understand many of them, mind you, but… It wasn’t just yelling I heard. I heard thuds like someone falling.

I know it’s sexist to assume the man is beating the woman, but that’s all I saw in the media at the time, so that’s what I wondered. It made me fear him, both from how my head and ears hurt from overhearing things to fearing the thuds were my mom being harmed. I also had androphobia after around the age of 6 caused by nightmares I had- all of which were about being assaulted by men sexually. I’d never had it happen to me, but somehow I saw it clearly when I was in my sleep… And it terrified me. So yeah, I had a lot of things on my plate that made my dad seem like a monster to me.

I forget when I found out, but dad finally told me that, while the thud was my mother, he was just trying to push her away from him because she was hitting him! She attacked dad verbally and physically, even if she was fairly weak. My mom wasn’t in perfect health by any means, and she also was very inactive. She constantly used her medicine as a drug rather than what it was intended for, lied about quitting smoking constantly, and just generally wasn’t a great role model. She was my main role model at the time though- dad worked insanely long hours on and off based on the job he was consulting with, and there were times I didn’t see him at all because he’d go to work before I woke up and come home after I was already asleep. So, my neglectful mother was what I knew best. And sometimes, in some ways, I’m a lot like her. Just saying that makes me detest myself, but let’s get back to dad.

While we weren’t super close, we did grow closer after my mom left. Dad was my rock, always taking care of me during my crying fits, and reminding me my mom, who had supposedly just left to go to rehab in Florida, was doing a good thing by going there.

Then, 9/11 happened. I was in… third or fourth grade at the time. Dad saw it on the news and immediately took me out of school just before the school went into lockdown mode. I was really confused at the time, because dad just took me home out of nowhere. Then, he sat with me to watch the news of what happened. He wanted to be there for me when I learned about it- so, he took me home to see it in a safe environment where he could relax me more easily.

I cried a lot that day. I didn’t know anyone personally that was there, but something about it just terrified me to the core, likely the visuals of explosions, which with my hearing and pyrophobia scared me shitless. Hell, they still scare me shitless half the time. Watching Mythbusters, I always had to alter the volume or cover my ears to handle them remotely. I digress again though. Let me return to the story at hand.

My dad became disabled when I was in 4th grade. We were in a number of car accidents when I was a kid, and the lingering spinal/nerve damage he had from a previous accident was emphasized by the most recent one at the time, and he had to get surgery to use things together. Dad couldn’t work for a while because of it, and with his pending divorce, he wasn’t going to be able to keep our condo or car. He also wasn’t allowed to drive since he had to wear a neck brace, so we moved in with his parents for me to go to middle school in a stable environment. Not that it was stable at all.

The house was chaos. There was constant arguing and shouting. Then, dad got sick. He just started having trouble staying awake, and slowly but surely, he started going in and out of comatose states. I was scared he was going to die, honestly. By then, my fear of him had dwindled down, so I spent a lot of time in his room at the back of my grandma’s house, wanting to be with my father. But slowly, as his health deteriorated and he was constantly bedridden, I found it too hard to watch. So, when my aunt offered to take me in to live in California for a while, I agreed.

The transition wasn’t smooth and my time with my aunt was a mixed blessing that I won’t get into today. Point blank, after my last year of middle school ended there, I was sent home to my grandparents house. My dad’s health had turned around after he got a special blood test: it turned out his blood ammonia was the highest ever seen in our county hospital! They called him saying he had to be in a coma while he happened to be awake. It was insane! This happened while I wasn’t around, of course- but when I got home, my dad being better than he was was a godsend.

We moved out of my grandparents house since dad was doing better and my grandmother didn’t want to have to take care of us anymore (I’m just assuming that’s why she demanded we move). We had to stay in town due to custody issues, but we had our own apartment and it was just the two of us again, meaning less yelling by a longshot. I had a rough time throughout high school and even now am still struggling as an adult… But my dad has always been and always will be by my side, cheering me on, giving me advice when I need it, and just generally be there for me.

With all that’s happened in our lives, I still worry dad will get seriously ill again. He’s had MRSA twice now, has psoriatic arthritis, and a laundry list of other issues and conditions. He takes more medications in a day than I take in half a week most likely. However, while he has his off days, he does his best on the days he’s well to be with me and work through things together. He may be disabled, but he doesn’t define himself that way… And I’m grateful to be able to have him by my side.

To me, he’s everything: my father, my mother, a good friend… Everything.

How do you guys get along with your parents? I’d love to hear how different people have different relationships with their fathers and mothers. What have you guys been through together with them? Leave me a comment so we can learn from each other!

Throwback Thursday: My Big Sister

Hey there guys! It’s already Thursday. Time certainly flies! In fact, I already have plans for Saturday. I’m going to see some musical theater with my big sister. “Wait, Jaluna, you have a big sister?” I hear some of you questioning. No, she’s not literally my big sister. We share no blood- she’s older than my father, so that’d be kind of hard to explain, wouldn’t it? No, my big sister is a very important friend of mine. Today’s post is dedicated to her, how we met, and how much I appreciate her despite never showing it.

When I was eight, my mother left us. It was then just my father and I, whom had a bit of an awkward relationship at first because I grew up uneasy around him (funny enough, now we’re like best friends sometimes!). There’s a program, at least in New Jersey, that helps kids who lack a role model of their own gender. This program, called the Big Brother/Big Sister program, led me to the person I call my big sister. It’s a friendship that’s lasted more than half my life!

She wasn’t my first big sister, mind you. My first big sister, Gabi, was someone I treasured for a fair amount of time. But when Gabi had to return to her homeland of Germany, I felt defeated, depressed, and abandoned. Then, a new big sister was assigned to me. She had a very different air from Gabi, but somehow it helped me relax over time. We bonded well, I visited and stayed at her home many times- we once got snowed in when I was sleeping over, so I ended up having to stay another day! I was perfectly fine with it though, especially back then. Time with her was precious. It still is, but I never show it well.

Although I was kicked out of the big sister program when I became a young adult, my big sister and I had a bond that had us spending time together without it. I still call her my big sister, because that’s kind of what she is to me in a way. Sure, she’s old enough to be my mother, but she’s not. She’s my big sister. Unfortunately, my trust in her is a bit of a double edged sword. I trust her, but the more I trust her the more I fear her leaving me, so I push her away. I’m really bad at inviting her to do things, and I don’t do well keeping in contact with her (or people in general, if I’m being honest). So, when I get a random text from her inviting me to hang out, I’m fairly quick to agree.

We’ve gone to see musical theater together before, as well as just general theater. When we hang out, we usually go out for a meal as well. I have to think hard on Saturday about what I want to eat- I’m always bad at figuring that out. Another place we go together is her- or more our- hairdresser. My big sister knows a lot of really nice people! I’ve met a few of them, and I was extremely glad!

My big sister is always doing things for me. It makes me a little guilty. In fact, I owe her a couple hundred dollars, as she helped me last year with a bank issue, and I still haven’t been able to pay her back a year later. She always pays when we go out- so naturally, like the cheap girl I am, I try to look at inexpensive stuff, which she always reminds me not to worry so much about. She’s a bit of an introvert like I am at times, and I think that’s part of how we mesh well.

She’s logical and calm, and I feel emotionally safe with her in the moment. It’s just outside those moments that my innate fear of losing people kicks in and says ‘let’s avoid them so they can’t leave us!’. I intend to apologize for the millionth time for not texting or calling more often when I see her. I also look forward to telling her about Comicon, because last time we had plans to go to the city, I was too scared to go. I think she’ll be proud I managed to do it this time- and I hope someday, I can go with her to the city, as long as she doesn’t mind holding my hand so I don’t get lost.

I think I’ve rambled enough for today, but tell me, do you have any siblings? Whether they’re by blood, adoption, or the friendships you have, I want to hear all about them. It’s amazing how different experiences we can have with a single person added to our life!

Soulful Saturday: Family Frenzy

Hihi! How’s it going guys? Today, I want to talk about something very serious- after all, it’s Soulful Saturday! So, with a confident boosting ally, I have decided to talk about something very difficult for me to deal with… My family.

For those of you not in the know, my mother left me when I was about eight years old. Before she left, though, my relationship with my father was kind of rocky. If you look at us now, you’d never believe it- but, I was actually scared of my dad when I was a kid.

Why would I be scared of my father, you might ask? Well, for starters, he yelled a lot. When you have overly sensitive ears, loud people aren’t exactly people you want to be close to. It was 99% of the time towards my mother, as well. And that wasn’t the only thing I heard in their bedroom.

I heard fights. Physical fights. Because I grew up in an age where it was always assumed the woman was in danger of the man, I assumed my father was hurting my mother. Now, my mother did hurt me quite a bit as a child- mentally. She was never really emotionally available, and she neglected me quite a bit. But still, she was the one who was regularly home. My father had to work some hard hours depending on the job he was consulting on. So, the idea that my dad was hitting my mom stuck in my mind and scared me.

Here’s the catch, though. Dad never laid a hand on my mom. It was the opposite way around. My mother was the one attacking my dad. And this was just the first female role model I had that turned out to be messed up in this god forsaken family of mine.

If you read my Thursday post, you know I spent some time living with my grandparents due to my father needing neck surgery. By that time, my mother had been out of my life for a few years- and I’d gotten to actually know my father, and we became fairly close once I realized he wasn’t the scary monster I envisioned. But my grandparents were also pieces of work. My grandfather taught me where dad’s yelling came from. My grandmother yelled a fair bit too, usually at one of the men in the house. Grandma’s idea of boundaries was virtually non-existent. She’d walk in my room without knocking, keep the door open when she was on the toilet, etc. But that’s not why she bothers me.

My grandmother was a social worker. Her office was across from my bedroom- but the important part is she was a social worker, after retiring from nursing for a state-run hospital. She knew all sorts of stuff about medical and mental health issues. Her problem was accepting anyone in our family wasn’t perfectly healthy. Whenever it came up that I had mental health issues, as were diagnosed by my doctors, my grandmother would deny it being possible and say I had bad doctors. In some cases, I did have bad doctors- but it wasn’t because of diagnosing me. That’s not here or there, though.

My grandmother has always had this idea that she’s perfect and everyone around her has to think the same way she does. She’s always been narcissistic, especially in the aspect she treated anything that made me different like it didn’t matter or exist. She didn’t think it anything interesting that I talked to the trees- she just assumed I was lonely, not psychotic. Everything had a way simpler, wrong answer. And that’s just the beginning of my issues with her since she got Alzheimer’s (and refuses to accept it, obviously). But I wanted you to get a glimpse into how I was raised.

Now, to do this right, I need to tell you about a few more people that have come in and out of my life family-wise. My dad’s youngest sister, AKA my youngest aunt, took me in for six months during middle school. It was while my father was in and out of comas from blood ammonia he didn’t know he had to worry about, exacerbated by his new allergy to corn. When it was decided by myself and my aunt we’d go through with the idea of living together for a while, my grandma and aunt both told me they’d take care of talking to my dad about it. Know when he found out? The day of the court hearing to adjust custody so that my aunt could legally be my guardian when I moved in with her in California.

Now, a few things about my aunt: She had an eating disorder when she was young, became a doctor, and had a knack for schedules. Her idea for me was that she’d set me up with a full schedule so that I’d just be a little adult doing all I had to do and that was it. She didn’t understand I was an early teen, who needed attention and time to herself alike. She took my phone away so I couldn’t talk to my dad, who worried like hell because of it. She wanted me fully immersed in my new, busy life. And I appreciate her efforts, and some of it was really fun!

But really, she wasn’t someone who knew how to take care of a mentally ill teenager. The ‘therapist’ she brought me to should’ve been helpful, but instead my aunt turned it into family therapy where she just told the psychiatrist all the things I needed to change and he just told me to do them without listening to me at all.

After I hit my rebellious phase and my aunt realized she had bitten off more than she could chew, I was sent back to New Jersey… and within a couple years of my dad and I moving out of my grandma’s place, things with his older sister got a little out of hand.

In middle school, I’d been in a group for kids with divorced parents. I continued it in High School. I found it really helpful and so, when we were asked people we think it could help, I mentioned my cousin, whose mother was getting divorced just recently. (By the way, the ex-husband is the uncle that sexually harassed me to the point I won’t go to grandma’s if he’s possibly there).

Now, my eldest aunt was someone I admired when I was young. She liked to say she was my second mother, and I was all for it since I saw my cousins, especially the one closest to my age, as siblings. I’d sometimes call him big brother, even! But that divorce was just the start of my aunt going a little crazy.

My aunt and cousin heard about the fact that I, in a confidential group, shared that the divorce was happening. I saw how it affected my cousin, who would come to my room crying and trying to understand the feelings inside- he knew I’d had them once before, so he knew I’d be able to be there for him with understanding. But the moment I mentioned him in that group, my aunt and cousin lost their minds. I don’t know who mentioned to him that I’d recommended it, but clearly confidentiality was blurred. But the chaos with this part of the family doesn’t end there.

One day, still during high school, I was at home having my in-home therapy session for the week. Then, all the sudden, I heard a ton of yelling from our front door. My dad had offered to give her a present of something like 400 bucks for home depot on a gift card- but she demanded, quite strongly, that he give her way more than that. She was broke, or so she claimed (we found out later she’d hit grandma up for way more money just before this!). She wouldn’t leave us alone until dad gave her another card. When she left, I had a panic attack… She was yelling a lot, and it scared me. After that happened, we started to distance ourselves from her- mostly because the moment she and my dad get in the same room now, sparks fly.

I’ve since seen my aunt, but to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable around her even when dad isn’t around. I went to her house earlier this year because, as I found out, my second oldest cousin who’d been living in Israel moved right down the street from my aunt, and their kids often were at my aunt’s house to play. I went there to see my brother-like cousin, who I’d since gotten through the hardships with, and to meet my cute second cousins. My aunt made me nervous, but she was fairly tame. Without my dad there, there was no arguments about the stealing that happened- I didn’t dare to mention it.

I have plenty of other stories about the craziness in my family, but I don’t want to numb your eyes or mind. Perhaps next week, I can continue to tell you these tales of my youth, of my family. If that’d interest you, let me know!

Normally I’d prompt you guys to comment your own stories, but today’s is pretty personal and I don’t want to push anyone on it. So today’s prompt is just what I said before. Should I continue to share about my family? I have plenty more material where this comes from! Well then, until next time!