He wasn’t a bad guy; but when it came to raising a teenage son, he was totally ill-prepared to do so. What guy could? With his wife’s final decision to leave; and with me wanting to stay in our family home, we were stuck with each other.
And I really couldn’t blame my mom either. After years of bickering, she had come to me one day to tell me of her intention to leave him. (This didn’t surprise me, because even from a young age my mom and I could converse as would adults.)
I was given a choice: to stay or leave with her. I decided to stay.
At 14, I seemed to see things much clearer. For one thing, my school, my friends and routine were all there. Secondly, living in a small apartment with her just didn’t seem to fit – for me or her. And living with my dad? I was about to find out.
For the next few years, my dad held on to the idea that she would come back … and she did from time to time … to take my friends and I out for hamburgers and generally hang out with me.
After a while, though, my father’s new life took hold and I was gradually enveloped into the love of my paternal grandmother – who in addition to losing her husband, shared no love for my mother. (Although, it must be mentioned, I don’t think my grandmother was all that happy with any woman that my dad would choose as a partner.)
It was my first introduction to family politics; or as my dad dubbed it, ‘the in-laws and outlaws’. It wasn’t that either side of the family was bad; they were just defending their own, by ‘circling the wagons’ around them.
My part, as emphasized by my dad, was to not share any of our “private” matters with my mother and her side of the family. I was taught well and I lived in fear of disappointing my dad’s family. Non-acceptance was presented to me in black and white terms – loving my mom’s family, meant rejecting my dad’s family.
I eventually came to believe that my mother was to blame and that I was the victim. (How could she just leave her son?) So, with great pride, I stomped on her love in any way I could. And those, supposedly adults, stood by and encouraged me on … oh, the damage done! Looking back, although I can honestly say I’m disappointed with them; I’m too tired to hate anymore.
My mom says that we were all victims – despite the fact that she suffered the loss of her son for all those years … and as for forgiveness? She says none is necessary, as she never, ever, stopped loving me!
How is it she can feel that way? Or perhaps, the greatest question of all: How is it that I deserve it?
During that time, I always thought that the Beatle’s song ‘All you need is love’ was rather trite sounding; but now … I wish I could go back, to yesterday.