A while back I told you part of the story of my biological father, how I had found his gravestone and the impact that it had on me. I decided to give you an update on what has happened and decisions I have made since then.
After posting a note on his gravesite for information on relatives that he had to contact me, I was actually contacted by his sister. It turns out he had raped her years ago prior to him getting sick physically. We shared a common bond in electronic and phone conversations in how he had hurt us. She and the rest of the family expressed their desire to have me come visit them in Tennessee. I told them I would consider it.
Her son, we will call him Mike, then got on the phone. Mike was a troubled young man when I was growing up. As a child he would flash a .45 caliber handgun and threaten me and my brother that if we said anything about what he did, he would shoot us. Having witnessed my father being shot, this threat was very real to me. While he had not been as evil about the abuse as my father had been, I would categorize what he did as sexual abuse. His thing I think was curiosity and he used me and my brother to satisfy that curiosity. He used the weapon to scare us. It worked. But now as he got on the phone I am sure he thought I didn’t remember. We had small talk for a bit, found he has a wife and 3 children, and then I asked him, “Do you still have the handgun you use to show us as kids?” The line went silent for a bit, and then said we had a lot to talk about when we saw each other. I told him that I didn’t have anything to talk about. Did he have something to talk about? Truth be told I was being an ass and was enjoying listening to him squirm. Not constructive I know, but my walls and defenses were in full force. The conversation ended with him excusing himself to go handle something with his kids and he didn’t come back to the phone.
In addition to what happened to his sister I found out that my family had a history of mental illness as well. My father’s mother (my grandmother) was hospitalized for most of her life for bipolar and depression issues. She had repeatedly undergone electric shock therapy treatments which had not worked. She would eventually die there. Also I found out that apparently at one time my family had been quite wealthy but the wealth had been squandered through wild living by my father and his father before him. His father had served in World War I. I didn’t dive into that too much. You already know my father’s record in Vietnam from the previous article. I also found out I have a half sister (she actually was the one who had alerted my aunt to what I had posted on the gravesite) who was a result of one of the rapes by my father of his sister. That was an extremely awkward conversation. I also found out that everyone in my family knew the violent nature of my father especially after he returned from the war. Everyone in the family was terrified of him.
At first I was really anxious to go. But I forced myself to sit back and evaluate what my motives were in going to see them. I also tried to assess what their motives were to form a relationship with me. What follows is my analysis of these things. Understand that not all of that is worked out for me so this is somewhat therapeutic for me to put it in this format.
I had to ask myself, what is it you hope to accomplish by forming relationships with these people? As I sat and thought about it, I began to realize more and more that my intent was not to form relationships with these people but part of it was to show them that I had survived in spite of their lack of action to protect me. Perhaps at a more basic level, maybe there is a homing instinct inside all of us that seeks to return to where they had come from. I really don’t know on that. I also came to the conclusion that I wanted to ask them why they didn’t step in, do something, anything to prevent me from being treated like this. I know there is an element of anger and vengeance involved. I leave this open because I still have not gotten all the answers. My aunt and a couple others made a huge mistake telling me they loved me in our conversations. I just didn’t buy it.
I believe that they are seeking my forgiveness. What other explanation can I come to? Why bring me there and face the past unless they knew they were going to have to answer these questions? More importantly, am I ready to give that absolution? These are all tough questions, ones I am not ready at this time to address.
I did decide not to make the journey to Tennessee at this time. Perhaps someday, on my terms and at my choosing. I just can’t allow myself to be exposed to a potentially dangerous situation for me emotionally without knowing I am fully prepared for the ramifications. Maybe someday.
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