September 26, 2005

Hello from the DMZ

If DMZ stands for De-Militarized Zone, and a DMZ is a 'zone' where 'military organization or potential' is absent, or been removed; then my Dad's house certainly qualified as one.
There was anger,chaos, anarchy; and very little communication.
The inmates were most assuredly in charge of the asylum!

After Mom died, the fabric of our family, and the household completely fell apart.
Dad was consumed with grief, and unfortunately, he 'left' us kids to fend for ourselves.
Emotions were raw, and tempers seemed to be always heated. To say we fought is almost a joke. Our family fights were legendary. The local cops knew us well, and it wasn't because Dad worked with them. It was because they were at our house quite often. Yeah, we were at eachothers throats constantly. Dad's house still has 'scars', and broken furniture sitting in the basement. Punched in drywall, cracks in the walls from being thrown into it (usually me). Everywhere you look, scars. Constant reminders.

Ken did his damndest to take care of me & Lanny, but the responsibility was just too much. The hill of anger and resentment grew to a massive mountain that, at the time, was insurmountable. Ken and Lanny's issues go way back to childhood, and part of it was that Ken is the oldest. They hardly EVER got along! Me? I thought both of them were assholes. Ken was an overbearing shit, and Lanny never knew when to shut the fuck up.
It was a war zone. The boys fought the most, and I usually ended up trying to separate them. Not necessarily the smartest move in the world considering they were both over 6 foot and 200lbs+. I was only 5'3" and all of maybe 100lbs! I learned to fight, and how to defend myself, REAL quick! To their credit, they did try and 'remove' me from the situation as nicely as possible. However, being thrown into a wall, taking an errant punch, or getting shit thrown at you still hurt like a sumbitch!
Dad was hardly ever around for any of these 'altercations' as he 'disappeared' after Mom died. He buried himself in work, teaching, volunteering. You name it, he did it. It was his way of 'dealing' with his grief. Dad was beyond ate up with it.
He had no idea of what to do with us kids. I guess he figured we would just take care of ourselves. We did.

We kids were all going through the pain of losing our Mom, but our experiences were vastly different.

Ken was the oldest, and was given no choice but to become a 'parent' at the ripe old age of 15. He never asked to become the guardians and protectors of me and Lanny, he just did what our Father could not do. I can only imagine how hard it was for him. He was never 'good' enough for Dad, and Lanny & I were too immature to understand the demands that Dad placed on him. We just 'hated' him and resented him. He definitely took the brunt of physical abuse. Ken, being consumed with anger and resentment, turned to drinking to ease the pain. He bottled his emotions, drank them down you might say. My now sister-in-law was the only one who could (still can) reach him when he sank down to the place where the demons were tearing at him from every direction and threatening his very soul.
Lanny was the favorite child. He was the athlete, the musician, the scholar. Dad placed many expectations on him. He had it all; looks, brains, charm. But most never knew the 'dark' side of him. The one who would drink himself into oblivion and become the most self-destructive person I had ever seen. Dad only saw glimpses of this as I did my damndest to try and cover up. I know it ripped Lanny apart when he didn't live up to what he thought Dad wanted him to be. The family considered Lanny to be the lone 'bright spot' in an otherwise dark family. He had expectations thrown at him from so many directions, he had no idea how to just be himself. He was never quite able to work through the pain and anger.
No, not too many people saw the tortured, clinically depressed soul that was hidden under all that outward bravado. I was one of a precious few that Lanny could come to and bare his insecurities and imperfections to.
I was the only girl, and the youngest, so most people think I had my Dad wrapped around my finger. Nothing could be further from the truth. He really had no idea how to 'deal' with me, so he didn't. I was left to try and figure out life, and becoming a woman on my own. I had my Grandmother, and several other females in my life to help me make the transition. I just had no rules. By the time I was 13, Ken was out of the house, Lanny was busy with his own life, and I was doing pretty much whatever I wanted, when I wanted. More so than the boys, I truly was the wildchild. Drinking, drugs, sex. Whatever I wanted to do, I did it. I don't remember Dad physically hurting me, but he hurled verbal assaults at me on a fairly regular basis. Most of all the physical assault I received came from the boys trying to 'remove' me from the situation. But there were times when it wasn't.
Emotionally, I spent my teen years being called the "Ice Queen". I didn't show emotion; it was weakness. I had (sometimes still do) trust issues and abandonment issues. There was so much chaos, that I took the things in my life that I could control; drinking, drugs, sex, eating, and went off the deep end with them! I drank, got high and had sex in excess!!!! Somewhere along the line, eating became less and less a priority. At some point, I just stopped altogether. Cigarettes, coffee, drugs and booze were my nourishment.

I was angry for many years. Angry at my Mom, angry at God, but mostly, I was angry with Dad. I had a love/hate relationship with him for years. We needed a strong hand to help guide us through all the emotional turmoil, and there was none. In my mind, Dad had abandoned us, and that was unforgiveable. It took getting wiser, not older to help me put things into perspective. As I entered my twenties, I had the wisdom to see things from a different view point; to put myself into Dad's shoes and try and feel what he was going through. Finally, I could see the situation in it's entirety, and not just in pieces. I was no longer the 10 year old girl floundering around in a sea of shit trying desperately to stay afloat. I was an adult who needed to find a way to move forward. It's taken many years, and a bit of hard work to get as far as I have. I wish I could say that it's all resolved, but it's not.
I'm still a work in progress. Sometimes things happen in our lives that force us to go backwards before we are able to move ahead. Things so horrible that it reaches way down into your soul, sees the scars and rips them wide open for a fresh bloodletting. Old pain spilling out, fresh pain piling on top.
Lanny's death in June has done this. Not just to me either.
My only hope this time is that my family and I are better equipped to deal with the pain, the anger, and with eachother. We need to pull eachother out before the raging fire consumes us all.


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