When I was 18 Dad cut me off for the first time, which he had really been waiting to do for a long time. After about a year of working and scrabbling and generally living off the land - the prunes that fall off the trees and dry on the ground in California cook up real nice if you wash them - I reconciled. The conditions were that I remain pretty much self supporting and nobody talk about what happened before.
Later I found out from my Mom that she and my little sister had seen me several times around town and my sister had wanted to get my attention. But somehow Mom had just not been able to make contact.
So much the story of my childhood. Mom loved me deeply but I was bad in the eyes of Dad. And when I was bad in the eyes of Dad she stood aside and worried and wrung her hands and let him do what he would do.
Because he knew what was right and godly and she could no more defend me than she could defend herself.
I was never late for anything and I almost always showed up but now things are changing again. I just called at the last minute and cancelled a Rosen session rather than rush to be late.
Partly thanks to a heart attack - relatively painless and treated quickly thank you very much - but also thanks to prayers for the ability not to act, I am learning not to strive and not to act.
And it is hard because when mom went away it was always easier to try to bring her back by doing and being kind and understanding and good. And sometimes it was rewarded with kindness and a smile and it felt like the old world would return.
They say that the hardest conditioning to break is laid down by intermittent random reinforcement.
And I have always tried too long or too hard or both so now I sit and do nothing waiting to see if someone will come to meet me here.
We read into things what we know already and we see in our images of god what our parents have placed there.
And because of this I fell in too easily with the phrasing of Step 11. " . . . praying only for god's will for us and the power to carry that out." Because that had always been my situation.
I grew up with a crazy, obsessive and near omnipotent man whose arbitrary decisions to move turned the entire household upside down about once a year for my first nine years - What were you running from Dad?
Dad was a man who could and would be offended at my slightest infractions, a man who it was best to please because then everyone would be at peace. My life was one continuous 11th step prayer except put in Dad for God.
So when I got sober it was easy for me to draw on reserves of strength and character and to endure much, divorce, child rearing and a romantically stunted marriage. It was easy for me to put myself into caring for others and helping them to face the sometimes terrible vagaries of life.
That was I did and that was what made the pain go away.
But deep down in my heart I knew that I would never be happy because god was a man who cared only about himself and his freakish obsessions. I knew that no one could or would care for me except as I could give them something and help them to endure the steady storm of shit that god gave us all.
Resignation and good works.
I will not presume to judge others spiritual practice - well actually I will just a bit. We need to be very careful about "humility" because there are a great many of us who have come from unrelenting humiliation. Those of us who have been in that place need permission to be ourselves, to be a bit selfish and to own our own desires.
Because otherwise we just anticipate that nothing will work out for us and ready ourselves to submit to another chapter in lives full of dull disappointment.
Today I pray for what I want with no qualification. I want a sweet, lasting, intimate relationship with you, D. I cannot give up myself but I am willing to do the work.
We are like trees in that way. Some seeds land in rich and fertile soil and shoot up fast and tall. Some find their way into some crack in the hard rock and, with pain, push down roots, making room for themselves and the meager soil that they gather to themselves.
The fight shows in our shapes, our faces and our actions. We never get over the fight. It is what we are. We can only learn to use it to create a happier life and a better world.
See it now. From my hopeless love for Mom, gone so long in that living death, I learned kindness and compassion and caring. Watching her moods, I became sensitive. Living without hope, I learned a little to endure and persist.
It was always easy for me to find a reason not to visit Mom and Dad in Yuba City while Dad was still alive. I did not understand why until a few years ago when the memory of the rape returned. I just always had some reason and every time I thought that I had forgiven my parents the anger came back.
If you can't forgive there is probably some unrecognized injury buried close to your heart. Listen and learn.
Dad died about ten years ago and, after a short flash of hope that she might break out of her shell, Mom sank into a swamp of prayer, devotion and Fox News.
I visited a few times, took Eve to see her in that scary place with almost no toys where grandma sat in her psychic pain, praying to die.
And I just could not handle it after a point. With Fox News on it was like Dad had never gone and of course there were conversations about politics blah, blah blah. And I remembered scary grandmas and did not really want to force Eve to go there.
But really that was not the point, now I see it right. It was that when I saw her there on the couch surrounded by prayer books and all the other paraphernalia of the spiritual bypass, alive but decaying, something in me remembered my deep, dark, hopeless love for this woman who had been my beautiful, sweet, happy mother.
"Honey, the Steps are there to keep you busy, while you let the love heal you." ~ Julian B.
Because there is something very real in the rooms besides the work and Stoic/Christian spirituality. And that would be the open, attentive hearts of others who have lived your life and felt your pain and guilt and shame.
And that is where the miracles and the healing happen. Into me you see and in me you find the spirit that I am and the spirit that you also are. That is the hole that longs to be filled.
Remembering you Julian and wishing that our last encounter had been on better terms. I was called back by that program love that you always talked about Julian. All that I can do to make amends is to be there for others and represent that love even as the Christians rail.