This essay, such as it will be… was going to be called, “My Kind of Crazy”. But, I realized suddenly that to call it “MY KIND OF…” means that I approve, condone, am ok with. The reality is, that I am very, very sad about where I come from. My family is highly, highly dysfunctional.
Instead, officially, the title of this essay is, “A Spy In the Family” the idea comes from a conversation I had today with my therapist. And it suits the situation perfectly. I often feel as if I am the odd man out in the family. I won’t go so far as saying I’m the black sheep, though I think I probably am. I was a child who was fearful and at the same time hyper-aware of everything going on around me. I was watching the show, even when grown-ups thought I was not. What it has come down to, is that I watched and heard, and was told enough to put the puzzle at least partially together. Yet, after all these years, I have no final conclusion.
Having found some new cousins recently — I felt the need to protect them from the truth. I told the adoptive mother of one of them tonight, and I hope she got the message that if I could talk as plainly as I wanted and if she could hear it – don’t let your baby get to know his biological family. He doesn’t need them. He may look just like his father, but there is NO need to set him up for failure by introducing him to the idea that his real father was probably a piece of shit. Just cause his father was a loser, doesn’t mean that this kid is a loser. Don’t let this history bring your kid down.
To say that this was hard to say is an absolute understatement. I probably could not have said it 20 years ago. I told her, they are all dead now so I can say it. I was in all truth hiding truths that showed that most of my uncles and possibly grandfather were at the very least sexually promiscuous. And at the most, sexual predators. I am unsure just where on the spectrum they were all on. It is funny and not- in that our culture teaches us to not speak ill of people, and especially of the dead. And yet, if people are trouble makers, why should we not warn others? Why should talking about the dead shake up a person so much?
Then it dawned on me…. that just because my father was a loser in some ways… (probably the same ways as his cousin and brothers) doesn’t mean that I am a piece of shit. I should have never let it hold me down. But, you know, kids just don’t know these things. We have to figure it out and it comes one small step at a time if it ever comes. One must be willing to look at history, and family stories, the myths, and the truths and tease them out without denial. It is a very hard process. It is very painful. I am 57 years old, have been in therapy now for more than 1/2 my adult life. I’m still teasing out the truths, still trying not to have denial, and still wanting to cry as I come to more realizations.
I just posted this to Facebook only 30 or so minutes ago: “I had my therapist laughing so hard she was in tears today (not a lot, maybe just watery eyes, still…) Problem is I think that the laughter was because I told something that shocked or surprised her. I told it like it was funny, but the truth is, that it was not funny at all. She told me I should write a book. And I must have looked at her like she was nuts. She said, “Fictionalize it, no one is going to believe it was ever real life.” OMG—– All I did was tell what I grew up hearing and heard after growing up, and what I saw with my own eyes. At the end of my session, I had to look at her and say, “And that is just one side of my family”. The paternal side of my family. But, consider that my mother married into this mess, and after dad left her, she married a what came to be known as a child molester, and that, dear reader, is documented:
And yes, reader, just so you know, I am actively working and have been for years, to ‘overcome’. At 57 years of age, thanks to adoptees coming into the fold, and me feeling the strong need to warn the younger of them — I came to some new realizations. It was NOT just my father and his brothers with the issues, and that showed me that these problems went beyond them in the family generational structure. On the Rowe side of things, I can document violence going back probably 5 generations. On all sides of my family, I can document men at war, if that has any bearing on the situation (studies show that it does a have a bearing). On the McClaskey side, not so much. But, to farm out a 10-year-old to be a servant, probably knowing that sexual ‘service’ was part of the deal. I’m not quite sure just how my great grandfather lived with himself. Maybe this is why we never see him smile, and even looking downright sad in his later in life photographs. As I put the graphic together, it became evident that there was probably NO one in my father’s family (mother, father, siblings) who had not been touched in one way or another of some sort of sexual abuse. And I AM including verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse.
Getting back up to that graphic up above. I have a 2nd cousin, we’ll call him Johnny. Johnny had a girlfriend when he was 17, turned out she was way older than he was (think statuary rape). I really had issues with my cousin accepting this and not having the woman thrown in jail. Very recently, I was told that she had been married to Billy (my cousin, today, if Billy were alive he’d be 57. I doubt that Johnny is even 30). And even more recently, I realized she was one of the women that Billy and my Uncle had swapped. So, this woman has had three generations of ‘Rowe’ men (boys). Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good looking woman. But, the whole situation creeps me out. I am fairly (like 100%) sure that this would be considered a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.
This is the gift that my family has given me. And every other child of my generation, and to our children and grandchildren. It is no wonder we have boundary issues. Problems saying NO. It is NO wonder… mom wanted to keep us from that side of the family, and that her brother and parents considered them “uncivilized”. Where do I go with this? Who wants to help me write this book? Rather than fictionalizing it, perhaps, I should just write it up as part of my biography. After all, I keep telling myself that I have/will overcome, and I can talk a good one about ‘bouncing back’.
My God, this is where I come from…. How do the women in these men’s lives live with these stories and images? I am a child of one of them and grown and still having trouble placing it where it belongs in this puzzle we call life.
(To add to the graphic above — Alveta’s first husband was a bigamist, and her second was a winner at domestic violence. She was beaten and hence a divorce. The third was her charm, and thank God for him. He was a stabilizing force within the family.