When I was two years old my father got divorced from my biological mother (hereafter referred to simply by her name, Sue). I don't have any memories of her, and the only time I ever really met and talked with her was about 12 years ago when my half sister (from Sue's first marriage prior to my Dad) took me to see her. I didn't know what to expect and was a bit nervous.
A lot of people have talked over the years about meeting a father or mother that abandoned them at a young age, and the anxiety and/or anger that may be inside them leading up to that moment. Questions of "why did you abandon me?" or "why didn't you want me?" were prevalent in their minds.
With me, it was really none of that. I had never known Sue. I mean I knew OF her from my father, who never bad talked her or tried to turn me against her like unfortunately a lot of parents do. He basically just explained that things didn't work out between the two of them, that they had gotten married because she was pregnant with me, and that it was a relationship that was doomed pretty much.
So I didn't have any type of feelings leading up to meeting her. There was no anger, nothing at all. I met with her for a little while and I just felt this feeling of uncomfortableness. She kept crying and saying she was sorry that she never reached out to me and that she basically walked away from my life, and all I could say was "that's alright".
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
But it was a numb type of reaction. It was a cold detached feeling because I didn't know her. To me, she was a random person who I had never met and had no connection to. Perhaps like your parents introducing you to some random Uncle that you've never met and never heard of before then.
I basically just wanted to get away, and so my sister and I left about a half hour or so after I got there. That was the only time I spent any time with Sue since I was two years old. Years later I found out she had died. My Dad called me and let me know about it, and I was filled with this feeling of....nothing.
When trying to come to terms with how I could feel absolutely nothing about the death of my biological mother, no matter what had transpired between us, I remembered the following verse from the song "Dear Mama" by the late rapper Tupac Shakur in talking about the death of his father who had walked out on his family when Pac was young.
He passed away and I didn't cry, cause my anger
Wouldn't let me feel for a stranger
They say I'm wrong and I'm heartless,
but all along I was lookin' for a father he was gone
This circumstance was slightly different, because I never really missed Sue because I didn't know her, and I had a mother in my life. I wasn't looking for her in my life, I never had any need for her in my life, and never once thought about her beyond a "oh yeah, that's who my Dad was married to before Mom."
As I grew up, I realized that while I didn't have Sue in my life physically, there were elements of her that had affected my life without me realizing it in the form of mental issues that I have dealt with all my life. While my Mom & Dad don't have any of the issues that plague me, nor do my brothers (from my Dad's current marriage) I have a whole slew of issues. Attention Deficit Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, depression, occasional suicidal thoughts (not frequent at all, but occasionally still there) mood swings, anxiety and other things as well.
Growing up I was always dealing with something inside me that pushed me to basically do things that I knew I shouldn't do, but I did it anyway. Things that I knew would get me in trouble, but I did them anyway. I have always had a hard time describing it but it's essentially this feeling of not being able to control my impulses. I would do things and not think in the moment of the consequences, and only afterwards am I concerned with what I did and what would happen to me.
This led me to setting a box on fire at a school (why? Beats me) and that landed me very briefly in a juvenile detention center. It led me to constantly shoplifting things that I didn't need and often had money for. I was able to get away without being noticed so this didn't cause any major issues as it relates to legal troubles, but it played hell with my home life. My mother, who is a professional woman in the Education system knew all my teachers and so whenever I got in trouble at school, she knew the people I got in trouble with, so this would cause her incredible embarrassment.
And there were so many other things I did as a kid which I won't go into here that just boggle the mind when I think back on it. Like ... what was I thinking???? My parents often said that I must have wanted to get caught, and I often refuted that and pointed out rationally, at least to me, that the idea of me wanting to get in trouble made no sense. However looking back on it there's no other explanation. There was something inside me that was screwed up and considering the things I did, it was clear that's how it looked. It was like something inside me felt I needed to be punished.
I've thought long and hard over the years about these issues I have, and why I'm so messed up. It frustrates me and it has made me feel like a defective person. My parents and brothers, while they all have their issues as does everyone in the world, they aren't like me. They are well adjusted for the most part, and have social lives and in one brother's case is married and has a good career, and in the other is single and has a good career in teaching. My mother is a long time educator who is a Dean of Education in a university, and my father was a long time machinist at a steel mill.
And then there's me. I have ZERO social skills and am unable to relate to other people in social settings. When I'm around people, more than three or four I become anxious and frustrated and extremely self conscious. It gets to a point that I basically shut everything out and stay to myself.
I can't even imagine being in a relationship because I can't stand being around anyone for more than a few hours at a time. I've had roommates a few times and every one has ended badly due to my inability to be around people.
I've long had these thoughts of I deserve bad things that happen to me because of the things I've done in my life. It's one of those things where I just can't wake up in the morning and think that I deserve to be happy, that I deserve good things to happen to me, it's like I will bad things onto me or something.
Also there's the issue of whatever it is inside me that is making me this way. I blame Sue for this. She's the common denominator her. My sister has some of the same issues I have, but not all of them, and yet my brothers from my Dad's second marriage have none of those.
When I think about these things, I cannot ever see myself having children because I refuse to bring anyone into this world that has a chance of passing on anything having to do with Sue. Unfortunately, in my mind, my sister has had children, and knowing her family she'll have her genes spread around like the opening scene of Idiocracy.
Myself, however, I can't do it. I know how horrible I feel, I know how I sit in the dark and can't stop focusing on all the negative aspects of myself, how I can't stop these self destructive thoughts. While I know I'm never going to act on those suicidal ideations, they are still there. I know the pain and suffering that I have dealt with over the course of my 37 years on this earth, and how many of these nights I go to bed and hope that I won't wake up.
I could never live with knowing that I brought someone into this world that has even the slightest chance of having all these issues as well. It's not my fault that I'm the way that I am, as it relates my mental issues. However it's not something that I want to inflict on someone else.
Compounding these issues is that I haven't really gotten much help for it, aside from the occasional prescription for Wellbutrin. I think a lot of people are faced with this stigma of dealing with mental illness. You're dubbed "crazy" or "stupid" or even "retarded" or whatever by people who have a severe misunderstanding of the aspect of mental illness.
For a lot of my life I was very hamstrung by how people think of me. And I still do, to a degree. However over the last five years or so I've grown a lot in that. At this point, as of this exact second, I just don't care anymore. Life's too short to care if someone thinks you're less of a person because you deal with mental illness.
I hope that others who suffer from these types of issues can get help for them. I'm going to be going to a doctor soon and get properly diagnosed. As a kid I was diagnosed with various issues as my mom tried to find out just what was wrong with me and why I was the way I was. However as an adult, I have never really gone to a doctor. I went online and looked at a checklist of symptoms of manic depression and noticed I match all but one or two of the symptoms. And yes, I realize the lunacy at checking up on medical symptoms online. lol.
I was inspired to write this after listening to comedian/activist Elon James White who does the show "This Week in Blackness with L. Joy Williams and Aaron Rand, talking about his (Elon's) dealing with his ADD and how it has affected his life and his conversations with his mother. That got me thinking about my own inadequacies and the fact that I rarely face the facts about myself and seek out help.
Mental illness is a heavily stigmatized thing that people are embarrassed to look into and let people know they suffer from. I'm trying to take that step in the right direction and get help for it, because while this may be a delayed event, it's a much needed one.
I don't know if anything can be done to change the way that I am, but hopefully I can meet people in the process that can help me accept and deal with the way I am, instead of me being left to deal with it on my own.