"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for the ‘Middle Age’ Category

Santa

One of my step-aunts shared a photo of my 80+ year old dad in his Santa suit waving to commuters. This has been his holiday tradition for untold years. It is pretty cute, but as his child, I am mildly irritated. Irritated enough to write this post.

First, a little background. My parents divorced when I was 6 and I saw my dad for holidays and two weeks in the summer thereafter. He wrote monthly and made little effort to spend more time with his kids. He quickly married my stepmom, but they had no kids. I always felt that a) she didn’t like me and my brother because we were a reminder of his previous marriage and b) she really doesn’t like kids generally.

This meant that any holidays spent with him were with her family. I liked them, but we were the only kids there. Her three sisters had no kids until the youngest adopted. One has a stepson, but she’s divorced from the father. They had their own holiday traditions and we fit in where it was convenient for them. Suffice it to say, those Christmases were not packed with fond memories. They were what they were.

Back to Santa. To me, my dad’s Santa tradition is an example of how little I know about the man. Did he start this because he missed Christmas with his own kids? I seem to recall he was Santa for a non-profit he volunteered for and things grew from there. But I don’t know for sure. I guess I could have a conversation about this with him.

This man, a pillar of his community, put virtually no effort into parenting. He allowed his wife to delay child support checks and write scathing letters to my mom. He is smart and funny, but I have always said he does much better with young adults rather than kids. He tried harder with my brother who went to live with him when he was 15. That didn’t go particularly well, but he paid for my brother’s college and fraternity which is a lot more than he gave me. I got one year of college paid and $2500 for my wedding.

I am asking myself why is this bitterness emerging? I don’t know. I guess I wish I had a better father, but I could have done far worse. I will take benign neglect over abuse any day. I was lucky my stepfather, who was a horrible person, never physically abused me. Here I am 55 years old with my childhood so far behind me still grappling with the aftermath of my childhood. Interesting.

But I agree with Maya Angelou and wouldn’t take nothing for my journey. And most importantly, I have to remember a quote of hers. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”

So in the spirit of Christmas, I forgive the adults of my childhood. I forgive them for the times when they put their needs before a child’s. I forgive them and I fulfilled my promise to myself. Do better. Be a better parent and a better person. I proudly think I am.

My Beach Read

My beach read for my recent trip was “The Naked Truth” by Leslie Morgan.  That damn bitch wrote my book.  Actually she wrote the Hollywood version of my book.

She’s doing the newly divorced 50ish woman re-discovering her sexuality with a flair that only privileged white women can do.  That’s my snarky side peeking out.

Leslie is a beautiful, fit, successful writer with two homes.  That hussy was living the dream — my dream — in her memoir.  OK, enough of my green-eyed monster.  Give me a minute and let me tuck my monster away….

OK, I’m back.  Leslie was right on point.  Her pain, her honesty, her humor but mostly her blinding candor made this book a great read for me.  It reminds me that women in our 50’s with an empty (or nearly empty) nest really need to spend some time discovering and uncovering ourselves (pun intended).

No spoilers.  If you have a chance to grab the book, you’ll spend some time with someone who automatically feels like a friend.  Here are some of my favorite quotes – no spoilers, I promise.

“I was crazy about men now the way Lyon had loved each of his high school hookups.  Including me.  Each of the men in my life was a chip of self-worth, helping me rebuild myself”

“Ever ask yourself what are you really looking for, honey?  Sometimes it seems like you’re willing to pay an awfully steep price in order to feel loved.  That’s what you always say about your first marriage — that the definition of an abuse victim is someone who pays too high a ransom in exchange for love.”    This one hit home for me.

Sara (this is her therapist) had warned me to be careful.  She cautioned that the first serious relationship following a divorce can be more intense than the marriage itself, because after a divorce, you are raw and broken and filled with hope that the next time, you’re going to find lasting love to make up for the love you lost.”  Damn, did that ring true.

“You know it sounds to me like Jake (her boyfriend) is your burn ointment.  Your sexual healing after years of Marty’s (her Ex) sabotage.  But that doesn’t mean he’s your soul mate.  Each man you date now is a building block for your self-esteem.  Not the foundation.  Don’t confuse the two.”  Damn, I need her therapist.  That woman is worth her weight in gold.

“Withholding emotion is a form of manipulation.”  Yeah, I may be guilty of this…

“Part of this journey was, obviously, that I had to learn and re-learn that the way I allowed men to treat me was up to me, and only me. I had to thread a particularly challenging needle:  to find validation from men in my life without completely giving myself over to them.”  Yep, still working on that.

“You grew up in an alcoholic home.  Fundamentally, this means that the people who loved you, who were supposed to take care of you, didn’t protect you.  It’s why you are so independent, and yet paradoxically susceptible to abuse and manipulation by those closest to you.”   This was a biggie for me.  My family wasn’t necessarily an alcoholic home, but it was dysfunctional.  Something to ponder further.

Anyway, buy Leslie’s book.  We divorced nymphomaniacs need to stick together.

Naked Truth

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