A Lying Maoist Revolutionary Con Artist Stole My Family And All He Left Me With Was A Crappy Bike

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In a hut of mud and fire / Sits this single man — “Not to want / Money, to want a life in the world, / To want no trinkets on my name” — / And he was rich; his life lives where / Death cannot go; his honor stares / At the sun.

The fawn sleeps, The little winds / Ruffle the earth’s green hair. It is / Wonderful to live. My sword rusts / In the pleasant rain. I shall not think / Anymore. I touch the face of my friend; / He shows his dirty teeth as he scratches / At a flea — and we grin. It is warm / And the rice stirs usefully in our bellies.

The fawn raises its head — the sun floods / Its soft eye with the kingdoms of life — / I think we should all go to sleep now, / And not care anymore.
“Gautama In The Deer Park At Benares”, Kenneth Patchen

Living is
a thing you do
now or never —
which do you?
“Living is –“, Piet Hein

I lived with my father for eight years, but I have no memories of him. I’ve only ever seen two photos of us together, and they were taken within moments of each other. I was eight when my mother left him and took my little brother and I away. The next time I saw him was when I was fifteen, I took a train to the city where I grew up. When I got to the station I walked right past him because I had no idea what he looked like. As far as I know — after I turned around and walked back to him — that was the first time I shook my fathers hand.

When I was a child my father believed he was a great man who was in the middle of a great revolution, and things get sacrificed during revolutions. Like family. Or maybe — as he tells the story now — he was just a magazine publisher who had unwittingly acquired a loyal and slightly depraved following of Marxist rebels intent on taking over… something. Whatever. The truth is pretty simple, however, my father told lies that corrupted and nearly killed the people who trusted him.

At fifteen, when I got off the train, I knew I had two sisters I had never met. They would have been three and four — I think. During the mini-tour my father gave me of my ‘home town’ I asked about seeing them, as we were within sight of their home. He told me their mother had issues about my visiting and that it wouldn’t be a good time right then. Or that they were busy. Whatever. He then brought me to his office where I waited in the lobby reading a Reader’s Digest for thirty minutes while he made some phonecalls. Later, in the restaurant, he introduced me to the waitress as “his son”. It was the first time I remember him saying that. I’m still stunned as to how it made me feel. That day we spent two hours together. It was the last time I’d see him for sixteen years.

My sisters grew up not knowing they had brothers because of my father’s lies. He only told them when it became inevitable that my brother and I were going to make an effort to connect with them. He gave them a red three-ring folder. In it he explained to them — in photos and an almost poetic lilt to the words — about my brother and I in a format very reminiscent to something OXFAM would send out. Little black and white photos neatly laid out on white paper, large type in non-serif font. My sisters were in their mid-teens when they found out their father told lies.

My younger brother went first. He stayed with our sisters and their mother for a few weeks. The last straw for my mother, the thing that finally ended her marriage, was that her good friend Edie had become pregnant with my fathers child. After Edie had given birth to Eric she left for Alberta. My father forgot to put Eric into the red three-ring folder. But my brother and I knew. And my brother — without knowing it had been a secret — told our sisters about Eric and then things really started to fall apart.

So my father lied to me about the mother of my sisters not wanting to see me. After meeting her I found out my father had lied to me when I had visited, that she wanted a relationship with my brother and I — I’m not sure right now if she knew about Eric. My father lied-by-omission to my sisters about their three brothers.

I want this to be over. Everything, EVERYTHING… everything in my life comes from the lies my father started telling before I was borne. My father lied to my mother to get her to marry him; my father lied to his friends and family and caused them to follow him into a Revolution he had no intention of ever fighting; my father lied to my mother’s friend and then came Eric; my father lied to his next girlfriend and then came my sisters; my father lied to them and to me and to my brothers and denied us a family… I need this to be over because my fathers’ lies have nearly killed me, nearly killed my youngest sister, have created a situation where I’ll never know my youngest brother and he’ll never know us. My father’s own brothers, most of them, have only recently started to communicate with him. The people who believed in him, the people who raised me, are still living in the horrors that he put them into.

When we were together, when I was a child and the Revolutionaries still Believed, I was given a bike. It was the most expensive gift ever given out in the eight years of our little Commune. And I rode the fuck out of that silver thing with the knobby tires up and down our street. The only two photos I’ve seen of my father and I and my brother and my mom all together — the ones taken within moments of each other — were taken the same week. That one week, out of eight years, was the week my father decided to be a father. He was trying to prove to my mother, his wife, that he could do the job. He was trying to prove to his wife he could be a husband… because the previous week was when Eric’s mother told the Group she was pregnant with his child.

My fathers contribution to my life has been lies after lies after lies after lies after lies after lies, and I need it to stop.

I’ve been living in my fathers lies and I just need to stop.




About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression when I was nineteen, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. It's now 2022, and I have an 8-year old son, and a 12-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Father, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Poverty, Punk, Salted Truths. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to A Lying Maoist Revolutionary Con Artist Stole My Family And All He Left Me With Was A Crappy Bike

  1. Nita says:

    I was stunned to read your life-story. I cannot even begin to imagine the terrible effect all this must have had on small children..you, your brothers and your sisters. I think its good that you have written about this. For me writing is always the beginning of healing…
    and then finally one takes one’s life in one’s hand and kicks the past out. This has to happen, HAS TO.

  2. Gabriel... says:

    Something about “life story” makes me uncomfortable… that’s actually the point I want to make somewhere and sometime: I can’t say this is not my “life story”, because the things which form us as adult human beings almost entirely happen before we’re eight-years old. So in that sense my life story is one of being abandoned by my father and living within his lies. But I think my “life-story” is my overcoming that abandonment, overcoming the devestation my father wreaked in my life, and discovering — in the same way I had to discover what was the Disease and what was Me — what his lies were and what my life was.

    As personal as this blog is to me I really haven’t written anything about the Younger Me, just the parts since I was diagnosed as Manic Depressive. Over the past few weeks I’ve been kind of working up the energy to write more about my Clinical Depressions, and their causes. My father — his actions and his inactions — is definitely up there.

    I’ve been hesitant because I believe at least one of my sisters reads this blog, and because my publisher has asked me not to write about certain “episodes”… but it is something I need to work out and around. It’s very difficult for me to move on with life because I’ve only ever spoken about my Past superficially.

  3. bine says:

    that is a shocking episode.
    i’ve always quarreled with people who try to make a point by saying sometimes it’s okay to lie because in some cases a lie hurts less than the truth, or by saying omitting some truth isn’t really telling a lie.
    i think that’s complete bullshit, because whenever you find out about an old lie, just the lie itself hurts much, much more than any truth could ever have, especially from a person you trust and believe you are of some importance to.
    in most cases, lying is just dodging around responsibilities.

  4. Gabriel... says:

    My father loves the cliche about chickens coming home to roost, he used it a lot six years ago. The fact that he can’t see that cliche in his own life says a lot about his level of narcissism. Lies always come back, most are small enough to be overlooked or forgiven, but if they’re big and you can’t hide them any longer — like two 6’1″, 220lb sons — they tend to hurt everyone involved. Being exposed as a liar, a cheat and someone who would abandon his three sons purely out of convenience was not a way to promote healthy relationships with the rest of his family. I still don’t get — after a lot of years thinking about it — how he expected to get away with covering up his three lives. The hubris is stunning.

  5. darkentries says:

    Its extraordinary isn’t it, how we spend most of our lives trying to understand that our parents are just total arses like everyone else. Some more than others of course.
    If it was just random people in our lives who behaved like that, we’d avoid them, thump them or just move on, but for some reason parents that fail us haunt us, and make us angry, fucked up, bitter and twisted. What are we angry about?
    Why can’t we let them go?
    Why do we take their failures as people so personally?

    Anyway. I don’t like to comment too specifically on family issues. There are too many tangled skeins to tread safely for an ignorant traveller…

    I wish we could all move on and just be the people we want to be, not always looking back (in anger!). Of course if people could do that, they’d no doubt be better people and better parents in the first place.

  6. Wow, this really struck a chord with me. My parents lied so bloody much I don’t think anyone knows fact from fiction anymore! There is so much denial and because of trauma, I don’t remember jack shit. Really–vast majority of it completely gone. My older sister has filled in some blanks but of course not everything.

    But I’ll tell you one thing…eventually some truths come out. Like the fact that I am “illegitimate.” Yes, I have blogged about this before.

    Long story short: family away on business, mommy had sex with servant in Pakistan, no one *quite* knew who the hell was my father but I did not look exactly “white” as a kid. I do “pass” now but I can look somewhat “exotic” at times and people always wonder what exactly my heritage is. They never guess correctly.

    Now I don’t know whether it was my mother’s hypomania, agoraphobia that led to “insane” loneliness and finding love or both but my parents also had a really fucked (no pun intended) marriage because there was a lot of sex outside the marriage. Yes, the things you do not need to know about your parents–trust me–I parented both of them so I know it all. Or what their versions are of things–again as you say–lies!

    I found out as an adult, had DNA testing just to be sure and of course, “daddy” was not my biological daddy. And no, my mother is not a tramp and it wasn’t like she was screwing all of Karachi.

    Everybody knew–except me.

    I finally confronted mommy just this year–on my 37th birthday because I felt so crappy for being born and I felt that was an appropriate date? Surprisingly I didn’t throw her over the edge into some psychotic state and now I think she might be accepting it a bit and creeping out of her hole of denial.

    I hate family lies too. All of this was very hard. And I too may have siblings (or half siblings?) that I will never know. And I’ll never know my biological father either. That hurts as well.

  7. Jack Payne says:

    A con man, being a sociopath, is a congenital liar. Makes you wonder how such an empty suit can live with himself under these circumstances.

    You scratch your head, wonder about the incongruity of it, then dismiss it.

    On the other hand, when purposeful, hurtful lying goes on within families, the fallout is usually much more unforgettable, much more tragic. So hard to live with that it often creates permanent lifelong scars.

    –Jack Payne

  8. Vicki says:

    In the middle of it all, there was strength and there was love. Perhaps not enough of both, but as much as was possible to give, and then some. And it was given with a certain risk… but given absolutely and unconditionally in spite of the risk. Your mother and I risked more than perhaps you’ll ever know to protect our children. What you wrote here was very difficult to read… sometimes the truth is difficult. Perhaps you will not understand this, but as much horror and hell that existed back then, with remnants surfacing today, if asked, I would have to say that it was a small price to pay to welcome you and your brother into my life, and my daughter and my son. The four of you were and the joy that will forever trump the horror.

  9. Gabriel... says:

    Well this just got weird.

  10. Vicki says:

    Weird to know how much you were loved? Or weird that I would write that in a public forum??

  11. Gabriel... says:

    Hello Auntie Vicki. It’s been a while. I was just watching mom’s wedding video a few days ago.

    Just a style note: you’re leaving my URL as part of your profile, leaving it there confuses things and makes people think I’m talking to myself. All you need is your name and email address (so I know you’re you), you can also leave a website you think is important people visit.

    I know you love me, and I know that because you do you’ll say it in inappropriate places at inappropriate times. I have never had a problem with that.

    Weird because this is the first post I’ve written about Edward or, frankly, anything directly related to ‘Those Days’, and everyone I’m related to and their dog seems to have found it. Sis A., then Sis B. which inevitably led to E. and now V., I’m expected C.P., Uncle A.P. and maybe even B.F., E.B. and C**** from ‘Those Days’ to drop by anytime now.

    I know how you feel about ‘Then’, I listened to you as I was growing up and I’ve got the transcripts from the interviews, then there’s a book somewhere as well. But this blog is about my own ‘Back Then’, ‘Then’ and ‘Now’. If you want to hang around and read about my recovery, please do. I know where you’ve been and the experiences you’ve had so I’d be interested in your perspective. Also, please feel free to leave comments wherever and whenever you want, my reply rate is about 86%. The best place to start is in “The First Posts“, or the FUQ’s.

    But I don’t need moms “but we all played soccer in the park” stories and the “but we loved you” stuff on this post or the potential upcoming posts like it.When you, or her, say these things it sometimes does more harm than good. Sometimes they feel like rationalizations. I know what you did, I know what happened ‘Then’ and I know how it has bled into your ‘Now’. And, to be honest, this post has very little to do with ‘Then’. Ed sacrificed his families for his convenience, he never needed another reason.

    I’ll be back later tonight, and will respond to anything you post anywhere on the blog, but my email address is on my “About Page” if you want to send a letter.

    There’s also my [the other blog] if you’re looking for something a little less ‘Then’.

  12. Vicki says:

    I am absolutely going to read this because I am interested in your insight into things past, but also in your recovery. I would not write anything about “playing soccer in the park” etc. because that… in whatever forum…. can be pretty boring, don’t you think?
    And I do think that you have a great deal of insight into many things I’m reading here.
    P.S. I don’t get the part “Just a style note: you’re leaving my URL as part of your profile” so I don’t know how to fix it. Also, I’ll try to control blurting out inappropriate things, but I make no promises!

  13. Gabriel... says:

    It’s possible there’s a glitch, but when you leave a message the form asks for your name, email address and a website. For some reason, when you post your responses the form is leaving Salted Lithium as your website. So, the next time you leave a note just leave a favourite website in that space.

  14. aikaterine says:

    hey, hope all is well. Will you email me with your jm email address, the one we usually use? I had to reinstall my operating system and lost your address.

    Oh, and please feel free to delete this comment. I just thought that it would be the best way to get ahold of you.

  15. thordora says:

    I had never read this before. It reminds me why I’m so scared of fucking up my kids.

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  21. AllehPhoenix says:

    Something I thought about as I read this: we might come from our family, but we are NOT them. I’m sorry you had to go through this.

  22. SusanR says:

    I just realized this is a 2007 post. Painful to read. You’ve overcome so much to get where you are now. Be proud of that.

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