Old Post Day | Fatherless Fatherhood

I’ve been spending a lot of time recently writing about the relationship between myself, my girlfriend and her three-year old son. My girlfriend and I have been dating for nine weeks, but it’s mostly the relationship between myself and her son that has me most… concerned.

When I look at him I see a future with an absentee, neglectful father. I see paternal grandparents who can’t be bothered to get involved in his life, and an overbearing passive aggressive maternal grandmother who has alienated both of her own daughters and her son.

I watch him climbing and playing and laughing and totally oblivious to what’s coming, and I can see a future where he spends years wondering why he’s not worthy of having a father… or forces himself to become satisfied with whatever father-substitute he finds.

There are a lot of dynamics in these relationships I’ve recently gotten into… so I thought this Old Post Day would be a perfect opportunity to revisit the first post I wrote specifically about my own father.

Excerpts From:

A Lying Maoist Revolutionary Con Artist Stole My Family And All He Left Me With Was A Crappy Bike
June 27, 2007

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.

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.

There were several insightful comments left on this post. But there were also two left from a family member who also lived through my father’s bullshit.

In a moment of absolute insanity my brother gave our aunt and her daughter the link to Salted. The very first post she read was also the very first post I had written about my father… who led the cult she had also been a part of.

My aunt used to tell my brother and I stories about how fucked up my father had been. She had been a hero to us because she not only looked after us inside the cult, but she helped us escape. But then I found out, by accident, she had gotten into a relationship with my father just as the 90’s were dying off.

I’m not sure what she expected to accomplish by leaving comments, or even reading my posts, but her first reaction was to defend the cult I grew up in… it was our first communication in several years, and we’ve only spoken once since then.

Good times.




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, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Old Post Day. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Old Post Day | Fatherless Fatherhood

  1. bromac says:

    All due respect, you’re forcing your history, however well founded and appropriate it may be to your current statues and mental health, onto this boy. In reality, you have absolutely no idea what his future looks like. There are many, many possibilities.

  2. bromac says:

    I should have added “In my opinion” or “I think” because, in the truest reality, I have no idea exactly the situation or, obviously, what is going on in your head……just what you have written here.

  3. Gabriel... says:

    Taiguey bromac… not forcing so much as projecting. It sounds less invasive. There are a thousand million possibilities for the Little Monkey, but when I’m thinking about what he’s going through I start thinking about what I went through and… the projector starts up.

    The thing is, technically I still had a father at his age, but I don’t know how good a father he was to me and my brother. I have other people’s memories of who he was, but I have no defined or distinct memories of my old man…. One of the things the cult did as it was breaking down was burn all the paperwork… including the photos. I wrote somewhere a long time ago that memories are what make us who we are, and photos are generally what guides those memories. So take all the photos out of your childhood and how many memories are left..?

    Anyway… I’m way off topic. Little Monkey and I had a great day today (Monday). We went out for ice cream, then shopping for sandals and then out for a chip-stand hotdog for dinner. And I had him on my shoulders, and carried him upside down and ran around… we basically did guy stuff.

    …not quite as I remembered it, but this was the memory thing, it’s from a short story of mine that was published about three thousand years ago:

    In memories there is no blood. No sound. Just vague, half-blurred remembrances that may, or may not be concealing something else. The mind is a sieve. Only fragments remain of hopes, loves, fears, hates and desires. Pictures fade. The only memory is who you are today.

  4. thordora says:

    I project my experiences on to the girls, and since I’m aware of it, I think it makes me a better mother. I value them in a way I don’t think I would had I not lost my mother.

    There’s healing in parenting children as we wished to be parented.

  5. bromac says:

    I like projecting better as well. It seems like you have come a long way with this issue by being aware of that projection and the anxiety/dissonance (?) it causes you.

  6. dw says:

    listen to your instincts/gut. first and foremost.

    you’re in a difficult spot — trying to distinguish what may be legitimate instinct vs. what may be the sound of the sirens (the bipolar); so cut yourself a lot of slack and plenty of time.

    i think people genuinely want you to be happy (myself included) so they say, ‘go, GO, do THIS, be happy and whole! be LOVED, etc. etc.

    all good intentions aside, i sense your hesitance in so many ways, just as i sense your eagerness; both well merited. both driving you and yet dividing you. you know you.

    i once forced myself to believe i was well beyond my history..
    and there were serious (and somewhat predictable) consequences.
    i don’t say this in a negative sense… but being forced (per se) into shiny happy futures based on the best of efforts and intentions and expectations that all will be well simply because you will it so; and work for it so — they just aren’t always realistic. and i think that’s what you’ve been leaking in a subtle way.

    again, trust your gut; examine it realistically, listen to your fears (but don’t be owned by them), and slowly but surely, act and judge accordingly.

    no one knows you like you.

    i hope this made sense to you.

  7. XUP says:

    I think perhaps it’s better to grow up with no father than to grow up with a really bad father. I raised my daughter alone with no presence from her father’s side of the family and only occasional contact with my family. So far, at 16 she seems well-adjusted, smart, talented, confident, happy. I work very hard to be there for her always, to make her my #1 priority, to make sure she is loved unconditionally and completely. She knows she can talk to me about anything and that I’ll always be on her side. I provide for her, encourage her, listen to her, support her, help her when she needs it and look out for her. Yes, perhaps another similarly loving adult in her life would have been better, but then we wouldn’t have the same relationship we have now. There’s added pressure on your girlfriend to be ALL family to her son, but she will do her best and it will be fine. Kids grow up in all sorts of families. There’s nothing that says that in order to be a balanced, productive adult a person has to grow up with one male and one female biological parent. Don’t be so anxious. Let your relationship with the boy develop naturally like you would let any relationship develop. Don’t fret about what might happen. If you want to love him, go ahead – don’t hold back because you’re not entirely sure you’ll be around forever.

  8. I have to agree with the previous commenter…I think perhaps it’s better to grow up with no father than to grow up with a really bad father. There is a lot of controversy over the “proper” ways to raise a child-one of them being that you need a mom and a dad to do so…However, having a male figure in a child’s life who isn’t much of a role model is much worse than having none at all.

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