My Mom and Dad were divorced when I was one. Dad actually managed to sexually abuse me before the divorce. Karen and Janet, my two older sisters and I went to Dad's on Sundays where we had breakfast. We listened only to classical music, which we hated probably because it was Dad. We did not like him too much, he was " different." I had no idea until after he was murdered that he was gay. Well, looking back he was flamboyant, wearing scarves and brooches. He was a gourmet cook and prided himself in the feasts he made for us. My favorite was the crepes drenched in butter and cinnamon sugar. He kept house meticulously, which mirrored his career, a famous art restorer.
I never told him I loved him. We had an emotionally distant co-existence. One thing I have held dear like the person in Living through Personal Crisis by Dr. Ann Kaiser Stearns who saved all the clothes of their loved one is a small crystal Easter egg that he gave to me one Easter. It is a symbol of his love, and my valuing it. Mostly, he showed his love through things and outings to plays and musical recitals. Those times were sometimes fun sometimes tedious. But today, I have come to enjoy these types of cultural events. They have helped to shape who I am today.
How do you grieve someone you hardly knew, but who is supposed to mean so much?? I have postponed the grief some what through alcohol and drug use and avoidance. He did mean something to me because when we came home from school, in seventh grade, that day in January, I was shocked when Mom declared, "you're father is dead." What do you mean?! What happened?! What do you mean he's dead?! Then the tears started to come and the "oh my God's-" the utter shock. They told me it was a burglary but that is not what happened. The truth was withheld from me. He was actually taking advantage of two young male prostitutes. Risky behavior, that's for sure. What do you mean male?! What do you mean prostitutes?! I was humiliated! It was years later that I got this news. The whole scene was embarrassing. I thought everyone knew from the newspaper but the whole story was not in the newspaper due to plea bargaining.
Back to the seventh grade when this occurred, I was supposed to give a speech dressed as Pocohontas in social studies. Needless to say I missed that one, and subsequently almost failed out of McDonogh that semester. People really don't give enough time for grieving in this society. I needed more time.
You would not believe how many times I heard " I'm sorry " from acquaintances at school. It was too much. It did not help me at all to feel better. No one knew how to listen or even wanted to listen. One girl did ask me how many times he was stabbed. That was really ignorant. I would not have known what to say if someone had listened. But I'm sorry is really useless in helping a person in mourning.
Not having any close friends during this time caused me to push my anger down. This began years or depression and suicidal thoughts. An awful lot can happen when one does not deal with pain and loss. My best friend, Ramsey and I did not even talk about the loss of my Dad. However I did find one coping mechanism to further lengthen my grief. It was alcohol. My first drink was with Ramsey at her grandmother's house. It was sweet white wine from my Dad's wine seller.
I had no empathic friends at this time in my life, to route for me and help me to talk about my feelings. In middle school, who really has that anyway? It seems that no one I knew talked about problems, nor supported each other except the cheerleaders!
The importance of empathic friends in my life today is priceless. I would not do without the recognition of growth, warmth and affection, the reminders of strengths, and the respect of my courage and sense of determination along with all the