A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak

A good number of first marriages in the US end in divorce – around 50%. After divorce, most families with children end up with the mother as the custodial parent, and the father in a very limited non-custodial role.

My father is a pretty well-known jazz guitarist. He has chubby cheeks and a huge grin, just like me. We both wiggle our right legs if we sit for too long, and we both have big, loud laughs. We’re even both Tauruses. And, like him, I was a brilliant singer blessed with a great singing voice. I so dearly wanted to be an opera singer, a working musician, just like my father.

My mother wasn’t a fan of that idea, though. From a very young age, she enrolled me in a very serious ballet school with a pre-professional company track. Yet, I always had an interest in learning how to play guitar, or even bass (my grandfather also plays, but was always a hobbyist/fill-in player). Classical music and singing fascinated me, but it was pretty sometimes to get the support that I would need to make a career happen. Oh, she believed that I could do it. But she wasn’t going to be helping me along that much.

I remember when my father left home. I also remember the screaming, then cussing, and the stony silences that would follow their arguments. Those are the obvious memories.

The non-obvious ones? That strong women don’t need men. They don’t need romance. Creative people, musicians especially, are deadbeats. And, men will never, ever stick around- even if you love them.

Neither of my parents were a great support. At the root of it, my father was still an overly-sensitive artist. I think that he was jealous of the attention paid me, sometimes. He once told me that I couldn’t call myself an artist until I had “suffered like he had”. At the time, I thought that I played these words off. I didn’t.

Thinking back, I notice that my mother never really addressed this desire to be a musician. She was all behind me applying to Juilliard for dance, but deep-sixed me leaving high school at 16 to attend Simon’s Rock College; Simon’s Rock has an incredibly strong music program, and is geared toward gifted teens who are academically able to leave behind high school coursework. Her refusal was after I had been accepted, and I was devastated. It was painfully clear, on some deep-down level, that being an artist wasn’t something in my future.

Because of my lack of confidence, I started to self-sabotage.In my senior year, I started to spiral downward as a vocalist. Where before I had been driven to actually cut classes to practice singing with the music department chair, I now started to become shaky. I was the chair’s favorite singer. I quickly became his black sheep. My vocal talent was starting to become a curse.

By the time I left college halfway through my sophomore year, I wielded my voice like a blunt object, and had grown spoiled and demanding. Even though I was the youngest member of the NJ State Opera chorus, it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be in the small ensemble pieces- at 20. I was an artist, and I would prove it. I was still driven, but I held myself back on some levels. Practicing seemed like an affront, something that other people had to do. One of my voice teachers told me off, and I answered her censure by dropping her.

During my time doing period reenactment in the SCA, I became known for my singing. I got the fame and reputation that I always wanted. Down the line, though, there was so much drama from being at the top, involved with Courts and such, that I dropped out. To this day, I beg people to not request me to sing, because the thought sickens me.

All of those small messages served their purpose. I don’t sing anymore. I still have a lovely voice, albeit one that is weak and cracking. But, it’s there. I’ve made token efforts to sing, but can’t stick to it. I don’t trust my voice. It’s brought me nothing but trouble and torment.

So goes it with my sexual life, as well.

It may squick you out to think about your parents and sexuality in the same sentence, but one springs from the other. There is no denying that your parents’ sexual relationship, along with past events, shape your intimate life for years to come. If those effects are negative, they’ll lurk in the background until you find and vanquish them.

When my father left, I think that he fully intended to still be a father…at first. I wondered if he was just frustrated by my mother’s bitterness, or for some other reason. Yet, my father and mother both had a terrible case of the Irresponsibles. They were awful with money, never paid bills on time, and lived on the mercy of my grandparents (mostly my grandfather). After their relationship fell apart, and the man that I loved so much had moved away from me without so much as a goodbye (he was there one morning, gone by the time I came back from school), he went underground. It seemed that I was a victim of the Irresponsibles, yet again.

Stories reached me about how they had to hunt him down for being a deadbeat dad. Everyone hated him, while I still tried to keep an open mind. I didn’t want to judge this man who I admired so much. However, I started to be resentful of the fact that a person that was supposed to care for me, ran away. He dropped his responsibility. Was I disposable? That couldn’t be possible. I was his darling. Right?

I only saw my father a few times after that. I would talk to him on the phone on occasion. If he called, I would get the message, along with a mini-tirade by the message-taker about how he was worthless. Those messages stuck, just like the ones telling me that I wasn’t an artist. This man was bad; he was absolute shit. My mother didn’t need him, was strong enough to boot him, and that was that.

Later on, when I started to date, I noticed something peculiar: the men vanished. Or, they played with me by engaging my affections, getting my admiration, then leaving.

For a while, I just thought that I was fundamentally jinxed. I laughed it off, thinking that this was just a passing phase because I was young. Yet, as I saw the girls around me creating lasting love relationships, I started to think twice about what was going on. I was in therapy, and this was one subject that popped up on occasion. None of us was able to make a dent in the issue.

The routine was always the same, be it with therapist, my Tarot reader, or a friend: I would meet the guy and get along with him wonderfully. We would talk and date a bit. I’d be so happy that I would, of course, tell everybody that I was with someone really special, and that maybe this one would work out. I’d have a bit of intimacy- but only a bit, and I’ll explain why- and then things would change. He would leave. The phone calls would stop or fall to practically nothing. There would be no explanation.

If things lasted for more than a month, I would notice that the man either wanted me as arm candy, or wanted me completely hidden. Now, I’m one for discretion, but this was the sort of hidden that seemed like he didn’t want to be seen with me at all. Attempts to get an explanation would turn up, “Oh, well, I told you that I was an asshole,” as if his behavior could be excused by one offhand remark made a while ago.

In any case, the relationship and/or contact would vanish, and I would be left alone in the end, wondering what I had done wrong.

Sex might as well have not existed in my life. I shut off my sex drive altogether. I didn’t even kiss until I was 18, and lost my virginity at 24. Sex simply didn’t make sense to me. I was disconnected from it, and would often find my mind wandering during the act to other things, like doing my shopping. Sex was something that happened to me, not with me. You can guess what effect this had on the, er, outcome of things. Intimacy was a null value.

I had never seen much affection between my parents, and had been in numerous sexual situations where I was nothing but an outsider, looking in. It was as if I didn’t understand where romance and sexuality fit into the equation of man and woman.

Fast forward to about a year ago, when I finally made the connection in therapy that my sexual problems were connected to my parents. It took till two days ago- January 11, 2007- to understand that my choice of men was resulting in a replay of what had happened during my childhood.

I haven’t seen a man and woman in a relationship that really exuded love during my childhood. My grandparents, who were married more than 50 years, suffered through a lot during their marriage, but I mostly saw them fighting through adversity and staying together throughout. That was a love forged from suffering and hardship in the final years of life. I had never seen love and romance as fresh, comfortable, and possible in a state of permanence.

As far as my mother is concerned, she never dated. Ever. There were a couple of times when she would offhandedly admire some hot guy passing by on the street, but nothing more than that. There was never an attempt to connect with her sexual side. She didn’t even tell me how I was made; I learned that from the book that she handed me when I was about 6. Being a grown woman had nothing to do with sex. She had also enrolled me in an all-girls’ school. There were boys at social events, but I had absolutely no idea how to relate to them, and didn’t know how to handle any kind of attraction. Couple this with a desire to date inter-racially at a teen, and you have the makings of a mess.

My father, though…these realizations are huge. From him comes my idea that I can be discounted, or that I’m a prize to be shown off. Of course I’m going to pick men that will eventually walk away, because he did that when I was a child. Of course no man would ever cherish me enough to take care of me. Why should he? My father kinda did, and kinda didn’t. It was a point of ambiguity. I wanted an explanation? Impossible! My father was never accountable for what he did. I even got a couple of substance abusers in there…just like my father.

I blamed myself for him leaving. The marriage break up was my fault on some level. Thus, I was doomed to repeat the cycle, thinking that it would be different for me, and that my gifts and looks would be enough to keep a man around. Nothing could be further from the truth.

All of these realizations came about while I was meditating. My heart chakra was hurting from a situation in my life where I feared that the cycle was repeating, and that I was about to be abandoned again. The only way out is through, though, so I would have to go to the root of the issue in order to heal the trauma. I went deep into the discomfort, asking myself, “Where does this come from? What happened that brought this cycle of suffering about?”

Things happened so quickly after that. I can’t even tell you exactly how I arrived at the point of realization that I blamed myself for my parents’ divorce. I can tell you, though, that I burst into tears the moment that it hit me. Me, who doesn’t cry for anything, wept out everything that had been in my heart for 28 long years.

On the heels of that came more (it was a great day for meditation, let me tell you). I realized that my healing would have to come about through experience, that I would have to use my heart, not my head, in choosing who to spend my time with, and that part of that healing would be to help others by sharing my pain. That’s why I’m writing this blog ; ) Another obvious point was that, by inviting abundance into my life, I would bring in the means necessary to facilitate those healing lessons.

I still don’t have the answer to whether I’ll be left behind or not. I may be, I may not be. I know that, once free of the intense pain of guilt and fear, I was able to be incredibly grateful for the things that I had shared with the men I cared, or care, about. I still have a terrible time separating pessimism from intuition. That will go on for some time, I imagine.

If you notice patterns in your love life…hell, in your life in general…you owe it to yourself to meditate it out. Even if you don’t like your own company, I beg you to challenge yourself by surrendering to silence and accepting whatever floats up as what it is, free of blame and excuse. Ask it, “Why are you here? What are you here to warn me about? Why are you afraid?” There may be something there of value. I guarantee it.

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~ by isiskali on January 13, 2007.

12 Responses to “A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak”

  1. I can’t believe this. THIS is the woman that I’m always seein’? I mean, my god, how did you get this far or lasted this long with all this on your plate? I won’t lie, I’ve often wondered why I saw you with no one in particular…I saw the occasional guy on the arm but then the next time you’d be walkin’ in by yourself. This gives me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the goin’s on in your personal life.

    Let it be said that I have even more respect for you now than I already did before…and maybe a little afriad for you as well. I want to see you happy in the worst way more than ever (I’m always rootin’ for the peoples I care about) but I can see it’s gotta be a special guy to do that…none of these run-of-the-mill joes. I see your quest in the same way I see mines…we both have to work that much harder to find what we want. I thought I had it over you for obvious reasons but I clearly see now it’s the other way ’round, no question in my mind whatsoever.

    Just the same, I’m rootin’ for ya over here.

    Achtung, my Queen.

  2. what a beautiful reflection on life, love, healing and self-evolution… i love your new blog, exposing yourself on this level is truly inspiring and will make such a difference in other’s lives. thak you for that!

  3. OMG…you two. I’m telling you, it’s hearing from people like y’all that make it possible for me to share my experiences. As long as I’m helping people, it’s soooo worth it 😀

    Your comments have touched me greatly. Thank you so much!!! Much love!

  4. Fabulous, insightful, I’m waiting with baited breath to read more.

  5. didi you are great.
    MB
    india

  6. Wow. What a fantastic essay. I’m so proud of you for doing all this work so early in life. That squeeze you feel is me hugging you.

  7. 😀 😀 😀

    *hugs and squeezes back*

  8. […] Ponder presents A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak posted at Isis Kali’s Lush […]

  9. 28 no surprise, it seems you are expiriencing your Saturn return. We start to work through our major life lessons at this point in our lives. Have faith, you are working towards the right path in dealing with this head on with an open heart. By removing these obstacles you will be able to change this karmic pattern. There are sensitive artistic men out there that understand respondsability. When you have done the work in yourself, removing the patterns that we inherit from our elders, stable strong men like this will be drawn to you.

  10. I hope so! Having such a good and important goal is great, though, and keeps me going…

  11. […] A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak […]

  12. […] A father, divorce, and the 28 year heartbreak […]

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