Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

Fathering Forgiveness

June 16, 2014

Sunday June 15th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

Happy Father’s Day! Those that know me well may think I have finally flipped completely, but I couldn’t be more sincere. I think this is going to be the best Father’s Day of my life, and it once again took me by surprise. At this point I don’t care how it took me – I am just delighted it did.

I have finally found it in my deepest being to forgive my father unconditionally for everything he ever did or said to hurt me. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I know that I have finally gotten over one of if not the biggest psychological humps in my life. It won’t be an issue again.

There have been so many things going on in my life lately, Father’s Day took a back seat in my mind this year. As with all the family based holidays that have been so difficult for so long, some years are better than others. This year Mother’s Day sent me over the edge, and that was enough.

I’ve still got some hurt I need to work through with her, but the old man and I have completed our business as of today. I think it was due to my sitting with my sister Tammy and talking about everything I felt a need to talk about on Friday. As we were looking through family pictures, we ran across his driver’s license and old work ID. Seeing him from a distance changed everything.

As a child, he was a giant fire breathing dragon to be feared. One little mistake or indiscretion could and often did bring the undiluted wrath of hell’s fury. Sometimes it involved beatings, but even getting yelled at with his intimidating snarl would strike extreme fear into every one of us.

He was a bully, and loved to get over by using fear and intimidation tactics. I eventually caught on to his game, and after that I no longer feared him. I learned to despise him and all bullies, and I have stood up to them in all forms my entire life. I’ve gotten some world class ass whippings as well, but at least I went down swinging. He was the inspiration for it, and the emotions ran deep.

For years and years no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t let it go. I read books and articles about forgiveness, and I knew they were correct by saying I needed to do it – but I couldn’t find the button and it wouldn’t go away. I thought I did a few times, but I was only fooling myself.

My step mother was the only person I ever knew that was in his class of evil, and between the two I had more issues than Mad magazine. She was the only humanoid I ever ran across that was in his league of evil, and as a child I prayed for her slow and painful death. Guess what? I got it!

It was only when I heard she had died that I was able to forgive her. My grandmother told me, and Grandma’s brain was in outer space due to Alzheimer’s. She must have told me ten times in two minutes, and when she did I immediately knew how wrong I was for wishing what I wished.

I was an adult by then, and when I heard the witch was dead I was able to see the situation a lot clearer than I could as a child. My step mother was a small town girl from the U.P. of Michigan, and came to Milwaukee the ‘big city’. Then she married Satan, and she had her cross to bear for the rest of her life. I’m not condoning her treatment of me, but I was able to forgive her for it.

I knew right then I was over it, and that it wouldn’t be an issue ever again. It hasn’t been, and it won’t be in the future. The damage is done, and I see things differently now. I don’t want to wish her soul to barbecue or anything like that. I’ve got my own problems, and wasting energy on her is not going to help either one of us. Getting closure on it all has been a huge load off my psyche.

I now have the exact same feeling about him, and I can finally dust off and move on. It used to eat at me from within, and quite often Father’s Day was a major trigger. I’d see my friends with good fathers be able to have someone to go to in times of need, and know I’d never have that. It made me angry, bitter and hurt more than I can put into words. Now, I don’t feel that anymore.

Do I still think he was a butt plug in the poop shoot of humanity? Without question. He was an all out loser that never should have had children, but he had his own problems. He was never that all powerful ogre he portrayed so well all throughout my childhood. He was a scared little boy all along, and didn’t want anyone to know it. He tried to cover it up by pretending he was a monster.

I think the biggest monster of all lived inside his own head. My grandfather used to tell me of how he would try to motivate my father time and time again and was never able to reach him. It always bothered Gramps, but he never stopped trying. When I got to be a teenager we would go out for breakfast once a week and catch up. He did the same with my father. It became tradition.

Gramps told me many times that between the two breakfasts each week I was without a doubt the adult of the two. My father apparently bitched about everything and was still that unsatisfied kid while I was growing into adulthood and maturing. For whatever reason, the old man was not able to figure life out. He told me himself that he was “a major underachiever and proud of it.”

There are a grand total of ZERO pictures of my father and me at any point in our lives. Not as a baby, not as a kid, and surely not as an adult. We didn’t have contact for years, and I talked to Tammy about that. She said he was a huge pain in the ass at the end, and made all of their lives a constant circus. I’m glad I wasn’t around for it, but I’m sorry they had to endure that for so long.

I know I’m not the only one that has had father issues, but mine were pretty intense. My friend C.J. Vincent reminded me that “you don’t forgive your father, you forgive yourself.” I agree with that wholeheartedly, but I think it’s important to be able to see things from the father’s viewpoint to do it completely. I’m not saying anyone has to forgive the actions, but knowing why is crucial.

My father was a coward. He was a social misfit, and had extremely low self esteem. None of it gives him a pass for how he treated us, but it sure does explain why. I looked at his picture on his driver’s license and ID card, and I saw a pathetic lowlife rather than that fire breathing monster.

I should have had Tammy make a copy of it so I could show it, but I didn’t think of it then. All I could do was just look at it with disgust and know with total certainty that it wasn’t any of our faults that we were treated worse than cattle by him. I think that’s what C.J. means by forgiving ourselves. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get to this point, but I can feel that I absolutely have.

That doesn’t mean I’m ‘fixed’ though. There are still a few bubbling issues with my mother to work through, and I’m just not there yet. I know it’s basically the same story and the exact same principle should be used, but I’m human and there’s still some hurt there. I’ll get to it when I do. Apparently according to Tammy she’s still alive, so maybe there will be a meeting in our future.

I have a strict limit of one crisis at a time, so I’ll just enjoy this victory and know that I just got dealt a bad hand in the parental department I’ll have to play out for as long as I continue to draw breath. The only kind of true revenge I can get is to be a father figure and mentor to as many kids of all ages that I can. I was shown kindness from Gramps, and that’s what I am going to use as a model to show others. I feel like I’m finally free from the dragon’s evil grasp. Next crisis please.

Father issues run deep, and unfortunately with many. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult, or even unheard of to some.

Father issues run deep, and unfortunately with many. Forgiveness can be extremely difficult, or even unheard of to some.

Apparently I'm not alone or this poster wouldn't exist.

Apparently I am not alone, or this poster would not exist.

Life Begins Today

December 29, 2013

Friday December 27th, 2013 – Flagstaff, AZ/Tucson, AZ

Today was flat out the absolute single happiest day of my entire life to date. How often can one honestly say that? But it was. Knowing that there is a super strong possibility of me meeting with my three siblings after decades of separation and extreme hurt feelings has made me feel like I’m finally alive and on the same playing field as everyone else. It took forever to happen, but it has.

All day today my brother Bruce and I exchanged emails, and every one was more encouraging than the last. We’ve opened up the deep river of communication that has never been there in our adult lives, and I can feel the healing vibes already flow. This is EXACTLY what I’ve hoped for since I was a kid, and it’s a feeling of sweetness I’ve never felt before. This is my biggest dream.

It feels like I personally won the Super Bowl, the lottery and got a key to the Playboy Mansion all in the same day. I feel bullet proof emotionally for the first time ever, and I know I will never have suicidal thoughts like I have in the past. THIS is what was hurting, and I found the source.

The feeling of giddiness that’s racing through me now is pure ecstasy. I seriously doubt a heroin high would be able to make me feel as good as this. It’s like the biggest boil in history has been lanced, and all the pus is draining away forever. For the first time in my life I feel I have hope.

I honestly never expected this to happen, at least not how it has. It seemed to be the impossible dream, even though it’s what I wanted more than anything in the world. This means more to me than getting on The Tonight Show, my own sitcom or a ten picture movie deal. If I had to choose between the Packers winning every game they play from now on or this, I’d take this in a second.

This is where the pain in my life that has hurt so badly for so long has originated. I knew it as a kid, and it has bothered me since then. We’ve never been able to sit down and talk about it in any way, and there have been festering emotions rotting away for eons. I’m sure my siblings feel it as well. For whatever reason, this particular time is turning out to be right for us all. We are in sync.

It hasn’t happened yet obviously, but I’m supremely confident it absolutely will – much sooner than later. Bruce and I are to the point of narrowing down a date in February or March where the four of us can meet for a meal at a restaurant to start the healing wheels in motion. I am ecstatic.

Bruce gets more and more excited with each email, and says Tammy and Larry are up for it as well. We all need this, and it will be a wonderful experience to come together as a – dare I say it – family for the first time. We’ve never ever had that relationship, so this is new ground for us.

I was on an emotional rocket ship as I made the gorgeous drive from the Motel 6 in Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix to have lunch with my old friend Pete Christensen. Pete is a really good soul and knows me about as well as anyone. He’s had radio and TV shows forever and is also a comedian. He knows my family situation, and could see how excited I was that this is all finally happening.

I got back in the car after lunch and drove the rest of the way to Tucson with the window down and my spirits up. It seemed like every song that came on the radio had personal meaning just for me, and it was uncanny after a while. The first I noticed was ‘Ooh Child’ by The Five Stairsteps.

The lyrics “things are going to get easier” resonated deep into my soul. After that Sister Sledge ‘We Are Family’ came on. I turned the radio up as loud as it would go, and just let the vibes flow through to my innermost core. I wanted to let all that pus from the past drain out, and it totally is.

This doesn’t guarantee everything in life is going to be “Hershey bars and Archie comics” like Gramps used to say, but it puts me on an even playing field for the first time and lets me become as close to a whole person as I’m ever going to become. This was the first step that needed to be taken decades ago, but never happened for whatever reason. Now it is, and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s going to open up so many positive doors. I predict that if I’m allowed to live and continue the life path I’m on I’ll be married or at least have a solid relationship within two years. THIS is what has held me back, because I was in so much pain I was never able to commit emotionally.

I also predict I’ll have a major career breakthrough in a short time – mainly because I’ve given up caring. My whole mindset has changed, and it’s no longer about ‘proving myself’ or ‘showing someone’. A big reason of why I got into comedy was for approval, but this is the approval I was really after. Why should I care what a room full of drunks in Duluth thought? That was all I had.

Now I have the golden opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with the only three other people on the planet that can truly relate to the source of my pain. It’s the source of theirs as well so this will be a win/win/win/win. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been, but also completely realistic.

We’re all still four broken and hurting people, and that won’t ever change. There will be scars, and deep ones at that. We’re all very different, and we’ve got to get to know each other as adults all over again. We’ll have quirks and soft spots, and we’ll all have to navigate around all of that.

I’m not saying we won’t have disagreements, but what we will have is a chance to heal. That’s the reason I’m feeling so exhilarated, and I know it will be a major turning point in my life. I had a similar experience with my grandmother before her brain was stolen by Alzheimer’s disease.

As warm and uplifting as Gramps was, Grandma was an ice queen. She was German and angry at life in general. She’s the source of a lot of pain and dysfunction too, and at one point we didn’t speak for about ten years. We got back in contact when she was in her mid 80s, and we forged an absolutely amazing relationship that lasted a couple of years – and that’s how I’ll remember her.

I would drive up to Milwaukee from Chicago about once a week and bring her a hamburger or Chinese takeout and she’d act like it was filet mignon. She never drove a car, and to her it was as big a deal as it got. She’d tell me stories of her and Gramps’ early life, and it was our best times.

We’d had years of anguish and sadness, but we ended up on a super high note that stays in my memory even now. I can absolutely see the same happening with Tammy, Larry and Bruce. We are all ready for this, and all on the same page as far as letting the past die and moving forward.

I had two absolutely MONSTER shows at Laffs in Tucson tonight. This will provide me with a secret weapon for the rest of my life. The approval I was seeking for so long I’ve now got, so the laughs I get on stage are pure. My life is about to explode, but finally in a good way. Stay tuned!

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can't put into words how wonderful it feels.

It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders. I can’t put into words how wonderful it feels.

The Merriest Christmas

December 27, 2013

Thursday December 26th, 2013 – Amarillo, TX/Flagstaff, AZ

This year is going to go down as one of my favorite Christmases ever – diarrhea and all. At the start of the year I made a goal of wanting this to be my best year ever, and it sure looks like I will get what I asked for. 2013 was also rough in many ways, but after today I know I got my wish.

I had about 100 funny Christmas cards laying around that I bought several years ago, but never sent out. I discovered them during my move last month, and decided to send them out to people I like and respect or that did me a solid this year. I also had bought a roll of stamps so it didn’t cost me anything other than the time to address the cards and add a personal note. I sent them all out.

I received all kinds of emails and phone calls from the people who got them, and it put me in a really super mood as I drove from Amarillo, TX to Flagstaff, AZ today. I tried to add something personal to each card, and it totally worked. I got the reaction I was looking for and then some.

I also texted a ton of people yesterday that I didn’t have addresses for, and that also got a very positive reaction. Just making that small personal contact worked wonders, and it helped to make my long drive a lot shorter. Hearing back from so many I like and respect made me feel special.

On a total lark, I sent my younger brother Bruce a Facebook message wishing him not only a Merry Christmas, but to hope that at some point my older sister Tammy and older brother Larry would be able to all get together and start communicating again. That would be good for us all.

Our family makes The Sopranos look like Ozzie and Harriet. We’ve taken dysfunction to new heights, and it’s the source of my pain for Christmas and all that it’s supposed to mean. We were never allowed to be kids, and our innocence was taken way before it should have been. It stinks.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to take another stab at trying to turn this horrific situation around. I’ve heard of siblings having ‘squabbles’, but this is a whole lot deeper than that. Tammy and I haven’t spoken in twenty years, and it’s at least ten years since Larry and I saw each other. Bruce and I were never close, and have been at odds since childhood.

The whole situation has been a big oozing sore for decades, and I’d have to think even Dr. Phil would scratch his bald head and wash his hands of it. There are a lot of hurt feelings and broken spirits, and we were never close to begin with so we’ve stayed apart. Actually, they stayed apart from me but that’s how it has always been. I was raised by my grandparents, and they were not.

This whole disgusting mess has lingered on into adulthood, and has been a huge source of pain for years and years. I’m not without blame, and never claimed to be. I had an enormous blowout with Tammy in 1993, and said some things I’m really sorry for. I’ve tried to apologize, but it has not worked. I feel horrible about it but that was the amputation of our communication and still is.

Well, to my delighted shock and surprise Bruce wrote back and said he would be willing to try and get all four of us together in a room somewhere for a chance to if not reconcile at least let the healing process begin. We’re all broken inside from our horrific childhood scenario, and only the four of us can relate because we all survived it. This will be something only we can appreciate.

Just the thought of hope that this long overdue meeting might actually happen put me in a place of sheer ecstasy. THIS is what is hurting and always has been, and there is finally some attention being paid to the source of all that pain. Comedy has been something to cover it up all this time.

All kinds of performers look to numb their true source of agony, but it’s never what truly ends it. Fame and fortune might help to cover it up, but deep down inside there’s still that smoldering little ember that can easily turn into a raging fire at a moment’s notice. That’s where it all starts.

That’s where it starts with me too, and getting the response from Bruce was like a healing salve for my psyche. He sent a long detailed letter and made some terrific points. He is very intelligent, and has had plenty of his own demons and hurdles to jump. He’s doing an outstanding job, and it would be beyond words to be able to finally develop an adult relationship with the three of them.

This is far deeper than comedy or marketing or anything else I can think of. I know I’m not the only one with a shaky family relationship, but ours has been unbelievably volatile. Being able to finally start to heal would be my greatest Christmas or any other wish. It’s seemed so impossible.

Nothing has been set up yet, but Bruce wrote back and said he talked to Tammy and she would be open to the idea of getting us all together in one place. Even knowing that the possibility of it is being talked about is making my deepest inner child do cartwheels and jump for joy. It’s what I’ve been hoping for forever, but haven’t had the opportunity. The time finally seems to be right.

I wrote to Bruce and told him how excited I was that this was even being talked about, and told him also that I was coming into this with a spirit of extreme humility. I don’t claim to be without reproach, and I’m sure I’m going to catch an ear full from everyone for the mistakes I’ve made.

I’m willing to accept that, and although it’s never pleasant to admit one is wrong it’s necessary to let the healing begin. Most of the idiots in our family were so dysfunctional they would never accept responsibility for their actions and that was a huge source of the problem. They were not ever wrong in their eyes – not even once – and blamed everyone else for every problem at hand.

Now they’re all dead, and they left their toxic residue behind for us to clean up. That’s what we will hopefully do, and it will take the rest of our lives to do it. It will be a process, but if we don’t start it somehow we’ll all go to our graves with giant gaping holes in our souls. This is crucial.

We’ll never have that ideal family bond I see so many have, but like a burn victim we’ll have a second chance at life. There will be ugly scars, but at least we’ll be alive to talk about it. We will appreciate life a lot more, and it will be a major source of joy for us all. I see nothing but good.

I can totally see myself getting out of the standup comedy game and not looking back. I’d still want to perform, but in a MUCH more meaningful way. Maybe I could be a counselor to broken families, or help others patch up their lives. I know we’re not the only family to experience this.

I’m giddy with excitement right now, and I will have a wonderful run of shows in Tucson. This may be the end of the comedy club chapter of my life, but I feel a much better one beginning. It’s what I’ve always wanted, and if it happens it will be the greatest Christmas gift I ever received.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don't ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it.

This is how my inner child feels today. I don’t ever remember it feeling that way before, but I know I love it. What a rush!