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All That Is Wrong

July 11, 2022

(From endless editing)

I will never understand my parents much beyond the truth that they were God’s children, just as I am. No better, and no worse. But the damage is abiding, more than twenty years after both of my parents have died. Neither the damage done or the grace received is deserved. 

Despite that reality, the truth of my life in its first 18 years is less clear to me now the more I understand it. Greater knowledge can sometimes reveal far greater ignorance than we could have discerned. After almost a century the brightest minds in humanity, with explosively improved technology, now know that 95% of all mass and force in the perceived universe is “Dark” – fully unknown.  First unknown, then revealed, the amount of unknowable force and mass we can perceive is now a larger part of the universe than ever. The truth of ignorance is still truth. My parents, and so their children, were coping from the moment we had sentience. Like all kids, we just responded.

I am late in a life spent coping, and that lack of control is both fundamental and inscrutable. In every affect and intention, my life growing up in mid-century America was unconsidered beyond its outcomes. For any of us, life is an assembly of defining the right thing to do, then doing it. After the near death of World War 2, the power to control American lives was won for the entitled, and our culture was based on the victors controlling it.

I have come to see that our midcentury lives were lived in the 95% Dark reality we now know for the rest of the universe. Our world, at least my little world, was a place born of my parents’ inebriated rationalization. The unresolved pain in my family’s life was a dark, scary, judging place. And as my parents came to determine that they had fallen short of their own constructions, so my parents came to find that failure in their children. That determination revealed a Dark World of unavoidable, final judgment. Of course, for my family drinking was part of it – it was a time when “Having a drink” was as normal as “Having Breakfast” until the time my father had to be in the hospital where he would die at the end of his life, he never acknowledged that booze had fully distorted all he had been given.

Our mother could not offer anything but support to the font of judgment, my father. Every family lives beyond its present generation. Ours did. Her children were her disappointment because they were not what her husband had wanted. My sister, the oldest, was in every way what was good in the eyes of the world. But her first eighteen years changed her. She could never even think of drinking a drop of alcohol or think of having children but bonded for life with a man who loved her. The middle child found no one trying to bond to anyone. Except in the final control of suicide. I was distant, separated by fear and example.

As my siblings entered the time when culture judged children in mid-20th century America, the early teenage years, the grades they earned were not those our father grew up basing his identity on. The loss of their parents thus became long and complicated.

As a result of the rejection of my siblings, I was simply quiet and studied. When my sister left a month before graduating from a very nice private high school (and thus rejecting going to a very nice college) to be on her own in California, the first incontrovertible break happened, in 1964. When my brother descended into the mind alteration of his father, but with more varied distractions, I was left fully alone, in every way.

My life became a re-gifted fruitcake. Temporarily possessed, but never eaten because eating would ruin the gift, that is, well, worth giving. It was clear in my growing up that enjoyment, never earned, often awaits another time. So there were no hobbies, few times away from work, and now never a thought of retirement. Eating the fruits of this life will probably never come because I cannot give what I have consumed.  Distraction is real at least, for moment, but the first years of my life are beside me, every day, despite all work and achievement.

It is clear, now, that in their potential failure the gifts that were given to my parents offered more terror for them than any hope, despite having a life of comfort unto privilege. The foundation of alcoholism mandates failure, its distortion created a sense of a doomed life defined by the unending ways everyone falls short.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Rick Reinhardt permalink
    July 14, 2022 8:00 pm

    Beautifully disturbing truth. I’m 37 years sober but the disease skipped a generation. My parents didn’t drink did the best they could and still this story is familiar.

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