Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sins of the Father (...and mother)

I'm as ready as I'll ever be, to share my testimony to my readers (and myself). If you've arrived to this post, because you searched for "the sins of the father", or for whatever reason you are here-- this is my story.  It will be a series, because I'm 56 years old now.  There are several reasons that I want to share my testimony.  Primarily, if you know my story, then you will find out that I have survived a lifetime of pain, hurt, betrayal and sorrow.  God got me through all of it, but at that time I wasn't believing in Him. It wasn't until He brought me down to my knees, that I realized what was missing in my life. I was missing faith, and I had to learn who God really is.  I found the answers in his Word-- the bible.

In the bible, there is a passage that I want to share with you.:

John 9:1-3 (New International Version)

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

The sins of the father are not passed on to his offspring. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions and own actions and salvation. Just because the father is an alcoholic does not mean his offspring are going to be alcoholics, for instance, though it is a common misconception. The same goes for a parent who is an abuser. The child may have no tendency toward abuse and may even despise abuse. There were clearly two schools of thought in the Old Testament, but Jesus taught that each of us is responsible for our actions and that the message of God is love.

I've been writing this blog for close to four years.  It's my story of coming to grips that my son is addicted to opiates.  It's filled with pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and confusion.  As the posts begin to grow, so has my own story of acceptance and growing even closer and stronger in my faith in God. My blog's story, that begins in April of 2008, has also helped me to take a personal assessment in what kind of parent I was to my son.     My son has taken on some of my traits-- some are good, and some are the ones I wish I didn't pass on to him.   

My life was filled with its own dysfunction, and to this day, I still struggle with some of the ways my parents raised me.  Because of their traits they have passed on to me, I have a short-temper, can be over-sensitive and I battle to keep my controlling nature tempered.  So, I begin:

My family

I was born in 1955, the daughter of an handsome Army soldier. My mother was born and raised in Southern Germany in 1924.  She was the daughter of a master tailor. My mother didn't not have a good relationship with her mother. When she was very young, she went to live with her grandmother, who owned a popular and successful restaurant. My mother, and her family,  lived through the horrors of war.  She personally witnessed bombings in her own hometown, had been briefly captured (and let go) by American soldiers, as the war was ending.

My father was born in 1922, the son of a Spanish man who married a Mexican woman from Southern California.  His life wasn't very happy either. He joined the Marines when he was 17 (yes, he lied about his age) and fought in Guadalcanal.  I don't know what happened, but he later joined the Army and fought in the South Pacific, against the Japanese during WWII.  He killed, and also lived through the atrocities of war.  Consequently, he had a quick temper and had a black belt in karate. He later became a Marksman, and trained soldiers how to shoot. He was good at it.

My parents met when he was stationed in Austria.  My mother had an illegitimate son, from an affair with an American solider, who shipped out as soon as he found out she was pregnant.  (Funny thing is I found this out when I was about 11 years old. Until the day my mother died, she never admitted that my half-brother wasn't my full-brother. I never told her that I knew. She was a very private person.) My father married my mother, moved her and my half-brother to America (and he adopted him) and then the trouble began.  My mother, who thought that moving to America would be a glamorous life, quickly discovered that her mother-in-law and relatives were poor farming Mexicans.  She became bitter and angry, and the marriage went downhill from there.  My father, began to hit my mother and she became the bitter and silent wife.  My brother was born in 1954 and I then I came along, when my father was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My memories, for most of my childhood, is that I never saw my parents showing affection.  I can vividly remember some nights, sharing a bedroom with my brother, and hearing the screaming and the sounds of crashing and my mother being hit.  I recall crying, and my brother trying to comfort me.  To this day, I remember a night when I ran into the kitchen and saw my father holding my mother's head on a cutting board, with a knife over her neck and screaming at her-- while she was screaming back, with fear.  That horrible picture is something I have never been able to erase, since I was about six years old.

As I grew older, I began to receive the beatings, too.  I've been picked up and thrown against walls, whipped with his thick belt until I and welts all over me, and had wet my pants with terror.  My half-brother, received some of the worst of my father's temper.  My other brother (whom I adored)  probably got his share of beatings, but I can't recall. I always felt as though he was the "Golden Child" because he was gifted with artistic talent. He was very close to my father, and they did things together. When my father was stationed in Korea, I remember  that there was peace in the house. Somewhat.

My mother, likewise, hit us with wooden cooking spoons, a belt and she could swear like a drunken sailor.  She had a quick temper, too, and she was really strict.  I became a rebellious adolescent, who would back talk her while my father was in Korea.  Like many teenagers, I grew to hate and resent her.  We did not have a loving mother-daughter relationship.  I was not allowed to host sleep-overs, yet alone go to any.  I could not have friends over for dinner.  She didn't understand this "American nonsense".

My parents finally divorced, I was so relieved.  It was a bitter divorce, and my brother moved in with his dad and I lived with my mother. My mother's bitterness worsened my already troubled  relationship with my father, and the camps were divided.  My oldest brother moved out of the house when he was 17 years old. Years later, he told me that he left because my father threatened that "something bad" would happen to him if he stayed.

My High School Years

I recall that in my freshman year of high school, that I isolated myself in school.  I was at a small parochial school, and miserable.  I didn't feel as though I fit in.  My parents weren't religious, and we did not practice religion at home.  I was told I was Catholic, likes it's a genetic thing.  Now, I realized that I would sit alone at lunch and breaks, hoping that someone would notice me. They didn't.  The school closed down, due to lack of funds and I was so happy. I could finally go to a public school.

At the public high school, I smoked my first joint.  I'd smoke weed, but truly more as a recreational thing to do with friends.  I never tried acid, which was big in the 70's.  I dabbled with cocaine, but more out of curiosity. I never bought it, and fortunately, I don't have that addictive gene for drugs.

I didn't get into much trouble as a teenager, because when I wasn't in school, I had to work at my mother's German Delicatessen and small restaurant.  I hated her for making me learn how to run her business, and for having to wear dirndls-- but I soon caught on that boys began to take notice of me. Ha!  My mother kept a really close rein on me, and I was forbidden to date until I was 16. Even then, I was painfully shy.

The Beginning of my Adult Life

Shortly after my 18th birthday, my mother brought me a suitcase and said it was time to move out of the house.  I had a job at a resort, I found a cute apartment, and I left. My mother told me that I was to never ask her for money, but if I was hungry that she would give me food.

I partied it up! My brother moved in with me, and let the good times rock and roll.  I was 18 years old, and had worked my way up to the secretary of the General Manager of the resort and country club.  He was a handsome European, 32 years old, highly educated, spoke five languages and had a very powerful personality.  One day, he asked me on a date. I was so nervous, and was told to keep our relationship secret.  I fell in-love, for the first time in my life.   He took me to fancy restaurants, parties and five-star hotels in big cities. I wasn't old enough to drink, and I was so nervous being around these wealthy and older people.  My mother was so excited for me, because she wanted me to be with a European with all of this man's background and financial/social status.

My Young Marriage

One day, X went away on a trip to visit his father in Canada.  Apparently, he got busted by the INS for having an expired student Visa.  Stupid (and naive) me, said "yes" when he told me what happened and he asked me to marry him.  Six weeks later, we were married at a famous Catholic church. He paid for, and planned everything.  I wasn't allowed to invite my friends-- only my immediate family.  I remember being very scared, and my mother was so excited for me.  It was a beautiful wedding, and my dress was gorgeous (I still have it, vacuum sealed. I have no idea what to do with it. Gosh, I was tiny in size, then!) Shortly before the wedding, I wanted to call it off.  X was being a jerk-- controlling, jealous and far too old and mature for me. But, I was in-love, and I wanted that white gown and chapel wedding.   I was too immature to realize that I was making a big mistake. The invitations had gone out, and that was that.  I had to quit my job, because I couldn't work for my husband.  So, my father walked me down the aisle...

On our wedding night, I remember a group of his drunken friends came to our suite. I remember crying, as one of the wives helped to remove my veil, gown and undo my fancy hair-do.  I remember crying myself to sleep, while I could hear the sound of a poker game, and the smell of cigarette smoke.  The men played poker into the wee hours of the night.  My wedding night wasn't romantic at all. It was lonely and I was scared.

We left for a six-week honeymoon to Europe.   I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds of Iceland, London, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania.  In retrospect, those are the best memories I have of that marriage.  I was homesick, though, and ready to come back to America.  My experience visiting the "Iron Curtain" gave me an appreciation of what it means to be an American, and I still feel that way.

My Divorce

Two years later, I divorced him. I grew tired of his flaunting the women he was cheating with on me. I grew tired of having to be inspected if I passed his criteria for what I wore, or how I looked.  I did not belong in his world of country clubs and wealthy people.  When that marriage ended, he had broken me.  I felt worthless. He once asked me why I couldn't be as beautiful as his (new) secretary...or as smart as her... he'd tell me I was ugly and stupid, and would never amount to anything.

He broke my spirit, and it took years for me to recover from that.

So, there I was, 21 years old and divorced.  I discovered that I was pregnant (by him).  I quietly had an abortion.  To this day, I often wonder what my 35 year old son or daughter might have looked like.  As a Christian, I regret this chapter in my life a great deal.  I have asked for God's forgiveness, that I killed a child, and I was a lot more careful about birth control.  I never told my mother about this, because I was too ashamed.

Now that I think of it, Mr. X never told me he loved me.  Neither did my parents.

For the next few years, I had good times. I worked, as a travel agent, and visited all parts of the world.  I dated, but never had a serious relationship with men.  I didn't trust them.  I used them and I'd dump them. They used me.  I now realize that I wanted to hurt them, as much as I'd been hurt and rejected.  When I was 24, I met a man who owned a business next door to where I worked as a travel agent.  He'd wave at me, and I'd think to myself that he was attractive.  He was to become my husband of sixteen years, the father of  my son...

End of Part I.  More to come...

For today:  My son has been off work for two days. Just the other night, it was raining outside. My husband was on his laptop, my son was curled up on the couch reading. I was on my laptop.  I recall looking at my son, and feeling a sense of gratitude that I know where he is.  I have to say, that I am dreading the day he has to move out. He's 23 years old, and it's time.  I feel a sense of peace, that I know he's home with us alive and well.  He's still taking suboxone, feeling fine and he loves his job.  I am thankful for that. I pray that my son will be able to earn enough money to survive on his own. He will need to learn how to manage his money, because he is used to the comforts of home that my husband and I have-- from years of hard work, scrimping, saving and managing our finances. It isn't easy, and I am thankful for where my life is today.  I give God all the glory and thanks for this.

NOTE:  I have not continued on with this story-- someone who knows who we are, has tried to use this blog to hurt my son.  I don't feel ready to share the rest of my personal story, for a while. When I am ready to-- and I believe this person is no longer reading our blog, and won't try to hurt us, I will is mean to be my personal testimony as to how God changed me for the better.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this site. Our 28 year old daughter is using methadone, opiates and alcohol (and no telling what else). And to make matters worse, she has a young child that she is endangering by driving while impaired with her child and passing out at home while leaving the child unattended. She is in detox now but is not willing to go to an inpatient rehab program. We don't believe she has accepted that she has a problem and we don't believe she has the desire yet to quit using. She went to detox due to her father and me threatening to report her to Social Services. We are so afraid when she gets out that she will continue to endanger her child. We are at our wits end. We are considering calling Social Services anyway if she doesn't agree to go to an inpatient program. But the programs are so expensive and we have already spent so much money on her and our granddaughter and cannot afford to keeping shelling out money. It is encouraging though to read stories such as yours where addicts do recover. Thank you again.

Lisa said...

You are very brave to share the details of your story. But mostly you are very brave to look back at your life and acknowledge what you have chosen or not chosen out of the life to carry forward with you.

Thank you for sharing with all of us.

Wendy said...

thanks for having this blog. i found you because i'm in the midst of having my sister's baby taken from her because of her out of control drug use.

i'm thankful that you found God through all of this. he is the only one that can heal our past hurts, and give us an abundant life. sometimes it is so hard to forgive, but then we remember what Christ did for us. ♥

may God bless you and your family. i pray that your son will find Christ, if he doesn't know him.