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#157085 - 05/20/07 02:12 AM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: EGL]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

What really impresses me about this thread is your willingness to ask for the help you need and your parents' willingness to take the time to respond to your needs. Those are really positive signs for the future.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#157154 - 05/20/07 06:29 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: roadrunner]
Hauser Offline

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2963
Loc: United States
My Dad is STILL writing his memoirs concerning me. I will post it when available.

As far as my Mom's comments, well. Ok here goes:

I WISH she would talk more about how much I had changed just after the beginning of 4th grade. BUT I think it "helps" that she readily admits that she left me vulnerable. Hell I don't know. She admits that her neglect played a part in my being vulnerable to grooming by a perp living down the street.

Another part is VERY painful for me to read. The parts about the dogs. I was abusive towards them, I vented on them. It was a textbook example of pre-perpetrator behavior, especially when combined with my social withdrawal and isolation, coupled with my failing grades and trouble with the law, etc. Thank God a light bulb appeared over me one day when I figured out that I was hurting INNOCENT creatures and that what I was doing was WRONG, VERY WRONG, so I stopped. But the damage was already done. I will always regret the ways that I hurt them. I tried to make up for it by being as perfect a provider I could be with only other dog I had when I was grown up. It truly pains me to think of the way that I once was.

I would do ANYTHING to go back and stop myself back then, if not the abuse itself which led me to do it.

I've heard some people here say "I'm still innocent", well I could never say that, that angry young man wrecked whatever innocence he had left.

#157182 - 05/20/07 09:22 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: Hauser]
WalkingSouth Offline

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16270
Loc: Waldport, Oregon

The fact of the matter is that you were acting out your pain at your abuse and at your parent's abdication of their parenting role in your life. You were crying out for help in the only way you felt you had available to you. Yeah, you did it. Yeah, it was harmful to yourself and the dogs, but you were attempting to use the only tool left available to you in reaching out for help. The good thing about it is that you the light bulb came on and you saw it, and heeded it's warning flash. I call that courage, Bro.



"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting 'Holy Shit! What a ride!'" ~Hunter S. Thompson

#157194 - 05/20/07 09:51 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: WalkingSouth]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA

I will just say that I continue to admire your courage and integrity in dealing with these tough issues. I was pretty mean to our dog as well, and my T helped me to see why. As things got worse and I became more uncomfortable the abuser had to start threatening me. One thing he did was comment on whether anyone might run over my dog. I knew he meant himself, of course, so that made the dog appear to be on "his side".

I think it's important to admit places where we made bad decisions, but not in order to beat ourselves up. We were just kids, Alan, and desperately hurting ones. We had such limited resources and we did whatever came to mind. It's vital that we revisit those times to see what can be learned that's useful to us in the present day, but we have no reason to accept blame.

Much love,

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

#157317 - 05/21/07 06:54 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: roadrunner]
Hauser Offline

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2963
Loc: United States
My Dad finally wrote: Some of his facts are wrong but some of them are right-on and SOME of them bother me, not because of what he says but the times in my life that I was not being honest about what I was really doing. I had ulterior motives in some situations and he didn't know THAT, but he noticed the results of it. Shit. Well here it is for anyone that wants to read it: Most of you don't know me so I wouldn't expect you to have an interest in a parent's memoirs in raising a son that turned into the broken man we see today.

To sum up what these statement of my life do for me, they make me feel shitty, to be quite honest. They make me feel like no matter what I tried to do it didn't work, and that everything is a waste of time and energy. I don't feel good at ALL when I read these. Ok here goes:

You're probably not going to agree with much I say, as I have few memories of you growing up, and few memories of your brothers and sister growing up. What I remember are scattered, episodes and impressions and will differ from what your mother remembers and from what you remember.

I'm sure some of my memories are distorted or incorrect, but below is about the best I can do without taking another week..

You have to know that I always cared for you and wished good for you, but felt helpless in that I've never known how to raise a boy that needed perhaps more than ordinary guidance and good parenting. What I mostly recall is not very positive, but the negatives stick more easily in memory. I carry considerable guilt about your situation, particularly about not having warned you explicitly about sexual advances from adults.


You were born in Florida and from the start seemed a difficult child. I recall that the first year or maybe more, you didn't eat well, you refused to be cuddled or held. You cried frequently from frustration or whatever. You only nursed for a short time before your mother were switched you to bottles, at perhaps two or three or four months. If I knew what it meant, I would have said you were colicky (sp?). The year after you were born was very difficult for me and for your mother, but mostly due to me and my work, and to your mother with four children, two infants 24 hours a day unless I was home.

After about a year, we moved back to Muskegon because things weren't going well for me in Florida. As your mother relates, I spent a week "in observation" at a Sarasota hospital as a result of my mixing valium and alcohol and making some unfortunate decisions that jeopardized my job.

I can't recall particulars in Muskegon except you were hyperactive, not settling into things, but sporadically jumping from thing to thing.
Nothing would hold your interest for long. There were mostly black children in the neighborhood, but you weren't yet at an age when you would have played away from home. You were still a toddler. I think I remember you demanded what seemed to me an unusual amount of attention, but that may be a false impression.

It wasn't until after we had moved to Spring Lake that things improved some. I'm fairly sure I read you stories sometimes at bedtime, but don't really recall specifics. You ate better and seemed to sleep well.

In retrospect, the move to S.L. was a mistake in that we didn't pick a neighborhood where there were lots of kids your age and Luke's age. I didn't understand the need for socializing with your age group to further your development.

I recall that when you were four, I felt a corner had been turned, that you were finally becoming manageable. You started preschool at the Presbyterian Church. After three weeks, the teacher told us you weren't ready and wanted you to drop the class. Your mother persisted and after some time, things seemed better.. no more requests to have you out of the class. This seemed typical over the years, that you wanted more individual attention than the teachers could give.

When you started kindergarten, your mother and I were both grateful that you had some structure in life besides what you got at home. You were obviously bright. As you went on to kindergarten and first grade, I think you wanted much more attention from the teachers than they could give, and I think that need continued.

From six or seven on until they moved, your principal playmate was Dawn Brown's son, David, across the street who was totally unsuitable.
Unfortunately, your mother liked Dawn and spent time with her when she could. David was at least rebel, and evidently worse as time proved.
When he met me, the first thing David told me smugly was that his father was in prison in Florida for murder. That was shocking because the normal thing would have been to conceal that information. I was greatly relieved when Dawn moved away.

I remember taking you and Luke roller-skating in G.H. I held your hand as we went around the first time. Your legs would pop out first one way then another. When we were 3/4s of the way around, you said, "Dad. I want to do it myself" and went on. You fell ever so often, every twenty or thirty feet perhaps, but always got up and persisted. You stuck at it for a good long time and your independence and persistence were impressive.

I think your next playmate was the son of the junkyard owner. I recall taking you over there a few times. I don't know what happened to that relationship. He seemed like a nice kid. You also had a playmate whose family lived on Winter or Summer or one of those streets. Their yard was a disaster as was their house. They were educated but apparently rather willing to pay little attention to social norms as their yard was a disaster, something the neighbors didn't appreciate. Again, your mother liked Barbara and spent time there with you and Luke.

I recall teaching you checkers, and then chess, but you quickly lost interest in either.

Your school work during elementary school was fairly good as I remember, and the PTA meetings that your mother went to didn't seem worrisome, although I think more than one teacher commented on how much individual attention it took to keep you interested and working.

We had a week at a summer camp in the U.P. where there were lots of kids and you seemed to enjoy yourself.

You also at some point made friends with George, and that was a weird family. The mother commuted to her teaching job in Chicago all week and left her husband to deal with the children at home. She was a harridan.

When you were about seven or eight, you came home from school and told me he the big kids harassed you on the way home and you were afraid of them. I asked you what you wanted me to do about it, and you nonchalantly waved a hand and said, "Oh, nothing. I just wanted to tell you", a reaction I found a bit bizarre, but then thought maybe you were becoming self-confident.

I don't remember when it started, but it was obvious by the time you were nine or ten that you wouldn't look at me when I spoke to you.
You'd glance at me, than look away as if looking at me made you uncomfortable or answer without looking. This seemed to become more and more evident over the years. You also developed some spastic behaviors, though I'm not sure when I first noticed those.

Your mother moved out I think in 1978 when you were nine or ten. When she told me she was leaving, I asked who should tell you and Luke and she left that up to me, When I told Luke, he cried and sobbed. When I told you, you sort of waved me off with no reaction, behavior I found disturbing. (Your mother says she told you, but that's not what I remember).

I recall telling you one time that when I was growing up, the whole world was ablaze with war and that we saw in newsreels and read in the newspaper every day about the war, that it was the subject on everyone's mind. I think it was after that you began to take an interest in WW II, and particularly the German armaments and fighting. It was as if the Germans were the losers and you identified with them to the point you seemed to think they should have won.

We did have some fun times when you were about 10 or 12, sledding, swimming, going out on the pier at Grand Haven.
But you were then your own person, hidden away, not close. I can't ever recall you being glad to see me when I got home from work. You had your world, and I wasn't part of it.

You definitely seemed preoccupied much of the time, and had to work to pull your attention from what you were thinking about to whoever was speaking.

When you were about eleven, I recall you sometimes used words I wouldn't have expected to be in your vocabulary. You were precocious in that way.

After about age twelve, I think your friends were mostly Luke's friends, and they were an odd lot in some ways, for instance Jodie and the weird house he lived in. I recall you skateboarding in front of the house with Luke and his friends. None of Luke's friends were in sports that I recall, which would be unusual at that age. Eddy Beebe was your friend from about ten on. He seemed a good kid, and I think you stayed friends for a long time.

I had the MC class sailboat for a time when you were about 12 or so, but as I recall, you had no interest in sailing or learning to sail. You did like taking the outboard boat by yourself I think.

When you went to work at your first job at the Country Club, you got the job on your own, and seemed pleased to be earning money. I was pleased that you took the initiative to find work. About that time I told you that most employers would be delighted to have an employee that was always on time, never sick, and would work extra time if asked. But then you stole the manager's keys, and when the manager called and talked to you about the missing keys, you said no, you didn't know anything about them. Having overheard the call, and having noticed that when you came in from work, you were very subdued and disappeared upstairs immediately, I went up and found the keys under some clothing. Together we went to the Country Club to return the keys and you were of course fired, but fortunately, no police report filed.

At some point, perhaps before your mother left or after, I was concerned enough about your behavior to take you to a psychologist or counselor in an attempt to do something constructive. It didn't last long and there were no obvious results from that.

It was about this time that I found you lied to me rather when convenient about where you'd been and what you'd been doing. That persisted for some years. You would tell me what you thought I wanted to hear. Usually it was about fairly trivial things and I didn't pursue the lying as I'd done my share of that when your age and was consequently too lenient.

I attended the PTA meetings after your mother left, and I have no specific memories excepting that at least one of the teachers thought you could do better.. Apparently you were doing all right, though seemingly not eager to do your best. About this time you were skateboarding with Luke and friends and working in restaurant jobs, probably the Sub Shop. Jack, an older fellow there apparently got you into pot smoking. I was happy you had a mentor, but felt that he was in a dead end job and I didn't like that part of the relationship. This apparently began you interest in drug policy and probably helped convince you that people should be left alone to do what they wanted.

On our trip to the Caribbean, we were at one island (I forget which one). In the morning, before we left the ship, the captain always told the passengers what the options were. He made a point of telling people that if they went to the beach on the windward side, to be sure to stay to the left of the hotel, as there were rip tides to the right. Most of the Polynesia's passengers took taxis over to the only structure on that side, a hotel for swimming and then lunch, as did the three of us.

We hadn't been at the hotel long when you and Luke went to the beach.
Others were already there. A half hour went by. It seemed a good idea to check on you and Luke. When I looked at the people swimming to the left, it took about five minutes to finally spot Luke, but I couldn't find you. I saw three people in the water down to the right. I started that way when a young women came ashore, running up to me saying that the others were caught in a current and had a terrible time getting back to shore and to get a boat or help. There wasn't any boat or help. When I headed to the beach again, you were coming up from the beach. On the beach, the women and two men came toward me. The woman told me what a terrible battle it had been to get to shore and added, "I don't know where he came from, but some kid came streaking past us to shore as if there wasn't a current."

I realized when I say you that you weren't at the captain's morning briefing and hadn't heard the message about staying to the left, and I'd just assumed you went with all the others to the left.

You joined the swim team in school when you were about 14 or 15, on your
own initiative. A move I found heartening. You were a good swimmer,
but dropped it part way through the season, for reasons I didn't know.
I tried to encourage you by attending the swim meets. I recall at one meet, that the two teams were on separate benches. The Spring Lake team sat on the left end of their bench, excepting you, who sat on the right end, almost as far as you could get from the S.L. team, a circumstance I found disturbing. When I asked you about it later, you denied that were separated from the team on the bench.

The summer you were fourteen, I think, we went to Idaho on the rafting trip. You seemed to greatly enjoy that most of the time.

After High School came the Comic store in Traverse City. I had great reservations about that, and it didn't work.
Your interest seems to be stuck in WW II, comics (less now), drug enforcement, and what i would call right wing libertarian politics which seems to be mostly a way of expressing your unhappiness with your country and the world in general.

After high school and Traverse City, you worked in restaurants, but always wanted second shift as you didn't like to get up in the morning.
That most people didn't want to work nights, that helped you get jobs easily.

All through your childhood and adolescence, I felt you were naive for your age. You didn't seem to pick up on how the whole world works and relationships work.. You seemed to have unrealistic expectations of how little you would have to do to not only get by, but also to get ahead.

In sum, it seems to me looking back that you never had much fun in life. It seemed that you had to work harder at life and that stole away some of the good times.

#157332 - 05/21/07 08:14 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: Hauser]
MemoryVault Offline

Registered: 03/02/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Hey, Alan --

That was kind of hard to read...not so much anything your Dad described that was so bad, but there was something about his tone that really triggered me. He seems to stand back and judge.

You were born in Florida and from the start seemed a difficult child.

Wow. That's a harsh way to begin a son's life story. My Dad would have written my life that way, too.

I feel bad, because it sounds like the same voice you use when you're hard on yourself. I'm sorry you're feeling bad about it. I think you deserve more understanding.


Edited by MemoryVault (05/21/07 08:43 PM)

#157336 - 05/21/07 09:12 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: MemoryVault]
beccy Offline

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england

I am inclined to agree with David. It is obvious your father loves you deeply(when he talks of how you'd never look at him etc, his hurt says it all), but he seems to be missing some necessary understanding of, a)your emotional needs as his son, and b)your life-journey. What it all means and how it all connects.

I say this only because I noticed some level of emotional detachment from your father, in the way he has recounted some of those memories to you. If that letter was to me, think i'd feel shitty too. As a parent myself, if i was asked to recount those memories of my child growing up, i would hope i could be very careful WHICH memories exactly to share and HOW. And what my child might be needing emotionally at THIS time. I am not meaning to judge your father, as no doubt he has all his own issues getting in the way(which is the worst part of being a parent), but that doesn't change the fact of how it's clearly(and rightly so) made you feel.

You do deserve more understanding. We all deserve the absolute best from our parents. I'm not saying it's always best to fight for that, not by any means. For myself personally, there do seem to be various things i haven't fought for, but my councelor agreed that sometimes it's better to take yourself into safer spaces. It all comes down to the individual of course, and only you can know what to do with the feelings you have aquired from this letter/interraction.....

If only parents could always know/be everything their children is sad that in truth we so often fall short. But you ARE worth what you deep down probably sensed you needed. With that acknowledgment of your OWN self worth, you can absolutely validate your own feelings of hurt and maybe give yourself some of that love.

Be kind to yourself.


#157340 - 05/21/07 10:25 PM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: beccy]
stride Offline

Registered: 03/07/03
Posts: 202
Loc: B.C. Canada

Like David, I found your father's letter painful to read and the opening statements harsh. Still, like Beccy, I also picked up on your father's love for you, subtextual as it may have been, and the difficulties he has had and/or still does have with some things regarding his relationship with you. My sense was that there is a lot of hurt and a lot of love on both your parts here, with both of you still seeming to want very much to connect but not quite sure how to get from here to there.

Quote [from Beccy]: "I am not meaning to judge your father, as no doubt he has all his own issues getting in the way(which is the worst part of being a parent)..."

Without making excuses for him, I do feel that this is a point worth noting. I too, am a parent, and it is certainly true that no matter how much we love our children and how much we want to be the best parent possible, we do "often fall short."

It is not my intent to try to negate your pain in any way here, Alan, quite the opposite, in fact. Perhaps if you can see each others' pain, regrets and confusion more clearly, you will find that you need not feel so estranged from each other after all?

BTW, I AM interested in your parents' memoirs and in hearing how you experience reading them. I am not sure I'd be up to hearing my own parents' recollections of what it was like to try to raise me...I know it would bring up a lot of hurt...for all three of us. Whatever the case, this was clearly an important undertaking for you. I hope that some day soon you are able to
make peace with your past, and come to a place of forgiveness for yourself first and foremost, and perhaps for your parents as well.

With gentle, healing thoughts,


In the right formation,
the lifting power of many wings can
achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.

#157450 - 05/22/07 09:45 AM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: stride]
soapy bubbles Offline

Registered: 09/05/06
Posts: 332
Loc: london
Hello Alan,

Both your parents' letters speak volumes.
You can take heart from the fact that you were an intelligent, active little boy who was obviously seeking attention at school because he wasn't getting enough positive attention at home.

The very fact that your father says he has few memories of you and your siblings growing up just about says everything. A loving, engaged father will have a lifetime of memories. Your father was emotionally absent.

Your parents obviously both had their own problems and it seems as though parenthood was way down the list. It wouldn't be helpful to apportion blame to either of them for their actions, but it is an absolute fact that, for whatever reason, their poor parenting caused your problems. You didn't have a role model, you weren't stimulated in a positive way, you weren't given good boundaries ........ the list could be very long.

One thing your father says sums it up:

"I'm fairly sure I read you stories sometimes at bedtime, but don't really recall specifics. You ate better and seemed to sleep well."

This shows that when you had a period of calm, with your father taking an interest in you and sharing peaceful bedtimes with a story, you were a healthier happier child. I'm amazed that even now, your father can't see the link between his parenting and your behaviour.

After your mother left, he was forced to take a more active role in your upbringing. But even then, he says:

"I was concerned enough about your behavior to take you to a psychologist or counselor in an attempt to do something constructive. It didn't last long and there were no obvious results from that."

What does he mean it didn't last long???! A parent is in charge. He was taking you to therapy. If it didn't last long, that means he stopped taking you. Of course there weren't 'obvious results'. He didn't follow through and help you, he gave up.

The last thing I'm going to comment on is when he says:

"You have to know that I always cared for you and wished good for you, but felt helpless in that I've never known how to raise a boy that needed perhaps more than ordinary guidance and good parenting."

To me it seems as though you were a normal, healthy, active, enquiring, intelligent little boy and all you needed was ordingary guidance and good parenting. Your parents gave you poor guidance and poor parenting.

Feel good about yourself. You've overcome much and will, I'm sure, continue to grow in confidence and recovery.

I wish you the absolute best.

SB x

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.” --- Eleanor Roosevelt

#157637 - 05/23/07 02:04 AM Re: I gave my parents an assignment [Re: soapy bubbles]
EGL Offline
Moderator Emeritus
Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 7821
Hi, Alan,

I read both your parents letters, but I must say that your father's letter was the most difficult of the two. As someone said above, there's a real judgmental tone to it that is really wrong.

I found this in his opening particularly painful, and I have stuck my comments in [brackets]:


You have to know that I always cared for you ["cared"? Could he have not written "loved"?] and wished good for you, but felt helpless in that I've never known how to raise a boy that needed perhaps more than ordinary guidance [ouch!] and good parenting. What I mostly recall is not very positive [double ouch!!], but the negatives stick more easily in memory.

Alan, please try not to be too upset with all this. As SB said above, it was poor parenting and poor guidance. Sorry, man, I can relate only too well.


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