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#445331 - 08/24/13 11:20 AM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
traveler Online   confused

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4165
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
well - going to the cemetery was - like nothing i've ever felt.
it was strange and sad and awkward and good - but very difficult. There were so many emotions churning around that it was hard for me to sort it all out. It took me a while to figure out what all was happening.

I found the right cemetery online – not a big town – so easy to find it – and to my surprise – there were photos of many of the headstones with a searchable by name capability – including my father’s. just seeing the picture was enough to make me start tearing up.

I had a full day of driving until we arrived in late afternoon. the whole day i was on edge but eager to get there. but we had a long drive and a couple of stops to make first. so i was kind of distant - by turns - with periods of being very vulnerable and talkative. felt weird. i told my wife more about my own childhood - not new events but how i had felt and had tried to handle it all.

and then we found the cemetery. we had stopped earlier and i bought a bunch of flowers - red carnations and white daisies. it might be pointless - but it was all i could think of to show respect. i was glad i did. we had to walk all over the cemetery looking for the headstone - not a big place - but we needed to scan all the stones to find the right one – it took about half an hour and it was about half-way from side to side - and all the way at the back. but at least we knew what it looked like - grey granite about a foot high and 2 feet wide with a cross and ivy on the left and just the first name, middle initial and last name - and the two dates - 1927 - 1954 as well as "US Air Force".

i found it. it was by a cypress tree but at the edge of the wooded area where it also got sun. someone had put a small American flag in the ground by it. that made me feel grateful. the flowers looked good with that.

my wife stood with me for a while and held my hand, then left me alone and i sat down. i cried a LOT - not the jerky sobbing kind - but just tears flowing non-stop. i "talked" to my father for a long time in my head. i am very glad i went. i don't know what was gained but i think i understand some things better now.

I told him that I know now that he didn’t mean to leave me. I told him that I no longer blame him for not being there to protect me – that it wasn’t his fault that the step-dad did such terrible things to me. That I understand now that it must have been awfully painful for him as well – not just the physical pain but knowing that he was going to die and abandon his wife and two young sons – not to be able to support us and see us grow up and everything that he missed out on.

for some reason, his whole existence and his life and death hadn't seemed real until i was there and saw and touched the headstone and read the name and dates. it wasn't exactly "closure" - not sure what that means - but it made a difference - and i am not sure it would have done the same good for me without the other stops i have made on this trip.

my wife took some pictures. I said good-bye. and then we drove away.

I tried to write about it that night and made some progress but was not able to work it all out. I gave up and went to sleep – and woke up early and felt the impulse to try again. I needed to get on the MS forum and feel like I was among friends – so I started reading threads rather than writing. And it started to make sense to me – not because anything I read was necessarily related in theme. But in the process of reading other guys’ childhood stories, I discovered that I was identifying with them as another child and i learned again that I needed to get in touch with my younger self and how “little lee” was accustomed to reacting to the circumstances of his life. I realized that i had always thought and felt very childishly and non-rationally about my attitude toward my father and had never worked through it with adult reasoning.

On the other hand, I always knew how I felt and thought about the step-dad’s abuse. That part was easy.

And then it hit me like a tsunami. I had never allowed myself to be honest about how I felt about my real father. I had not only blamed my father for not being present in my life – that part I could handle - but I had actually blamed him for the abuse that I suffered because he was not there. and I had found it too scary and painful to face that feeling so I had hidden it from myself and have not known that I was doing that. i always thought that you couldn't love someone and be angry with them too. and i needed to love my father and have him love me. And my inability to see that truth of my anger had caused a sense of estrangement from my father – even greater than it would have been if merely because of his absence. Once I recognized what was going on, it made perfect sense to me and was so obvious that it seemed self-evident. My wife even said that she had wondered about it. But I had to reach that realization myself.

Of course, it was not reasonable or fair to blame my father for his death and absence and leaving me alone. He did not mean for it to be that way. I am sure that he’d have done anything to have made it turn out differently. He was not to blame. And I needed to forgive him. (i know forgiveness is a sensitive subject here - but because i had kept negative feelings against him, i felt like i needed to neutralize them or heal them by counteracting them with the positive antidote of forgiveness.) Not forgiveness for any fault of his - because there was none – but because I had blamed him – and needed to repair the hard feelings and resentment that I had held against him for all these years.

And now I have photos of him with me – and feel much closer to him than ever before - and am able to move beyond the childish anger to a place of acceptance. Weird – I never really had to feel the anger or act it out – merely to acknowledge it and admit it and let it go.

I am physically shaky and emotionally exhausted and feel very drained – also vulnerable – but not fragile – actually more healthy and strong – and “right” - than ever. And my wife said that she is so proud of me.

"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#445352 - 08/24/13 03:01 PM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
BraveFalcon Offline

Registered: 02/25/13
Posts: 1231
Loc: The ATL

Hi Lee. I don't really have anything to add but I wanted you to know that I read this last post and found it deeply moving. Thanks for sharing it with us. Hope you are well today. Peace,


#445479 - 08/26/13 06:16 AM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
peroperic2009 Offline

Registered: 10/09/11
Posts: 3834
Loc: South-East Europe
Wow this was so touchy to read!
And we are all proud on you and your accomplishments; it is like you took us all from here with you on your quest smile

My story

#445492 - 08/26/13 10:54 AM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
toddop Offline

Registered: 10/14/11
Posts: 233
Loc: California

Again, thanks for sharing the latest part of your experiences at the cemetery. This sounds like a very healing and helpful moment for you.

I am glad you were able to re-assign the anger to its rightful target and strengthen your connection to your father. That is really hard work that you have done.

I am as inspired by you as ever.

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds."
-Albert Einstein

#445496 - 08/26/13 11:51 AM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
Rich1967 Offline

Registered: 07/17/13
Posts: 597
Loc: PA
Realizations I've had always seem so obvious in hindsight too, but I guess we're just not ready for them until the time is right. When it is and we get it it's a very good feeling when things click into place and we understand yet one more piece of the puzzle.

As everyone else here I'm proud of you too. Thanks for sharing this with us.
"Me too"-I don't think I will ever get tired of saying or hearing these two words.
My Story

#445500 - 08/26/13 12:37 PM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
DavoSwim Offline

Registered: 02/06/13
Posts: 388
Loc: Midwest

This is a really inspiring story. I'm very happy for you that you are able to understand your life story better and put it into perspective. This story is timeless and the lessons learned are useful for all of us. Thank you for writing and posting your story. All of us at MS benefit by reading your posts.


#450178 - 10/14/13 11:32 PM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
traveler Online   confused

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4165
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
It has been an emotional week. We were traveling again – the weekend before last we attended homecoming and a class reunion at the university where wife & I met. Lots of memories – some good – some not.

Then we visited friends for a couple days – nice to see them until they started giving unsolicited advice that turned into telling us everything that we are doing wrong – from health and diet to psycho-babble about how to solve all our emotional and relational and work-related problems. (Excuse me while I throw up!)

next was a couple of days with relatives – one older woman talks literally non-stop and is totally self-absorbed and insensitive to anyone else. For much of our visit we were a captive audience. I just about exploded when she got into a rant about how so-called abuse victims make up lies and ruin the lives of those they accuse. I had to leave the room.

Another visit with more relatives – this time amazingly validating – the older brother of my father – who died when I turned 3. He told me some more details of his life and looked at old pictures and he gave me a few more. Now this part is a mystery to me:

TRIGGER WARNING for anyone who doesn’t want to hear about God or faith issues!

It turns out that though I seldom saw them after mom remarried, my grandparents prayed for me by name every day – along with every other family member – and there were a lot of them/us. My aunt and uncle have followed suit. So – I am left with this puzzle – did those prayers make no difference? Or were they effective in saving me from something worse? I want to believe the latter – and can think of several instances when amazing things happened that were not explainable by normal means. But if that is true – why did other events happen? Why the selectivity that “permitted” some abuse – but “prevented” other abuse or other bad treatment or outcomes? It makes me crazy to try to figure it out. I will probly regret posting this – but there it is.


This past weekend we went to a conference that was very motivational and inspiring – a good professional and aesthetic boost that put me in touch with some other good people in my field.

While at the university I reunited with a professor who changed my life for the better. She saw some potential in me and insisted I audition for a play – though I was insecure, shy and inexperienced. She cast me in a good supporting role the first time – and from then on – in male leads. I gained self-confidence, acceptance, validation, an ability to speak in public, and a partial but needed emotional re-awakening due to the demands to express the feelings of the characters i was playing. I went on to perform in two touring companies and to found another – and ended up teaching high school drama and influencing other lives. I took her out to lunch and we had a great conversation. I told her how she had made a difference for me – and I think both of us were in tears.

Back home – I was going through more stuff from my mom’s place and between the pages of a book I found a sheet of paper with a poem written by hand. It surprised me to recognize it as my father’s handwriting. I have a very few things he has written – and the appearance is strangely similar to mine. The poem was unabashedly sentimental and not at all a great work of literature. But it must have meant something to him for him to have copied it in longhand. It was about striving to be a better man because of having a little son to raise and for whom he wanted to be a good role model. As I read it I bawled like a baby. This was finally proof that he thought about me – and our relationship – and it was very healing to know this.

So that is the latest installment in this roller-coaster life.
"My experience has shown me that I all too often tend to deny that which lies behind, but as I still believe, that which is denied cannot be healed." Brennan Manning, "All is Grace - A Ragamuffin Memoir"

#450193 - 10/15/13 05:15 AM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
dark empathy Offline

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 2649
Loc: durham, north england
Wow lee, amazing to learn about all of this, and see your journey.

I confess I've also been lucky in my friends at university, the two who I first told about my abuse back in 2008 when I just needed to have someone with me (well on the phone), while I cried are people I've now known for 12 years ever since I first started uni. Both have been amazingly supportive, though thank goodness neither had similar experiences in that case.

I also totally appreciate the business about your performing, since as you know that's an interest we share. Interestingly enough, when you mention your professor it reminded me of my own phd supervisor. He's a man who stuck up for me during recovery, and I suspect I wouldn't have completed my doctorate if it weren't for him.

Glad to hear about all these experiences. Sometimes I know I, and I suspect other survivers as well find it dam hard to be positive about life however we feel the rest of the time.

Well that's why hearing stories like this is so important.


#450258 - 10/15/13 04:58 PM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
gettingstronger Offline

Registered: 09/24/13
Posts: 317
Loc: Virginia

Wow! Thanks for posting all this. This is really inspiring and I couldn't be happier for you.


#450355 - 10/16/13 02:00 PM Re: incredible experience [Re: traveler]
flightmedic38 Offline

Registered: 09/13/13
Posts: 79
Loc: Kansas
What an amazing story!!!!! So happy for you. Good luck on your journey....
Either get to living or get to dying!!!!! Shawshank redemption

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