Today I’m changing my name. It has been a long time coming. I’ve never gone by the name that I was born with, but instead have all my records, both medical and otherwise, in a different name with the exception of one: my passport.
But I’m not changing my first or even middle name. I’m changing my last name.
Why? See my previous post. And another post. But really, as I think about it, it’s a way to honor my stepfather, who raised me.
I’m sure this will be seen as a slap in the face by my father’s family. My father doesn’t really care about anything I do. I would hope they could see it’s not about them but about the name I’ve always gone by…even when I was five. For as long as I can remember, I’ve used this name. And it’s time. It’s just time.
So now, I’m waiting at the courthouse for my appointment. One more hour to go. And then, I will walk out with a new official name. No one else will know really. But I’ll know.
At first, I was nervous. Was I really making the right decision? But the more I thought about it, the more clear it became. Absolutely this was the right decision and I feel with every fiber of my being that this is who I am. It’s just taken me 40 years to realize it.
So, onward and upward. Here’s to new things and new experiences.
Yes, I borrowed the title from Obama’s book, Dreams for My Father. No, this blog post will not be as brilliantly written as his book. In fact, my blog post will most likely be full of grammatical errors and may insult small nations. I hope not, but I can’t predict what’s going to come flying out of my fingers at 9:12 AM.
The title, Dreams for my Father, is not me being hyperbolic. I do have dreams for my father. The way we relate, the way we interact, the relationship we could have.
However, something happened yesterday that left me numb and sad, determined and resigned. If you read through my previous posts, you’ll find a post called The Stranger and the Friend. This was the last time I had spoken with my father. Go ahead and read the post…I’ll wait.
(time goes by, so slowly…tick, tock, tick, tock)
You’re back? Oh, good. So, that post happened, and since then, let’s just say that things haven’t been super hunky dory between me and the man who inseminated my mother. How so? We haven’t said anything. He continually “lost” my number. But all of it — ALL of it — came to a head as recently as Sunday through Yesterday (Yesterday is not a real day of the week, but in this example, it is Thursday).
His mother had passed away two months ago. I, being the compassionate person I am, reached out and organized flowers to be sent from myself, my brother and my sister. We couldn’t be there in person — and frankly, didn’t feel it was right. We didn’t have a relationship with this woman, save for a few awkward hugs across 39 years. I can count on one hand the number of times we had seen each other. I didn’t dislike the woman — I just didn’t know her.
Nevertheless, it was my grandmother, and my father’s mother. Not wanting to seem insensitive, we sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers and card expressing our condolences. My father and I texted over the course of the week before and after the service. I wanted to make sure they got there, and that he received them. He did, he said thank you, and asked if I would like a memory card from the service. I said yes, please.
This past Sunday, I was catching up on some correspondence, and reaching out to people I love, which I do every Sunday. I send a little text that lets them know I’m thinking of them, asking how they are, scheduling time to talk during the week. It’s something I’m doing to be more engaged with people around me. I sent him a very innocent little text, something that read, “Hey. How are you doing?”
Three days later…(read that in your best SpongeBob SquarePants voiceover voice), I got a text back that said, “Who is this?”
Who is this?
Um…I was stunned. I was floored, I was flabbergasted, gobsmacked. Whatever you want to call it. I mean, I had the chat conversation from the previous two months where we had discussed his mother’s passing. I didn’t know how to respond.
Why was this so important? I’m named after this man. I’m his first child. I didn’t know how to respond. I had spent 39 years trying to be a good son, reaching out, wanting that relationship, and then to be caught by this information was truly surprising.
If I were to take an honest and hard look at the past relationship with my father, I really shouldn’t be surprised. Hurt, yes, but surprised, no. I can give multiple examples of how myself, my brother, my sister were afterthoughts. One that comes to mind immediately was in 2006. I was on the road, and happened to be playing in his home state of Michigan. I had called three weeks earlier to ask if I could have Thanksgiving with them, as we would be there at that time. He said, yes, he would love to have me.
I was excited. This was the first time I would have spent a major holiday with that side of the family. We made arrangements, and agreed I would reach out once I got into Michigan to finalize everything.
I can remember that week like it was yesterday. I had called, emailed, called, and called again. But nothing. Not.a.single.response. My father decided he didn’t want to follow through with Thanksgiving with his son. His first born son. I sat at a restaurant and had Thanksgiving dinner alone, as everyone had already left for the week. I was devastated. Thirty years old, and devastated on a day reserved for giving thanks.
Then, of course, you know about the incident three years ago. And now this.
These are just a few of the examples that come readily to mind of disappointment after disappointment.
I wasn’t sure what to do, and so finally, I responded back stating that I was looking for my father, is this not him? No response until…
three days later…
He wrote back and said yes, who is this. I have yet to respond.
I know what I want to say. And the only things I want to say are angry and emotional. And now I share my first draft of what I want to write to him:
This is your first born son. I am hurt that after 39 years, I am not in your phone, but I suppose after 39 years I am not surprised. I have wrestled over what I have done or may have done to anger or upset you, to cause you to be so emotionally distant. After a lot of consideration, I realize that it’s not what I have done, but what you haven’t done. Thirty-nine years I have spent investing in something that was not even in the back of your mind never mind the forefront. Your continued non-action has showed me that the only thing I share with you is our first name. Because I would never and have never treated my own son this way. Your life in Michigan seems to be pretty complete without me complicating it. I wish you only the best and I won’t contact you again.
Am I hurt? Absolutely. Do I wish he would grow a pair and be a man? Yes. Tell me you hate me. Tell me that I’m not what you wanted. That I was a mistake. Anything except for apathy.
My father is a coward. Any strength I have learned in this world comes from my mother. My mother, who left this coward of a man with three children, after being subjected to the abuse by his hands, and his constant belittlement. My mother who raised four incredibly independent children, all with quick and sharp minds, able to see through people’s bullshit. Sometimes we get blinded, though — some of that bullshit gets on the window of the car we’re driving through life — but we’re able to wipe it away and see with more clarity.
I write this because I am still angry. And who knows, maybe I will send this message to him. I can’t say that it would make any difference if I did. Would he even care? Who knows.
All I know is that these actions reaffirmed the choice I have made for myself: next week, I go and change my last name to my stepfather’s last name. It’s the name I know. It’s the name I was raised with. It’s now time to make it official.
To my stepfather, my dad — I say I love you. Thank you for having the courage to raise me as your son when I was not of your blood.
To my father, a man with whom I have nothing in common — all I can do is wish you well.
Oh, and go to hell, you selfish piece of shit.
I decided this weekend to take a trip to visit my hometown this weekend. See my family in a non-holiday setting. Hang out with them as people in a somewhat less stressful environment.
I always had assumed that the reason I didn’t like going home was because of the hustle and bustle. I love my family dearly but having moved away when I was 21, I’ve lived in a different state than them since. Sometimes with 600 miles between us, sometimes 3,000. Still, I did my due diligence and would come home for all the major holidays and visit. Them coming to visit me – well, let’s just say that with one person it is much easier to travel to them. And I didn’t really mind.
The last time I was here was 4th of July. Always a big barbecue with lots of family members and friends. Good food and fun fireworks. The least-stressful of all the holidays. The time before that was Christmas.
Oh, Christmas. My most favorite part of the year. And yet, when I’m around my family, I can’t wait for it to end fast enough.
I’m the oldest of four, and with all of the nephews and nieces and children of our own, spouses and granchildren, you would think we were trying to invade a small country. There are so many people. Then you add into the mix the fact that there are always several orphans–family friends who have nowhere else to go and probably use our family for fodder or amusing stories at their AA meetings — and the population grows exponentially.
Then you take all of those people and cram them into a room designed for 5, 6 at the most –and it becomes CHAOS. By this isn’t a post about Christmas, which I can share with you another day. This is actually a post about just a normal run-of-the-mill family visit. I’ll save the Christmas horror stories for another day.
No, this visit was to get out of Seattle, spend some quality time with my siblings and reconnect as adults.
I arrived off the plane and my brother instantly went into offend or defense mode -I’m not 100% sure. He’s always called me the favorite. I don’t see it that way. But I do see myself as the one who got out. Anyway, he started making some off-color comments about Caitlin Jenner out of the blue, with no real segue. When I was home for the 4th he did it as well. I bit my tongue and moved on.
The next thing was getting home and going to breakfast with my mom and my stepdad. We went out, and after being told that my brother wouldn’t be joining us, my brother decided to because hey free food and let me show up and try to compete Ina competition that doesn’t exist.
Not that I minded him being there, but I was looking forward to seeing my folks and having real-life conversations with them about things, vacations, life. My sister showed up as well and it was a fine conversation.
Then my brother left without a word and was gone. Okay, so maybe his mechanism to deal with the fact that I’m in town is to pretend I’m not in town and go on. Not that my brother and I really have anything to talk about.
I don’t really consider myself that smart. The app on my phone said I’ve got a higher IQ than most people and what does that have to do with the tea in China? Nothing. Nothing at all. I’m realistic enough to know that while I have gotten out of the rut that everyone else seems to be, there’s still so much to be learned.
And maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the curiosity factor of my life– the wanderlust, the desire to continue to try new things, to not be stuck in the same old thing day in and day out. To stimulate my brain.
Here, it feels as though time has stood still. As though if there were a jug of moonshine and a telegraph machine sitting in the corner, everyone would be perfectly content, with the only thing to talk about is each other.
I love my family. I really do. But I think this blog post is coming out of the fact that I don’t really relate to them. I’m pleasant and everything but I don’t have anything to contribute to their gabbing about who got drunk and who slept with who and this is how you should raise your child and so on and so forth.
They are all in each other’s business so much that it’s unhealthy. My mom’s phone rang 13 times on a short seven minute drive. Why? Why is that so necessary?
Sometimes I wish we were closer, that I didn’t feel something that I’m having a hard time describing—because I don’t want to write the word. Ashamed maybe? Wishing they could set their sights on something better? Set their sights for the stars and even if they don’t make it at least they have the moon and all of the new, wonderful possibilities that opportunity presents.
And yet — I’m grateful to go back home to my life. My bed. My things. My world view where we talk about things and dream about ideas instead of the day-to-day minutiae of what someone said or what a spouse said.
This home for me is never really relaxing. I always feel as though I’m on guard, needing to be ready to defend myself at a moment’s notice. I don’t agree with some of their more conservative views – and it’s not even conservative for church’s sake. No, no, no. We were not brought up religious at all.
No, it’s more that they are conservative because they are uninformed. The world is a big place and there’s a lot goin on but they wouldn’t know it because it feels like this is the biggest place in the world where only the happenings here are of importance.
All of this sounds rather elitist. And it’s really not meant to. I love my family with all my heart and only want them to be happy. I wish they could see past the ends of their noses to everything that is happening out there — but in the end, if they are happy being cocooned into their own secluded world, then I hope they are fulfilled. Perhaps I need to get over myself and just let them be. And maybe it’s all right that we have nothing to talk about. That we have nothing in common. That our worldand life experiences are vastly different except for that shared experience of growing up together.
I wanted out. They never wanted to leave.
In the end, nothing will change, except a few small things: I will set different boundaries for my own sanity, and hopefully continue to practice patience. I’m not going to change them, and they are not going to change me.
Static electricity. That’s the best way to describe this functionally dysfunctional family of mine.
Happy Holidays to everyone out there in cyberland.
I hope you had a wonderful time sitting there witnessing your family make passive aggressive comments about other family members, enjoying your turkey, and talking about memories past. My thanksgiving was relatively stress-free. It was also money-free, but that’s a different topic. A completely different topic.
I’ve been in a funk these past few weeks. I would say for the past month. It may feel like the funk has flitted away, or it may simply be that I’m too numb to do anything about it. Regardless, I feel like I’m coming out the other side, and that’s all that matters.
So…hopefully my postings will be much more uplifting, much more exciting, and not so negative. We shall see. 🙂 No promises. But I will do my best!!
That’s all I have to say here. I hope everyone is doing well out in the world…and until we meet again.