I was born to a mother who was given morphine to not feel the pain of the labor process. Apparently this was okay back in 1967 and having birthed two kids myself, I can now better understand why she felt that need to have some relieve. I ended up having some physical delays in those first years of my life, though apparently my cognition was fine. My grandmother, who worked with mentally retarded kids, still insisted that I was probably really a special kid, even though I was talking in full sentences from age 10 months old.
My dad wasn't present for the birth; he was off drinking with clients in Napa Valley. For a while I thought this was just a tale that my mother told me to help me to continue to hate my father, but I learned not too long ago from my dad that this was true. Of course, he said he was working and he just couldn't come down from the late 1960's confines of the Napa Valley, because he had important work with clients and documents that had to be returned or secured. He so wanted to see me, but yet he couldn't tell these folks that he would be delayed because his daughter was born. Hence, the beginning of my distance from my father, induced by the disease of selfishness known as alcoholism.
I also learned before my mom passed away that my father did not want more children after my brother was born 3 years prior to me. My brother was hell on wheels, so who could blame him? My mother had other plans though, so she "tricked" him, went off the pill, and quickly conceived me. She was after all getting old, already age 31 when she had me. My mom said she would have had many more kids, but my father went off and got a vasectomy, thereby thwarting her plans for a larger family.
It's good he did that, because I grew up having a lonely life and I can't imagine having more lonely siblings, of more fucked up siblings.
One of my earliest memories is that of waking up in my crib and crying out without nobody to answer. I can see the dark room, the open door, the nightlight left on in the bathroom within my view. I can feel the anxiety in my chest and the growing idea that I was not important enough to my parents to be answered. I don't honestly know if they came to my rescue or not.
I also remember my dad coming into my bed in the morning and waking me up. We all used to cuddle some mornings in bed and fall back to asleep together in my parents’ cal-king bed. But this memory is of him in my room, asleep in my bed, and me walking away from him. I can see the light filled room, the white wallpaper with the girl carrying a sunflower, and my dads back to me as I walk away. And I recall seething with anger at him. I wanted him dead, gone out of my life. I wanted to kill him, but I was powerless to do so. I was probably about 4 years old.
I was a quiet, shy, smart kid, probably in reaction to my brother's insanity. We lived in a suburb of San Francisco, in one of those houses that cost $30,000 in 1970 and now sells for 1.5 million.
My parents sent me to a lovely little preschool a few miles away from the house, near my Dad's work. I think they likely had a great educational program, but my family was moored in alcoholism and that affected my ability to interact appropriately with the world. While the other kids played, ate their food and drank their milk, I had demands of my own. I would not eat the food they served, I would not drink milk, and I would remain withdrawn. Somehow, to my tiny brain, these seemed to be the logical approaches to maintaining some kind of control in a world that was out of control.
My father would drink a half-gallon of wine/ day and 16-32 ounces of vodka. I do not know how he functioned, but somehow he made good money. My mom said he relied on his secretary to run his trust/ investment company, but one would think at some point that the investors would smell the booze, see the haze in his eyes, wonder why his coffee cup had booze and not coffee.
Often times my dad would be in charge of picking me up from preschool and there were basically two options: he would completely forget to pick me up, his secretary would pick me up, or he would pick me up and take me to the bar with him, where I could sip shirley temples while he drank some more.
Another early memory is sitting on the steps of the school, after all of the children had been picked up and waiting anxiously for my parent to arrive. I would watch the street, longing for the next car to be our car. And it seemed it never was. I would look up in the tree and see an owl there, sleeping and wishing he would wake up and scoop me away. I could feel the teacher's own desire to leave and yet they were stuck there with me, calling each parent, jusdging me and my family, resenting having to stay late with this tiny, withdrawn, shy, unhappy kid. My dad's office was just a few minutes away and yet it would feel like an unending journey, waiting, anxiety building, and then a flood of tears when finally somebody remembered me.
I couldn't play while I waited, had no desire to do so. All I could think of was why didn't my parents remember me? Why was I not important to them? Why did they not long to be with me the way that I longer for their love, presence, and caring.
One day I simply decided I would not go to school, I would not endure that torture of waiting endlessly for somebody to rescue me from my pain. So when my dad came into wake me up, I would not open my eyes or move. I pretended to sleep. Then my mom came in and tried and I still refused. My mom said, she must just be really tired and my dad wouldn't buy it. They called the housekeeper in with her vacuum and still I acted the part of sleeping beauty.
They gave up and let me be, I suppose because they needed to be off to their lives and work. I lay in bed for some minutes more after they left and then I found the housekeeper to make me breakfast. I still cannot believe that my mother, a nurse, could seemingly not recognize the effects that my father's behavior was having on me, but she had become the Librium queen. The anxiety and stress of living a life like this were simply too much for her.