I was lost when I met Anita.
My father’s battle with cancer had captured, shadowed and imprisoned my youth. Three-years before I was flying high from high school graduation: vibrant, attractive, lean, with a flare for bodybuilding and boxing and desperate to leave home when Dad, literally, collapsed under the prognostic-doom of his cancer diagnosis. Three-years later I was fat, emotionally defeated and on a three-day train trip across Canada to attend college. For three days and nights I sat and stared out a train window at the desperate and the lonely. I was far too depressed to wonder why I was traveling to the largest city in Canada less than a month after my father died. I didn’t eat, didn’t speak to anyone, didn’t cry, just sat and stared out at the endless desolate miles. Three years of emptiness, compressed like a concentrated, dark-authored, metaphor into a three-day train ride.
Being lost and then found is the human condition defined as love
Anita and I met a year later.
All the fat was gone. The depression was buried deep. Buried in the way my father taught me men are meant to hide their emotions. The controlled masculinity he projected to me in health was acutely magnified by his dark withdrawal three-years before he died. His macho reflection of the self may have fractured like an image in a shattered mirror. But, he still retained the absolute control of the father. He, literally, withdrew to his bedroom and sucked his family’s lifeblood with him. The wife he married when she was 16 and he was 30, the woman he raised like a daughter, became far more like a child to me than a mother. Eventually my sister (three-years younger) and I were torn apart by our mother’s desperate clinging. Today we don’t speak. She seems forever lost in a search for that imaginary strong man who abandoned her when she was becoming a woman.
The cuts of our father’s controlling, pseudo-macho image fracturing when challenged, his agonizingly slow death, his silent control of our childhood, youth and early adulthood: all scars Dad left behind. At times I look at them and shed tears using that three-day symbolic train ride from Vancouver to Toronto when I could not cry because I was so intensely alone. I cry now. I have the ideal shoulder to cry on. A best friend, a mother and best of all a lover: all encompassed in one.
Love means finding and sharing tears to fill the space of parents and their fears
Anita’s childhood was totally different. Certainly no childhood is perfect but hers was close to ideal. Being the forth girl of five created a good balance of insecurity and strength. Competing with three older sisters and one five years younger gave her a sense of competitive guidance. She weaned herself from parental control and left home for college at 17.
I was never weaned from my parents. Without her mate, my mother became married to her children’s cause as if her adult children were rendered dysfunctional by the disease and death of their father. Truthfully, the ongoing dysfunction was hers. When I came back home after my first year of college my mother was waiting: not as a mother, as a child. For the rest of her life she would either live with Anita and me or my sister and her husband. Her unrelenting tears of grief overpowered her children’s need to move beyond as she refused to live alone. Our father’s failure became magnified by the clinging intensity our mother’s insecurity.
My Father The Illusion My Mother The Mirror: my first book details my parents and the power of love to create a new beginning
Anita had no idea what was buried inside me. I could not be honest and admit that I had devoted three prime years of my youth to a cause that crippled my burgeoning maturity. My father’s failure became my failure. His dark silence pulled the curtains on my emotions. His silence was not a reflection of strength; it was the voice of fear. There was never a time after he was told he had cancer that the word cancer or death was used in our home. Never did we sit as a family and discuss the severity of his disease or consider its’ effect on his wife and two children. It was as if the true nature of his disease needed to be kept secret. It was. Until the night before he died.
It was impossible to keep such darkness covered in a shroud when I fell in love with Anita. Those hidden dark parts of me began to show as if confused by the light of Anita’s love and her free-flowing nature. The festering emotion I had forsaken in shielding shadows to protect my father was anger.
Couples in love continually loose and find each other. Or they permanently loose each other in a constantly evolving search for the love of being lost in the self. The choice depends on the depth of their love
Continued next blog: addictions provide the fuel for love