But why would I want to return to what was never a home in the first place? Today I have a home. I live with a family, my wife Mary Esther and her mother, and they love and nurture me in ways I can depend on.
My birth parents brought me into the world, took care of my material needs and kept me alive long enough to leave. Because of their emotional withholding patterns and tactical deceits I formed a skewed view of the world where I did not trust anybody, did not care to be a contributing member of a society that I felt outside of, and was filled with enough shame to create a continuous suicidality within my “persona.”
Mealtime was a ritual when everyone would tear each other down and, because of the stress of it, I began finding ways and reasons to take my meals separately. Not unexpectedly, in my late teens I developed colitis. My colitis was diagnosed in 1964 and disappeared in the late 1970’s during a period where I had little or nothing to do with my birth family.
I have been symptom-free except for times when I stay with my birth family for more than five days or when I am forced to deal with them. I find the best way to interact with them is to keep it casual, like “how is everybody and how is the weather?”
I have some understanding of what made my birth-parents the way they are. It is clearer with my biological father because I met his biological father. His father was a man with a quick temper and a faster judgement. His birth-mother, and possibly the only real parent he had, was removed from the home for reasons which, to this day, are a secret to me.
I have questioned Aaron in great detail and the one story which is repeated over and over is that his father and mother split up when he was approximately ten or younger. When he went to visit her after the break-up he was beaten severely by his father and told never to see her again or worse would occur. A few years later she died. He never saw her again.
He and his bio-father, named Shaky Eddie because of hardening of the arteries, went to live in a “Christian” home where he was raised by a woman I came to know as Aunt Margie, Aunt Margie’s husband Freddie, and a man who supported the household that I came to know as Uncle Barney. Uncle Barney and Aunt Margie, as it was later revealed to me, were lovers but Freddie was so sick and out-of-it that he never protested.
Did my biological grandmother cheat on Shaky Eddie? Was she an alcoholic or a drug addict? Shaky Eddie always was drinking wine. Does that mean he was an alcoholic? There are many unanswered questions.
Aaron had one brief fling with a waitress while he was a counselor at summer camp. Soon after that he met Dora, who is my bio-mother.
She came from an extremely religious Jewish Orthodox family. I have been told that her father was a rabbi. This may in fact have been true. Both her parents were dead by the time she was thirteen. The oldest sister, of nine children, ran the household. They lived in a three room cold water flat in Bedford Stuyvesant. All the brothers, of which there were five, remained Jewish Orthodox. One of them became a rabbi. When he died there were rabbis from Israel who came to his funeral. But I digress.
When Aaron and Dora began courting she was told by her family that he was the same as goyim and she should cease and desist. She married him anyway and dropped out of college. Her college scores were very high because she showed me medals she earned in some of her courses.
Aaron came from a working class family. Dora’s family prized education and many of them earned doctorates in math, English, or they became physicians or rabbis.
Aaron was not bar mitzvahed until he was in his 70’s.
I was set up to fail by them early on. Because I could not trust them, I did not trust anybody. One counselor (I was in therapy from the time I was 7 years old) told me that I needed to go away or I would never get well. I believe I began to hate my bio-parents in defense, so I might survive. If I hadn’t exploded and rebelled I probably would be inpatient at a psych hospital today. Drugs gave the relief I needed from the bondage of a shame-ridden self to continue to live.
When I asked Dora why she went to therapy she told me it was because I made her sick.
I don’t believe Aaron ever cheated on Dora. He told me she never wanted to have sex with him. I was a teenager when he told me this which makes it inappropriate information. She, on the other hand, used to go out with a guy named Ben while Aaron was at work. In my gut I felt she was more than friends with Ben.
My father lives in Florida now. Dora was a semi-invalid during her final 7 years and Aaron took care of her. She was 83 when she died and he is 91 now. He took a mistress while he was taking care of my mother. I felt it was wrong but it wasn’t my life to live. I did many things my father thought were wrong too.
My sister moved down there to be closer to them but moved back up north after about 7 years. She was quite upset about the way things were down there when my father took his mistress. Our parents were not available to us when we were growing up; why should things change now?
Am I angry? Yes. But I am dealing with things in my own way. I am in deep therapy right now, being what is called re-parented because I never had loving, nurturing parents. I live with a wonderful woman who loves and nurtures me. Her mother, while she lived, treated me with respect. I pay some of the bills of the household and try carry my weight here. I love and nurture in return.
I have finally come home. It was not where I came from but it is where I am now.