Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Gift Horse

Dad has been in prison ten years, ten months and one day.

In that time, I've sent money, letters and postcards and have bought subscriptions, called on his behalf, researched a multitude of topics, and visited.

In ten years, ten months and one day, I'm the only one who done so without fail. 

Only one other person --my brother (or his wife)-- has come close to doing *maybe* a tenth of this. During especially busy times, I've gone as much as three months without writing. Rare, but I would still send money so he wasn't left entirely high and dry. 

As much as I think he never has to worry about losing me, of all people, he does. He frets and freaks and stresses if I don't write within [insert arbitrary timeframe based on his current emotional state]. He usually expresses this via an angst-ridden letter, fraught with worry and by the time I get that letter, he's heard from me. We're caught up and all is fine.

Only once had it ever gone beyond that. Read that entry here.  Basically, it was in part due to a mailing snafu and my being insanely busy pre-book publication day. That time, he threatened to kill himself. That is, until he received some college football books I bought him, and he suddenly found a reason to live

I felt bad for him. He'd said some inflammatory things about my mom, regretted it and hadn't heard back from me. His regret was like one of those toy sponge capsules you add water to and it swells into a dinosaur. It had grown well beyond its imagined initial capacity and he was living with a giant demon of his own creation. I was annoyed by his attempted manipulation, too, but mostly I felt sorry for him.

Fast forward to April 3, 2013. He's in despair, he says. He hasn't heard from me since March 1st. Since January 28th he's written me SEVEN letters, and in that time I've only written one postmarked March 31st. (His dates are confusing, but I think I sent a postcard / brief note on March 1st and a real letter on the 31st. I don't remember.)

Seven letters in two months is borderline stalking, (A); and (B) every letter he sends is filled with requests for information, research, and questions. It's not enough that I send him a postcard from the road. He needs MORE. ANSWERS TO HIS QUESTIONS. 

In my last letter I addressed this issue: You request so much information and that takes TIME. If you want more letters from me, stop asking for so much! It's like a homework assignment. HA! That's why I like sending postcards because I can let you know I'm thinking of you without having to deal with all your research demands. 

What followed? A letter filled with more requests. Send me information on a matador. Why is So & So in jail? Send me articles on their arrest and trial. How much is the Super Bowl trophy worth? AND OTHER RANDOM BULLARKY. Bullarky that I'd normally not blink twice at and would often be amused by or even curious to learn the answers to.

But this time?

This time, I do not feel bad for Dad. I feel PISSED. (Can't you tell by my all caps? No? Well, there's MORE TO COME!)

Never mind that from January to February I've traveled to San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Rutgers University (somewhere in NJ, I can't remember where) and a dozen other shows and charity events in and around NYC. Travel that would make the regular person kind of flip out and yet I navigated this with ease while navigating my real day-to-day life. Oh, right, I have a REAL FU*KING LIFE in the FREE WORLD where I live, because I didn't SAVAGELY STAB SOMEONE & SLICE THEIR THROAT TO NEAR DEATH.

Ever since receiving his last note in which he bitterly complains (photos herein), my first feeling when I think of him is anger. I think to myself, "That mother fu*ker needs a lesson in gratitude and humility! Here he has a free horse and he has the GALL to look at its teeth."

I am a GIFT horse. Do not DARE to look at my motherfu*king teeth. My teeth are fine. Better than fine.

So many of his fellow inmates have NO ONE. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. No letters, no money in a trust fund, no subscriptions to USA Today or Phil Steele's College Football preview to stop them from killing themselves. Dad has me and, yet, he's not satisfied.


It's the same question I asked when trying to understand his capacity for violence. In this case --fear of my no longer wanting to write him-- he's got deep-seeded issues with abandonment, paranoia and low self-esteem that prison can't cure. (Let's be honest, prison ain't curing anything, not even his scabies.) Prison has only exacerbated his fears by isolating him into the most helpless, lonely, dark place.

"If Kambri has given up on me," he must think, "Who or what do I have left? Nothing." 

This spiraling descent of negative thought surely is made worse by his realization that he doesn't deserve such forgiveness or love. Unconditional or not. Knowing that he's capable of something so heinous. Most of us have not done anything that rises to the level of guilt he must be carrying.

Ten years, ten months and one day is not enough. 

It never will be.

1 comment:

StaceyG said...

My semi-educated guess (from learning about sociopathy and attachment theory) is that it never occurred to him that you were ever "there" all those times. I'm betting that in his mind, he has always been alone, abused, scorned, etc. And some of it is probably true, but not the majority. He had a very sad did you, so did I. We had/have the capacity for insight and change. He doesn't. And like you said, prison is not going to help him in that area.

He can't see past the end of his nose. The universe revolves around him (in his mind). He rules. That's where the demands and manipulations come into play. Google "cluster B in DSM-IV-TR" and see if anything sounds familiar.

I'm glad you're finally angry. It's about damn time.