Dysfunctional families


What happened surrounding Michael’s wedding was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my mother. I realized then how much she manipulated my father and drove him absolutely batty in exactly the same way. He would beg her to tell him what was wrong just like I had and she would just be bitchy and negative.

To this day I don’t know if I had done something to offend her or what the hell was wrong. She wouldn’t talk about it. That was over and done. The past. We didn’t need to dwell on it. For fuck’s sake, Mother, you damn near ruined you son’s wedding. You certainly put me in a precarious position having to explain it all. Aren’t I entitled to know what the hell was going on? Apparently not.

I never trusted her after that. And I didn’t get over being angry. That incident was such a revelation. All sorts of shitty memories started flooding back into my concious memory of the abuse my brothers and I suffered at her hands.

How she had stuck my finger under the sewing machine needle and deliberately rammed the needle into it for a few seconds as she held my hand there because she caught me playing with her machine. I was maybe three when that happened. Maybe younger. My god in heaven that ain’t that woman was cruel.

It had always bothered me that I could not remember large parts of my childhood but now I think I don’t want to remember. No, I’m almost certain I don’t.

B

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Who put the bomp
In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Who put the ram
In the rama lama ding dong?
Who put the bop
In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip
In the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man?
I’d like to shake his hand
He made my baby fall in love with me

Me First and The Gimme Gimmees

When my brother Michael got married the second time the plan was that I would drive in from Wisconsin a few days early and stay with my Mother and then we would make the drive out to Denver, stopping in Scottsbluff to spend the night with my best friend from highschool Barbara W and spend the next day with them. It was supposed to be a leisure ly trip so we weren’t all exhausted when we got there two days before the wedding.

I still don’t know what the hell was going on with my mother when I got there. The kids and I were all excited about going to the wedding and she was wet blanketing everything we said until she finally had my kids so upset they didn’t want to go. That’s when I told her to knock it off in front of the kids or I was leaving.

The deal was that Mother was going to stay at Michael’s house and the kids and I were going to stay with one of Michael’s friends. She sounded like a blast to me and I couldn’t wait to meet her in person. I don’t know how it came up exactly but my mother started yelling at me about that “You think that sounds like FUN staying with complete stranger?” and on and on in the same vein

Then she started complaining about how she didn’t want to go and blah blah blah. I told her once again to knock it off in front of my kids or I was leaving but she kept it up so I herded the kids who were crying by then into the car and we went over to Harvard to visit some friends. When I came back she was in her bedroom with the door locked and wouldn’t talk to me. Christ… Now my kids ere really freaking out.

I didn’t know what the hell to do so I went to talk to my old pastor about the whole mess. He told me to set it out for her that I was going to go and have a good time and I was not going to put up with any nonsense from her. She was wecome to come with me but l was not going to allow her to put a damper on the trip and she needed to act like a grown up and talk to me. I took my kids over to my brother Jimmy’s house and went back and did just that.

She was still locked in the bedroom. I tried to talk her into coming out to talk to me but she wouldn’t answer. Finally I got pissed and decided I had taken enough bullshit from this woman. Time for an ultimatum.

I packed up all my stuff and got it ready to go and then I talked to my mother through the bedroom door. I told her she had an hour to come out of that bedroom and if she didn’t the kids and I were going to go spend the night with Chuck my other brother and then on to Barbara W’s. There would be no more bullshit and that was that. She would act like a grown-up or she would be treated like a child

Then I went over to Jimmy’s and we had dinner. I got back there and she hadn’t come out of the bedroom yet so I told her that she’d have to ride to the wedding with Jimmy. I packed up my car and left.

She didn’t go to the wedding.

B

Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be

Jim Horning

My brother Michael who lives in Austrailia (he REALLY ran away from home! LOL) was in Clay Center for the weeked last weekend and my nephew who lives up here with my son made a flying trip out to spend some time with the fam. I went to Edgerton to spend time with the kids and grandkids Friday night and as usual Greg was my ride there and back so I got to hear all the gory details.

We agreed that the Gavins put the FUN in dysfunctional. Apparently Mike has mellowed over the years. He’s filthy rich so he can afford to be mellow but according to Greg he’s the fun member of the family while Chuck who used to be the laid back hippie with the long hair and easy going attitude and lifestyle has become a fundamentalist Christian who won’t say shit–at least not in front of his wife.

He hides the fact that he smokes weed from her and will not let her hear any of the stories about his wild child days. He’s become a totally competitive nutjob who has tied up his whole self-worth in his job and how much effing money he makes. That seemed to happen over night too. But he doesn’t try to hide his gambling and his need to make everything a competition. Has christianity become a contest for material possesions? Oh right, the properity doctrine!

He majored in journalism in college with a minor in sociology which was really cool. He’s a good writer. But when he graduated he got a job selling semi trucks and found out that like most Gavins he could sell air and make a profit. So then he went into selling insurance and then it was advertising and now he’s selling mortgages. When he started selling insurance he cut his hair, bought a three piece suit and a split level house on a cul-de-sac.

The next time I saw him, barely a year later, he had become A THREE PIECE SUIT and his hippie wife was totally miserable. Patty Jo told me once she absolutely hated living on a dead end street. She said it pretty much summed up their marriage. She stuck with him for a few years for the sake of their son but eventually she left. I definitely didn’t blame her. She and I were close and I knew her side of the story. It wasn’t pretty.

Michael went to a Tech School and took up computers back in the really early days. Early 70s. He’s a smart cookie and he began writing programs that could organize inventories. He went into the mining industry and he made a big splash. He rose fast and furious. He’s 52 I guess and I don’t really know what he does because I haven’t spoken to him in almost 15 years or seen him in 20.

I guess he got pissed when I told him I thought he should stop and think about it when he called me to tell me he was getting married the third time so soon after his second divorce. He may have been pissed because my mother didn’t come to the second wedding and I was supposed to bring her. I always wondered what that bitch told him about that incident. I will write about that sometime. What a cluster fuck. That was the beginning of the end of my relationship with my mother.

He’s been married 15 years to this wife. I think that’s a record amongst the siblings. According to the nephew this wife is really ballsy and doesn’t take any shit from him. That’s good because he’s got a personality just like Dad. And me. Intense. Volistic. Manic. And the Gavin men were raised to be chauvinists of the first order. I often wondered if Mike was physically abusive to his wives. He doesn’t have children.

I guess Greg and he had a conversation about me and Michael said it was just easier not to try to reconnect after 20 years. I think maybe from what Greg said I could be the one to make the first move and Michael would be OK with it. don’t know if I want to. Part of me fears rejection. Part of me worries I’ll open up the door and really dislike him. I can’t stand Chuck and basically tol him to bugger off 10 years ago because he was an ass. I have no respect for Jimmy because he’s a chauvinistic pig who is using the hell out of the woman who is living with him. He doesn’t give a shit about her and would kick her out in a heart beat if somebody better came along but she begs to be used so he does. He used to call me up and brag about it until I told him to knock it off. He doesn’t call me anymore. Greg told him the same thing so maybe he thinks I influenced Greg but to be frank, Greg influenced me.

I think I owe Michael an apology about some things that happened when we were children. It has been bothering me a long time. I might send him an email about that. I’ll have to talk it over with Harry first.

B

When my children were small they would ask me to tell them stories about what it was like when I was a little girl. I told them funny stories about my brothers. They called them the Uncle stories. I don’t think they even noticed that I told them hardly anything about myself.

I wish I could remember good times. I’m sure there must have been good times. It couldn’t have all been bad times could it? No. It’s just that the bad times over shadow all the good times, drawing a dark curtain over what was good. I remember times that started off good but turned out bad.

Mostly I remember being afraid to be happy because if I was happy something bad would happen. I remember laying awake in my bed at night and praying that nothing bad would happen. I remember making deals with god about what I would give up if only he would stop the bad stuff from happening. It never worked. I gave up being happy but the bad stuff kept happening. I could never be good enough.

Why do bad things happen to good little girls? Because shit happens and there is no one there to care. Especially not an all-seeing, all-powerful god.

B

After my father died in 1979 my mother began playing a game with me I eventually named “Blame Bill and Iola.” It actually began before that but it began in earnest in 1979 when she filed for divorce and my Father had the audacity to up and die on her six weeks later before she could get him into court and air all the dirty linen.

This may or may not have been linked to the fact that I had ended up on the psych ward and was being treated for depression in 1978 and had partially confessed the family dirty linen to “The Pink Shrink” (everyone who is anyone will remember HER. She always wore pink and she was our circuit rider counselor affectionately referred to as the pink shrink. I wonder if she knew that?) I think it was.

She really upped the ante after I had moved to Wisconsin and been living there for a couple of years and started digging around in my psyche with a little more enthusiasm and with more experienced therapists in the early 80s. Plus I had written a term paper about incest that I had given her to read that talked about the complicity of the mothers. Every time I went to Nebraska to visit we spent most of our alone time talking about how miserably my father had treated her and abused me and how Iola was to blame for the fact that my Mother did not respond appropriately when I disclosed the incest.

All the misery in the world was Bill and Iola’s fault. oh sigh… what can we do? woe and sorrow…

I finally told her I did not want to play that game anymore. She said it wasn’t a game. I said whatever, I didn’t want to do it anymore, that I had worked through my shit with my father and that if she was still needing to work through stuff she needed to go back to therapy. She was miffed and she did try to play the game but I was firm.

So what has that got to do with sparing the rod? Well, in the course of blaming my father for everything my mother told me this anecdote:

I got my first spanking when I was six weeks old. The reason? I would not quit crying in church so my father took me out and bared my little bottom and spanked me.

SIX WEEKS OLD. I weighed 8lbs and 2oz when I was born so probably weighed right around 9 pounds. My father was a big man. 6’2″ probably over 200lbs even then and certainly strong because he lifted weights when he was in the service.

If this wasn’t a testimony to his insanity and the fact that he should have never been left alone with a child again, I do NOT know what was. But did my mother take me and leave? Did she even consider it? No she did not.

She was upset but it never occurred to her that she should protect her child and get the hell out of dodge. In fact, she went on to have three more children with this maniac.

She married a man, a boy really, that her mother disapproved of who came from a family she herself disapproved of who had recently been discharged from the military because of mental health problems. By this time she had no doubt been the victim of his temper herself on more than one occasion. In fact, I’m sure of it. She told me so. And he beat her only child in public when that child was six weeks old.

What kept her from running home to Mama who would have been more than happy to help her and had the means? Want my opinion? Of course you do. PRIDE. Insufferable pride.