Hello Internet, friends and random folks just passing by…
This is an introduction to me, and the reasons behind this blog and I hope you find something here to take away with you. It is my hope that you will also leave something good of yourself behind, so we can all have a sense of belonging. Let us begin, in the beginning.
I am a ‘30-something-closer-to-the-big-Four-0-than-I-like’ professional in the FM industry in the UK. I am on my second marriage, have 2 nearly grown children from my first marriage and am an American expatriate from a small town in California that you’ve definitely never heard of! I guess you could say I’m ‘middle class’ which sounds like such a bad word when you say it like that. Trust me when I say ‘middle class’- is not a bad word. If you’ve ever worked your way up from the bottom to somewhere better; then you know what I mean.
I guess these facts as above, don’t mean very much to you when you read them. But if you are someone like me, they mean the world. It means I’m OK, that I’m in one piece and I’ve managed to make something of myself.
You see, I was born into a toxic, drug fueled relationship between two very strong willed, violent people in the mid seventies. My mother was Northern Paiute Native American*, Spanish and Irish and my father Caucasian. They lived in the same town and met in a local honky-tonk.
My mother worked as as waitress, a bartender and a card dealer around the area. She dealt cards at private parties and by all accounts garnered significant male attention with her handsome looks. My father was a supply clerk in the US Army for a couple of years at the outbreak of the Vietnam War. He spent time in Alaska and then went to Seoul in Korea. He was honorably discharged after his first tour and came home. By all accounts, he never saw any combat or other actual danger apart from boredom.
When he returned from Korea he became a professional musician. He had had invested much of his youth into playing music. He was a talented drummer (as was my uncle, his younger brother) and played across honky tonks and bars all over California in the late 60s and mid 70s. Upon quitting the music scene (presumably because my mother was pregnant) he got into fabricated house manufacture. Unfortunately for us all and like so many others of his generation and profession he’d developed a drug addiction to heroin and alcohol during his music years.I have often wish I’d known my father before his drug years. He was intelligent, a sharp observer of people and a talented builder. My mother, likewise was very intelligent and exceptionally talented in all manner of crafts. To this day I resent her lack of patience and total lack of desire to teach me.
My parents were only married briefly. Many years ago my father told me that I was conceived in the back of a yellow Ford Pinto off of Interstate 80 on their way to Reno. That’s real romance, isn’t it? They were married almost 9 months later at the justice of the peace. You can see me in their wedding photos all round and unborn in my mother’s belly. My mother while not a ‘striking beauty’ that you would see photo-shopped all over advertisements today, instead was a handsome woman with long dark hair, dark intense eyes and a nice figure.
My mother worked as a waitress, bartender and card dealer at a local dive and would not be controlled. I am told that after a particularly long night of work my father attacked her for being allegedly unfaithful, an allegation he could never prove. He may have been right, but we may never know. This event was the break up of my parents short lived marriage and it preceded a long and rough road after.
My father’s life spiraled out of control. He did time for petty theft, larceny and drug possession. One crime to feed his habit, and one crime because of his habit. This vicious cycle continued to play out all the way up until his death 3 years ago. This prompted my mother to restrict his access to me. Some days, usually on Fridays my mother would take me from school early and we would go visit ‘friends’ and ‘do errands’. This was a clear attempt to keep me from my father. On one such weekend my father got into a serious car accident trying to get to me, before my mother took me away. My grandmother kept the scene photos of my father with blood running down his face after the accident. I’ve seen these many times and the image sticks with me even after all these years. This was a father, trying to get to his daughter.
I think this was the final straw for my father and he stopped seeking to see me while I was in in my mothers custody. It seems that this was the motivator for him to dive himself further into his drug and drink addiction. From this point on, for the rest of his life (with the exception of 1 period in the late 80s) my Father would spend 3 years out of every 5 incarcerated in the prison system.
The remainder of my years with my mother were dark, sad and lonely. I was the only child from that marriage and we lived on a remote ranch in the foothills with her boyfriend. My mother was not particularly maternal. She had two sons from a previous marriage. Those children remained with their father for reasons I never learned and my mother always showed a particular fondness for her middle child, but nothing for her oldest and youngest children. She developed a rage and anger that I’d never known she’d had. I am told now, that it was always within her but I never knew her very well. Since then I’ve learned that there was more sordid darkness to her than I’d ever imagined.
Those days were full of the following: Get up, eat breakfast, go outside. Do not come in for any reason unless you use the bathroom, lunch at the kitchen table alone followed by going back outside. Come inside when it gets dark, sit down eat dinner, do not talk, do not linger and then straight to bath time and bed.
My mother really, had no use for me generally. She had a number of hobbies that she enjoyed. She was immensely talented and very intelligent. She practiced cross stitch, knitting, crochet, quilting, quilling, cooking, penmanship, sewing, writing and horse back riding. They were tasks for adults; not for children and those skills were never passed to me. Quite probably due to my mother having little to no patience at all for children; any children, including her own. I remember one particular incident when I was very young. She was washing my hair and soap got into my eyes. Being a child of course I began to cry. My mother insisted that I stop crying immediately. Her anger just made it worse and what came after was a series of slaps that left full adult size red hand-prints all over my chest. Her punishments were fairly unique and never pleasant.
This period of my life was lonely; but the one shining brightness was my mothers boyfriend, a man I knew from a young age and thought of him as my Dad. He was kind and hard working and did his best to give me a good life. And during this time, those periods of brightness were the very best. They didn’t last.
What followed was a series of breakups from different boyfriends. We moved, first to live with my Aunt, and then to live with a man my mother had met and thought she loved. Then when that relationship fell apart we moved back to our home town. We lived for a time in a small apartment close to another family member. It was during this period that things got worse. My mother drank regularly, left me in the back of her car at the bar, when she went out drinking. We lost our apartment, within a year and had to move again. After that she began to seriously neglect me to the point the neighbors started to notice.
One night in 1986 she went out, in the middle of the night without me leaving me alone in the assumption that I was asleep. This was not the case. I cried, and cried and the neighbors nearest to us felt that this was not suitable. They phoned Child Protective Services and within a week all of my belongings were packed and ready to go. The contents of my 10 year old self fit into a single box. I had come home from school and her only words to me were ‘You’re going to live with Granny.’ No preamble, no sadness, no tears. Nothing but pure matter of fact. I’ll never forget the coldness with which she left me. I’ll never forget the feeling of being lost. Not ever. For about a year, I harbored the hope that she would come back to get me. She never did. I saw her again only 2 times until she died in 1993 at the age of 40.
My grandparents, gave me the best life they could. They were retired and living in a retirement community. The guilt I felt even at the age of 10, watching my Grandparents have to move out of their home purely BECAUSE I lived with them has stayed with me since. My grandfather came out of retirement at 67 and went back to work. My grandmother took on the task of caring for me despite ill health and general feebleness. I will never forget their sacrifice for me. They took me in, and kept me even though they never knew how long it would be. They did it with open eyes and an open heart, and I will love them for the rest of my days purely for that sacrifice. I love them for many other reasons, but that will always be in my heart. My grandmother loved me as though I were her own child; indeed sometimes more than she loved her own children. Things were not perfect after this but they did the best they could. It was still long hard road to adulthood.
I am not prompting you for pity here. Don’t get the wrong idea about that. I do however want you to understand that when I say that I am enormously successful, I do not actually mean successful in money, business or fame. I have been successful in dodging the drug fueled life I was born in to. I have to remind myself daily that my life could be, actually, so much worse. I am not saying I am perfect, by any stretch. I am saying that I fell far enough from the tree to make a life for myself.
Thats why I am here. I guess you could say that even at the age of ‘30-something-closer-to-the-big-Four-0-than-I-like’ I am in the middle of a mid-life crisis. You may say… ‘What? You are far too young for that.’ Well, my tale is not finished. I have so much more to tell but it cannot be done all at once. There has been too much and sometimes it feels as though its been far too long. You may say ‘But Tal, your life is no different than others, we all have hard times.’ I say to you ‘Yes, yes! Yes! I know! The world can be so harsh, so unforgiving and life is never easy!’. I say to you, that I am here because of compassion.
I recently have suffered the loss of a good friend. Not because they left, or died but because I said something stupid, that hurt their pride. I apologized as soon as I realized I’d hurt them. I begged for forgiveness. I had hoped they would understand. That is not the case. Compassion, was denied to me. Forgiveness, was denied to me. I was bereft, heart broken. I could not understand why those friends could not turn the other cheek, as I have done so often in my life. But then I felt, that perhaps it is because they did not understand me as well as they could. I am not like my peers. I never will be. I fit in where I can, I make myself accommodating, understanding and compassionate, because it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO. I am here to fight against the loss of trust in friendship, the feeling that I never really knew where I stood in the first place. In order to do that, I need to find myself, again.
That is the reason for this blog. To show those friends that my life is not as simple as perhaps they have come to understand of their own. It cannot be broken down into the lowest common denominator. I want to help them understand. I want to understand myself better. I want to rediscover who I was 10, 15, 20 years ago, so I can then understand what I want from myself in this new phase of my life. My son is 20, my daughter is almost 16. My life has been dominated by worry and care for them, as it should be. But its been a dark and murky road and it is incredibly easy to lose yourself in that darkness. This is my way of fighting back.
I am here, to fight misconception, misunderstanding. I am here to provide compassion, a friendly word and to share my experiences. There is always someone, somewhere out there that feels like someone doesn’t understand them. We all feel that way to a certain extent, but I want to help those groping around in the dark, those fighting loneliness, depression and heart break. I want to show them that no matter how much of an outsider you are, there is always someone there willing to hold your hand. You just have to find them.
Of course, there will be lighter topics, funny anecdotes, a lightness in discussion in some areas. But to help you understand ME and the reasons behind Talyne’s Tea Room this particular introduction had to be dark. That is because life, as so often happens to many, is dark. It won’t always be like this though. I will do posts on a number of different topics, from prose and poetry, current affairs, business matters and some funny parenting stories, and if I have a good response; an Agony Aunt section.
So for now, I will leave you with some food for the soul. When I was 14 years old and a very unhappy, angry teenager I’d read a partial quote of this poem in the book On A Pale Horse, by Piers Anthony. This poem changed my life and maybe, just maybe it will help you, the way it helped me.
Until Next Time
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley 1849 – 1902 – Gloucester – England