Wednesday, 17 September 2008

"We are the Hero of Our Own Story."

(That was todays quote of the day, in my sidebar. I like it.)

This year, it has been TWENTY YEARS since my dad killed himself. I can remember it all like it was yesterday ... I was 16, we had just moved back from England. We had been living the high life all through the eighties .... ferrari, houseboat, swimming pool with a slide, Disneyland, crates of Dom Perignon champagne. A billiard room, mums yellow stationwagon Mercedes, the Rolls Royce in the driveway that my parents traded for some diamonds during a dinner party.

All that money and stuff ..... yet we were the most dysfunctional, bullshit family on the block. I knew it the time. My sisters and I would get banished to our rooms, outta sight, outta mind. You see, it wasn't really our dad. It was our stepdad, from 1977 - 1988. Our real dad was off drinking himself to death somewhere, while mum announced suddenly one day that from now on we were to all call him dad. Whatever - I couldn't give a shit, but my sisters were spewing, for they had all the memories of our first dad they I didn't .... they didn't WANT another dad.

Shit I could give so much background filler here. Such a rich, fucked-up tapestry to choose from, when talking about my family! I would love to write a memoir one day.

There was a stock market crash in '87, I was at boarding school at the time, but I remember my mum being insistent that I talk to "dad". Because, he was shattered. It was the beginning of the end, we didn't know it at the time - but he most certainly did. At sports the next day, I saw Scratch, this big tall guy in year 11 crying. And crying. His dad had killed himself, because of the crash. "Shit!" I thought. "How awful!"

We ended up suddenly moving to England (I went to FIVE high schools. Sometimes as a dork, sometimes as a cool kid. Ohhhh, the scars!) for a last ditch attempt to salvage dads business, and money. None of us wanted to go, but we had to. We lived in this 4-storey mansion in Middlesex, reputed to have been Oliver Cromwells shooting lodge. My sisters and I found out ... that we actually maybe even LIKED each other, and started bonding for the first time ever. My brother was eight, the family mascot, my beautiful, beautiful blonde-haired guy.

Anyway, it all fucked up (Really?! What a surprise!) and mum had to hock her diamond earrings for some flights back home, to live in my grandparents front yard in a caravan. We had nothing. Dad managed to buy a 120y Datsun, we moved to a rented house which stank, and had no furniture for three months as it got delayed on the container coming back to Australia. But, the odd thing ..... we all got on as a family, for the first time ever. Mum got a job. Dad talked to us girls like we were actually human ..... until he got busted embezzling money from all his businesses, so he drove to the hardware shop to buy a hosepipe, then, in a secluded area of town (actually, it was a freaking RACETRACK) .. he gassed himself. I wonder what he was thinking? I wonder if he had thought of killing us all too? My brother says there is a name for that .. "Family Annihilation Syndrome". He had crossword puzzle books with him in the car ... obviously he thought it was going to take longer than it did.

He got found the next day by one of my friends dads, head slumped back, red-faced, and quite dead indeed.

That was the day my heart started to turn bitter. I knew he was a prick of a stepdad, but he was MY stepdad. The whole world went grey, for many, many years. I didn't think I could ever get over it, it was so awful and raw and impacting.

And now? Pfffft. Fuck him. I wish he was in front of me so I could tell him to FUCK OFF. Of course, there is damage in my psyche that will always, always be there. The love between a father and daughter - puhLEASE. (But, inside, it hurts so very, very bad. Wasn't I enough, that neither of my dads stayed on the planet?) If they were the heros of their own stories .... then, what a couple of softcock heros they turned out to be. Mum married again. A beautiful man.

So, the current economic climate - especially in America. Sends a few shivers, because I know this will be happening to other families. Sometimes, having money isn't as great as it appears to be.

I have always hated the date of his suicide. When I fell pregnant with Tiger, guess what his due date was? Yep. It changed everything for me. Instead of being the one date in the year I hated, it was now the best, most exciting freakin' date I had ever heard in my life. (He came one day after his due date.)

I saw that guy, Scratch, again. Once, when I worked at Jetset travel in the early nineties. I wanted to run up to him "MY DAD KILLED HIMSELF TOO!! SNAP!!" But, I didn't. I was a dork at that school and he would have had no idea who I was. Plus, it just would have been weird.

And therein endeth another of Topcats cheery stories. Scary thing? I have so, many more.



Vacant Uterus said...

Oh, TC. I never know what to say to these stories but I hope you don't stop telling them. It's like they need to come out.

You ARE enough. I'm sorry your dads didn't stick around to know the amazing woman, wife and mother you are. FWIW, I think your stepdad thought of himself as a bad hero too and that's why the gas. So very sad for all of you.

The economic climate in America scares me too. It's destroying Sam's firstfamily. I have no idea where this will all end.

Stacie said...

I get so incredibly angry when I read the stories about your childhood. I just want to go smack people down for causing you all of that pain! Then I want to go grab the young TC and hug her like there is no tomorrow. I'd tell her how so very smart she is, how talented, and how very funny she is. Because she is...all of that and so much more.

Sent something on Monday. Have no idea how long it will take. :-)

Almamay said...

Poor Topcat. Sending you a bit hug. I cried when I read the part about your dad bringing a crossword with him. That is so incredibly sad.

When my dad abandoned us he thought he was doing us a favour. Before my dad died he begged for forgivness saying he was wrong and how he realised he hurt us and wasn't helping. My father could do that because his decision to 'help' us was not as final as your father's. After years of therapy I understood what my father was thinking and know that he believed he was helping us. It still made his decision to abandon us wrong.

battynurse said...

Wow. That's a lot for anyone to live or deal with but teenagers, I can't imagine. I'm sorry. Hugs to you.

Vee said...

I don't know what to say...I just think you're more amazing when I hear these stories and how much you have been through. Your Dads certainly missed out not knowing you.

Evil Stepmonster said...

Thank God he didn't take any of you with him! There are some crazy crazy stories that come out of financial ruin. I think 'its only bloody money', but I guess a lot of it is pride as well, which is a hard thing to lose. But still, I wish they'd think of the people they leave behind.

Perhaps you and Pam (Bloodsigns) will have write your books under an alias?

bleu said...

First off I am so sorry you went through that.
Isn't it irritating how they pull their shit, because of THEIR problems, weather it be ignoring, abusing, suicide, molesting, whatever, and then WE spend the next 20 years hurting ourselves because we don't think we are worth anything because of their shit.

It maddens me that I self abused in so many ways just in some messed up attempt to keep up what my own father started so many many years prior.

I wish we could somehow find a way to rectify what our minds know, that it is completely them, with what our psyche's think.

G said...

It is so amazing how much families can change in what seems like a blink of an eye. Money and the economy sucks.

I agree, you need to write under a psuedo-name to get it all out. But I guess that depends on whether you feel better after the telling.

Like V.U. said above, you ARE enough. Your dads really did miss out on such an amazing daughter.


Wordgirl said...


Dear topcat. You know I have goosebumps right now that are still on my arms. I see you. Do you know what I mean? I SEE you.

You've lived in that world between classes too -- passing-- like me, wondering where you might fit in... the mother with the social expectations and the well-cut clothes -- and the rage.

I am without words.

The more I hear of your story the more I am amazed.

My heart is with you Topcat.

I've felt so much the same, and do.

Thank you for sharing your story. I want to read YOUR memoir!




OHN said...

If you had any doubt why you went through the drug/alcohol problems, I think you don't have to look too far back to find things that caused you to want to be numb. I have known 3 people that have committed suicide, one was a 12 year old girl, and I can't even imagine the desperation someone must have to do that.