The men in my life…

3 03 2011

I was raised by a single mother.

Let me preface this post by saying I truly believe my mother raised me to the best of her ability. However,  her ability was severely lacking. She was not given the proper tools to raise her children and suffered from what I believe is massive genetic depression. She was an alcoholic. She was abusive to all four of her children (though each of our sufferings played out in different avenues). She lived a lonely life and at the young age of 52 she died even lonelier.

My father left 3 months after I was born.

As with most children, I blamed myself. I know in hindsight there is no way a 3 month old infant could cause a grown man to flee from his wife and her 3 sons but you try telling that to an emotionally dysfunctional child who never once laid eyes on the man who helped create her. I became the spokeschild for the “I don’t need a father” statement. I would plant my feet and proclaim “My mother is both parents and I prefer it that way” but secretly I longed for a father. All my neighbors had them. I just had a mom who was pretty non-existent in my upbringing and back in the 70’s you stuck out like a sore thumb.

That left my three brothers to be the male role models I needed.

That didn’t happen.

They had their own demons.

One hated me for being born.

One took my innocence.

Then there was my brother Kevin.

He was my angel growing up. He loved me like a big brother should love his little sister. I remember he would brush the tangles out of my hair after bath time but in all honesty that is only one of very few memories I have of him. Except the day he left when I was 8 years old. He just turned 18 and in order to escape my mother  and her abuse he joined the military. I remember standing in the living room listening to another violent fight take place between the two of them (in our household it was a nightly event between my brothers and her). Then he was gone. I don’t remember if he said goodbye to me. I don’t remember if he told me where he was going.  He just disappeared from my life. Much like I blamed myself for my father leaving when I was 3 months old, I was convinced Kevin’s leaving was my fault. Of course as an adult I know now this is not the case but you can’t convince an 8-year-old who just wanted her brother to brush the tangles out of her hair otherwise. I would bet a million dollars the day he left is the day I started  to panic about food…

This post isn’t supposed to be about what I missed out on as a child.

But to talk about the male role models in my life today.

Because I have them.

And I love them dearly.

I may have not had a father growing up but I have one now. While I wouldn’t call him dad in public (because for pete’s sake I’m 41 years old) I do believe that Godfather was put in my life to be more than my trainer when we first met last summer. I am truly blessed to have him in my life. He started out as my trainer but it has blossomed into something more complex that I just couldn’t explain even if I tried. He is my mentor and makes me want to be a better person (isn’t that what all good dads do for their kids). I still see him in the gym as a coach and he still pushes the athlete in me past what I think I can accomplish but he teaches me outside of the gym as well. He speaks to my heart and looks me in the eyes even when the things I  need to hear are hard to accept. When we go to church I like to sit in between him and his wife and imagine they are my parents. The parents I deserved to have. They love me and I believe them.

While my brother’s sort of tanked in the brotherly love department, I have Michael. I haven’t really mentioned him too much on my blog but he’s pretty much shown me that you can have men in your life and they don’t want anything from you except your friendship. We met last year after my husband gave me a spa certificate for Christmas. My husband thought he would be the best match of all the massage therapists at Jewell Day Spa (shameless plug). But I was 270 pounds and embarrassed to even go and have anyone touch me let alone some guy. I sat on that certificate for a few weeks. I lost a tiny bit of weight and all the walking I was doing made me sore.

After my first appointment I made a second.

It was before my second appointment I started running. By the time that appointment came around I was running three minutes!!!! My muscles hated me but they were a little less hateful when I left my second appointment and had a third in my hand. A month later I was half way through couch to 5k and I would mention this to Michael.

Turns out he was a runner.

Every month would go by and each time I was getting thinner and running longer distances. Every month we would talk about running until eventually we started running together (he has been pivotal in my journey to be a better runner). It didn’t take long for us to realize how much in common we had in our upbringing and slowly but surely a friendship grew. One that has become extremely important to me. He reminds me a lot of Kevin and how secure I felt as a young girl. It didn’t really hit me how much I care about him until just last week when I went to have dinner with him, his wife and a house full of strangers. To know me is to know I don’t do well with people I’ve never met. I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone (sitting at home day in and day out). He invited and for the first time I really felt like I wanted to be there. It was awesome. I felt comfortable and a part of the festivities instead of like a lump of nothingness in the corner. However that wasn’t what made me love the crap out of him.

It was his Donald Duck voice.

I remember as a little girl my brother Kevin would do these voices that he would only do for me. They were like our little game. Donald duck was one of them. He would only do it when we were alone. If there was someone in the room he spoke normally but as soon as it was just him and I these voices would come alive and I would laugh uncontrollably while running around the house asking “did you hear that?” I remember asking him to do the voices for other people and he would just look at me like I was out of my mind and say something like “What voices?” or “What are you talking about?” It’s one of the few happy memories I have of my childhood.

While over at Michael’s house taking in what it looked like when family and friends came together for nothing more but to be in each other’s company I watched him interact with all the kids in the house. It was awesome. I was standing next to him, while he held the smallest of the itty bitty. A beautiful baby boy who was slobbering the hell out of his hands (both his and Michael’s). Out of nowhere I hear his Donald Duck voice and I am immediately transported back to a happier time in my life. In that moment I knew that those kids in that house would always have a man that cared for them.

I am lucky to call Michael my friend.

Finally there is my husband.

All my life I wanted to know what it meant to have unconditional love. I wanted to know what it felt like to look into the eyes and heart of someone and truly believe they loved me for me. I’ve spent my entire life running from relationship to relationship giving everything trying to replace the love lost of a father and brothers (and mother) and never ever have I found comfort in the way I find it with my husband, Mitch. He loved me at 270 and he loves me today. He never saw me as fat. He just saw me. He loved me when I was severely depressed and he loves me today when some days I just can’t seem to keep it together. He loves me when I push him away and he loves me when I can’t seem to get close enough. He really is my knight in shining armor. He doesn’t judge, nor demand.

He just loves.

Did the lack of loving and caring male role models in my life set the stage for the struggles that would bring  me to being 270 pounds and severely depressed at the age of 40? I would say yes. Would it be the only reason that I got to where I was? No. But just as much as the lack of having positive male role models got me to a point of almost no return, the presence of such loving and wonderful men in my life now have brought me to where I am today.

Whole.

Loved.

Important.

Before I end this post I want to talk about my brother Kevin a little bit more. He left when I was 8. It would take 30 years for us to put behind what happened to us as kids and move forward toward being brother and sister again. I didn’t understand his demons. He didn’t understand mine. I now realize he had to leave in order to survive. I missed him so much and it took the dying of my oldest brother John for me to realize that I can’t carry the anger/hurt/sadness of that little 8 year old girl one second longer. I love him today as I loved him as a small child…

His Donald Duck voice is beautiful.

He still denies he can do it.

For that I love him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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18 responses

3 03 2011
Merry

Thank you for sharing this. Growing up, I didn’t have an especially close relationship with any of my brothers, but somehow it seems easier to talk with them after a gap of a few decades.

3 03 2011
Vinny Slavin

This was touching. Thanks for bringing us into your life.

3 03 2011
Jessica

Beautiful post! It sounds like you have been blessed with some amazing men in your life! I’m so glad your relationship with Kevin is better.

3 03 2011
April @ Crazy Fabulous Life

Oh, Tara. I just love your blog (and you!) because I never leave this page without a lot to think about and without learning so much about you. You’re a special person and I’m thankful to know you and to have the very great honor of reading about your life. You’re an inspiration and one of the strongest people I’ve ever encountered.

I’m so glad that you have what you’ve been missing for so long. You deserve it.

3 03 2011
Jeremy Logsdon

You are growing in every way possible. Have you ever considered a career in mental health counseling? Seriously. You could be SO inspirational to SO many people. Heck, you already are.

3 03 2011
Terri (@teetee_71)

That was a tremendous post! I am absolutely speechless but had to comment with something! Isn’t it funny how we are provided with what we need/crave…even if it takes awhile to get it? Sending love your way!

3 03 2011
Kelly

Amazing post….your writing is beautiful and every time you share so much of yourself, I read with tears in my eyes…sometimes tears of sadness and sometimes tears of joy. Both are important emotions to feel. Thank you for you!

3 03 2011
Hanlie

What a poignant post, Tara. I’ve only been visiting for a short while, but I feel as if I’m getting to know you (we’re the same age) and you inspire me every single time.

3 03 2011
jord

I love you so much. I’m so glad you have these wonderful men in your life. I’m gonna squeeze you.

3 03 2011
KCLAnderson (Karen)

I just love what you have to say and the way you say it. I am just so glad you have such wonderful men in your life.

Something I am curious about is how is it that women like us end up with men like your Mitch and my Tim? Is it luck only? All I know is that it’s a freaking miracle that I ended up with a man who loves me so totally and completely and has since day one, when I was fat and full of self-loathing…and towards the middle when I was even fatter and fuller of self-loathing. “They” say you can’t truly love someone else unless you love yourself first. Maybe I didn’t love him then? Like I do now? I don’t know…all I know is that I am blessed beyond words.

3 03 2011
Jules - Big Girl Bombshell

Love you and love this post. And boy NOW I know the connection! #fgm does that DD voice too! My kids still love it today!

4 03 2011
Darla

Powerful post. Thanks for sharing. It’s great to have such strong and loving men in your life.

4 03 2011
Alesha

Me: goosebumps and tears. XOXOXO

5 03 2011
Val

I am so glad you have good men in your life now. You are getting so healthy in every sense of the word. Good for you!

6 03 2011
Chrissie

Tara,

When I found you on Twitter, I had some connection to you, I felt like maybe we had something in common. Weight loss? A road to a goal? Not sure what it was. Sometimes, I think these things are hidden until we are ready to know them. This post is it. You and I have a life that is so similar. No father, Abusive mother, three brothers. One I loved so much as a child and that I have not spoken to in years. I miss him. I also bounced from relationship to relationship. I seemingly fear anyone being close to me as I cannot understand that I deserve love. Something I am working on.

I hope that one day, when i am a little bit stronger. i can write about the men in my life too.

6 03 2011
TestingTrueChange

What an amazing post, thank you so much for sharing.

8 03 2011
Amy @ life's journey with a smile

What an amazing post. I got teary eyed reading about your brother Kevin. I lost my brother almost 4 years ago, so I know how important that relationship is.

I think having positive male influences in your life is so very important and I’m so glad you have found them.

9 03 2011
Nicole D

Thank you

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