I recently was waiting at the sheriff’s station. In front of me was a sign directing people to something serious sounding, having to do with civil cases. It was written in Comic Sans. All caps Comic Sans. I wish I’d had my camera. But since I’d had to go through a metal detector to get there, I figured it likely wasn’t a camera-friendly place, alas.
And why would I be visiting the sheriff? Family stuff. Not my immediate family, thank God, but those from whom I am immediately descended. Little did I know when I started making a book of a bed with sharks swimming around it how apropos it would be.
It’s such a cliché, the artist with an insane past. Most folks couldn’t make this sort of thing up, but, friends, I’m being harassed. By my own parents. For my health and sanity, I’ve been intentionally estranged from them for about 20 years. Psychological, medical and law enforcement people have all concurred that this is a most sensible and excellent idea.
Nothing says Christmas better than a blog comment describing your dead brother in the box he was cremated in. Thank God for the spam button. Apparently, they’d been monitoring this blog. And after I disclosed my recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, they decided to use the comment function to get in touch.
Almost 12 years ago my brother Eric died at age 30. He was autistic and lived with them. After he was diagnosed with a terminal liver tumor, our father screamed at him “What are we going to do when we lose the money we get to keep you!” Eric confided to me that he thought they only wanted him alive for the money he brought in. For most of Eric’s life, our father thought it was hilarious to follow him around the house, grabbing his head and shaking it. “It’s so light!” he would announce. “There’s nothing in there!”
My parents tried to prevent me from having contact with Eric, in some twisted attempt to use him as a tool to get to me, and punishment for my perceived sins.
They believed that hurting him and me both was appropriate. My mother told anyone who’d listen that I’d stopped writing to him and didn’t call him after he became ill. She returned his mail to sender, when she felt like it, and they screened all calls and grabbed the phone away if it was me on the line.
One extended family member didn’t believe me when I said my brother couldn’t call me and I couldn’t get a call to him. “That’s crazy! I’ll go over there, give him my cell phone and we’ll call you!” He told me to sit by the phone. It never rang. My father said he couldn’t allow that. It would upset my mother too much if she knew my brother was talking to me.
But what my parents don’t understand is that most people, at heart, are kind. There were people who let me know when Eric was in the hospital, so I could call after hours. At one point Eric was sent north from Central California to Stanford for a few days. At the time, I knew someone who worked at that medical center. I flew down there, and the friend arranged it so I could come see him after visiting hours. Eric told me our father had raved at him in the car on the way up, angry over having to drive him a few hours to the medical center and having to stay overnight in a motel. Totally in character. Eric and I got to see each other, say our goodbyes and make our peace. And our parents, up until this post, were happy thinking that they’d managed to prevent that.
This recent attempt to harass me through my blog to cause me more pain because I was just diagnosed with M.S. was the final straw. Most people grow out of bullying by the end of high school. There are ways of dealing with this sort of thing.
So here you go, Mom and Dad. I am old enough at this point, and have the friends, expert professional help and resources to keep you from harming me.
Now, back to working on my current book.