We are all Suffering
An Unmailed Letter. September of 1976
How do you expect me to reply to your letter? Would you have me say - Oh, please R. lets fill our house with junk so that there is no possible way to keep it all clean? Yes R. please see that you stay away as late as possible and come home drunker than anyone else to save the souls of those you drink with and that way too you can avoid all of the children almost 98% of the time. Yes please R. give our house key to every drunk you see and please make it impossible for me to even begin to fulfill my duties to my children.
L, it is no longer feasible for me to be donkey doo mate for others. If R. can see this and I really believe he can then R. can make a choice between living with a woman, wife, mother, friend, and living with a drunken poet. It appears that the drunken poet is in residence and I am attempting to face a life without the man, husband, father, friend whose presence is missed and loved with every fiber of my being.
But there is not way that I can beg anything from R.. My responsibility must be towards a positive relationship with my children, my family, myself, God, and my work towards finding something higher in myself. It was no longer possible for me to do anything toward these goals in the extreme chaos of Fifth Street.
My feelings for R. are very deep and very real. It is quite likely that there will never be another man in my life. Certainly we would be with him now however, L, we have not been asked. We have closed no doors and are quite open for any invitation. We are all suffering.
Topical excerpt from another letter from same time period:
This may or may not be time to speak of R.. My emotional unbalance could not handle the psychotic personalities he was including in our household. To have men crawling through our windows at any hour of the AM, in any condition was very startling to my being. I could not tolerate awoken in that way and then to listen to them vomiting for hours after that was to difficult for me at present, to gain some objective distance from. When we had to discuss these matters that were pertinent to our relationship R. automatically fell into the role of male chauvinist and refused to discuss anything. It is apparent to me that R. and I are together because of an instinctive caring for one another. But that caring without the reality of God had always been a question for me.
We are all well physically. We are all still in a state of needing R..
We are all Suffering.
My mom wrote these letters after moving myself and my two sisters out of the city and into the hills of upstate PA to a little log cabin by a stream on my uncle’s family property. My grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins lived less than a mile up the road. I was seven at the time, Gen and Mary were six and two. I had no idea at the time why we moved away from Philly, and out of the house we had shared for three years with my stepfather R.. In reading her letters I now know that he had cheated on her. We spent the entire school year in the cabin before returning to R. and the city.
In reading these letters I am glad I was such a heavy sleeper at that age, and was not up to hear all the drunks climbing in the windows and throwing up just down the hall from my room all night long. What blows my mind is the fact that my mom would move us all back to that environment. My stepfather was a real charmer when he wanted something. My mom clearly states in these letters how much we were all suffering from missing him. How we all needed him. Mary was in diapers, so who knows how much she missed him. To Gen and me, he was the devil incarnate, sent from the pits of hell with the sole purpose of torturing us as much as humanly possible. I know what true, unbridled hate feels like, as I felt it deeply for this man.
What absolutely crushes me the most about this particular time of my life was the fact that my mother saw enough pain and suffering from her relationship with this terrible man that she packed up her three children and moved us three hours away from him. Away from the chaotic, fucked up life we had with him. In reading these postings, I am sure you are getting a pretty clear picture of a very painful and confusing childhood. Alcoholism, drug addiction and insanity are not a good mixture for a well-adjusted childhood. This brief reprieve from the torture and insanity was perhaps made the rest more painful. I have searched my memories of that rather idyllic time in my life. Try as I might, I cannot come up with any crazy mom stories from that period.
I went to school right up the road from the cabin and enjoyed it. I had friends. I played every day outside in the beautiful woods that surrounded our house. I got to see my grandparents several times a week. I played with my cousins regularly. Without my stepfather around, my mom spent more time being a mom. She baked cookies and made candy on the stove. These are my memories of that time. Pulling us away from that chance at freedom was so typical of her. She was a real carrot and stick mom. She didn’t dangle the carrot just out of reach. She let you eat the carrot, and then beat you with the stick for eating it.
My evil stepfather drank more than anyone my mom had ever met, and that is really saying something. He did more drugs than everyone else. He cheated on her. He hit me and belittled me constantly. He molested my sister Gen every week of her young life. He ignored his own daughter Mary like it was his favorite hobby. My mom rescued all of us from that life. She got us out. We were safe. We were sound. We were surrounded by loving family members. We were living in a beatific paradise. Then, just like that, it was all gone. She brought us all back to the house of pain. And we hadn’t even disobeyed the law. We were not done suffering.
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