Category Archives: Janet

About my deceased wife Janet, a Borderline Personality Disorder case

Blessed and Cursed

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There are people who have a lot of time on their hands and don’t have anything better to do than gossip and cause trouble. These people are not good for me to listen to or think about. They are not important in my life. I’ve turned my back to them and left that in the past. The truth always comes out. And the truth liberates us.

I’m lucky to have friends step up and support my family. Friends that invited the McCarthy family into their homes. Teachers that went above and beyond their duty to make my children feel safe in school. Coaches who continued to challenge my kids to excel in a caring way. The Atascadero and San Luis Obispo communities have made the McCarthys feel welcome. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area. I thank all who have helped us in one way or another.

Being a single parent is a huge task, especially when you are still grieving and your children are dealing with the loss of their mother. I’ve reached out to Single Parent support groups. Their group discussions were disappointing. To them, it wasn’t about finding flow in their lives. It was more about how to control their children. To control others, something which I never believed in. I sensed anger within these other single Dads. They made me uncomfortable. So I started writing this blog as a way of healing. And here we are.

Several people remarked to me since my last post that I have been taking shots at Janet. I don’t see it that way.

We were married for 22 years. The last few years were bad. I learned a lot during the past 14 months. I was naive. I understand that darkness can creep into a marriage. I understand how sickness can affect one’s self-perception. I understand that Janet was well into the process of divorcing me. And that others were complicit in that. Yet I’ve put that in a box and left it in the past.

I also packed away the memories of the Sheriff Department’s bungling. I put away the PTSD of finding your wife dead in a shower. I put away the vile internet gossip. I put away the realization that my kid’s childhoods were disrupted. I put away the BFJs “Best Friends of Janet” (They haven’t offered once ounce of support to my family since Janet died). I have moved into the present.

But what I don’t understand is why Janet lied to others about myself? Why did she push me away from my family? I’m not going to dignify the rumors I have heard about myself, because they’re so outlandish as to not deserve even a mention. I’m in the right to write about the severe emotional abuse I was subjected to in the past few years. My “pot-shots” aren’t that, they are descriptions of what I went through.

Abuse alone is hard enough to put into a box and leave in the past. What makes it especially hard is knowing my children witnessed Janet’s gas-lighting. We have worked hard since then. My children are thriving. Part of it is because they are so young and don’t have a lifetime of memories to contend with. They are growing into remarkable young adults.

It’s me I worry about. I can’t put the thought of Janet’s evisceration of myself into a box. I think of what lies she told others. I especially think of what lies she told my children. How can the woman you married, the one that you loved, do this? Why? And I can’t let it go.

Several weeks ago I met a special person. Alexandra is all that I dreamed in a relationship. She is a soulmate. We’ve gone far in two weeks. Alexandra and the kids get along. Neither one of us see any warning signs.

So I’m into a new and exciting relationship. I want to put away the memories of Janet trashing our marriage. I want to do it right the second time around. I want to put all the bad into a box, and move on with our lives. I want my children to find peace.

How do I put this last bit of pain away?

Flow

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This is a picture that my good friend Andy took at I was rounding the final corner of the 24 25 Hours of Halloween in Santa Ynez on October 31, 2009. I was part of a 4-man team. I was first rider off, so I rode seven laps and the rest of the team only rode six. I was raging on that last lap when Andy snapped the photo. We ended up placing 3rd that weekend. A very good result for my team. It was especially gratifying for me because I was riding amongst 20-30 year-old riders. I was old enough to be a Dad to most of the other riders.

I asked Janet if she could drive the kids down on the final day so they could see me finish. She said no. She lied to the kids by telling them I was spending the weekend in Santa Ynez on some drunken binge. By then I had gotten “used” to her doing this. It wasn’t the first time Janet pushed my kids away from my racing. I ran three half-marathons, all in 6-minute mile times, and the kids missed them all. They missed me racing in the SLO Criterium. Missed several Adventure-series triathlons. Missed plenty of other rides. Janet always had a reason the Kids couldn’t come to see me race.

Yesterday I got out on the Single Speed and rode Montana de Oro with Kevin and Bill, two good friends. It was the first time I had gotten out on the Mt Bike since I broke my hand in a crash last November.

Being that it was the first time on the Single-speed in nearly a year, I was apprehensive. I was thinking about how out of shape I was, thinking about how careful I needed to be on the downhills. And with that, we started riding.

The trailhead starts at the base of a 1,000 foot climb. It’s quite the warmup when your’e in form, entirely a different beast when you’re not. Kevin leads off, followed by Bill, then me. We gain a few hundred feet and re-group. We chat a bit, then Kevin waves me on. I hesitated, saying “you go, I haven’t ridden in a while” Kevin hears none of it, tells me to go ride. I go to the front and an amazing transformation begins.

I start riding “tempo”. For those who don’t ride, that’s at a pace that’s not quite anaerobic. The trail slowly winds uphill. Where it pitches up, I stand up and mash the pedals forward. I feel strangely alive, connected to my primal self. I hit a vertical rocky section of the trail and I totally clean it. It levels out and I start railing the tempo, spinning effortlessly up the entire grade. I don’t worry about Kevin and Bill behind me. They are good friends who won’t take offense with me taking a flyer. By that point I am raging uphill, like I haven’t for years. The sixteen pounds I lost last year is serving me well as a climber. I feel like Robert Millar. Near the top I began to crack the shoreline fog. I can see wisps of the Californian Blue Sky above me. I can feel the humidity of the climb up dissipate, and the scent of Eucalyptus, sage and rosemary fill my senses.

I get to the top and wait for the guys. They come up, and we chat about cool stuff. The conversation is flowing effortlessly, like I’ve been hanging out with these guys forever. Thing is, I haven’t seen them in nine months. We talk about Guy things, about bike parts, the weather, the trail conditions.

Kevin and Bill pad up, and we drop down the backside. It’s fairly steep, some rocky sections, and all loose. I keep Bill in sight but Kevin soon drops away and rides off. I stack up the first few corners and have to unclip. I get back on and catch back up to Bill, who is doing a fine job of railing a nice line. Pieces start to fall in place, and I manage to get down.

We climb back up and top out at Hazard Peak. There was a congregation of riders at the top. I knew many of them. We bullshitted for a good thirty minutes. I wasn’t anxious about getting started again. I wasn’t thinking “I-have-to-finish-the-ride-and-get-home-or-else-Janet-will-get-mad”. For the first time I was at peace, just talking amongst like-minded riders. And it was bliss.

Kevin begins the final descent. I follow Bill. He’s railing but I’m right on his wheel. He pulls over, he’s somehow pinch-flated his front tire. We stop. Kevin’s already way off the front and gone. I go about and help Bill fix the flat when another rider pulls up and asks if we need help. It’s Yishai, a very good rider. We get the flat fixed. and start to push off.

Bill motions me to lead. I take the front knowing that there are two very good riders behind me. The trail is in the flow-style, not steep or technical but nevertheless very fast if you chose to do so. We traverse over to the opposite face of the mountain and I start to pick up a lot of speed. I hit a couple of whoop—de-doos and do a little air but I keep the bike settled, and I stay off the brakes. I carry a ton of speed into a loose right-hander, bleed off some velocity, and come out of it still carrying a lot of speed. For the next two miles, as the trail dips and curves and hops, I barely touch the brakes. I am feeling alive, feeling at-one with the bike, and just flying through the landscape. I am flowing.

I drop into the trailhead at the bottom and I see Kevin waiting for us in the parking lot. Then I turn and look to see Bill and Yishai arrive ten seconds later. Somehow I had managed to not only keep in front, but to extend it out a few seconds.

Yesterday was the first ride in years where I rode in the present. Where I rode without thinking about anything else. Where I was immersed in the sensations of the ride, the endorphin release, and nothing else. I’m back. And I realized that despite my time off the bike, my limits are high. Very high.

Pet Fish

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Ever since the kids were young I had pet fish. There was something serene about watching them swim around at night, under the tank lights. Whenever I came home there they were, peacefully swimming around without a care in their little world.

Seven years ago I couldn’t find anyone to adopt my fish when we relocated to California. Sadly I had to dispose of them. I packed up the Nissan with our family heirlooms. In went photos, diplomas, the portrait of Uncle John and our curly maple rocking chair. And the tank. I remember seeing that fish tank in my rear view mirror driving across the country.

After I had been out here a month alone, working at my new job, I flew back to my family in Ohio. The movers packed up our stuff, then we hopped on a train westward into our new lives. Several weeks later, after things got settled in our new home, I bought home some pet fish.

Savannah, Courtney and Douglas had names for the fish. They each had unique little personalities. They would recognize me when I walked up to the tank and congregate in the front right corner where they got fed. For such simple little creatures I sure enjoyed them.

Janet wasn’t happy about my fish. She would complain about the smell. Or worse, yell at me for cleaning the filter elements in the kitchen sink. All the time.

Sometime in May of last year I learned that Courtney had sold her chickens. I asked Janet why, she brushed it off saying Courtney didn’t trust me with them. I was so looking forward to taking care of them while she was back east. Courtney and I built the coop together. It was something we shared. I didn’t understand where she got the idea that I wouldn’t take care of her birds.

One day, in a fit of desperation thinking about having my kids away for two months, I drained the fish tank and disposed of the fish. Just like that sad day seven years ago in Ohio. The kids came home and asked what happened to the fish. I lied by telling them they had died.

The following week Janet sold my fish tank at a garage sale.

Today my three children gave me the most wonderful Father’s Day present I have ever gotten. A little fish tank with three fish in it. It’s the most beautiful thing in my world. I’m looking at the little guys swim around their tank as I type this. It feels like a little piece of me has been put back into place.

It’s amazing when you think how children understand things more than you thought they did. I am happy that my children appreciate little things like pet fish.

Closure

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I haven’t written in a week because it’s been a conglomeration of emotions around here. Several times last week I opened the laptop and I couldn’t peck out a simple thought. All I thought was what happened on June 12th, 2010. PTSD was rearing it’s ugly head.

June 11th is for me the real anniversary date. Saturday June 11th, 2011 vs Saturday June 12, 2010.

June 12th, 2010 was the final day of baseball season for Douglas and I. We had already finished the season in second place . We were looking forward to receiving our 2nd place awards that day in front of hundreds of our peers during Closing Ceremonies. We were set to play a fun consolation game.

Janet never liked Baseball. She didn’t know the game. I didn’t let her have any say in how the team was being managed. When I selected someone else to be the Team Mom, that drove her over the edge. She wanted that control. And there was hell to pay.

Janet wanted to take Douglas away on the very last day of the season. I pleaded with her to delay her trip back East by one day. Let Douglas go to the Closing Ceremony so he could receive his second-place trophy. So he could enjoy the camaraderie of his team mates and friends. Janet wouldn’t hear none of it. She denied Doug and I that last day. She purposely hurt me.

This year things were different. We had been on a six-game winning streak until the “first” Championship game June 9th. We lost by one run. Because it was a double-elimination format, we were set to play a rematch – on June 11th. Exactly one year after Janet passed.

That morning I was nervous as all heck. Never in my life did I feel the need to win something so bad as this game. Yet it was tempered by the realization that I was responsible for other children’s memories. Their parents entrusted me to be their coach. I was paranoid about me projecting my own interests upon the players. I had done an excellent job so far in the season segregating my emotions from the team’s goals. And I wasn’t going to cross that threshold this day.

Savannah had left earlier to help out at a fundraiser for her X-Country team. Courtney had spent the night at a friend’s house. It was just Doug and I. After I made breakfast it came time to dress. The previous evening I had laid out his uniform but we couldn’t find his jersey. I spent 10 minutes of sheer panic looking for it, knowing that a player couldn’t take the field if he didn’t have a full uniform. It turns out that one of the girls had grabbed the jersey and put it into the dirty wash. I then go to print out the Player Awards and find that my damn HP printer was out of color ink. I search frantically for a USB stick, find it, download the docs onto it and hope that their was a printer at the Parent’s house where we were having the season-ending party that afternoon. We rush out of the house and to the field 10 minutes late. I get the team settled in, warmed up and ready to play.

We flip a coin and the Dodgers win the toss and pick home. They will bat last.

We end the first inning giving up 5 runs to the Dodgers. The second through the fourth inning I put Douglas on the mound. I see my son out there on the mound playing his heart out. He’s getting outs, and making plays. And the thing is, I don’t need to tell him a thing. He’s doing it all himself. He knows what to do. He walks a few batters and a few more get hits on him. But he doesn’t get flustered. My little son is in his own zone. He holds the Dodgers team to only 5 more runs over the next three innings. We end the fourth down 9-10.

The Umpire declares the fifth inn the last one. It’s do or die time. We manage to squeeze one run in at the top to tie it.

We’re now into the bottom of the fifth. The Dodgers get a runner on third, no outs. My emotions start to get the better of me, and I leave the dugout and start pacing behind the bleachers. It’s all in the hands of my players. All the work we put in over the season – 34 games and practices – were on the line.

Things got surreal. I looked around and realized for the first time that there were hundreds of spectators. People were arriving for the Closing Day Awards Ceremonies. The Little League Board Members were there. Most of the other Team Managers were watching, guys who I’ve played against all season. Other players were watching. Parents were watching our game, many who I knew. The scoreboard loomed large – showing 0 outs, bottom of the fifth, 10-10 score. The sky was cloudless, the wind was blowing softly, and all I could think about was damn – I need this win. I need this more that anything else in the whole world. I need it to prove to myself that we did it. To prove that my kids, all three of them, are thriving and succeeding and laying down good memories. Tears welled up in my eyes, thinking how disappointed Douglas would feel if we lost. He worked so hard all season long, and I wanted this for him, for me.

One of my Assistant Coaches came up to me and asked if the players realized the winning run was on third. I know he wanted me to yell out some directive to the players. I simply said “they know”. He said “are you sure they know”? I said “Yes, they know”. I told him to keep quite and not bark instructions to the players. He knew not to object. And I told my other Assistant Coach to keep quite. I was putting my trust into my players.

I silently stood there and watched everything around me. I saw the nervous faces of my players. I saw anticipation in the faces of the Dodger parents. I saw the lush green infield and the California blue sky. And I thought about what happened last year. Me finding Janet in the shower. Me doing CPR. The Paramedics coming over. The shock of it all. And somehow all those thoughts morphed into this one big game I was witnessing.

My pitcher threw the next pitch past the catcher and the runner started to run in. My catcher swiveled around, tore his mask off, ran to the ball, picked it up and flipped it to the pitcher. He caught it and made the tag on the runner and got him out. My Team Parents go absolutely berserk. I kept quite, emotionless. I watched my pitcher dominate the next two batters and strike them out.

We then go into extra innings needing at least one run. We get one in, just like we did the top of the fifth. Now it’s bottom of the sixth, and we’re holding a slim one-run lead. Somehow my pitcher has to repeat what he did the last inning. He strikes the first batter out. The Dodgers get the next two batters on base. Runners on first and second. One out.

Time is moving slow. I watch each pitch. The count goes up. Next pitch, it’s a solid hit, and my shortstop makes a great catch to record the second out. The runners stick on first and second base. Next batter is up. It happens to be their cleanup hitter. A big, strong kid. My outfield instinctively drops into deep field. The count goes up, balls and strikes. A pitch is thrown, the batter makes solid contact. It’s a line drive towards second base. My second baseman makes a phenomenal catch to end the game. We won!

I run out into the field whooping and yelling “we did it, we did it”! I pick up Douglas and give him a big, long hug. Waves of relief and joy swept me. Several parents remarked to me afterwards that they were touched when they saw Douglas and I in that big hug. It was a father-son moment that neither one of us will ever forget.

Janet’s funeral didn’t give me closure. I think back and I realized it opened up more wounds that it healed. It was a very confusing time for all of us, as we hadn’t know what happened to Janet.

I knew weeks ago that winning this game would give me closure. And I was right.

I look in the rear view mirror and I see my marriage receding in the past. It’s done and over with. Time to move on. It’s a whole new game.

Surfing Sundays

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One of our Good Memories was Surfing Sundays. During the winter months we’d pack up our gear and food and head down to Shell Beach. Shell Beach is a secluded beach that sees a decent swell in the winter months. We’d meet up with my friend Bill and his family. Other families often joined in on our little beach party. It was a regular crowd of cool people.

It is here that Bill got me out on the surfboard. The first time I got beyond the surf break I sat up and less that 10 yards away a seal poked his head up and stared at me with those big black eyes of theirs. It was then and there that I transformed from an Ohio boy to a Californian.

My Kids and I had fun playing and hanging out with everyone. Besides surfing, there was boogie boards, bodysurfing, digging sand forts, frisbee, bocce ball, and beach combing. We all shared our food and drink. By late afternoon we’d pack up and head home, tired but rejuvenated for the week ahead.

Over time Janet started making up excuses for not going. She would tell the kids Shell Beach was too rocky, there was too much seaweed, that it was unsafe for them to swim there. She’d tell me that the girls shouldn’t be hanging out with them, implying that they were not “good enough”. I was like “what the hell are you talking about? The girls always have fun together.”

Eventually we stopped going to Surfing Sundays. Occasionally I’d suggest it to the kids but Janet wouldn’t hear of it. I didn’t have anything to tell Bill why we stopped going. But as it turned out, I didn’t need to tell them why.

One day Janet ran into Bill’s wife and accused her of trying to start an affair with me. Heated words were exchanged. Bill’s wife, of course, vehemently denied it. Running into Bill or his wife suddenly became very awkward. And I had no clue why.

Once I asked Janet if we could do something with Bill’s family. She became unreasonable and we got into an argument over her obstinate behavior. It was during that heated exchanged when she told me about her accusing Bill’s wife of hitting on me. Janet didn’t directly accuse me because she knew she made the entire thing up.

I stuck with this woman out of love and morality, even when she was hurting me. Don’t believe anyone who says I didn’t care enough, or love enough. I’m getting my life back. I focus on the present, and don’t dwell on the bad times because that’s not healthy.

But it’s hard to carry those good memories like Surfing Sundays, when they are tainted with the realization that Janet was pushing away my friends, my activities, and my kids.

It’s Complicated

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Several years ago while in Junior High, Savannah injured her left knee while playing Club Soccer. The ACL and ICL were nearly torn. It took months of expensive rehabilitation before she could play again. That Spring she wanted to run some events in Track including the High Jump. I was fine with her running but I didn’t think it was a good ideal for her to do the High Jump so soon after a serious injury. I talked to her Track Coach, her Soccer Coach and her Rehab Specialist. They agreed with me that Savannah should play it safe and not run the risk of re-injuring her knee by jumping.

Janet didn’t see it that way at all. She was insisting that Savannah was going to jump despite my protestations. We had our very first heated argument in front of our kids over this. The next day I stopped by the Junior High and talked with the Track Coach and he agreed to not let Savannah jump. Several week later at the first Track Meet I find out that Savannah was jumping that day in the meet. Janet had gone to the Track Coach behind my back, and over-ruled my wishes. This was Janet’s illness manifesting itself through controlling behavior. And Savannah was unfortunately caught up in it.

For the last several weeks Savannah has had trouble waking up early on weekends. More so that the normal teenage girl. Last Sunday we went to the beach, and she sunbathed for the entire day. I’ve never seen her just lay around like that. She’s always playing ball, swimming, body surfing, digging sand, frisbee, exploring tidal pools, whatever. She’s been through a long, hard year with soccer, track, and cross-country. Pretty much non-stop since last August. She’s exhausted.

Monday she asked if she could start up this week with training with the X-Country team. I said no. I told her a week off would do her body good. Give it time to heal and recover. And she could use time to prepare for her finals. Savannah is mighty pissed off at me. She sees me as controlling. Not I’m not. I’m looking out for her best interest. This shouldn’t be this complicated.

Moral Realism

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There’s a little movie that came out about 10 years ago called K-Pax. In it Kevin Spacey plays an Alien disguised as a Human. When he’s asked to define morality he says “Every Living Creature In the Universe Knows the Difference Between Right and Wrong.”

That’s been my mantra for teaching morality to my children. I tell my kids to use their best judgement. And you know what? They nearly always make the right choice. Their instinct tells tham what’s right and wrong. What they still have trouble with is finding the courage to stand up for their beliefs.

That’s when I come in. They need to feel safe at home. They need to know I will always be there for them. To know that I will always stand up for them no mater what. My kids need to believe in themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I set boundaries. I expect them to learn and practice proper etiquette. Beyond that, I don’t prescribe a code of conduct. The world is too complex and dynamic to codify a precise set of behavioral standards.

Their moral courage is growing. They are learning to stand up for what is right. They are learning to trust themselves. They are learning to once again trust me.

This child-rearing philosophy is where Janet and I had our biggest disagreement. She believed she could control their behavior. I didn’t see it that way.

It Is All About Me

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This past year has unfolded unlike I expected. I thought “Hey, life’s changed and I’ll adapt”. I had no clue back then.

Sure, there were doubts whether I could make it as a single parent. But deep inside I knew I was strong. Stronger than most. I knew I was up to the job of single parenthood.

There were many days when keeping the kids engaged consumed me. Picking up and dropping kids off at practice & games isn’t technically difficult. The cleaning, washing, picking up things and cooking – anyone could do it in bits. Doing it day after day, week after week, month after month gets to be a grind. And it’s threatening to consume myself.

I am hard on myself. I worry about being a good Dad all the time. I sacrifice a lot to be a good role model. I shouldn’t worry about what society thinks of me. And I shouldn’t do things for my kids just to prove that yeah, I’m a good Dad. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone.

Finding a new flow in life is proving harder that I thought. My riding has suffered. I haven’t read a novel in months. I can’t concentrate on my work. I worry more about getting the kids to-and-from wherever they need to be than thinking about my business. And that’s not right.

Janet used to tell me all the time “It’s Not About You”. She was wrong about that. If I’m not here to take care of myself, how can I take care of my kids?

Happy Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day remains one of the biggest days for sales of flowers, greeting cards, and the like. It’s become so highly commercialized I consider it a “Hallmark Holiday”.

Mother’s Day is the most personal holiday for me. I used to make little cards and trinkets for Mom. She would be so happy and act so surprised whenever she got my little gift. Back in the ’60s we didn’t have to be told to do it. We did it because we loved our Mom.

Being a Dad on Mother’s Day was confusing. Janet wasn’t my Mom, and I wasn’t the Mother of my children – I’m the Dad. Beyond that, the commercialization crept in. It was reduced to “what are you going to have the kids do for me on Mother’s Day” buildup. Making sure your kids get/do something for their mother felt contrived and controlling.

I like to think there is a way I can help the kids remember their Mother this Sunday without being obtuse. Perhaps I’ll take the kids for a long walk on the beach, and then treat ourselves to some Mexican food. Janet would have liked that.

The British Wedding

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I can’t understand the fuss and attention being made over today’s Royal Wedding. Being Irish, my feelings towards the British Crown are best kept to myself. But Kate and William remind me of July 16, 1988.

We made a promise to each other that day. In front of 150 family members and close friends. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. I believed in that.

The first 15 years of our marriage was wonderful. Then life started to deal us some challenges. A miscarriage, career changes, moving family x-country, cancer, several job losses. Over the last seven years I felt a coldness rising in our marriage. Things became different, harder, less rewarding. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It just happened.

I detest the British Monarchy. But to Kate and William I wish them all the happiness that life can give them. No one deserves to go through the emotional abuse I went through the past seven years.

Peace.