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Growing up without a father – Part 1: Childhood, early school

I never missed my father, not until recently.

Was brought up by my mother and grandmother; my grandfather died when I was two years old, as did my uncle, both from the mother side of the family. Not any male was left to help bring me up. My father had left to Hawaii before my birth; too cold here.

Still before I was born, my mother must have suffered from some form of psychosis. She would have been young in the 70s, so maybe she had a bad trip that triggered a genetic disorder. Blam, just like that. Or maybe she was just crazy. Just like that. Who knows; I never learned the truth, even when I asked. Maybe she didn’t want to tell, maybe she didn’t know it herself. Writing this, I am beginning to question the truth of everything she ever told me; are you really that good and innocent a person, ma?

Grew up a tyrant. Seldom was anything good enough for me. Ever ate a lot? Ever got loved too much? At some point everything becomes noise. A cake becomes an ice cream becomes a chicken becomes a steak. You don’t want things anymore; you just want more. To keep you somewhat satisfied. You want better. To make you excited. But things don’t get better; a cake stays a cake. So all you can do is have more and more, despite the fact that nothing satisfies you. Still I needed the best, of course; that I demanded. I ate a lot and was a very obese kid up to the age of 17. If I failed to achieve something in life, failed to have a love affair, my mother would not dare to let me feel the pain. She would drown me in love.

Don’t remember my early childhood much. There was a lot of drama at home, that I know. I was a master at manipulating my mother and would get whatever I wanted if I digged into her for long enough. A skill to be proud of? No, because it would never have worked if my mother had possessed the tiniest power of will.  Imagine my surprise when these techniques didn’t work in the real world. Imagine the terror I felt when I met real men later in my life – I was powerless over them and would avoid them. What right did they have not to give me attention?

My grandmother I loved more than my mother for I saw her seldom. She had stayed in the Czech Republic when my mother and father had fled to Germany. There she was taking care of a house for us that my mother had wanted to build. I saw her every few months. Somehow I felt like that was my real home, where I seldom visited, spoke my mother tongue and played out folkish rituals with my neighbors daughters like chasing them with a wood rod to clap their butts on eastern.

At kindergarten, I once raged and ravaged an entire room while other kids watched and the pedagogues let me have my way. I did rage more often, but would be simply overpowered other times. I did socially inept things like touch my nursery teachers breast. Man, I need that confidence back!

The place we lived at in Germany had a high amount of Turkish immigrants and I often got into conflict with them. My first time at school served to gauge my skills, I think. It may have been that day or not when I rammed a sharpened pencil into the head of another kid. I did similar things again and though I don’t remember the reason, I recall that I would empathize with the devastation the other kid felt. It resonated with something deep inside me and felt right.

Authority is something I never managed to accept. To this day, I have basically not the slightest respect for any but the most basic laws of society and if I can get away with it, I will break rules. On my first regular day at school, I called my female teacher an asshole. She must have dared not to give me the attention I deserved.

I was thrown out of my first school after less than two years, having collected 5 reprimands and one reprimand that was somehow more grave. Basically these were pieces of paper that said I had behaved wrongly; I can’t recall their significance and they seem laughable to me now. My mother was pretty shocked by them usually – I guess such a conditioning is natural, her having grown up in a collectivist state, the Soviet-invaded Czech Republic. I hated getting them for what it would do to my mother, or rather, what effect my mothers bad mood would have on me, not being receptive to my whims.

I had always been told I was intelligent.

Having been expelled in my second school year, I “advanced” to a school for people with impaired learning capabilities. There I was king, adding to my vanity. Am I not special. There, I sucked up to some Chinese kid who had all the newest toys. I always wanted to be his best friend and sometimes managed to.

After four years, I easily advanced to grammar school, the highest of three school forms in Germany. After my troublesome childhood and with the trouble at home, the concerned people at the youth welfare service proposed a boarding school where I would spend the week to visit my mother on weekends. It appealed to me because I felt I had a choice. I agreed.

Your stories

How about you?

What was your childhood like, with or without father?

If he wasn’t there, did you miss him? How did his absence influence you? What do you think would have been different, had he been there?

If he was there, was he a good man? How has his presence made your life better or worse? What do you think would have been different, had he not been there?

I’d love to hear your story and I’m sure other readers would as well. Let’s use this chance to give each other some insight in the many ways life could or could not have turned out, had things been different.

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  • Riz

    My father was like a second mother.

    I can easily relate to this entire article. My blog and the theme of “dark” and “madness” comes entirely from living the same type of life that you describe here.

    • Interesting. I always felt a bit threatened by metal music and that scene. They use to be quite good with girls, too. Always wanted to be that kind of fucked up bad boy, without acknowledging it. Although, these days, I am really starting to love metal. And darkness. And the madness. Why run from it, when you can make it your ally? When you can become a dark mad knight yourself?

      • Riz

        “New metal” sucks. All the screaming and growling bullshit.

        Classic stuff was incredible – Sabbath, Metallica, Priest, Dio, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden. True music that will stand the test of time.

        • Haha. You know, metal guys always seem to be quite selective in what qualifies as ‘metal’. That is cool. Me, I am quite open to all kinds of music. I personally like Lamb of God, used to like In Flames. And I discovered a song I love the feel of. Here it is:

          I like the growling. Partly. Used to hate it, but I discovered that I like to grunt during sparring and general training in martial arts. Kinda releases a lot of tension and seems to work better than just exhaling and making these little shouts. Makes me feel connected to the devil inside, the animal.

          • Riz

            Nice, that song isn’t bad actually. When I refer to growling I’m talking about a lot of bands nowadays (especially being in the scene) totally neglect vocals and just scream or growl as loud as possible at a live show. This approach FUCKING SUCKS live.

            To each their own. Art is art. But It can’t be denied that the live performance is an ultimate test for any bands. People, especially women, always walk out on the growlers. They become entranced by the Rob Halfords and Dios of the world, because it is rare and requires incredlible talent.

            I’m sure you have heard plenty of old school Metallica. Here’s one you almost never hear, on one of their greatest albums:

          • I believe that art is just a pointless and meaningless word. It can be used on bullshit and greatness alike, so what is the fucking point? I can call my turd art, because it inspires feelings of mortality. And it is kinda valid, yeah, but you can call everything art, so you may just as well not use the word.

            Used to like Metallica a lot. Now, even this song, it kinda does nothing to me. I find it monotonous and too familiar old-school. Interesting rhythm. But I would be lying if I said that I want to listen to it again. I actually find it a bit too ‘hip’ and joyful. More into the morbid stuff that grips you at the dark parts of your soul. I like Nick Cave, for example, and his album Murder Ballads. No metal, of course, but maybe you are as open to various styles as I am.

          • Riz

            Funny you should say that. James Hetfield of Metallica disliked this song so much they never played it live until 2012.

            I hear you on the dark stuff. When it comes to music, I fall more into the balanced blues side of things, which is the ultimate form of light and dark.

          • Interesting idea. I will be frank with you; blues and jazz are the two genres that I almost universally dislike. I kinda do enjoy the balance of light and dark, but in the blues, I do not seem to find the extremes. That is to say: The balance of good and bad is not grey, but grey spiked with alternating extremes of light and dark. Blues is too monotonous and boring for my taste, but I can very much imagine that I would enjoy blues if it was combined with both soft and hardcore elements at times. Like a symphony.

            But maybe I still dislike it because I was rejected by a girl who liked it. The human mind seems to be doing weird things in these regards.

          • Riz

            When you think of blues, don’t think of the genre necessarily.

            The blues, ultimately, is simply nothing more than a mastery of the major and minor scales in music, tastefully adding notes “that don’t belong.” This creates the ultimate sound and powerful “soul.” The song you mentioned above has elements of the blues.

            There are happy songs (major scale). There are sad songs (minor scale).

            Black and white.

            The best musicians constantly fling you back and forth from black to white in such a way that you are powerfully moved.

            I hate to say it but many people cannot, and never will, understand this.

          • Ah, right. You were talking musical theory. I understand. Still, dysharmony is not always achieved through blue notes. It is one particular form of soul. In the form of rock, I can enjoy it. In the form of drunken wounded dogs on stage, less. Maybe I am in denial, not liking sadness; I ought to try and reconsider after my recent personal transformations,

            True about good musicians.

            Do you like the Rhapsody in Blue? It is kinda at the borderline of what I find tolerable.

            Well, each to his own.

          • By the way, do you use Spotify? To my surprise, I have found the ‘Discover Weekly’ function to actually discover new songs that I like.

          • Riz

            I rarely do, but not because I don’t like it. I just never got around to really trying it out. I use Slacker for internet radio.

            My band just finished our EP – hoping to post all of that soon. I think you would dig some of it.

          • Give me a note when it is out and I will tell you my honest opinion. I also did some music. You can find me on Spotify or Bandcamp as Tom Arrow. Incidentally, if you care to publish on Spotify and Amazon and iTunes, you can do that for free on routenote.com

        • What I appreciate about metal today is how well it connects with my rage, that seething anger underneath. That wish to kill something and bury my teeth in its flesh. With that vision of hell that you also talked about. It feels fucking real.

  • Wald

    I don’t think I ever truly got to know my father until high school



  • rox123

    My father was intermittently there for me, but I was too intimidated by him to appreciate it. When I was a small child he left for a while and – in my mind I was dancing with joy when I found out he was going away!! I absolutely don’t fault him for leaving, those were hard times financially for my family and the decision to leave was economically correct but where I’m getting at is … I wanted him to be away.
    I was lazy as a snake and he made me pick up after myself and I had to contribute to the house cleaning. His harsh gaze was intimidating – and although he did not ever physically or verbally hurt me – I was scared anticipating his reactions when I got bad grades at school. He didn’t yell, he didn’t hit me, he would just stop speaking to me for a short while and freeze me out, and yet every time I came home with a bad grade my fear of him reemerged. When he wasn’t harsh he ridiculed me. Up until very recently I wasn’t able to disagree with him on anything serious without starting to cry.
    At the airport when he was preparing to leave I started crying because it was an overwhelming moment – we were saying goodbyes – and to this day he prides himself thinking that happened because I was attached to him – I was not!! I was relieved that the man I perceived as a tyrant was going away! I was flabbergasted when he first told me this later as an adult because I was sure he was aware he was dominating me .. and yet he was seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was my no1 source of anxiety as a kid. That’s probably because I never complained to other family members of being afraid of him – as I was a coward with a big ego that couldn’t admit being afraid of dad – but other people knew. Apparently ..he was the only one that didn’t?! I am not sure about this.
    Present day he is a pleasant presence and I enjoy speaking to him and having him around but I still see glimpses of his harsh personality gazing through his smiling appearance – especially with kids and older teens… And that’s when I get my confirmation that it was not only in my head.
    To you, a man who grew up without a father – how does he seem from my recounting? I am curious. Maybe after all it was only in my head. Maybe I was the anxious kid who amplified his traits too much though my eyes. Maybe he was alright.