Saturday, November 9, 2013

My dad as a voodoo doll

What's inside of Dad - by grrl+dog

After last week, pics of Bruce doing adorable things would be in order,
instead it's the assemblage I made. From the amount of email I got it sounds like 
we know betrayal. We have reached for the light only to have our wax wings
melt and our liver snacked on by giant birds.

But guess what – like the Greek guy tied to the rock, 
our emotional livers grow back.

I can’t say writing that post was easy. Pressing the “publish” button, I was pretty sure
to wake next morning to three followers who the only reason they were there was
they became Amish and sold their laptops.

Telling your story is freakin scary, but keeping it in is scarier. That giant bird 
will find your liver and eat it at night. Ask me how I know. There’s a huge difference
between a good story and whining. Fresh off the plane two years ago my story
would have been total whine.

stone heart

Time has allowed crap to become manure and is the soil from which 
my art grows, and yours will too. In case you want to have it out with your
person of dick-ness, I have some tips:

Whatever you’ve just discovered keep poker faced until any remaining wits 
have been gathered. For me this included vodka.

The handle is so I can get a grip

Get to a safe place, so you can think. Will you retreat to return in battle 
another day or stage your troops now?

Coming from a fighting family – literally - (our name was won after slaying a heap
of Norman invaders in the middle ages and turning the battlefield red.) 
naturally, I chose to assemble the troops. 

What's inside of Dad - by grrl+dog
Brighton Beach, where I staged my battle. I watched the sun set on the day and my relationship with Dad.

The arena was chosen next. A public place is good - saves on tantrums, and the beach 
feeds my spirit, so it was dinner in a beach side restaurant. Mark out all 
available exits and travel light.

Don’t be afraid to go all James Bond on his ass and record the conversation. Any 
smart phone can do it. It helps to process the event afterward. Not to mention 
replay highlights if you ever begin to feel sorry for the dick.

Sunset and my dad the night we had it out.
Dad against the setting sun, just before THE conversation.

Pick a table where your seat has view of the whole room. You have a wall behind 
you and he does not. This means your person of dick-ness is already disadvantaged, 
their back will be to the room and they won't see what’s coming. Literally.

Have an alternative exit and safe place ready  – I knew there were cabs nearby 
in case I couldn’t bear to be with him a second longer.

Lull with pleasant chat and admire the sun setting over the pier. Face him into it 
then order him a third glass of beer. You have water.

Have another beer, Dad.
Dad had another beer.

Take an after dinner stroll along the shore and when sufficiently far from 
other normal non-dick humans, stop to gaze at the ocean.

Then casually mention you’d read the will and wtf, Dad.

Nail your feet to the ground and shield to the chest and stay cool. 
You want answers. Tell him what a scumbag he is later. This may be the 
only chance for real information.

Beer for  Dad - Brighton Beach
last photo I ever took of him.

Realize what he does not say is as important as what he does say. Dad’s 
body language was visibly rocked and he flashed through a variety of 
responses in a matter of seconds, trying to gauge which one I’d swallow.

He walked away – (shit, I’ve been found out, have to go)

He folded his arms – (It’s my business what I do)

He lied -  (I’ve had a new will done) Oh yeah, the one right next to it that I didn’t see. NOT.

He lied – (I did it because my Dad cut me out) You mean that tasteless Mc Mansion 

you built with your inheritance? 

He lied some more. Lies change. It’s this, or it’s that, every answer is a new one.
The truth stays the same. The truth never came out.

What's Inside of Dad - assemblage by grrl+dog
"Whats inside of Dad"

Because you have the feet of buddah, and the heart of General Patton, you watch 
him squirm like a worm on a hook, and know this moment will be 
etched in time forever. I took photos you see here, as a reminder.

You can see in surreal slow motion every nuance of bullshit and admire the 
skill with which it slips from his tongue.

As he craps on, you reflect that only 24 hours before he was your hero, but no more.

Now you stand strong with the light of truth.
At least for as long as it takes to reach your safe place again.

Once there, pat yourself on the back for confronting him, then go drown 
your sorrows in chocolate and vodka.

Oh, and then make art. The box above is for dad. Inside his glass "body" he has the bones and claws of an echidna, once roadkill, now art. There is a tiny bell inside, as a wish for him to wake up. Tail bones of a kangaroo to the side and a stone heart below.


  1. O.M.G Denise - I can't breathe!

    I'm pretty sure you just walked me through a discussion I have been avoiding the past 33yrs....feeling a little sick, have to go now and open the 'bar' for some self medication.

    Thankyou - I'll be back to read this again...and again and again. Cheers! x

  2. You are truly amazing and brave as well.
    I am not confrontational which is why The Fuckwit has walked over me pretty much since first pregnancy 27 years ago, though I was mostly unaware of it.
    My boys love their dad but they Know him. My girl still doesn't and I fear when she does. The heartbreak when she becomes aware of his lack of parenting scares me.
    He has a son from his first marriage (a very verrry long story 'bout that) that he doesn't connect with except at the pub. There are three grandsons that we rarely see (a whole 'nother story there).
    The captions on your art say Everything and rings so completely true.
    I hope that telling us your story clears your head a little and brings some peace.
    Are you able to connect with your brothers at all?
    Much love to you,
    Susan x
    PS Being a Shit Parent is f*cking easy, being a 'Good' Parent is The Toughest Job In The World which is why Shit People fail.

    1. oooooh forgot to say, I am LoViNg the Voodoo idea *wink*

  3. Oh my goodness Denise, I would've been a jibbering mess........
    Well done for facing up to him, that takes courage and more.
    Most of us go through life and don't confront these things.
    You are an amazingly strong person........

    Claire x

  4. lordy lord this is powerful! I had my heart in my your dad's stone heart in the jar! This is an amazing artistic record of a life, a story a betrayal! It is a story unfinished i feel! Now i want to say how amazing the art is but that seems to smack of ignoring the human story just told, of making it glib! I want to hug you and take you for a beer next to the ocean afresh, so you can laugh and I can just check you are OK....but that seems to only see the story and to ignore the magnificance of the art here and the distance you have already come! amazing blog posts over this, amazing sharing! Loving your heart and soul and creativity and yes bravery! xxxxxxxxx

    1. Ms Janey,
      All it is now is a great story and some half decent art... thanks for your kind words, I have soo totally moved on, now.

  5. Denise can i link to this in an Art-Stopping Sunday post? it really has taken my breath away xxxx

  6. Wow. Just f*cking wow. You amaze me...your courage and your honesty are so incredibly admirable...and touching and inspiring and scary as hell. Don't stop now! You deserve good things, especially the truth...we all do. Why the bloody hell have we ever accepted anything less?

  7. Well good for you for confronting the bastard. I never had the chance with mommy dearest -- because she'd never stop yelling at me long enough for me to ask real questions, or she'd throw it all back in my face, blame me, and storm out of the place (a public restaurant, once) screaming at the top of her lungs that she never wanted to see me again for as long as she lived, oh right, after she'd slapped me across the face in public, all because I asked her why we couldn't have a relationship based on the present. Like I said earlier, you don't need him/them. You just might live the rest of your life without satisfactory answers to the cogent questions. But you know the answers in your heart -- that's all that counts in the end.
    xo to you, my friend.

    1. Hi Connie,

      I see this is really touching raw nerve - I will be moving on to other more fun things soon, so hopefully you can enjoy them, too.



  8. so sad
    there is no way to undo the meanness

  9. Hi, Denise
    You are brave and wise to confront the crap your dad handed to you. I read your former post before this one too.
    I do have a clue as to why people do this to the closest ones that they 'think' they love. Number one) they do not know HOW to love or to care for others. And sometimes it is a learned process and an escape mechanism.
    I found a site about Narcissist Personality Disorder. I could not believe how much it fit my husband and how he reacted to any type of 'supposed' attack upon his own little world. I lived with 35 years of it before really learning that it did not have anything to the way I reacted to him. When you talk to someone about anything, or when you want to discuss something and the first thing out of their mouth is 'No, it's not', which totally nillifies you and villifies them, you know the problem is theirs and not yours. But? What the heck to do about it! I had gone to Wikipedi several times finding personality traits that would fit my husband, including obsessive compulsive disorder. It fit him, but there was something missing in the description. It was only recently, about four months ago, that I found this site: Ta! Da! My, oh my, did this description ever fit.
    And with your dad, the same as with my husband the porn viewing online, with denial every step of the way until I told him the exact website he had been viewing. Hope you can go to this site. If there is not easy access from your blog go to: Psychology Today and look for 'The Narcissists dilema. They can dish it out. And it is a long article on how this particular personality disorder treats others and why. I have helped one woman separate herself from her hubby of many years, and she says she is now FREE! She can't thank me enough and I never knew. Looks like you have already figured out how to get on with your life with the B.S. you have been put through. You are great!

    1. Thank you Ms. Whimsy - reading as we speak!

  10. Actually, the art is extremely good.
    Well done. xoxo

  11. I know who the victor of this battle is Denise, and who the true hero of the tale is and it's certainly not that man! Well won battle indeed. Such amazing courage that I'm sure I would find quite hard to find within myself. ♥

    1. p.s. Wanted to say how fantastic your art piece is! Tells the story to a tee from my perspective. x

  12. hi denise,
    have been following your story,,,,,,,could you explain the significance of the number 23 in the art work please?


  13. Hi Raylee,

    it was part an artistic one, the block also had a nice green L on one side, for our surname, but it was too visually heavy, and 23 has significance for me on a personal level, so it was the right choice..

  14. It would appear we are still following you!!!! Must try harder ;) x

  15. Brave Denise.
    What courage you have!

  16. brave and brilliant.
    you are a new hero.
    more thanks.

  17. Not follow you? Never! You are the super hero of blog land!

  18. After reading the last couple of posts, all I can say is that the saying 'you can pick your friends but not your family' is so true. It's obvious he's the one with a problem, but children always end up angry and hurt. It's very impressive that you've seen this problem and been able to confront it head on now while he's still alive. Receiving the contents of that will after it's too late to talk to him would have left you even more angry and hurt, and with no chance to say what you needed to say. I think getting it all down in writing is an incredibly cathartic thing for you to have done (hell, it's not like you know any of us) and your art work around it is stunning. xx

  19. Powerful art Denise, and powerful words but there's clues there. His father did the same to him? Did he ever work through his own issues? Did he even realize he was repeating the pattern until you confronted him?

  20. Ditto what the woolly dog said. You are already transforming your pain and anger into fabulous, meaningful art, which is probably the best way to heal it. I think you're very brave to share it here, as well.


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