Setting the Record Straight

What were we thinking? TV and computers haven't been invented yet. Neither have texting telephones. We'll have to talk face-to-face about churning butter or how these shoes stay so white in all this dirt.

Yesterday I had a nice chat with my son. He was on speaker-phone while driving, his GPS yaking in the background. We have a deal: I watch the entire series of Dr. Who and he reads my blog every once in a while. When we speak at random intervals, it’s nice to have topics in common, right? Right…

I’ve watched 7 episodes of the Dr. Who and Rose Escapades as they travel through time and space via TARDIS, no small accomplishment since I’m no fan of sci-fi. But it’s witty and I like Dr. Who’s goofy grin.

He's like a puppy.

Alex read 3 recent posts: the meatloaf fiasco, the 9/11 essay, and my alcoholic “bottom” story. While he thought they were effective and well-done, he had one piece of constructive criticism: the “Chuck” character (his father) came off quite negatively. Did I intend to make him seem so bad, or was it unintentional? He noted a comment that asked “Can Chuck do anything right?” as his evidence that he wasn’t the only one who noticed that “Chuck” was being much-maligned.

Interestingly, Alex didn’t think I was being too hard on myself…

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't have gone out on that particular limb...

Memoirs are, by their very nature, the writer’s memories of specific events; they’re not meant to be objective accounts of history. Yet, I’ve tried to keep the snarky-meter turned way down. There are no villains in my life story, only fallible humans doing the best thing they knew how to do at the time.

After my conversation with Alex, I was farblondzshet. Don’t panic, I haven’t taken to swearing. That’s a Yiddish word for befuddled or lost. How would I continuing writing my story free from the nagging internal be-nice-to-Chuck censor? This blog is called Lorna’s Voice, not Lorna and Chuck–The Fairy Tale.

This is wrong on so many levels...

This is my solution to my farblondzshetness. I’m setting the record straight about “Chuck” so that anyone who reads future posts about MY experience of being his wife for nearly 27 years will know “Chuck” had (has) wonderful and not-so wonderful qualities, just like everyone.

Chuck’s Positive Qualities:

  • hard worker
  • intelligent
  • good provider
  • dog-lover
  • great chef
  • comfortable in any social situation
  • generous with his time and talents
  • supported me even when it was difficult
  • thirsty for knowledge
  • best health advocate I ever had
  • involved and loving father
  • willing to take calculated risks
  • big-picture, out-of-the-box thinker
  • planned ahead
  • loyal and loving son
  • financial wizard
  • articulate speaker and writer
  • sexy legs
  • great taste in wives

Chuck’s Qualities that Presented me with Challenges:

  • needed to be right, dissention = disloyalty
  • wanted me to be someone other than me
  • started things he never finished
  • had too many fires with too many irons in each one
  • couldn’t relax
  • couldn’t understand my need for solitude
  • baby when ill

Chuck was (is) an admirable man. We were married for most of our lives. The list of positive qualities is long in comparison to the other list, but the items on the other list are important to me, a Highly Sensitive Person who also happens to be a Middle Child. I suppressed my voice for a long time in order to keep the peace. I would still be doing it, too, but he decided to end the marriage. I’m still not sure exactly why he chose to leave me. My guess is that he’s not exactly sure either. As I said: there are no villains in my life story.

Oh, don't worry about me. This is just some kind stranger trying to stop me from making some slanderous statement before my best-selling memoir comes out.

I hope this sets the record straight for anyone feeling that I pick overly much on “poor Chuck.” I pick on myself a lot, too. That’s where the humor is. I go where the humor is whenever I can.

Now let’s get on with my story, shall we?

~ by Lorna's Voice on September 14, 2011.

23 Responses to “Setting the Record Straight”

  1. As always, Izzy, I am deeply grateful for your wise, thougtful, compassionate, direct, and spot-on words.

    That post was my solution to avoiding a serious case of writer’s block that I feared would errupt as I moved forward in the story. Chuck will appear a bit less in most upcoming posts until we reach the part of the story where are marriage starts to dissolve. But I didn’t want to get in the business of changing my voice or story to suit two men (my ex and my son) who may not even read subsequent posts. But, you’re so right, People-Pleaser Lorna had to make even this effort to avoid her internal censor.

    In the end, it’s not going to make a difference in how my ex feels about he’s represented on my blog (he’s read it and reamed me out via email) or how Alex is going be involved (or not) in this “drama.” I’m putting it behind me and moving forward (after my little retrospective into Little Lorna’s life) with my story of wifedom and motherhood. No room for fear in my life anymore!

  2. MMmmmm … I waited to post my opinion as I wanted to be sensitive to all. You must know by now that I say what I say because it is what I belive to be my truth.

    SSssoooo … I looked up “People Pleaser” in the dictionary again … and … there you were. Dear Lonra, now trying to make #1 son happy.
    SSsssooo … I am not happy. What will you do now?? Do you care???

    Stand in the face of who your are. Stand in your own truth. Be who YOU want to be. Make no apologies. You are writing what you feel is your truth. Do not be swayed by the demons of trying to be liked. YOU like you . Don’t sway from what will make you release the pain you have endured despite who created it. No one has been in your shoes – not even your son. I’m sure there were time he disappointed you. You still loved him. He should respect that you are who you are and his Dad is who he is and all have flaws and assets.

    You are writer – write your truth ….. !!!!

    Isadora xoxoxo

    P.S. give yourself a big hug and be free ….!!!!

  3. in a way aren’t all good men like puppies? Warm lovable, semi loyal until a nicer piece of meat is presented??? hehehe


  4. Wise words, Derek. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective.

  5. Thanks. I needed to hear that. Actually I need to hear when I’m not doing that, too. I’ll keep writing if you and others will let me know if my “snarky meter” is ticking up too close to “well that was uncalled for!” Deal?

  6. Yes, Lorna, you are indeed the Great Wallendas of the blogsphere, but you are handling it very fairly, I believe.

  7. As it happened, he had his own deal breaker. I was willing to work on the marriage; he wasn’t. Funny how things work out. I’m happy now and life is great. He knew better than I did that things weren’t working…

  8. In a memoir, a writer must relate what he or she feels. Real truth is subjective next to “gut” truth, what is perceived as true. Because the reader to understand the situation can’t just know the facts, but look through writer’s perspectives. But I could see how this “honesty” might come off as harsh toward certain characters.
    If something I write is very personal, I’d prefer my parents not even read it, honestly.

  9. Well said and MUCH appreciated!

  10. Well, Lorna, I never once read one of your postings and thought that Chuck was painted in an unfavorable light. There were trying circumstances in the early stages of dating/marriage that you both were trying to navigate TOGETHER given your separate strengths and weaknesses. I don’t think you painted him as a monster or a douchebag, in fact I admired his take-charge determination in “fixing the problem”. You son, as has been pointed out, is probably uncomfortable because he loves your both and cannot probably be truly objective.

    Yes, let’s get on with the story.

  11. Alex’s dad does top redeemable qualities – its the ‘wanted me to be someone other than me’ that’s the deal breaker huh? cheers catchul8r molly

  12. Thanks for your positive insights, Jacqueline. I can always count on you to bring a smile to my face. 🙂

  13. I think you’ve got the balance pretty spot on Lorna. I guess Alex is the that difficult position of having insights and relevant memories about what you write about that your other readers don’t have and I guess it’s not easy to detach these and read objectively. He takes the time to read your stuff AND to comment – result!

  14. Yes, you’re right about Alex being in an uncomfortable position. It would be nice if he focused a bit more on my writing or my feelings about the events that are unfolding, but I’ve learned long since to drop any expectations I have about how Alex “should” be or act. He’s 25. He’s a man. My days of influencing him are long past. I’m just happy we have a great relationship that lets us joke and speak honestly with each other.

  15. Could I have Alex call you? 😉

  16. I really appreciate your observation about Alex being in a tough spot. I know he is and he’s navigating as well as any adult child ever could. And thanks for the vote of confidence in my balance. If I’m going to throw someone under the bus, I’m always going to lead the way! 😉

  17. Thanks, Peter. I am walking on a highwire without a net, aren’t I? Observations like my son made are helpful in that they get me to assess my writing and my objectives. I know he’s walking his own highwire without a net. I would hope that all my readers would tap me on the cyber-shoulder should I get too far up the “snarky-meter.”

  18. I tried to raise Alex to be stoic when ill. And he is–so maybe there’s hope! 😉

  19. All men are babies when ill!

  20. It’s a difficult situation which you adress through humour. You do it very well and you de-personalise the story and, in my opinion, try to be as fair as you can ever be in this situation. For that you are to be admired

  21. I think it’s just difficult for children to hear one parent saying anything disparaging about the other one–if they are equally engaged with both. Even if the children know that a parent is a screw-up–they don’t always like to hear it.

    But I believe you’ve thrown yourself under the bus as much as you have Chuck. You’re doing a great job of being very even-handed.

  22. It wouldn’t me much of a story if all were gleeful, sweet, and easy. I do understand your son’s concern, though I don’t share the same perception that you’ve been less than evenhanded with regard to criticism and shortcomings. You’ve certainly put yours on display as much as others, and so far, the central theme is not “Look what Chuck did to me!” It is more “Look at what I did to myself!” throughout the years.

  23. Before now, I did pick up Chuck’s good qualities. He could’ve left much sooner but he wanted to see you well and even acted as a counselor somewhat. I guess it’s hard that Son reads not so good stuff when he’s so connected to you both. My heart goes out to him though. I imagine my son would say the same thing if I wrote about the ex.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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