Saturday, March 7, 2015

(part 289) Only A Pawn In Their Game

                               artwork by Bill Jameson 1959

Back in 1959, in St. Johns, Arizona, Bill tried to kill himself by taking an overdose of, Dilantin, an anticonvulsant drug used in the treatment of epilepsy, which he had been diagnosed with at an early age. It was days, or maybe a week after the fight he had at a high school dance when he took the overdose. But as I've said before, it was more of a beating than it was a fight, and the damage it did to him went a lot deeper than just abrasions to his face. The injury was to his psyche. To his personal sense of self-worth, something that was already damaged in him, due in part to previous negative family events, and the epilepsy. It got to him on a whole different level. Far more than that just losing a fight, which is always hard to take. This was different. It made him not want to live anymore. Whether or not what he took would have killed him is not the real point here. The fact that he felt that way, and acted on it, is. I had never seen my brother give up in my life, except once, when he had a fist-fight with our step father, Don, in the kitchen at our house in Tucson. But Don was a full grown man, so it wasn't surprising, even to Bill, that he would lose that fight. But after the beating in that piss pour little town in northern Arizona, Bill gave up on the inside. He capitulated somewhere deep down, and fell prey to his own disappointment in himself. Maybe because he caught a glimpse of the damage he feared he always was, or maybe it was just a full blown break from the so-called normal world. I never knew, but I remember my own feelings about it when it happened. My utter confusion, and anger toward it, my fear of it, because I couldn't fathom it, or understand what Bill was feeling, or the intensity and depth of it, and why it would lead him to do what he did. My own remorse that day was something, that at fourteen years old, I had no answer for.

This attempted suicide is what led to my mother's decision to commit Bill to the state hospital for the mentally ill in Phoenix. It was the single act that led to my deep distrust of my mother, and a decades long rejection of her, for doing it. It led me to break away from all that I knew, and to start planning how I would completely extricate myself from a family that seemed hopelessly broken at the core. For the next few years I made various real attempts at healing the wounds between my mother and me, but her ultimate marriage, divorce, and remarrying to a quadriplegic mormon named, Francis Farr, pretty much put an end to my working things out with her for a very long time. I really believed that she didn't know what she was doing anymore, and that most of her decisions put me and Bill in danger. It took from 1960 until 1995 to really begin, in earnest, to understand what kind of hand my mother had been dealt, and how she too, had been...only a pawn in their game. But before that could  happen I had a lot of mistakes of my own to make, and a lot of hard road ahead to travel. I tell you these things for one reason, and that is this. In letting you in on some of the inner workings of my family, and the way they struggled, I in turn try to explain myself. The decisions I made in life were honed out of hard rock from my childhood and adolescence. My need for my brother Bill to be OK was enormously important to me, because I never experienced having a real father. Bill was the only male figure on earth I trusted and looked up to, so when he broke I broke with him. It shattered my world and sense of balance altogether. It made me think that I was broken too. I walked through my teenage years in a blur, hoping no one would notice who I really was, or from where I came. I was ashamed of my family, and ashamed of myself. I used every trick I could learn to hide the real me from the world. It was show business that I turned to, because there I could act like someone else, be someone else, and feel like someone else. I didn't have to be that weird kid Bobby Jameson who came from that broken family. I didn't want you to know that my brother tried to kill himself. I didn't want you to know that he went to the state mental hospital, and I didn't want you to know that my mother had four failed marriages. I didn't want you to know any of that, so I built another me, another person who pretended not to have any connection to those things.....