Not Logged in.
Book Jacket

Visible Empire


An epic novel—based on true events—of love, grief, race, and wealth.
More about this book
Author Biography

Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

Created: 08/07/19

Replies: 8

Posted Aug. 07, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2674

Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?


Posted Aug. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 188

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

Yes. When I was 19, there was a suicide in my immediate family and within three months, I was married. It was among the stupidest things I have ever done. My whole family was unmoored by this event so it was not hard for me to understand the behavior of some of the characters that might have otherwise seemed so strange.


Posted Aug. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rorya

Join Date: 09/18/13

Posts: 19

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

My family and I had to have our two beloved, elderly, ailing dogs put down in January. Then my father died in mid-May from stage IV colon cancer. We hadn't even been halfway through the year yet and I was ready to cancel the rest of the year and spend it wandering downtown Ventura, California, walking the beach back and forth and back and forth, and going to Ojai, my spiritual center here in Ventura County. What more could there possibly be? What more did this life want to snatch from me?

I don't react as my mother has to my father's death, obviously not since only she would know now what it's like to be a widow, to be completely new to it as she is, but I mean the tears, the anger, the worry, how are we going to live, what's next. I haven't expressed any of it because I don't feel like I have it in me. Part of it is because after he died, I had to clean up after him. Contacted the credit card companies in order to cancel his debt; gave back the Kia Soul to the dealership because we would not have been able to afford those monthly payments, and it was only his name on the lease (although my sister and I are jointly saving up to be able to lease a car in our own right); contacted three school districts in order to get proof of my mother being covered by my father's health plan so she could sign up for Medicare Part B without a penalty attached; monitored all the pension paperwork that came in so my mother could fill it out in order to claim the survivor benefits; and went to the Social Security office with my mother to be a second set of eyes and ears to find out about receiving my father's benefits. And I'm not even done yet. There are still so many more details to take care of before I can even believe that I can finally step away from all of it, knowing that money is coming in for my mother. But I didn't have time to mourn, to grieve. I felt emotion welling up at my father's bedside in the living room, him in that hospital bed brought in for him by hospice, but even in that moment, I was still looking ahead at what had to be done because in the three years he had been battling this, every time he landed in the hospital we knew was a dress rehearsal for this. So it had been some time coming.

It comes from my father. Some of the emotional detachment certainly, but mainly his sheer drive, his iron will, and his steel backbone, which were bestowed upon me genetically, all of which I'm eternally grateful to him for giving me because they're the only ways I've been able to sit upright and take care of all of this.

But this interferes with what it actually is to grieve, to mourn. Me, I simply moved onto getting all this done. It had to get done. It needed to get done. My mother was raised by her grandparents, and her grandfather was her rock. She was married to my father for 36 years, and ironically in hindsight, considering how emotionally vicious their marriage was, she believes that he was her rock. Now she's thrust into the real world with no rock, at 60 years old, and she doesn't like it. Can't get used to it. Can't see her way clear to standing up and trying to figure this out. I couldn't leave any of this to her. I knew even before my father died that it was up to me to take care of it, especially given that my sister was in a math class at Ventura College at the time and also working at L.A. Fitness (then she moved onto a speech class during the summer, and now has another math class in the fall semester. She's aware of what's going on, and I update her on what I've been working on, but it's best that she work toward getting those nursing prerequisites out of the way so she can hopefully get into that program). All I do in this case is get this done, get that done, get the other thing done, see that it's working well enough and then step back, not least because while I did finally snag a part-time job in this town after almost two years of trying (hard town to break into, but once you do, it's smooth sailing), I'm also still looking for full-time work. So there's that mission as well.

And what was out of character for me in the midst of this happening in the past couple weeks is that I got easily, quickly annoyed with her, mostly because I still can't quite believe that my mother and my father could fight with each other so bitterly (32 years in that emotional war zone for me) and here she is now, so broken up about him being gone. She's not faking it, I know that, and there would be no reason to. I think she is mourning my father, some facets about him that she liked, but it feels to me like she's mourning losing that rock, that stability, that she now believes he was, and now there's no buffer between her and the real world. So over the past few weeks, while trying to let go of the incredulity of my mother grieving over my father like this, I've gotten easily annoyed with her because here I am, working through all this paperwork, making all these phone calls, and sometimes from her I get her famous "I'm confused," and then complete refusal to learn how this works (in terms of receiving pension checks, for example, especially with the matter of federal withholding) or another thing.

So I got annoyed. Many times. Visibly. Vocally. And it's risky because I don't have enough funds of my own yet to strike out on my own. So I still have to have a place to sleep at night. Sometimes it's like trying to defuse a time bomb. Other times, it's like tiptoeing through a minefield. I mean, I know what I've been through in my life and how much time was eaten up by all of it, and very possibly there's some deep-seated resentment, at least subconsciously. But it's quite a step for me now to get out of my head in this time and look at it from her perspective, what she's feeling. This morning, for example, when she was crying over how hard it is to be in this apartment, given that this is where my father died, and how she thought it would be better to move somewhere else (even though the market for apartments here is not as kind as our lease renewal, which only went up $50, and is still the cheapest option given what we have and what my mother will receive in survivors' benefits, at least until I can land something full-time), but it probably would be sad no matter where we moved, I didn't interrupt as I had before. My hackles weren't raised at that moment when she talked about moving again, even though I've personally moved 17 times with them (my father was either transferred by the phone company, or his business education teaching programs were slashed from state budgets), and to be in the same apartment for the second year in a row in seven years, as this presents? That would be wonderful, and gives us a chance to rest for a year, to see what else might be in the area should we decide to move again, and take some time to breathe.

It was a big step for me not to object, not to interrupt. I'm also still not used to being so thoroughly in front of my mother, as they spent most of their time fighting with each other (not physically, thankfully), and I spent most of my time worrying what would come next, just trying to survive. So this is new territory for me, too. But before, just trying to piece everything together that my father left behind because he wasn't the kind to make sure everything was laid out before the worst happened (not that anyone would want to think about their mortality in those terms, but he most especially didn't because to him, it was not the sign he ever wanted. He believed it was akin to completely giving up, and he fought so hard before he died, even when he was unconscious), I wasn't mindful of what my mother was going through. Usually I am. Usually I notice. Not the past couple of times before this most recent one. But I'm working on it.


Posted Aug. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 305

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

royra, thank you so much for being so willing to share your personal experience and being so honest about where you are right now. You have taken on an incredible responsibility in the aftermath of your father’s death. I am truly sorry for your loss--all of it. It sounds like you are taking care of everyone else and ignoring what you need. You are Ivan to your mom’s Lulu. You are so busy and so focused on others that you aren’t having time to catch your own breath. I’m glad you took the time to sit down and write about this. It is so important at a time of loss (or anytime really) to get those feelings out.

I think we expect grief to be only about sadness. The truth for me is that grief unlocks so many other emotions as well--anger and resentment being at the top of the list. I know a lot of that comes from my own expectations coming back to bite me. I would encourage you, royra, not to beat yourself up because you are feeling something you THINK you shouldn’t be. If anything, this book showed that each person handles himself differently during a tragic event. Grief is not one thing only.

Robert’s grief caused him to get lost in a bottle; Piedmont’s led him to run away from home. I hope you will give yourself permission to escape to the beach for a couple of hours or to your spiritual center to recharge. We are allowed to be selfish in our grief, even if it is for only a couple of hours at a time.


.


Posted Aug. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
LisaBB

Join Date: 05/12/19

Posts: 13

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

rorya, I just wanted to also express my condolences and thanks for sharing all of that. Go easy on yourself; there are no "wrong" feelings when it comes to grief. I had a similar experience when my mother was very sick; my father acted completely helpless, and took the opportunity to go on a huge drinking binge as well. I was furious and I told him so in no uncertain terms, but I realized later that I was, of course, mostly mad at the situation. Don't forget self-care, and if you need help, ask for it. It's very selfless of you to look after your mother and make sure your sister stays in school, but you'll be no good to anybody if you burn yourself out! Take care, you will get through this.


Posted Aug. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rorya

Join Date: 09/18/13

Posts: 19

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

Thank you all. I'm trying. Today, my father's IRA advisor is coming over to start a new IRA account for my mother, transferring what my father had in his IRA to her account, and filling out the paperwork to put in the supplemental money from my father's CalSTRS pension into that IRA, so it serves as backup for next year, when my mother will first be able to access it.

And either today, or tomorrow, we'll be signing the renewal of our lease in this apartment complex, which is an utter relief because with this, I can begin to concentrate more on myself, go on more job interviews without that worry in the back of my mind of where we might live, because I have time now, and my mother has time to get to know the area more to decide where she'd want to be next year, if that's the case, but finally, FINALLY, I can rest!


Posted Aug. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cathyoc

Join Date: 04/26/17

Posts: 124

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

I have not personally experienced tragedy on the level of this novel, but I have found that even expected deaths, like the recent passing of my parents have made me feel unmoored for several months.
Prayers are with you Rorya as you move forward, you sound like a very strong person.


Posted Aug. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 220

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

I haven’t experienced tragedy of Robert’s magnitude, but in my own experiences of tragedy I do recall behaving in some ways that were out of character but nothing extreme. Robert willingly and selfishly left his pregnant wife during a critical time in their lives. This was extreme.


Posted Aug. 16, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 305

RE: Have you ever experienced a tragic event that made you behave in ways that were out of character for you, such as the way Robert behaves after the crash?

In hindsight, I'm not sure that what I considered "tragedies" at the time, were really tragedies at all. During my most profound moments of sadness during loss, i mourned for what I didn't do when I had the opportunity or what I didn't have in a particular relationship but wished I did. I reflect most on what I did wrong and how I may have failed the person who is no longer in my life. I mourned missed chances. I mourned not telling or showing the person how very much I loved them. In light of Robert's behavior, this seems a pretty self-centered way of looking at death. I think I have just always felt like there have been very high expectations placed on my behavior (internally and externally), and loss gives me the opportunity to beat myself up a little bit for being a less than perfect person.


Reply

Please login to post a response.