Monday, April 16, 2007

Hole in the Soul... Pt 1

Because this post and the future posts on this topic are sensitive, emotionally raw and may be difficult for some to deal with, I have created a new blog for this journey in particular. Future posts will be here.

I gave serious thought over the past 24 hours whether I would deal with this situation publicly, whether I would bare my soul, give glimpse into a family that fractured many years ago, whether I would share the beginning of the end.

But the truth of the matter is that I am, if nothing else, a writer. This is how I process my life. I write about it. I share my own process because someone out there, someone doing a Google search in the midst of their own confusion and torment, might find this useful. It is a way of offering a branch out to the community, a way to say "you are not alone".

It deals with a serious issue. Suicide. I am not even sure how it will turn out myself because I am going to document this from my own beginning, my own middle and my outcome. This is the beginning.


Sunday afternoon around 5.oo PM, I got word that my father walked into the den at his home, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. It occurred on 12 April 2007. There were notes left for his wife and his adopted son. I don't want to be a burden to anyone. He had wiped the hard drive on his computer so as to leave no trail behind, no computer forensics to give insight into his decision for those left behind. We are just left with the remnants of his life, pieces of a puzzle that we must work out for ourselves.

What I remember about my father is that he was a very closed person, not one to communicate with anyone. He was quiet but the quiet didn't overlay serenity. He had a mean streak. He would tease me when I was a kid. He would tease me until I was hysterical with tears and then laugh. I always hated that teasing. For some reason, he either chose to ignore or couldn't believe how much it hurt.

He was a self-made millionaire by the time he was 32 years old. That was back when "millionaire" meant something. He invested in real estate. Ultimately, he designed houses himself, had them built and sold them. They were custom homes, the kind very wealthy people buy. He owned property in Malibu, Beverly Hills and Bel Air. He owned an apartment building in West Los Angeles.

He did not have a college education. The man was very, very bright. It was inherent intelligence rather than cultivated. He could read a book on any topic and learn it. He taught himself how to play piano. He taught himself how to design houses. He taught himself how to do anything he wanted to do and never struggled a bit.

It was during a visit to his house 17 years ago, one of his houses in Malibu, that I was introduced to the music of Enya. When I was growing up, he always played the classics. As he got older, he widened his musical taste to include New Age artists such as Ray Lynch and Nicholas Gunn. I still own the CDs I bought during that visit.

His houses were decorated with Art Deco. Maxfield Parrish. He had indoor aviaries and fountains inside. It was always beautifully landscaped. He didn't hire people to create that. He did it himself.

He was a womanizer. He'd had several extra-marital affairs. Finally he met the woman he would leave us for. And leave us, he did. We ceased to exist. Like yesterday's newspaper, we were left on the park bench. The pages blew hither and yon, finally landing in separate parts of the park. When he left, his side of the family also left. We had no further contact with grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins from the C****** side of the family. We were invisible.

Anyone looking from the outside in would have thought he had the perfect life. The women.. the money... the houses.. the independence.

And I sit here, all these years later with the lyrics of "Richard Corey" running through my head.

But there was much more to my father than just being some rich white guy whose emptiness drove him to one day take his life. Just the same as there is more to my mother than my "Mommie Dearest" portrayal on these pages. I am not some overly spoiled rich kid with trivial complaints. My family situation was nothing if not complex. The money just provided a way to hide most of it from those who surrounded us.

There was a viciousness to my father's suicide. He did it in a room where he knew his 12-year-old adopted son would find him. He disinherited my brother, my mother and me. He even tried to cut out his current wife. He left one of his granddaughters as executor of his estate. The bulk of the estate is to go to her two daughters, his great-grandchildren.

The way I found out Sunday night was by way of an urgent email from my mother saying "call me". Knowing my mother, she would not do that frivolously and it wouldn't be an appeal for reconciliation. It is no secret that my mother and I do not get along.

I called her. She told me that she had some bad news, that my father had passed away. When I asked how it happened, she told me that he had shot himself.

TG: "The final fuck you."

I said that without even realizing what I'd said until it was out of my mouth.

Mom: "Yeah."

We talked for a few minutes and she shared with me rather openly how he'd tormented her over the years, even after they were divorced. We sat in silence for a few minutes, said a quick prayer for the peace of his soul and hung up.

What is there to say?

Right now, with the news so fresh, I am finding it very difficult to find compassion for a man who would be so indifferent to others, so selfish, that he would not only wound a young boy for life ~ but would stick a dagger into the backs of those he brought into his life voluntarily and the children he created as a result. This isn't about money. It's about betrayal.

But I must find compassion for the hole in his soul. I must. Because it is the only acceptable thing to do. The anger has to stop somewhere.

Finding it is what this series of posts will be about. I don't know how long it will take. I don't know how many posts I will write on the topic or how far apart they will be. What I do know is that my journey will be on this site. Wherever it takes me...




Anonymous said...


I'm sorry you received this unsettling news, especially when you were probably trying to wait serenely for your surgery.

I hope that anything you discover will leave you stronger.

KGMom said...

Chani--I signed on to your blog to see how your surgery fared--I am glad that all is well there.
But the other news--your father's suicide--takes my breath away. And, of course, all the pain that preceded it: his leaving you & the family; your relationship with him and with your mother. You have been through much--very very much.
It is good you are a writer, and it is good that you choose to share--you said your father was quiet and closed--not in a healthy way. It seems you have much more a life of health.
Thoughts & prayers with you.

Laurie said...

I don't know what to say, Chani. I wish I did.

You are in my thoughts. Glad the surgery went well.

Thailand Gal said...

De, that is my hope, too. I believe it will make me stronger. Just walking through it will make me a better person. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't do it. :)


KGMom, yes.. now I do have that life. My life is open within reason and there are no nasty piles of dirty laundry festering in my closet. Writing saves me from that.

It's my hope that anyone who reads this series that I am not writing it to get kudos or sympathy. That's not where it's going to go at all. It is a somewhat factual account of how one family shattered. Maybe somewhere, people will learn from it and not have to experience this.


Laurie, I understand completely. I'm not sure I would know what to say if I read it elsewhere, either.

And thanks for the wishes on my surgery. My eye looks bloodshot right now, kind of like I've been on a two-week drunk.. but it's healing. :)




Suzy said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am holding you in the light for healing, both from this harrowing news about your father and from surgery.

With love,

Julie Pippert said...

Chani, My God.

I wonder, often, when I hear things such as your situation (past and current) what purpose such a person bears, and what pain, as well.

I'm glad you are acknowledging the anger. It is just.

I'm also glad you are working to find compassion for the hole in his soul.

Will you maybe join us on Wednesday as we write about justice and forgiveness? Will it maybe help your process this?

Much caring, Julie

Bob said...

If anyone I know has the tools to work this through - you do.

I am sorry for the termoil this has introduced into your life.

I have had an attempted suicide by someone in my life, someone close to me. It is one of the things I have yet to decide if it crosses my blogging line.

jen said...

oh. chani.

there are a lot of words. a flood of thoughts. and at the bottom of it, silence.

i. am. listening.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I am so sorry, Chani. For your loss, which really began so very many years ago, and for all the pain.

I will walk beside you on your journey.

It's been said that we are never given more to deal with than we can handle. You are among the strongest of women, which may help to explain why you have been given so very much to deal with.

It won't be easy, but you will do this, too, as you have already performed so many miracles in your life.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Chani. I hope he can find some peace now. Doesn't like he found it while he was alive. Wish I had some wise words that would make you feel better. Take care of yourself.

Anonymous said...

I'm just so sorry, for everyone.

One agitated, untamed soul can do a lot of damage to those nearby.

Helena said...

I don't know what to say but I want you to know that I am thinking of you and hoping that you will find the answers you need to make peace with what happened.

hel said...

I forgot to mention how happy I am that your surgery went well.

slouching mom said...

i am sorry.

thomaslb wrote very well about what i would simply call collateral damage.

suicide has been called a selfish act by some. i never used to subscribe to that notion. but when people deliberately involve others in the suicidal act, then, well, i'm just not sure anymore.

hang in there.

Lee said...

Oh dear Chani...I guess we all live broken lives don't we? Your willingness to share is beautiful and all of us. Thank you.

super des said...

Oh Chani, I know exactly how you feel. My grandmother was the same way - not a very nice person, with the same traits as your father. When she died (not quite suicide, but an OD on alcohol & pills) I was conflicted about how to feel. I'm still conflicted.

I hope that this journey does not cause you too much pain.

Anvilcloud said...

What a family! I applaud your resolve to find compassion. Not sure that I could do it, however.

Snoskred said...

Ok, this might sound totally cold hearted but it is not meant that way.

Sometimes things happen in life which we have no control over. We cannot change them. We cannot fix them.

The only thing we have control over is how we react to those things.

I am not sure anger is what you want to feel? Of course he did a terrible thing especially involving the child, but is feeling angry at him going to achieve anything other than to drag you to places you would not have gone if he had simply grown old gracefully and fallen off his perch at a ripe old age having spent all his money?

It seems from what you say that you have carved out a life for yourself perfectly well without him. Why not just let it go without taking a journey to places you aren't sure about? Don't let this path intersect with yours, just keep walking the path you're already on, your way. Take a moment to pause, reflect, remember good times and forget the bad entirely, then keep going on your way.

I don't know if you do have to find compassion for the hole in his soul. Maybe you have to find compassion for the hole he left in yours, leaving, not being there, cutting you out.

That's just a thought, the first thought I had when I read this post from you. I do read you every day btw. ;)

MsLittlePea said...

Oh Chani. I'm so sorry sorry. I wish I had something more comforting to say than just that. Truly. Take care of yourself. I wish you peace.

thailandchani said...

Suzy, thank you. I can feel it already :)


Julie, thanks. The anger really didn't last too long and in some ways, it is more on my brother's behalf than my own. I really truly don't care about his money. My brother did. A lot of his identity was wrapped up in that. It's hard to have it pulled from beneath him.

My anger also came from the betrayal, the finality of the betrayal.

It seems to be fading though. I just have to find the compassion. I don't want to become indifferent.


Bob, thanks. I believe I do have the tools. That is what my chosen culture gives me.It provides a set of customs and rituals that will guide me through it.


Jen, I know exactly what you mean. Right now, I am trying to get to my own pool of silence. That is where peace is.


Susan, thanks for the thought. :) I'm not sure I'm all that strong.. but I'm sure willing to grow. That is what sustains me.


Deb, it's okay. I don't need to feel better. It's all a process.. and I'm available for it.

I agree with you that he never had much peace in his life.

Another casualty of western culture, I'm afraid. He was so afraid of "being a burden" that he blew his brains out. He couldn't trust that his family, past or present, would stand by him.

That's really sad.


Thomas, you're very correct. One untamed, unhappy soul. We've certainly seen evidence of that on a larger scale with Virginia Tech, jeh?


Thank you, Helena.

That is a beautiful name!

My mother's name is Helene.


Slouching, I agree that it is a selfish act. Unless someone is completely alone on an island in the middle of nowhere, there is no way to avoid the ripple effect.


Lee, thanks.. and, yes, we do all live broken lives. There's no paradise on the material plane. Dukkha. Samsara.


Des, you feel how you feel. There's no guidebook. I think when we come to accept that damaged people often react and behave from their own damage unless they have some kind of change of heart, it makes it easier to understand them.


Anvil, I really believe that I must find it. For my own spiritual health. The path I have chosen demands it of me.


Snoskred, I love this comment! Truly. You have given me some important things to think about.

My off the cuff response would be that I think every opportunity for growth is an opportunity we need to take. Anger is a natural feeling. It's not bad, although we can certainly express it in bad ways. You know, bad actions. Anger in and of itself is just an indication that we feel violated.

I have created a life for myself that has nothing to do with him. Nevertheless, even though my family is fractured, I have a responsibility to be as much support to them as I can.

This can be an opportunity for us all to heal, even if we don't reconcile. If it remains as it is with each person going their own way, that opportunity is lost.

That means walking through it.. even when it sucks.. even when it's not easy.. and hopefully we'll all come out of it as gentler, more compassionate and kinder people.


MsPea, thanks :) I know you do.. and I know you wish me well and I appreciate that ~ very much!


Thanks, everyone :)



QT said...

Chani - I don't know what to say other than I am sorry you have to deal with this. I feel like I know you well enough (ha!) to know that you will ultimately turn this into a journey for yourself that means something. I will be listening.

Tabba said...

I just read this & I am so sorry. I think that what you're doing - writing it, getting it out - is so important.
Much peace to you.

flutter said...


always peace with you, love. Always.

mascot said...

I don,t know what to say that others have not but I feel I want to say something life has its ups and downs but it carries on and so must we
I hope your eye gets better soon and please carry on writing as I said on warm blanket you have a wondrefull gift of putting thoughts to paper

capacious said...

I'm furious with your father. Unbelievable! In so many ways!

In my own experience, anger on this level cannot be put away - it has a life of its own. It comes, it goes, you learn to live with it. I know that you will do your best to find some sort of peace. I'm so sorry that you are going through this.

Alice said...

Chani - My heart goes out to you. My father tried to commit suicide about four years ago, but failed. Thank you so much for writing about this because it made me realize how much I have not dealt with my feelings about this (for reasons that resonate strongly with your post). With your permission, I would like to share your post on my blog when I get to a place where I can share my own story.

Mariposa said...

Got here from an more recent post...and I'm in an awe. I feel for you...and yes you are right, it's not about money, it's about betrayal...and it seems to me, he was defiant to the last!

I could go on...and rant in your behalf...and cry foul for you...yet, I'm awaken with the fact that I got here from that beautiful post of yours...declaring...both of you to be FREE. He is gone. But you are still here, with us and with people who cares for you. We don't dwell on whether he'd reconciled with himself or with anyone before he left...but our for us to make sure we are in peace with anyone before we go.

I have kept saying this...and this is my fave line which I want to share with you...

"Pain is beautiful when one can rise from it's depressing power..."

You have manifested that...