Ian Morgan Cron illustrates the importance of a father in Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir of Sorts. His search for his father’s love took him down many dark paths. From the point of view of a girl who had daddy-issues for years, this memoir nearly ripped my emotions out of my soul. I empathized with his struggles.
“‘Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.’ That’s what John Edward Pearce said. But what if your childhood was a train wreck? What if your memories of home are more akin to The Shining than The Waltons? It doesn’t matter. Home is not just a place; it’s a knowing in the soul, a vague premonition of a far-off country that we know exists but haven’t seen yet. Home is where we start, and whether we like it or not, our life is a race against time to come to terms with what it was or wasn’t.” (Pg. 3)
Ian’s childhood was a train wreck. His father worked for the CIA, but Ian didn’t know it until he became a teenager. His parents lived the life of a celebrity in the movie industry. They knew who we call the classic movie stars. Ian’s family’s lives on the outside appeared successful as they lived in glamor until his father lost that job. It turned out the job, as many other jobs his father held, were merely covers. Shortly after the loss of job in the movie industry, Ian’s father began to show signs of becoming an alcoholic.
My husband tells me drugs intensifies your emotions. Hard alcoholism, he says, also makes you either a very happy drunk or a mean and violent one. In this case, Ian’s father became a dark and violent drunk. Ian’s brother often beat Ian home just to bring him over to their Nanny’s apartment to avoid his father. The one time Ian didn’t go with Philip to their Nanny’s apartment proved to be foolish as Ian’s father became violent, broke through the door of Ian’s bedroom, and beat him. Ian described his own personality as being one with an on/off switch.
He said some people can do things in moderation. Ian had an on/off switch that when he was on, Ian worked 200% on something, including drinking and drugs. He didn’t know how to moderate his drinking. They say drinking is genetic and Ian proved that his inner search for a father’s love and acceptance helped influence his choice to drink and do drugs. The stories of his recklessness are warnings to the rest of us. Young Life, a Christian organization, came into Ian’s life.
Jesus worked through Ian’s issues. Eventually, Ian got married, kicked the drug habit, but still struggled with alcoholism. After the death of his father, Ian didn’t feel anything until a little into his marriage when unexplainable panic attacks seized him. He began to speak to a psychologist and through the rocky road of trying to get the poison out of his system once and for all, Ian’s grief and anger poured out of him.
The end of the book goes into an analytical look into his father’s alcoholism. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a real medical condition to where someone experienced “profound emotional deprivation” as a child, destroying their self-esteem. The NPD person compensates for the lack of self-worth by acting as if they are the poster child of self-worth. Ian says they are grandiose, are expected to be treated “as superior to other people, they act entitled, they can’t admit wrongdoing, they never apologize because they’re never to blame, and their hunger for admiration and attention is insatiable.”
All narcissists have the inability to recognize or give importance to other people’s emotions and feelings and are incapable of feeling empathy. Narcissists can’t love, not even their own children. But what hit me (and I’m sure it would hit you), is when the psychologist said to Ian, “Ian, your dad was miserable. He was empty, self-loathing, and more fragile than you can imagine. It wasn’t about you.”
It wasn’t about you freed Ian, and this is true of the rest of us. It was never about us. So if you struggle to find acceptance or love, I would recommend this book. He writes about the good and the bad and manages not to demonize his father in the process. What comes through is Ian’s incredible love and faith in spite of the pain his father caused him.
“Our parents are mysteries to us. No matter how close we think we are to them, we cannot know the content of their hearts. We don’t know their disappointments, or the scars and regrets that wake them in the night, or the moments for which they wish they could get a do-over.” On that note, I give Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir of Sorts five stars. It’s told with refreshing honesty, humor and love.
*Book given by publisher to review.