This is a post that I really don’t want to write, but I also really think it must be written. I don’t want to write it because I’m a lifelong music fan. Like so many people, I love the Beatles. I listen to them frequently and play their songs for my kids. I want to have nice, happy memories of their music, and I want to enjoy their songs. I remember when John Lennon was killed. I was very young, but it was such a huge event, that it stuck in my head. It was a horrible crime and a horrible loss to his fans and his family and friends. But over the years, my perception of him has changed so much that I just hear ugliness when I listen to his music without the Beatles.
Today is the anniversary of his death and there are so many posts about it on social media. People are honoring him and saying he was a man of peace and love. But, as someone who had a father like him, I’m thinking NO, he wasn’t. He sure said he was, but his actions proved otherwise, and actions are all that matters.
See, as I’ve written before, my dad discarded me when he got remarried. He raised his replacement daughter and I was pretty much erased from my own family. And that’s exactly what John Lennon did to his oldest son Julian. In fact, while thinking about Julian’s story today, I even found an interview with him where he talks about how he was just erased from his dad’s life. He used that very word. I’ve read so many heart-wrenching stories from Julian over the years, that I want to hug him and say “me too. I get it.” John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia was Julian’s mother. Records show that John beat and emotionally abused Cynthia and Julian. Then he was caught in bed with Yoko Ono while still married to Cynthia. Hardly a good husband. Once John divorced Cynthia, he moved away from Julian and didn’t see him for years. Instead, John and Yoko had their own son–Sean–and John became a stay at home father to Sean for a while. Julian grew up as the son of one of the world’s most famous musicians, but he grew up without his father. He grew up seeing his father in the media giving attention to all kinds of people–but not Julian. From his own accounts, being abandoned by his father traumatized him. He’s gone so far as to say that his father is the reason he was afraid to have his own children. He says loving and respectful things about his father, but his words reveal that he is conflicted and hurt. He wants to reach out to his half-brother that his father loved more, but he is repeatedly rejected. I 100% understand. And I think that if John Lennon could throw away his wife and son like trash, then he couldn’t possibly have been a good man. Cynthia raised Julian all by herself with child support that would be very generous for most of us, but was hardly anything compared to what John earned and the luxurious lifestyle he later gave his second son. I lived in poverty with my mother while my dad raised his second daughter in a wealthy area. Julian had more wealth than I had, but neither of us had a father and both of us had to watch our fathers abandon us then go on to adore a replacement child.
I cannot imagine why anyone would do this to their child. Greed? Selfishness? Self absorption? Lack of conscience? Lack of empathy? Narcissism? Sociopathy? Whatever we label it, it’s certainly not respectable or good, nor is it behavior we want to emulate or honor.
So now every year on December 8th as I read all the tributes to John Lennon, I’m torn. I loved his music. I’m sickened that a man was shot dead with no chance at survival. I’m sorry that multiple generations lost an icon. I’m sorry that two boys lost their father, and I’m especially sad that the elder was cheated out of having a real father/son relationship. I don’t want to think bad things about John, but the truth is, he was not a man of love or peace. He was a man who callously abandoned his wife and son so he could cavort with a mistress. He was a man who ignored and erased his oldest son but flaunted his love for his replacement son. He was heartless and cruel. But, because he made songs that people love, they are willing to ignore all the despicable behavior. Because he was cool and song about love and peace, people see him as a good man. Never mind his beaten and abandoned first family….
To me, though, it matters. On this day, my thoughts are with Julian Lennon who was traumatized by a father who left him to feel unwanted and unloved.
3 thoughts on “John Lennon–Why are we honoring a man who abused and discarded his family?”
J~ Thank you so much for this perspective that the world chooses to ignore, in light of all the news lately and all the harassment cases coming to the surface. Things like the huge issue of abuse both physical and mental needs to be brought to the center ring as well! Thank you so much for the J.L. post, I know it is a painful memory for you of your father. I applaud you and your courage for writing this and putting it out there. You are in my prayers, I too am a narc survivor. Took 15 years, before I broke the chains that bound me!!! Love and respect to you 🙂 HUGS**