Wednesday, January 24, 2007

WE'RE A HAPPY FAMILY...



Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but I have a few things to add to the previous Nutcase story.

I was merely one of four children that suffered from child abuse in our house. There. I said it. My parents were child abusers. By admitting it, I dispel the shame. POOF! BEGONE, YE DEMONS!

Our story is fairly mild compared to some I have heard. My girlhood friend was sexually abused by her father from age 12. (That explains a LOT!) Someone else moved out of her house at 17 and lived on the streets to escape an abusive home - and she continued high school to graduation. Another woman was struck by her father and tossed from a moving car one morning when she was about 10. She woke up that afternoon and walked home.

This kind of shit is all around us and nothing is new under the sun. The degree of abuse doesn't matter. All I know, and I can only speak for myself, is that I thought I was a bad child and if only I did better in school, if only I were better behaved, if only I prayed hard enough, then the abuse would stop. God said, "HA!" (I know. I stole that line from Julia Sweeney.) I attempted perfection for so long, not really knowing why at the time - hindsight and all that, don't ya know. When I could, I freakishly controlled my environment. (There was so much time spent not being able control anything.) Like being the shop manager Nazi at the costume shop. (Hi, Judy!) Now, I understand.

These are some of the symptoms of my abuse, which was mostly verbal but always with the implied threat of violence:
Alcohol and drug abuse.
Anger and rage.
Self destructive behavior.
Self mutilation.
Panic attacks.
Emotional detachment aka disassociation.
Social dysfunction.
Promiscuity.
Despair.
Low self-esteem.
Depression.
Hello! I know you all only too well!

Some kids grow up to be fairly sane and able to cope. Others, especially sensitive kids, are haunted by their experiences. By writing about these things in a public forum, I hope I can just get past some of the pain. Being able to say that I was abused as a child is a step toward sanity. Being able to name the amorphous fear that floats around me takes away some of that fear.

Also, I do try to remember that my parents were mere mortals with their own baggage and pain. We just happened to be there when they went out of control. It wasn't us, it was them.

Also, I try not to use this "victimization" as an excuse for purposeful bad behavior. Everyone has problems and baggage. I'm just trying to understand my own.

4 comments:

nancyneverswept said...

We are all products of our environments; you, of yours; and your parents of theirs. Do you ever, just out of curiosity, search for the root causes that shaped them? I've been doing some of that the last couple of years. It has helped me to understand more, and has let me "un-demonize" the abusers, and even helped me to make some steps toward forgiveness. Not that I can ever forget, as that would just leave me vulnerable to further wounds. And it doesn't oblige me to association, either, on the same grounds. Self-protection is very important! But it does seem to be leading toward a little more peace and sanity.

Valerie said...

Sometimes the hardest things about surviving our various childhoods are both accepting that we are good people and also accepting that we don't get a 'free pass' to do bad behavior ourselves. I know I have trouble with both of these all the time and my background isn't nearly as difficult as yours was.

I find it helps to listen to Sarah McLachlan's song "Good Enough"...

fuzzarelly said...

I have thought about why my father in particular was so damn mean sometimes. Very likely he was beaten with a belt. Spare the rod Baptist upbringing in the hills of Tennessee. It was a big step for me to acknowledge that he was just a man and had been a child himself.

There were times that he was perfectly normal, too. I remember him teaching me how to write my name and how to draw a rabbit when I was very young. He showed me how to root a weeping willow tree when I was ten.

What put us off balance was that his anger could erupt with no apparent cause. What I did or said one day was fine, the next day - not so much. Walking on eggshells.

I need to get my brain away from this topic! I am so prone to brooding.

shansays said...

I remember several years back when I crocheted a granny square afghan for my mom, as I made each square for her I prayed to be released from some of the anger and hatred I had for her. I gave it to her, and later found out that her boyfriend in a fit of rage had cut it along with some of her clothes into little pieces.

I think sometimes the hardest thing for me to accept about my life is that although I have gotten better, some of the people in my life have not. When my godfather died (a few years back) it kicked up a ton of stuff about my childhood. I was cried every day for a month. It's only natural that stuff comes back to haunt us (annoying too!). On my end, I tend to think that now that I am in a safer place in my life, it's finally safe for some of the memories and feelings about the past to come out.

BTW, I am planning a trip down to FL to see the crazy mother, I went down in July and I spent the whole five hour drive back home crying! I kept having to pull over.

And I have maybe cried twice since. Because as a general rule, I don't cry.

I eat:)

love ya.