This was going to be my first post but for some reason I drafted half of it and abandoned it. I guess it wasn’t the right time for that post.
Here’s where our story starts… I grew up in a family that looked perfect to outsiders. A mom and a dad, seemingly in love, devoted to each other and their children. 2 kids, sisters (and a half brother way out west from mom’s second marriage that we didn’t talk about much for a very long time). Eventually he visited for a couple summers, and one Christmas, but he too suffered abuse at the hands of my father and decided not to come back, until he moved back to this area when his father relocated and he was nearly an adult. We had a beautiful house on a dead end street, nice cars, a boat, a pool, the latest game system (why hello Original NES), we went on beautiful vacations, out to eat at least twice a week…. we lived the perfect life; or so it seemed.
What was going on inside the four walls of that beautiful house was another story. In that house was a father who became a father too young (17), who was a product of neglect, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual abuse. He was prone to fits of rage, that would end in either Mom or one of the kids being on the receiving end of his physical blows, and all three of us on the receiving end of his emotional blows. There were days he would be sweet as can be, but other times he would be mean, vindictive, and down right cruel. We never knew which dad we would be seeing.
Stories from my infancy include him leaving me in the car to cry because he couldn’t handle it. Putting paragoric (a narcotic pain medication) on my gums for teething because he couldn’t stand my constant screaming. I screamed A LOT. Knowing what I know about child development, I now suspect that I was lacking in love, and proper attachment, and dare I say neglect.
My mom was the primary breadwinner in our family my entire life, as an RN she made more than my father as a salesman. I think looking back now he probably felt emasculated by this and that contributed to his nature.
My mother was a product of abuse and neglect from her own mother. Her father worked long hours to support a large family and if I had to guess escape an abusive mentally ill wife. My mother didn’t know what a functional happy marriage looked like- as evidenced by the fact that she has been married 3 times and has been with her current “partner/boyfriend” for almost 2 decades. My mother suffered a devastating loss at the tender age of 25 when my brother’s father won custody of him and took him way out west. She was broken when that happened. They never have made a great mother/son connection that I know bothers my mother, and my brother but neither of them know how each other needs to be loved. They don’t know each other well enough. I hope their relationship can be repaired at some point. But their relationship isn’t part of my story so I need to move on…..
He was controlling of all of us. He didn’t allow my mom to have many friends, I never once remember her going out “with the girls” he wouldn’t have let her. But I remember boys nights. Nights while my mom was working and he being around 25,26 years old had some friends in their late teens early twenties. He would invite them over and my sister and I would hide and listen to some of their conversations, and sometimes he would show off for them. We girls knew that if dad snapped his fingers 1 snap was for me and 2 snaps were for my sister, and if we were downstairs 1 stomp was for me and 2 stomps for my sister. He would say “watch this” to his friends and he would snap, or stomp and on command we were being summoned to him. Like trained puppies. Then other times he would say “Girls, what’s my philosophy?” and we were to repeat at the same time “our ass is grass and you’re the lawnmower”. (Remember we were about 4 and 7 at this point) Other times he’d say girls- If I ask you to jump? We were to reply – “We don’t even ask how high”. He and his friends would giggle at our performances and we were dismissed to go do whatever it was we were doing before.
There are so many more stories that I will share as time goes one, I can’t do them all at once, it hurts too much, and it’s way too overwhelming but I need to eventually get them all out. Maybe when they are all out of my head, and written in black and white where I can revisit them later, I can let them go a little easier. I don’t know. All I know is I do feel a release as each instance, thought, feeling, event, trauma is written down here.