Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dinnertime, car riding and a reflex I still have

Having dinner as a kid was (as I realize now) a not pleasant experience. At the time, I thought it was what it was... dinnertime.

As kids, we all sat in the kitchen at the table to eat dinner. My parents never joined us unless it was a holiday or something else where it required them to eat with us (friends over, ect..).

My folks would sit in the living room with TV trays and eat while watching TV. Me, my sister and my brother would all sit around the table and we'd always 'fight' over who would sit on the side that the back faced the opening into the kitchen.

See, the table was oval and the one 'long' side faced the window but then your back was exposed to the doorway where my father would walk through from the living room.

If us kids were talking or if he even thought we were up to no good, he'd walk through that door and "clock" whomever was the unfortunate one to be sitting in that spot. I guess he thought he'd just take it out on whomever was closest?

To this very day, if my dad or other over bearing person or even just someone who is loud or walks heavy, etc... walks behind me, I still will physically and unconsciously flinch and almost duck - closing my eyes and slightly leaning forward as if to dodge a wayward ball coming toward my head. It's a reflex to trying to get away from getting knuckled to the back of the head without warning. It happened more than I can count and honestly if I did count, it'd probably make me sick to my stomach.

Same with car rides.

Three kids, a back seat. One had to sit smack in the middle and that was the most undesirable place in the car.
Whoever sat there, would surely 'get it' whenever my dad got a wild hair to smack the shit out of someone because in his mind, we were being too loud (IE: talking) or because another person pissed him off and since he couldn't hit THEM, he'd hit us.

Story of our lives.

So whichever one of us 'got' the middle, we were the easiest to reach and he could manuever the car and beat the living snot out of whoever sat in that spot. The person directly behind him could duck and lean toward the door and naturally, the person sitting behind my mom.. that was the preemo seat. Too far to reach - at least while the car was moving.

Again, I now avoid back seats like the plague and even riding with someone if they start to get a bit PO'd because some wanker cut them off in traffic, I feel queasy and anxious even though I'm sitting up front.

So many things have an impact and we don't even realize it....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Struggling with some things...

You know, I think that sometimes I take such a long break or lose my will to post is because I feel like all I do is whine. Seriously. I was raised with the 'stop complaining/crying and buck up!' mentality. So instead of sharing, I tend to head the polar opposite way and just clam up.

Well, Father's Day has come and gone (thank GOD)... I always feel a bit guilty about not wanting to even acknowledge that particular day... after all, I still have that "he's my dad" thing going on in my head.. you know?

What's even stranger is that I still see my parents. It's hard for me to act "normal" around them.. especially when I'm trying to purge myself of all this abuse garbage. I sometimes feel like I'm just a glutton for punishment and that somehow.. I enjoy the 'walking on eggshells' feeling I STILL to this day get.. otherwise, I'd tell them to piss off and I'd move on.

I don't know if I'm willing to do that just yet... whether or not that's because I'm still emotionally immature or because I'm foolishly holding on to hope that we can all heal and move on.

Knowing that all of us will eventually die and then things that are said and revealed.. will fall upon deaf ears... but really.. what's the difference between someone being dead and someone being in denial?

Monday, June 9, 2008

What is "normal"?

Sometimes I lie awake at night and wonder if I'm putting too much stock into being 'normal'. What is "NORMAL", anyway?

For example, people always say things like, "I'm truly happy now".... as compared to what? How does a person measure happiness? I know I have moments of happy, but to say that one is walking around 'happy now'? I don't get it.

Just like normal. Who's to say that I'm not perfectly normal and that everyone else is 'off'? Who is to say that the people that grew up without ever being struck or emotionally ripped apart are the ones who aren't normal?

Forgive me please, for I am rambling a bit. These are thoughts I have every now and then when the house is dark and quiet. The moments when I'm truly alone in my own head and sometimes, it's not a pleasant place to be.

I find myself being utterly resentful of the people who grew up without so much as a slap on the wrist when they made a mistake... although my logical side says that it's illogical to feel resentment toward a person because they grew up in a NORMAL home.

The thing I'm finding to be disheartening is that I don't know if the feelings I have about myself and the world around me are NORMAL or if I'm being narrow minded because my 'spin' on the world was clouded by things that I could not at one time, control.

Does that make sense?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wow.. I really internalize things way too much

It's times like these, that I really can't stand myself. If I had the means to, I'd punch myself square in the face until I passed out, because I can't stand to be around people like me and I HATE being like THIS.

I read something and immediately turn that into a, "Why don't they like me" or basically a pity party for myself. I constantly measure myself against others and I turn into this needy... UGH! I can't stand it!

Seriously. I wonder if I'm ever going to be NORMAL and stop being a blubbering idiot that wears her heart on her sleeve. I wish I could be tougher and not some sniveling weenie.. which is what I feel like. I feel weak, undeserving and foolish.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Concrete Angel... can we rise above?

When you least expect it, some not-so-pleasant thoughts come rushing back.

A few days ago something happened at the school where I work. One of the male teachers has a very difficult class this year. I personally feel it's a combination of having too many behavioral problems in his class and his lack of classroom management.. but I guess that's beside the point.

I was walking between buildings when I saw two students huddled on the sidewalk with a stick. I called out to them and asked what they were doing. They had a small snake there and was poking it with a stick. Now if you're thinking what I was thinking, "It's a harmless garter (?) snake".. well, it wasn't.

It was a baby, but it was trying it's damndest to take a bite out of one of those kids.

So, I took the stick from one of the boys and told them to get Mr. XXXXX. I figured maybe he could find a five gallon bucket and place it over the snake because this just happened to be in a place where kindergarten students walked through.

I'm standing there with this mean and quite mad snake, holding a stick and keeping my distance just in case any more students wandered along... and suddenly the doors burst open and about 6 students rushed out.

They all rushed toward me like they were on a mission.. all babbling, "Where's the snake.. let's see it!" I held up my left arm and told them to back off, and get back to class. That's when their teacher... Mr. NoClassroomManagement comes out and YELLS at them. Now, when I say YELLS, I don't mean just raised his voice.. I mean he yelled.

Something inside me just froze and I could feel myself lean forward and cover my head. It was so embarrassing... I had this pissed off snake trying to bite me, I'm weakly holding a stick and then I look like I just had a brain aneurysm because I'm 'ducking and covering' certain that I was about to have the shit knocked out of me.

Then I have students asking me, "What's wrong!?" and Mr. NCM starts yelling even more at them to leave me alone.... and I feel like I'm back at home and my dad is screaming at me right before he started swinging and hitting me upside the head. I started crying and didn't even realize it until the principal was summoned and found me outside bawling like a baby.

I haven't had a trigger for years, and then suddenly I was thrust back to a time where I was around 12 years old... it took me by surprise so much, that now I'm almost afraid that it will happen again.

See, I don't really want the people I work with to know about my past. I just feel as though it's embarrassing as hell. I tried to explain it to one co-worker a few years ago (when I worked for a bank) and she looked at me like I was telling her these things, just to gain some sympathy or some such crap.

I wish that people would just realize how hard it is to admit that your parent(s) are less than perfect and in fact, sometimes they are almost monster like. Even though I know now that none of the horrible stuff that happened to me or my siblings was MY fault.. it's still embarrassing and I guess a small piece of me still wonders if maybe I had done "x" just a little differently... maybe it wouldn't have set him off.

Why in the world would a person share such horrible things with another for only sympathy? Hell... I would have taken a better childhood in lieu of living with this shit any day! Much as I know anyone who's been through similar stuff would as well.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sticks and Stones

As an adult, it seems the most prevalent memories I have from my childhood are negative.

I'm not sure if that's because the majority of events that took place were negative or if it's because the negative makes a bigger impact on memory than good? I think I remember hearing years ago (I'll have to research it) that for every negative experience a child is subjected to, it takes 4 times as many positive experiences to compensate - to provide a balance, if you will.

I've spoken previously about the physical that's gone on and while that's an important part of the person I am today, the things that had the much bigger impact on me (and I'm sure on my siblings as well) was the verbal messages we received. Every day.

At least the physical violence didn't happen every single day.. but the verbal (dare I say) abuse happened daily.

I tried to explain to my husband years ago, when we sought marriage counseling, that just because he tells me that I'm smart, beautiful and a good person... I wouldn't automatically believe it - he had to show me.. which he never seemed capable or willing to do.

Adding up the negativity of years and years of being told:

  • You're stupid!
  • You'll never amount to anything!
  • What am I raising.. a slut?!
  • Whore!
  • Dumbass! Jesus H. Christ you're stupid!
  • You are so irresponsible and lazy!
  • Pig!
  • I can't believe how stupid you are!
  • You know how much you embarrass me!?
  • Once again, another disappointment from you....
  • I wish you'd never been born...

This was and is, very hard for him to grasp. I'm not a person unworthy of being loved - or am I?

I've lived my entire life trying to "make" my parents be proud of me. Just to take back one of the things they used to say daily.

I had been working at a bank. A man came in to make a deposit to his account and I recognized him. He was a man that had worked with my dad for years. I spoke to him briefly and didn't say much more to him.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and this guy came back in and came right to my window. He told me he had mentioned to my dad that, "I ran into ********* at XYZ bank a couple of weeks ago." My dad told him, "Oh yeah... that was my first mistake."

I finished waiting on him and had to excuse myself. My supervisor looked at me and knew something was wrong.. she had said all the color drained from my face. I promptly locked myself in the bathroom... and cried.

Even in my adult life, I have sought to try and gain some kind of acceptance - especially from my father. In the process, I feel as though I don't really know myself. Which to me, is the worst thing of all of this.

I look into the mirror and have no idea of the core that makes up *me*.

The next time someone uses the children's saying:

Sticks and stones may break my bones --- but words will never hurt me.

Tell them how wrong they are.

It should be:

Sticks and stones may break my bones ---- and words will surely haunt me.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Written By: Untreatable

PTSD is basically the nightmare that refuses to go away. A single event or a series event is always in the back of your brain waiting to attack. A trigger as small as a smell can send off a mini movie which is capable of tearing your soul apart. Flashbacks with so much power that they send you right back to the moment that the event took place. PTSD is a monster that can appear and take over at any time it please.

Flashbacks are the worst part of PTSD and a lot of people turn to illegal substances to keep these mini movies at bay. The soldiers of the Vietnam war did not come back to this side of the ocean because they enjoyed the high but they were trying to keep Vietnam in Vietnam.

You could be having an absolutely great day then you run into a trigger which suddenly sends you right back to one of the worst moments of your life and there is nothing that you can do to alter the movie that is running through your brain. I am thirty four years old, five foot nine and a shade under two hundred pounds but once a specific flashback hits I am quickly reduced to that of a very small child who is completely powerless over the situation. No warnings or indicators just the same nightmare that refuses to go away.

It is not all based off of physical events as a number of people with PTSD were never hurt at least not physically. An event from my life would be the simple event of going to sleep. I go through my bedtime routine and turn out my light then on days when I am not so fortunate my fathers voice rips through my brain "You are absolutely useless and I should do you a favor and kill you in your sleep" which snaps me wide awake. Needless to say I take a lot of medication at night that basically stops my brain from thinking and to keep the flashbacks at bay.

PTSD is treatable and the key to recovery like most mental illnesses is to catch it as early as possible. Therapy for PTSD is to help the person work through the event or events that the disorder stems from and to recognize and reduce the triggers to hopefully take some of the power back. The number of people with PTSD has exploded just like it always does after every military conflict and unfortunately the suicide rate is going to climb as well for a number of soldiers are going to realize the war has followed them home. Take care.

**This article was contributed by fellow blogger, Untreatable of Untreatable's Blog - Borderline Personality Self Harm Depression.

Please give his blog a visit as it contains a lot of useful information and insight.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Guest Blogger - Untreatable

Hello everyone.

I have asked Untreatable, author of "Untreatable's Blog - Borderline Personality Self Harm Depression" to guest post here on Dirty Little Secret.

He has a wealth of information about mental health and all that it entails. I asked him to do this in the hopes that someone will read what he has to say, and will use that information to help themselves.

The biggest hurdle in getting help is being informed and learning all you can.

Untreatable is a wonderful person and I know you'll find the information he posts to be interesting and useful.

Thank you Untreatable, for accepting my invitation!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Summer quickly approaches... and reminds me of swimming

**Just to anyone who might find this a little disturbing to read, it contains a little more graphic information than some may care to read.. so please, just read with caution or stop reading where I have placed an asterik. Thanks.

I'm looking forward to summer.. and then I'm not. It has been kind of going back and forth.

See.. I work at a school and I have two school aged children. And while I love my job, love my children, and love being able to be available to them (since I work there)... summer is a bit different.

As any mom or dad could probably relate... summer is a time that goes WAY too fast for kids and seems to drag on and on for parents. If past summers prove anything, it is that by day 3 of summer break, my children will be belly aching and complaining that they are *BORED* and that there isn't *anything* to **DO**.

When I was growing up, I don't remember much of the summer months - especially when I was younger. I remember it being hotter than hell outside and I also remember my mom yelling, "In or out!" almost constantly (can't say that I blame her).

Just up the street from where I spent most of my childhood, there was a "pool club". To this day, I don't know the correct term for it... but it was a neighborhood thing that you had to pay an annual dues to and had to live in this certain area. Other than that, I don't know what the hell to call it.

Anyway... I remember spending MORE than a few days at that pool. It was almost exactly 1/4 mile up the road and I was in charge of my younger siblings. I was responsible for making sure they had sunscreen, towels, pop money and most importantly, I was responsible for getting everyone home - on time.

I was the eldest of three, with my brother 3 years younger and my sister 3 years younger than him. My sister really wasn't a problem.... but now my brother. Ugh.

See, we had to walk that 1/4 mile to the pool and back (daily) and since the pool didn't open until 12:30, it wasn't exactly the coolest time of day to make a trek and especially when you were carrying a load of crap with you.

Most times, my sister would pull herself reluctantly from the pool when I told her it was time to go.. but now my brother on the other hand.. he'd take great joy in seeing me 'lose' it. I would start to yell, then I would start to screech and walk up and down the length of the pool pleading, begging him to come out.

I knew what was waiting if I didn't get all of us home in time. I would get blamed and in turn - beat. That's just the way it was. I guess I was supposed to be able to force my younger siblings into doing whatever I said because.. well... just because.

My brother didn't care - it wasn't his skin on the line.

There was one day in particular that it was really bad. We wound up being almost a 1/2 hour late coming home and I was close to hysteria by the time our house was maybe a 1/2 block away.

My dad was home early.

It didn't matter that it wasn't me keeping us from getting there on time... and it certainly didn't matter that I was near hysterics by the time we walked through the front door.

What did matter... is that I was in charge and once again... I failed.


My 'punishment' was getting whacked across the backs of my thighs with the wire end of a fly swatter. He held on to the floppy plastic part and beat the hide off the back of my legs with the metal part. I made the mistake of sticking my hands back there because it hurt SO freaking bad... and he didn't care. He kept going, smacking thighs, fingers and arms.

Have you ever been in so much pain that you literally, couldn't breathe? That is exactly how I felt. I remember the exact spot I was standing, I remember that I was screaming bloody murder, which seemed to fuel him on.

I wound up with black fingernails and bloody welts across the backs of both legs. I had gone upstairs, peeled off my swimsuit and got into underwear, shorts, and a teeshirt. Later that night, I had soak in a tub of water to get my shorts off, because they were stuck to me because of my oozing welts.

I still have a very hard time NOT hating him for that!

We didn't go to the pool again for over a week, needless to say.

After all, how could I explain bloody welts and black nails - he was a hard working guy with well mannered kids after all... who would believe us....?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Where I've been

Thanks to all for their concern and thoughts. I do miss everyone!! I hope I'm back soon and that my doctors can actually, I don't know... do something or give me some idea when I'll feel anything like normal again.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My biggest fear

I think my single biggest fear, is screwing up the lives of my children.

I worry almost constantly about this, because I know the mistakes I've made already and they scare me.

I'm a big time yeller. They are both to the age where the hormones are starting to kick up and the "I'm not listening" bug has infected them both. I'm having a very hard time sometimes, not yelling in order to be heard or to get them to just listen to me.

I've been told by several people that "yelling does no good" - but they fail to offer me any other alternative. Honestly, there are times within the past year or so, that I feel I'm a horrible parent. My son has ADHD and my daughter is a drama queen. When I say that, I don't say it with a hurtful tone at all.. it's just a fact.

Regardless - the cycle I've noticed myself in is: I tell my kids to do something and they ignore me. I ask again, they ignore me again. I wind up yelling, they wind up back talking, I wind up yelling even MORE, and then they finally do what I've asked them to do in the first place.

I'm really feeling like a nag who can't talk in a normal tone of voice.

One day the kids were fighting amongst themselves ALL day. I'd finally hit my breaking point, so instead of my usual screaming at them to STOP IT - I gave them each a sheet of notebook paper and a pencil. I sat them both down at the dining room table and told them they had to write one nice thing about everyone in our family and then write one thing they wished that person would change about themselves. They had to do this for each other, myself and my husband and lastly, themselves.

What my daughter wrote, struck me:

Mom - Mom fixes me food. I wish she'd quit yelling.

I thought... wow. The one nice thing about me is I fix food? I wasn't sure what to think about that..... anyway, here's what she wrote about her brother:

Brother - He makes me laugh, but I wish he'd stop yelling at mom.

Now, the last thing on this earth that I want to do, is produce a childhood that leaves my children broken individuals. I realize a lot of their behavior comes with the age, etc.... but I just wish sometimes that I knew how to cope better. I didn't have a very good model and I sure as hell don't want to go down that road. My mom also, yelled a lot. My dad beat, my mom yelled. I don't want to be like either of them.

I've tried making reward charts for doing what you're asked the first time, completing chores, etc... I've tried paying for helping out around the house.... I've tried the, "wait till your father gets home" bit.. which by the way, I particularly hate because I remember that causing me major unrest when I was a kid.

Seeing certain patterns surface from my own upbringing, makes me scared of what I'm capable of. Let me clarify - I sometimes get so upset that my children aren't listening to me that I can actually feel the anger swell inside of me. My scalp will tingle and I'm betting that if I had a blood pressure cuff on my arm at that moment, my BP would be through the roof. That scares the hell out of me. It's normally then, that I have to distance myself and go to my bedroom and take five. It still doesn't change the fact, that I feel so much anger.... that's what I want to get a hold on....

I don't ever remember being told that I was loved as a child, by either of them - and I know it hasn't happened since I've been an adult, either.

At least my children will grow up knowing that their father and I loved them dearly.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My failure at confrontation

I've noticed that as I become older, I'm a little better at confrontation than I used to be.

That is to say, that I will now confront someone when I have no other choice.

I wasn't allowed to have an opinion.. or if I did.. I should keep that to myself because nobody cared.

You did as you were told - period. There was no conversation and if you attempted anything resembling one, you paid dearly. I learned a LONG time ago, to keep my yap shut.

So as I grew up I went along with whatever anyone said because I didn't want to make waves. I was constantly on the look out for anything that would rock the boat. It was better to just be invisible and fade into the background than it was to speak up and take the chance of someone knocking the hell out of you because they didn't agree.

Somewhere along the line, I put *silence + obedience = love*.

I still have a hard time really voicing anything that may cause a rift. A lot of times, I internalize things and I feel the resentment building inside of me. It's with friends, other family and some coworkers.

It's something I am actively working on...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Inaction of Others

Anyone who has been in the same shoes I was in as a kid, has to at some point in their lives, wonder why so many people knew what they were being subjected to - but chose to do nothing.

The fact that not only did family members know, they often times witnessed a lot of what happened to myself and my younger siblings.

Other people would comment on how well "behaved" we were. Little did they know, we were in genuine fear for our lives. I don't know for sure if my dad would've gotten to that point, but when a person is raging on a small child, who the hell knows what could happen. We see this a LOT today. A three year old dies at the hands of his step dad - a little baby died because he was shaken to death.

I sincerely believe that if someone would have tried to help us kids, my dad would have THEN gotten the help he so desperately needed. I really have to believe that my father was repeating the same discipline principles on us, that were used on him as a kid. I also believe his own demons from the military haunted him and probably still do. As far as I know, he's never received help for either of these things.

There was an instance where my best friend from high school witnessed my father beating the living hell out of me and it was then that I started to wonder if what happened in my house, didn't happen everywhere. I came to this conclusion after the total fear and shock on her face after the fact.

There was no food or beverage allowed in our rooms - and as a mother myself - I can totally understand why. Kids' rooms get messy enough without the added 'gross' of having dead food left in a room or dirty dishes for that matter.

Anyway.. my best friend came over one day after school and she had stopped and gotten herself a cheeseburger and fries from McDonald's. I let her in and we went to my room.

She got out her food and ate it all, then proceeded to go into the hall bathroom and throw her bag with the trash inside, away in the trashcan.

It was shortly after that, I heard thumping up the stairs and my heart stopped. I knew what was coming and my friend sat there, oblivious to what was about to transpire.

My door was kicked off its hinges and my dad is sceaming that he "smells french fries!" and "goddamnit, there had better not be ANY food in this goddamned room!" He was weilding a razor strap and was storming around my room, dumping over my stereo, pulled my mattress off my box springs and then got in my face. My friend stood up like a bolt when the door came flying in, and stood with her back pressed against the wall with a 'what the hell!' look on her face followed by a look of flat fear.

I told him through tears that the food wasn't mine, that it was *****'* and that she'd finished and had thrown the trash into the trashcan in the bathroom. He wheeled around to her and then started yelling at her, asking her what she had eaten. She was so terrified.. she was rattling off the contents of her lunch, her voice shaking, very close to tears.

I wasn't crying for any other reason than I was so humiliated.. seeing my friend over my dad's shoulder as he sprayed spittle onto my face... his nose pressed against mine. His eyes bloodshot and his veins popping out....

He then threw me onto my box springs and proceeded to whip me with that razor strap. I actually fought him on this occasion, not so much that I cared (sad as that is to say) that he was beating me, but that he was doing it in front of one of my friends. My best friend, in fact. I kept trying to flip over onto my back, so I could get up and run, but he was too strong and it didn't take long for me to realize that I was only making it worse.. so I just laid there and let him beat me.

After it was over, I was bawling like a loon, my friend was crying and he just left the room. He went back downstairs to finish watching television.


My friend wanted me to pack my things and leave.. that this "isn't right!" But how could I leave? My brother and sister were there and what would happen to them? She wound up going home and she told her parents. While they were appalled... they did nothing.

It seems we've come to a point in our society where any child discipline is reported and to that effect, we have children running households instead of parents. I don't believe that children shouldn't be disciplined.. but beat? No.

It's just too bad that true abuse isn't acted upon and the regular upbringing of children by responsible parents, is.

I really let my son have it at the grocery store one time because he started whining about wanting some candy and wouldn't stop. I got in his face and said in a forced whisper, "If you don't knock it off, you will be sorry" and just gave him that "look". Some lady gave me the evil eye of disgust because I reprimanded my then 7 year old and wasn't going to give in to him. To bad that lady wasn't around when we were getting our bones broken.. she'da had a freakin' HEYDAY.

What I did that day was wrong, I don't deny that. I knew the rules and while my friend didn't live there, I did and so did my parents. Their house, their rules. I would have even taken a regular spanking or grounding. But not that. That went down wrong and unfortunately, there were many more times like this where the punishment went above and beyond anything that any child should have to endure.

Hey.. I was a kid and kids fuck up. As a parent, I make mistakes and yes, my kids can be butts as well.... but a little perspective is needed sometimes and if that takes a person stepping in to say, "Hey.. what the hell do you think you're doing?!", then so be it.

Trouble is, that line seems to have gotten blurred.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm an All American Reject - sliver of the ramifications

So far I've shared a very small glimpse into my earlier life.

I sometimes wonder if people believe me when I share some of these things. I wish I were making them up, for then maybe I'd feel I was a better person.

I don't think I'm evil or mean spirited, but I don't think I'm a good person.

I'm insecure even though I carry myself as if I had all the self confidence in the world. I often times think people who walk by and start to laugh... are laughing at me.

Every time I get a compliment, I wonder what motivates that person to compliment me. Surely they are secretly making fun of me... my hair really doesn't look cute cut like this.....? Does it?

I'm overly cynical and pessimistic. I figure hey... if I expect the worst and that's what happens... "I told you so" and if things work out positively? Then YAY - I was wrong.

I worry and suffer panic attacks more often than I think I should. I feel like a huge loser when I have a heart stopping, gut wrenching attack. They can be so bad that I feel like I will die. And I mean really, die. My heart beats so quickly that I feel almost light headed.. I have trouble breathing and I sweat profusely.

A few years ago, I had a very bad panic attack. I was near hysterics because I was convinced that if I went to sleep, I'd never wake up again. I didn't want to die.. I have kids to take care of and I didn't want to leave them. I was in tears, panicky and well.. it's very hard to try and describe what it is it feels like, unless you've had one of these hellish experiences.

I've been officially diagnosed (years ago) with chronic depression and PTSD. I've taken a variety of meds that never seem to work and in fact, the majority of them make me want to drive my car off a very high overpass. I don't know about you, but I figured I'd take my chances without them.

Really, I wish there was something I could take to take the edge off.

My brother and sister suffered the same sort of "style" of upbringing and each walked away with different yet ugly, baggage.

Me... I'm insecure, depressed 98.9% of the time, I have a short temper, I feel nervous and jumpy all the time, I can be secretive and sometimes, I'm not a very nice person..... my younger brother is an alcoholic and drug addict and has been since the tender age of 15 and my sister has had 3 failed marriages all before the age of 30. I know that differing factors play into who we are and we are, after all - responsible for the roads we all take in our lifetimes. Sometimes though, I can't help but wonder what would we all be like had things been just a bit - just a small fraction less violent (physically and emotionally.. but especially emotionally) then they were.

Hell, we can't go back and change a damn thing about it now, can we? I guess we're all pretty much screwed and as the saying goes, "It is what it is". Yay us.

Anyone ever heard of the band All American Rejects and their song, "Dirty Little Secret" (see video below)? Funny how the name of the band and the song title kind of jive with how I feel about myself and maybe others do as well.

Know what I get most sick of? Projecting this image that I'm so together. Like I know what the hell I'm doing. It's like I'm calm, cool and collected on the outside, but inside... I'm screaming. I feel sometimes, like running and never looking back.

Bad thing is... we can't run from our dirty little secret. Can we?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My '78 Mustang, the scratch and rude awakening....

When I was 16, I scored my driver's license by taking a Driver's Ed class at school. I had a job at the illustrious Taco Bell and worked there almost every evening and every weekend. I saved my money and bought my own car.

It was the ugliest damn car on the block (LOL) but it was all mine. :) It was a '78 Mustang Hatchback and it was creepily the color of a pinto bean (taco bell.. pinto bean...? scary stuff). I made the monthly payments on it - the purchase price was a whopping $1,995.00 and my payments were $135.00/month. I paid my own insurance even though it was physically my mom that made these two payments, it was my money making them both.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked.

It was a Sunday morning and I was sleeping in - as most teenagers my age... I had worked all night and then gone out right afterward, and I might add, I STILL made it in by curfew well because, I did value my life.

I was awakened by my door slamming open so hard the knob left a hole in the drywall behind it, and my dad grabbed ahold of my ankle and yanked me clean out of bed. Not pulled me awake... yanked me out of bed till my head hit the sideboard of the frame and then the floor. I was dizzy from the sudden blow to my skull, although you'd think by that time, I would've been used to be knocked around the head region.

He then proceeded to yell profanities at me and was literally kicking my ass as he yelled, "Get your goddamned ass UP NOW!" and I guess I wasn't moving quickly enough, because he was repeatedly kicking me as I scrambled to get upright. I had no clue as to why he was pissed at me or why he was kicking me.

I got out of my room and into the hallway when I was finally able to get into an almost upright position, when he grabbed the back of my neck, just below my skull and threw me down the flight of stairs.. where I landed right by the front door.

I don't remember at that point how I got outside into the driveway.. only that I was out there in my pajamas, with his hand again clenching the back of my neck and ramming my face into the front bumper of my car. It was on the driver's side, right on the corner. The bumper was plastic (maybe not plastic but it definitely wasn't metal) and it was the same color as the car. The paint there was scratched off as if something rubbed against it and rubbed the paint off.

He had shoved my nose right up to the bumper, yelling, "What the hell did you do to this goddamned car" while still kicking my ass. Literally.

I honest to God.. had NO freakin' idea how the paint had gotten rubbed off there... only that now, that it apparently was a HUGE deal.

That was the thing about day to day living that made this sort of thing so extremely difficult. You constantly felt like you were walking on eggshells. Never knowing when the other shoe would drop, or what would make the shoe drop in the first place.

You were on "high alert" all the time and as anyone knows, that can put your emotional state in a fragile place.

Regardless, I don't remember much of what happened after that.. which is weird to me. I don't even remember going back into the house or the rest of that day. I just remember the way I woke up and then having my blood shut off to my brain (or what felt that way to me, anyway) by his grip on the back of my neck.

That, and what the front bumper of a '78 Mustang Hatchback smelt like.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Thank you

I just wanted to drop a quick post in here to those of you who have shown me so much support.

Without others' understanding and compassion, I couldn't and wouldn't continue on with this journey. While I understand to some these things may seem not so bad (by some comparisons) and to others, they may seem way over the top, I do appreciate all that read here and perhaps leave with a sense of understanding of other human beings.

It is my father's 60th birthday today and while he's now what many would consider "old" to me, he's still very young. Maybe that's because there is only 19.5 years between us or that in my mind, my father will always be young... I don't know. I just know that none of us are guaranteed any specific time on this earth and my goal is to make peace with myself and with him.

I want to thank you all for continuing to bear with me on this journey of mine... most of it has already taken place. Such as the few stories I've divulged already. However, there are things about me today that I don't believe would be a certain way, if not for the things I've experienced throughout my life and that includes my childhood.

The journey has just begun but to truly move forward, I must heal this part of my past.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

One of the reasons I hate the holidays...

This is a particularly hard post to write, because I revisit this memory every Christmas. I try not to, but when it's quiet and I'm alone, my brain goes back and I instantly relive the moment...

I don't know exactly how old I was, but I was fairly young. My sister (6 years my junior) was little enough to sit on my lap, so I'm guessing she was a toddler? So I'm guessing I was around 6 or 7? Maybe 8, but I'd almost say I was younger - by 8 I knew a lot of what I was and wasn't supposed to do.

Our Christmas' were pretty hectic. We were expected to go there, go here.. we were always on the move. Now as an adult, we make one trip. Christmas Eve is spent with outside family and Christmas Day is spent here.. no rushing or yelling.. just enjoying the kids, enjoying Christmas.

I will say now, that if it wasn't for my children, I'd have no use for Christmas. Not only is it a highly commercialized endeavor these days, but as I mentioned.. it holds not-so-pleasant memories. Every year I get very anxious and usually wind up taking some kind of anti-anxiety med. A couple of years ago I tried to muddle through without anything.. and wound up having a very bad panic attack. Very bad.

The Christmas routine consisted of spending time with my grandparents on my mother's side on Christmas Eve and then Christmas morning we went to my grandparents house on my father's side. We as kids, couldn't just get up and enjoy the morning at home... we had to get up when it was still dark, have dad yelling at us to, "Hurry up Hurry up Hurry up!!" as we scrambled to get dressed and get downstairs before he overloaded. I say before, but normally he did anyway. I wonder now what kind of anxiety he had during that time of year and why. I mean, he was always so uptight and on edge.. and still IS that way. As a grown woman, I HATE going over there for Christmas... you just never know what kind of 'mood' he'll be in.

This particular year I overheard my mom asking my dad if my Aunt (his sister) and her kids were going to be there Christmas Day. See, my Aunt and my cousins were the opposite of us. They had very little money, their house was always a pig sty, their dad was never around (they divorced right after my youngest cousin was born) and my Aunt was generally thought to be 'crazy'. But the one thing they DID have.. was love and affection in their house. To this day, I say they grew up with FAR FAR more than myself and my siblings did...

Anyway, as kids my cousins were not well behaved. I don't mean the normal not behaved.. I mean, they were really NOT well behaved at all. I think maybe it was an attention thing? I don't know for sure...and who am I to analyze? I just know that when all of us got together, it was majorly chaotic and my mom couldn't handle it.

So she asks my dad if they'll be there and he says something to the affect of, "My sister will be there, but the kids will be with their dad..." to which she replies, "Oh good because those kids drive me nuts..." or something along those lines. I don't remember the exact words, only that she was glad that my Aunt's kids would not be present.

So fast forward to Christmas morning that year. We were all sitting around waiting for Christmas breakfast to finish cooking and my Aunt arrived. I asked her, "Aunt *****, are ***** and ****** and ***** going to be here today?" And she replied with, "No, they are spending Christmas day with their dad." To which I then proceeded to repeat what my mom had said.

Yes, I know what you're thinking. "OMG... why did you DO that!?" To which I'd have to reply, I have no clue on this earth why I thought it'd be a good idea to repeat anything either one of my parents said. I just had heard it and repeated it... for lack of better things to say in response to her answer? I don't know and I can understand being peeved about it, believe me, I think I'd be a bit peeved myself if my children decided to repeat something that was less than nice?

The next thing I know, she's yelling at my mom, my grandpa comes in and HE starts yelling and pretty quickly I figured out that I said something I shouldn't have. I grabbed ****** (my sister) and sat her on my lap. I was scared because I could hear my dad coming... and he. was. pissed. I picked up my sister for protection because I knew he wouldn't hit me if she were sitting on my lap. I was right.. he didn't. If looks could kill however, I wouldn't be here now.

They had a "meeting" in my grandparents bedroom with my mom, my dad, my Aunt and my grandfather, all trying to work things out.

I couldn't understand why everyone was THAT upset about it? I still don't. To be pissed off was one thing, but to have a family meeting about it? It's not like my mom said she wished they'd never come or that she hoped that they had a shitty Christmas? I don't know.

On the way home, my mom and I were crying and except for that, you could hear a pin drop.

My father looks in the rear view mirror and says to me, "Well, you ruined Christmas. I hope you're proud of yourself." Just as hateful as he could. The look in his eyes.. it was of pure hate. Not of disappointment or frustration. Hate.

We got home and that's when I recieved my 'punishment' for repeating what I knew (his words, I should have known not to repeat things) was wrong. I was whipped with a razor strap and didn't "get" Christmas that year.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Families Don't Tell

You know, the strange thing about growing up in middle America in the 70s (or any decade, I imagine) is that families kept up this "air" about them.

Do you hear what they say on the rare occasion they catch a serial killer - like Jeffrey Dahmer for example - the neighbors. What do these serial killers neighbors say (almost always) about the accused?

"He was so quiet. Nobody had any problems with him... he seemed a little odd, but he kept to himself."

This is what it was like growing up with my family. My mom stayed at home with us kids.. who were "so well behaved" (yeah, we were in fear for our very existence, but hey.. that's alright) and we kept our house nice. While our family certainly wasn't anything like serial killers, we were like the good neighbors that never bothered anyone. Everyone around us thought my dad was a hard working family man. And he was... except for one small thing.

Don't tell.

He thought violence was the way to 'solve' things. Again, I don't think my dad is a 'bad' person... after all, he is my dad and I do love him. I know to some people that may sound weird, especially after you read some of my other experiences later on... but how can a child NOT love their parents? They are a part of you, whether you want them to be or not.

Don't tell.

Now, there was a time I would actually fantasize about 'getting revenge' for all the times he humiliated me, beat me and made me feel like I was worth about as much as a freshly stepped into pile of dog shit. In fact, as I was entering my teen years and the beatings got worse.. my brother and sister were pre-teen and we'd all gather in my room with a tape recorder and pretend to have a newscast.

Don't tell.

We'd talk about my dad and his latest rampage in the __________ household and how three children overtook him and had their day. Sad? Yeah.. it was. I'm almost ashamed we'd talk about it. Sitting around my room while he was driving and talk about how when he gets old and unable to walk, how we'd push him down the stairs in his wheelchair. My face is bright red now... talking about it. Even mentioning it has me shaking and it's hard to type. I believe I was 14, my brother was 11 and my sister was around 8 1/2. We were kids and yet we were 'planning' our fathers demise.

Don't tell - please don't tell.. you'll only make it worse!

I think all of us just wanted the senseless crap to end. We all agreed (as adults) that there were times we were on the receiving end of spankings and there were times we agreed - We deserved them! I mean, we were kids and we got into stuff we shouldn't have.. we lied about it.. and we were just generally non-compliant at times and so yes, there were times we believed we deserved what we got.

But not welts... not cuts.... not black eyes, bruises, joints that hurt so badly we couldn't literally sit for days...

I was tired of being told, "I wish you'd never been born!" and the many, many other derogatory things he used to say. I was tired of my mom... just standing there... pretending it'd all go away. She hardly ever said anything.

Don't tell.

My sister and I joked a few years ago about how when we'd see dad coming at us, we'd know to make our bodies go limp. That was so he didn't break anything. How weird now to think, that her and I laughed about something so traumatizing. And it was... this wasn't just a whipping gone bad.. this was a way of life. Until we all moved out - we thought that was how things were supposed to be.

How messed up is that?

Friday, March 28, 2008

I love them now - Ham and beans

While I'm not one to say that one thing is more horrible than another, I know that all experiences when lumped together, make a big picture. If that doesn't make sense, I apologize now for it's early and I'm trying to squeeze out a post before kids are up, before work and most importantly... before coffee. This could prove to be, less than enlightening.

Do you remember something your mom (or dad) fixed for dinner when you were a kid that you hated? I know I do, but on one occassion, that one thing turned into a week long ordeal.

I want to say that this to me, is one of those parental faux pas. Meaning, I really believe this is something that any parent could do in "punishment" or to prove a point... but perhaps NOT to this extreme. I myself, was blessed with a picky eater and while I may save something for another try for another meal... well... let's just say I wouldn't go this far.

Again, I was around 6 years of age and my mother had fixed ham and beans AND cornbread for dinner. I wasn't what I would have called a picky eater, for when you got really picky, you'd run into unwanted attention, so I tried to mind my p's and q's and just choke down whatever was presented because I didn't want the attention. I was perfectly happy to fade into nothingness.

Now, I had never had ham and beans before this. They smelled awful. I do remember that much. My mother placed a steaming bowl full of them in front of me at the table, alongside sat a wedge of cornbread with butter on it.

I kind of turned my nose up at it, just because of the smell. I twirled it around with my spoon and my father sat to my right and gave me the look of, "You had better eat that, or there will be hell to pay..." so I took a couple of spoonfuls and started eating.

Immediately, I started gagging and choking. I don't know if it was the thought or the smell? I still to this day, don't know what made me gag like that.. but I assure anyone reading this... it wasn't because I was trying to be a smartass. Although my father thought I was.

Apparently, to keep a person from choking on food, the Heimlich used to be performed by whacking someone upside the head. I got this 'treatment' three times. So now not only was I choking but I was crying AND choking and dropping beans from my mouth, one at a time. I remember the thought running through my head, "You'd better stop or he's going to get madder..."

I was right. The more I cried, the harder I got hit. Repeatedly.

Finally, my mother intervened and sent me to my room. I only remember lying down and wishing I could go live somewhere else.

Next thing I remember... I woke up and ran downstairs. I was starving!

What sat at my place at the table?

You guessed it.

Cold ham and beans. This time, with ketchup on it.

My stomach turned and I could feel the hot sting of tears rise up inside of my eyes.. although I was determined not to let one tear drop.

My dad sat there and instructed me to, "Sit your ass down and eat thos G.D. beans! You are NOT getting anything else to eat until those. G.D. beans are gone!"

It took me a week - 6 days - of gagging and choking to eat all those beans... and he was right. I didn't get anything else to eat until I finished them.

It's amazing to me now, that I can eat ham and beans. I will say that I was almost 30 years old before I could even entertain the idea of eating them....

Monday, March 24, 2008

The day I knew that I was different

It was a summer day. The only way I remember this, is because I was wearing a romper. It was my favorite.. red and white checks with little lady bugs on a big pocket across the front.

I am the eldest of three children. My brother, three years younger than me and my sister, three years younger than him. My sister was born in 1974 and was just a baby when this took place.

My mother never worked outside the home except on the rare occasion that she felt the need to have some pocket money or needed a break from us kids. I don't know if there were other reasons or not, I'm only making assumptions.

My parents struggled quite a bit when we were all little.. much as any other family with young children, I suppose. We never went to bed hungry, we were always clothed and we were never without a home. All the material things that a kid could want, we had.

The one thing we didn't have... was peace of mind. Affection either, for that matter.

On this particular summer day, the window AC was running really loudly in the dining room and my mother was frantically digging through the china hutch. It was directly on the other side of the dining room across from the AC unit.

I remember standing there watching her and staring at her long brown wisps of hair that had fallen out of her bun, floating around as if someone with invisible fingers were playing with them.

She slammed the top drawer shut, and then dumped her purse on the dining room table.. cursing. She started crying, flinging papers all over the table top, and some were falling to the floor. At that point, I wandered into the living room to play with this doll I had. It was a pretty cool doll... it stood as tall as me. When I took it's hands into mine and walked backwards, the doll 'walked' with me. I don't think I had named it, but I loved it just the same.

Next thing I know, my father comes in from working outside and I hear mumbled voices at first. Fighting. Soon, he was yelling at her and said something about some doctor bill. From what I could gather, he was very angry because they were looking for some canceled check or receipt or something along those lines.

My brother wandered in from his bedroom and my dad yelled at him to, "Get the hell out of here!" and he came running into me carrying some rubber toy......

Then, it happened.

My father rushed into the living room and asked my brother and I if we had seen a small box that had checks like this (he held up my mom's checkbook). I said no and my brother just shook his head.

Apparently, this isn't what my father wanted to hear. He charged at us, smacked my brother upside the head, knocking him to the floor, and then lifted me up by one arm and whaled into me like there was no tomorrow. There was my brother, laying on the floor, screaming bloody murder, my mother was screaming at my dad to 'leave them alone' and me, dangling by my wrist being hit repeatedly until he finally dropped me to the floor.

He asked again.

"Have you seen or did you take, a small box with checks in it like this!"

I whisper/cried, "No..." Instead of yanking me up this time he grabbed my doll.. the one I loved SO much, and he swung it around and broke it over my back. Broke it so badly, that the torso split in two, the head popped off and one leg went flying.

I felt like that damn doll looked. I often wondered what he'd done if MY head had popped off instead of that dolls head. I was so scared. I remember sobbing so hard that I couldn't breathe. I wanted to run away and I was laying there.. my back, head, legs, wrist and arms.. burning and stinging like mad. I couldn't figure out why he was so angry... and why my mom didn't DO anything.

Time went by and things are a bit fuzzy for me memory wise, but next thing I knew, my mom walks in and says she found it. My dad proceeds to bend down and give my brother a hug and tell him that he was sorry.


I sat there staring at him. Why was he sorry for hitting my brother, but he wasn't sorry for beating the shit out of me? Do you know what I was told by my mother later when I asked her, "Why did dad say sorry to **** and didn't say sorry to me?"

"You're the oldest. You have to be the example for your brother and sister."

That's the day I realized looking back, that at that moment, I knew I was different than my siblings.. and things for me while living under their roof, would never be peaceful for me.

The year was 1975 and I was six years old.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Precusor to my future posts

This blog was made with the intention of revealing some things about myself, that not many people know. It's not something I go around on every street corner and shout out loud. It is at times, shameful. I don't believe I feel that way because I somehow think some of these things were my fault - after all, I was just a child - but because to tell people family secrets is a huge no-no.

Like many, my childhood wasn't all peaches and cream. The stories that I will tell you however, I have told to a couple of important people in my life and they looked at me with bewilderment. I honestly thought some of the things myself and my siblings went through as kids... other people did too. To me, it was all 'normal' and the way it was supposed to be.

I just want to say that I'm not recording my thoughts and memories about my childhood because I think my parents are horrible people. They are not. Do I think they made mistakes in our upbringing - especially my father? Yes, I do. I know deep down that they did what they thought was right AND that that was the way they thought it was supposed to be.

That last part is important - the way they thought it was *supposed* to be.

I know several people have heard about 'breaking the cycle' and 'breaking the circle of violence'. This is *key*! If people don't recognize that there is an ongoing circle of violence, they will continue to perpetuate that same violence and generation after generation will think this is a normal way of living.

I love my parents. They had provided for myself and my siblings... but I do wish that when I confronted my mom years ago (going on probably 20 years ago now) about some of the things that had happened she would have just said something like, "I know.. and I'm really sorry. We were only doing what we thought was best." or even something like, "Yes... but we were young and had no patience..." Something other than the sarcastic 'answer' I was given.

It was denial and anger. Again. She didn't deny the couple of instances that I brought up, but she denied that any abuse ever occured. This was like a hard, stinging slap to the face. All I wanted... all I needed, was a, "I'm so sorry..." and I didn't even want/need an explanation!

Regardless, I am the person I am today because of the things in my life that have shaped me. In some ways, I'm a stronger person for what I've been through. In yet others, I'm insecure about almost everything I do.

Laying blame doesn't do any good... and that's not what I'm here for. I am trying to make sense of it all. I'm trying to heal myself on some level. A level of forgiveness. With a milestone quickly approaching, I feel the need to forgive (really forgive) is a must.....

Friday, March 21, 2008

How It All Began

My mother and my father were high school sweethearts and fell in love.

My fathers family was a well-to-do family and had a family 'name' that was recognizable upon uttering. My mother's family on the other hand, was a simple family and had roots in farming and country life.

When my father was just 19 years old, he proposed to my mother and asked her parents for her hand in marriage. My grandparents liked him from the beginning and gave their blessing readily.

His parents however, were against the idea. I actually didn't know all of this particular information until just about ten years ago, when my Aunt (my father's sister) let me know. Up until then... it had been one of those dirty family secrets.

My mother apparently, wasn't good enough for their son. Oh no. They needed someone more cultured, more wealthy, less likely to speak her mind.

So.. my parents being the strong willed people they are, decided that the only way they'd get everyone's blessing was if my mother wound up pregnant. My father was in the Marine Corps and this was during the Vietnam War- he, a high school graduate of 1966 and my mother, an up and coming graduate of 1968. Social upheaval ruled the day and they did what they felt was the right thing to do for the time.

In April of 1968, they were married and two months after that, my mother graduated high school. My mother was 3 months pregnant with yours truly. I was born in October that same year.

Enter the life of me. The child that was wanted...

...but not really.

Secrets Revealed

No matter how much people may deny it, they have secrets.

Nobody can dig into your mind, unless you allow them in. I am willing to put some of my deepest buried secrets here for all to see.

This is an experiment to see how much of myself I'll be willing to reveal. I have secrets of my own some are good, some bad, ugly and some.... just plain unmentionable.

Until now.

Perhaps you'll feel compelled to share some of your secrets with me and purge yourself of some of the things that are weighing you down emotionally.