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.