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....


Clueless said...

It almost sounds like you are on edge all the time with different triggers. I'm glad that you are writing about them here. I hope you find it helpful. I was also wondering if you are in therapy because that would help with the hypervigilance. For me, it is awful being on edge all the time or needing to sit in a specific seat just so I can feel somewhat comfortable.

Karen ^..^ said...

I hate your father.

Dinner time was always a nauseating time, even when the food DIDN'T taste like shit, which was rarely.

We were pretty lucky to have ridden in a van. They actually took the seats out of the van, and we all had to sit on the floor of the van. But at least Gran couldn't reach us.

Shiv said...

I too have a trained dinnertime behaviour but as I was never physically abused only emotionally my reaction at dinnertime was to eat as fast as possible so I could get away from the table. I hated it, it was the one time when I was "trapped" near my father and he could make me feel horrible (how exactly can you eat food a wrong way? I don't know but I always seemed to manage it)
My heart goes out to you hun *hugs tight*

G. said...

Oh my... what a horrible experience >< Yeah when we learn to do certain things as a kid they tend to stick for a long time. I'm sorry you had to go through that

timethief said...

Almost every dinner time in my childhood home was a nightmare. Looking back I see that I have taken a completely opposite course in my own life. mealtimes in my household are for sharing, caring and enjoying food as well as each other. In a backhand way that makes me grateful for the meal time torture I went through as a child.

The_Mrs said...

@clueless - I'm currently not in therapy. I have been in the past, but without going into great detail, I'll just say that the long and short of it was that I was always medicated and the meds they prescribed.. made me suicidal. I actually wish I could go to a therapist and purge all this crap in the hopes of someday feeling relaxed - I just am frustrated because I've been to 7 different doctors and they all just want to dope me up and send me on my way. It doesn't work for me...

@karen - They took the seats out of the van? :( What the HELL is wrong with people!? You know, the more I write the more I realize that these stories are all too common.. and I still wonder what possesses people to do this kind of stuff? I always wanted to ask my dad for example, "How did you SLEEP at night? Did you ever look in the mirror and was disgusted with what you saw!?" Maybe one day I will.

Is your Gran still alive? Did you ever get to ask her these things?

@Shiv - You know, it's really sad when dinnertime is supposed to be for family unity and keeping abreast of all family members lives.. and yet.. we have instances were it strikes fear in children. God this whole thing sometimes makes me so sad I can barely stand it. :( **HUGS back to you, my friend**

The Freebie Blogger said...

It is terrible that you had to go through that!

Karen ^..^ said...

Gran died several years ago. Funny, I can't remember the year she died. No one bothered to tell me. I had asked for them to notify me so I could go to the funeral, but no one bothered.

They had gotten a big Plymouth Voyager, and took all the seats out of it so we could pack it for traveling. We sat on the wheel wells, or on the floor. I preferred it, actually, but if we had been in an accident, we would have been creamed for sure.

I did a bout of therapy as well, and they tried to medicate me, saying I had anxiety issues. I was 18, and had an ulcer. The meds made me so sick I was unable to wake up or get out of bed, and I lost my job. No more pills for me, and I went to another doctor later in years, and they said I did not need meds, just counseling if things got too stressful. The medical community is just way too fond of band aiding things with pills. I hate that.

Will said...

I'll tell you, this kind of dinnertime, is exactly the kind I experienced in my life. The Television on; nobody talking about their day..Games shows.

My two Grandmother's fighting, verbally, between commercials. It was the family "nut hour"...

...This post, hit home in so many ways.

Thank you for posting this.
(Triggers, in isolation, and viewed in and of themselves can be very rewarding. This can only be a moment of clarity.)


Chunks of Reality said...

Just wanted to make sure you are doing ok.


irreverentia said...

The last line of this post struck a chord. So many things that happen in our childhood colours the way we are today.

I am still struggling with the demons of my abused childhood. Years of therapy, even medication.

Wishing you well.

(Came here via BlogCatalog, BTW. Great blog!)

The Constant Complainer said...

The Mrs.,

I love your blog. I came across it through Blog Catalog while doing some research for one of my own posts. I found myself reading and enjoying several of your posts.

Anyway, I try to leave comments when I can and will certainly visit back to read any new posts.

a.k.a. The Constant Complainer
Cleveland, OH

mompaulak said...

hi there,,,,called in from posh mama to do a your site...hope you get to drop in on me sometime....take care & hang in there...mompaulak from australia

PS i hope that writing about these issues is therapeutic....better out than in! I feel for you.....from one who grew up on eggshells....xoxo