Forget Family : The 30 Days of Truth

Day 10 : Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

This is a rather difficult post, because most of the people that I could’ve written about in this topic were let go years ago throughout certain circumstances.  A lot of things change when a person gets married, and even more so when a person has a child.  Many people fall away, as a result of the social structure changing. Even so, many people were disassociated voluntarily, most through unfavorable circumstances.  That being a marriage to a highly desired man.  Or, a certain amount of jealousy toward my family and the woman no one expected me to become.  And lastly, over interpersonal struggles that had been present for many years.

Plainly said, I don’t allow a person to exist in my life who does me harm.

With one exception.

Family.  An antiquated notion anymore, and yet we all still are drawn to the traditional definition of such.

What is family?  It has different meanings to different people.  For some, especially many that were raised by people that are not related by blood, family are the people closest to you, care for you, and treat you as if you belong.  They are the people who love you unconditionally, and would do anything to oversee your health, safety, well-being and general welfare.

For others, family are the people that are kin by blood, or by marriage through blood.  These are the same people that share genetic matter with one another.  It is the blood that bonds, and should generate those protective and loving emotions.  The family contains a mother, father, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins (however distant), and grandmothers and grandfathers (however prefixed with great or otherwise).  It is the hierarchy that provides the structure and governs the family system.

In this setup, certain rules of conduct exist.  Family members are expected to treat others with a kind regard and respect at all times.  Family members are not permitted to have all-out fights, as it insinuates contempt for another, and spells a potential of a deviation from the family.  Although, if there is a deviation from the family system, that person is excluded, because they abandoned their duties to the family, meaning that they have not the love required.  Family members are obligated to each other, even when there is a dislike between two members.  Dislike can exist, but can never be expressed openly.  And family members are private, to be kept within the family system.  No outsiders.

The second is my family system.  The family system that attempts to replicate those of 1950’s television families, and falls incredibly short.  The reality of a family and the fantasy of the television family cannot intersect, because there is no commonality, except the tradition of family.

Now, I come from a heavy Scottish heritage.  Scots are notorious for their clans and said allegiances.  The thing about clans is that they are often family.  And the thing about rival clans is that they are often family, too.  They are several branches of family that had irreconcilable differences, due mostly to conflicting views and stubbornness against compromise.  Scots are a proud people and intensely loyal.  And that’s how a Scottish family system operated.  Family looked out for each other, because if they didn’t, who would?  And chances are, if you weren’t affiliated with a clan or didn’t follow a clan’s way, then you would be abandoned and left for dead.

What does this all have to do with someone I need to let go of?  I need to let go of the antiquated version of family I grew up with.  I need to expel the notions of the Cleaver family, and realize that it is nonexistent.  Well, in my family anyway.

Everyone in this world has at least one secret desire that they know is absolutely impossible for them.  That is exactly why it is a secret.  One of my secret desires is to have family that unconditionally loves me, and treats me like I belong.  I have always desperately wanted parents who treated me like they appreciated my individuality, and could come to terms with the fact that I am not the child they envisioned.  I’ve always wanted them to be proud and express positive emotions toward me.  I wanted loving parents, who weren’t afraid to say they love me, and show physical affection.

I wanted an extended family that I could really know.  Scots are notorious for their huge families.  I mean, that’s how you grow the clan, right?  I have a huge extended family.  I’ve stated this before, but my “sister” is not biologically my sister, from the same parents.  We are related by blood as third cousins.  Yes, my family is close enough that I know my third cousins.  My son and her son will likely grow up as family, cousins, although according to the state of Pennsylvania, they are not related.  (5th cousins.  Who can say they know their 5th cousin?)  But, as my extended family goes, my sister is the only one I continue to have a good relationship with.

I knew my Pappap.  We had a fantastic relationship before he passed.  I miss him.  I really do.  The anniversary of his death is coming up – 16 years ago.  And he was the head of our clan.  Hell, he was the head of two branches of our clan.  (That’s how I know my sister’s family at all).  And when he passed, the glue of our family started coming apart.  He was the only thing that held it together.

But, just because my Pappap held the family together does not mean we were apart of each others lives.  In fact, quite the contrary.  My aunt, also serving in the capacity of my godmother, made the attempt.  The fact was, she just didn’t like children.  Another aunt of mine lived in distant California.  Another aunt of mine was just too jealous of the fact that my mother had a daughter and she had two unruly boys.  Another aunt of mine was a part of my life, and really was my friend.  Until she met her now husband and moved away.  Then, there was my young uncle, a bachelor and professional.  He hardly made an appearance at any of these events.  We were quite estranged for many reasons.  Many that I couldn’t understand at the time.

As a teen, the question always lingered in my mind; Why don’t I belong in my own family?  If I didn’t belong anywhere else in the world, why couldn’t I seem to fit into my family.  In theory, there should have been a guaranteed spot where I would be accepted, understood, and loved unconditionally.  But, as I grew more symptomatic, the more I was pushed away.  The gap was noticeable at that point, and I came to the realization that I didn’t fit some kind of mould that was created for me.  I wasn’t a lovely blonde girl with big blue eyes who spoke softly, smiled sweetly, and was brilliant in a humble way.  I was something entirely different, almost monstrous.

It was at that time that I discarded any sentiments that I could fit in, because I knew it was just not possible for me.  And I stopped trying.  It actually inspired me to attempt to embody everything that was the opposite of what was expected of me.  I didn’t want to conform, because I did not want to “belong” to anyone.  Love should not have contingencies, and I should not be expected to be anyone but myself.  That should be more than good enough to people who call themselves “family” to me.

That does not mean I discarded my longing for family.  Family are the people who love you, no matter what.  Feats or failures.  Achievements or disappointments.  They are the people who help you, not out of obligation, but because they really want to see you in a better place.  They don’t judge you.  They don’t hold grudges or debts.  Family should be the people that are guaranteed confidants, supports, fail safes, and friends.

I longed for parents who would provide me with support, affection, and guidance.  I longed for grandparents who would fawn over me, and lend me wisdom.  I longed for cousins that could be friends.  I so desperately desired aunts and uncles that could teach me about life, give insight on my parents and adulthood in general, and be confidants.  Instead, I got parents that berated me for being me, and gave up on parenting altogether when I turned seventeen, because in truth, they didn’t really want to be parents at all.  I lost my grandfather young, and ended up with a grandmother who was indifferent to her grandchildren.  (According to my mother, she was indifferent to most of her children too.  I don’t take that personally).  I had cousins who held a grudge because I was “the baby” and the only girl on this coast.  My eldest cousin resented me for having the responsibility for looking after me during family events and vacations.  I had an aunt who despised my existence, and another who attempted to use me as a surrogate child, and later decided she wasn’t cut out for kids.

And between all of these people, throughout the years, silent grudges and resentment started opening up.  I had realized that I was caught by accidental crossfire, but it hurt just the same.  All of the trauma still follows me, and I’ve felt like the only resolution would be to have that ideal family.

I need to let the notion of family go.  The only way to resolve that trauma is to understand that definition of family is not the only definition of family.  I didn’t have a mother for guidance.  I stumbled around adolescence and had to find my way to womanhood alone.  I didn’t have a father in the traditional “daddy’s little girl” sense.  I had a dictator, who wasn’t much of a male role model for later men in my life.  I had to fumble my way around dating and men myself.  And in the end, I still ended up with a man much like my father, without the hands-on approach to family.

I need to give up on the idea that my parents will suddenly become parents, even though their sudden appearance as grandparents gave me false hope.  They are who they are, and they’ll always regard me as the person I am, no matter how much I grow and change.  My mother said to me, with a sigh, “I see a lot of myself in you.  A lot of the things that you tell me about your . . . mind, it rings a bell.”  It gave me false hope.  It gave me this idea that she would become my mother and help me in hard times of my marriage and parenting.  But, I know she won’t.  My father will never be a father to me.  He hardly ever was.  He is at least a friend now, anyway.  But, he’ll never brag to his friends about his beautiful, intelligent, talented daughter.  He’ll never express pride or admiration toward me.  Neither of them will.

That’s the way it is.  I need to let go of my family and let it be what it is, instead of hoping that it will suddenly turn into something it never was, and never will be.

Taunts of Absolution : 30 Days of Truth

Day 4 : Something you have to forgive someone for.

In years past, my relationship with my parents was far beyond dysfunctional. Although we are building a mutually respectful relationship as adults, I do not feel as if I am considered a daughter. I am a family friend, the mother of their grandson. That extraordinarily detrimental relationship created a schism too great to have a distinct parent-child relationship. I have resigned myself to the notion that I will never be my parents daughter, and they will never be my mother and father.

I have touched upon the subject in prior posts, One Day, I’m Going to Grow Wings, Spitting Fire, and The Real Demons. Mostly, I fear I will remain unable to absolve them of the responsibility for the suffering they caused me, directly and indirectly.

I have to question every aspect of my childhood. The problem arises, because I don’t remember the greater majority of my childhood prior to age twelve. I could never figure out the reason for such an impenetrable block. It was only very recently that I discovered the numerous reasons for such incredible repression.

My brother has moderate autism. My mother was a raging alcoholic. And my father is a war veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As if that wasn’t dysfunctional enough, it accumulated into an overall bad home life. I have fragmented memories, drudged up by raising my own son.

My father was largely absent prior to age twelve. Most of his time was spent in the psychiatric ward in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital. And when he released back home, he isolated himself from the family. I was far too young to understand what was happening. All I knew was that my daddy was sick, and he was never going to get any better. To me, it felt like my daddy didn’t love me. He didn’t love any of us.

required special accommodations. I was lonely, and felt as if I were nonexistent to them. Completely transparent in their world. I did everything I could for recognition. My grades were perfect, and my standardized scores were well into the 98th percentile. I had taught myself my instrument in one summer and My parents were busy handling my brother. He had special needs that ]gained first chair. My attendance in Sunday School was spotless, and I was a devout Episcopalian. What more could a parent ask for in their own daughter?

All of these achievements bred resentment among my classmates, and they alienated me from their social groups. My mother made it crystal clear when I was just a little girl that she had no desire to play with me. My brother was nowhere near my level of functioning to participate in games. I spent many nights in solitude, alone in my room with only my dolls and stuffed animals.

When I began middle school, I finally began to make friends. It was the best thing that ever happened to me! Finally, I wouldn’t be so alone. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of friendship and all of the wonderful kinship it entailed.

It was short lived. Only a year later, I began to suffer my first symptoms of bipolar disorder.

And that is the precise time my father emerged from his decade long hibernation. The man was disgusted with everything about me. He was certainly a far cry from shy about vocalizing his opinions. The criticisms ranged from my appearance, to my friends, to my music, and my hobbies. I was hurt. It was more evidence to strengthen my theory of his lack of love for me, as I was, instead of his idea of me.

I was also enraged. Who was he to come bursting into my life after so many years of absence?

He was merciless in his punishments. The greater majority of my teen years were spent incarcerated in the very same room I was isolated in as a girl. These were typically for minor infractions – “talking back” (which I considered to be expressing an opinion), disrespect, messy room, “feigning illness”, lying, etc. All because I wanted some independence and to assert myself as an individual.

In heated arguments, he would rough me up. He was careful not to do this when my mother was around, or leave any evidence. One time, I called him an asshole. Insistently, he got in my face and demanded I take a free swing at him. I refused. It would only provide him with an opportunity to lay his hands on me.

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. He grabbed my throat in one hand and pinned me against the wall, and lifted me high into the air. I tried to scream, but there was not enough air in my lungs. He screamed in my face, leaving me soaked in spit. He let me go, and I crumpled to the ground, nearly in tears.

I won’t cry. I won’t give him the satisfaction.

My mother found an even better excuse to take figurative and literal swings at me. She’d get belligerently drunk and deliberately provoke me. I would attempt escape, but there was nowhere to go. I wasn’t even allowed the privacy of a door on my room.

There was an instance where she followed me around the house, insulting me as I went. I begged her to leave me alone. I attempted escape to somewhere, anywhere I could possibly manage in the house. I ended up heading to my room, of course. She taunted me, saying, “You’re just a lot of fucking talk, you little bitch. I’ll teach you a lesson about that mouth of yours.”

She swung at me, and caught me across my right jaw. Instinctively, I pulled my right hand back, and swung down toward her face, backhanding her as hard as I could. Disoriented by the blow, she stumbled backward, nearly falling down a flight of stairs. (It wasn’t the first time, and wouldn’t be the last). I grabbed her arm and pulled her forward to standing.

A look of shock and malice spread across her face as she spewed, “Just wait until I tell your father.”

So many things were said. Hurtful, awful things.

My father:

This is not a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I’m the dictator!

I wish you were never born!

How dare you defy me, you little bitch!

Go on! Run up to your room and play that gloomy noise you call music. I dare you to cut yourself! Cut to your hearts content, I don’t give a shit!

My mother:

You are the little bitch that ruined my life!

Go on out there and be the little slut that you are.

I am ashamed to even take you out in public.

If it weren’t for you, your father and I would never fight. You’re going to tear our family apart. I hope you’re happy.

These haunting words still have a faint echo in certain corridors of my mind.

- Staind

I cried out for help. I was dismissed as spoiled, going through a phase, and attention-seeking. I did need attention. By the time I was in high school, I had attempted suicide twice and was cutting at least weekly. And still, they turned a blind eye to it. I had to force their hand to get the help I needed. I can’t help but feel if they were more involved, they would have noticed my behavior was amiss. They failed to get me diagnosed correctly.

For a great duration, I held them accountable for my screwed up mind. In my eyes, all of the neglect and abuse made me crazy. I went on to have dysfunctional and abusive relationships. I was devoid of self-esteem and vulnerable. My baggage would have been too much to check at the airport.

As I have grown, I have come the realization that certain things were beyond their capacity for parenting. They could not have been better parents, given the circumstances. It’s not as if there weren’t moments where they tried. By that point, the damage had been done.

I have tried desperately to forgive them for those awful behaviors. But, each time I find myself getting close, another hurtful experience comes to pass, reviving old memories that I relive in my mind over and over again. Some scars will never fade. I can never forget. But perhaps, one day, I will have the capacity to forgive all of their wrongdoings.

Judge William Adams

Warning: The following footage may be disturbing in nature.  Viewer discretion is advised.

This was so disturbing to me that I started shaking and crying.  The abuse, both physical, verbal, and emotional, was so graphic that I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I know what it feels like to have a parent hit me and tell me that I’m bad.  But, I’ve never been brutilized to that extreme in that fashion.

I could only imagine it.  The horror, the pain.  Both parents were ganging up on her, hitting her with full force in the front and back of her legs, thighs, and buttocks with this belt.  I know there were excrutiating welts.  He probably hit her so much and so hard that she bled.  There was nowhere to run to, and nowhere to hide.  And seemingly, no one to confide in, since this video was taken in 2004 and has only recently emerged at the end of 2011.

In the video, the father is standing over his daughter screaming about how she used to be a nice little girl and now she’s disobedient, lying, and stealing.  He screamed about how she would be grounded for six months.  And even worse, they wouldn’t even let her sleep in her own bed.  The bedroom is a child’s sanctuary.  He violated her in more ways than one.  All of that struck a nerve with me.

I grew up feeling unloved because of abusive situations.  I have had problems as an adult with self-worth, self-esteem, and self-love.  It helped create a hole inside of me and gave me a faulty foundation to build my life on.  It took a lot of years to undo that damage.  I’m not claiming my parents were vicious and intent on harming me.  I don’t think they even really knew the damage that they were doing until it was too late.

This is not about me.  This is about justice.  Worse, an article on Seattlepi.com announces that the these were regular attacks and the mother claims to have been brainwashed by her husband, William Adams, who she claims had a secret addition.

Bull@#$*!  The most horrifying part of the video was the fact that the mother was in on it.  I’m calling you out, Hallie Adams!  Brainwashed is the lamest excuse I have ever heard for abusing your child.  Shame on you!

I am a mother.  I would put myself between that child and that belt any day of the week.  And likely, I’d find the heaviest thing in that room to crack him over the head with.  If you are any kind of decent mother in the entire world, you would lay your life down for you child.  I have bipolar disorder, and even on my most vicious day, I never hit my child.

Nor would I ever allow anyone to harm my child.  That wasn’t just a spanking.  That was violent, malicious, merciless beating.  In the article, it states that the police are investigating whether there was a crime or not.  EXCUSE ME?!  This is video evidence of severe child abuse!  She was 16-years-old!  They will lock mothers up whose children are above or below a certain percentile in weight calling it “neglect”, but they won’t punish parents who are videotaped brutilizing their child?!

Judge William Adams should be stripped of his authority and at least do a little time.  Then maybe, he’ll know what it felt like when he made his own daughter sleep on a hard sofa in a public room.  And as for Hallie Adams, for shame.  I don’t know whether she should even face punishment.  I think being publically humiliated as the second worst mother in the country, next to Casey Anthony, might be appropriate enough.  At least we don’t actually know if Casey Anthony did it or not.  Hallie Adams is immortalized on Youtube.  (For now, anyway).

There is a special place in Hell for parents who intentionally harm their own children.

One Day, I’m Going To Grow Wings

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Let down again
Let down again
Let down again

You know, you know where you are with
You know where you are with
Floor collapsing
Floating, bouncing back
And one day….
I am going to grow wings

A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and…
Let Down – Radiohead

Normally, I am not a fan of disclaimers. When looking at them from a psychological perspective, they are an affirmation of what is actually being said, instead of the deceit a person is trying to convey. For instance, phrases like, “I don’t want to be rude, but”, and “I’m not a (insert adjective), but”. The truth is in the disclaimer.

However, I must use one for these purposes, because these words and ideas may be misinterpreted. I do not blame my parents for all of my problems. I am well aware that I have the ability to be cognizant of and control my thoughts and subsequent behaviors. I pride myself on the self-control that I exhibit. These people are supposed to exist as part of my support system, and they parade around as such. It’s the martyr’s game. When push comes to shove, they always pull the net when I’m falling.

Here are the three most recent examples. November 2010, my husband and I were both offered employment at the same time. This had never occurred before. I went to my mother, overjoyed that I was offered this dream job. (My mother is a homemaker). I asked her if she would be willing to watch T.D. for the five hours that I’d be out of the house. She came up with a million flimsy excuses until I offered to pay her. And then, over the course of the school year, she paraded my son around the neighborhood under the guise that she was this amazing, selfless grandmother.

The possibility of being employed in the summer program came up. I was ecstatic. I mentioned this to my mother expecting the usual stoic response. Basically, she was rooting against me because she didn’t me to ruin her summer plans.

When it was first determined that I was not going to be employed for the summer program, she was overjoyed. Then, three days before camp started, I got a message inviting me to teach. And she once again, begrudgingly, took on the selfless task of caring for her grandchild. With the monetary bonus, of course.

Now, we are coming upon the school year once again. I had worked it out that T.D. would have services in the morning, get dropped off at preschool in the afternoon, and be picked up and taken into the care of my parents for the remaining time. Apparently, that was not on the agenda, although it was discussed at the beginning of the summer.

They never fail to let me down.

Our lives are so intertwined in terms of T.D. having strong affections for them, and us living on family property. I want to distance myself from these people as much as I possibly can. They are absolutely toxic.

My mother is a ridiculous and belligerent alcoholic. My father and I do not have a father / daughter relationship; I might as well be the mother of his grandson and nothing else. My parents offer no love or support without a price tag. And I can’t stand to be surrounded with such dysfunction.

I can’t believe I thought I could trust them. I can’t believe I thought I could trust anyone. (There’s some things going on in my social group involving disloyalty).

I’m ready to wall it up again. It’s easier this way.

I’m open to stories and suggestions.