Borderline Retarded

Friday, September 09, 2005

Do you ever.....

.....have those times when you remember events from your young life? They spring unbidden into your mind in the middle of the night, and you can't get them to go away? I've decided that it's a good thing to never forget these things, that it's healthy to pull the thoughts and feelings off the shelf and dust them off every now and again. Especially now that I have a child. I know I can never save him from disappointment, and hurt, and anger. But, I do want to remember those things that happened that crushed me as a child and were because of what my parents said or did. Because I want my son to know why I make the decisions I do. I don't want to make decisions that will hurt my child for the rest of his life and tell him, "I'm the mom, that's why". Sometimes that just doesn't cut it.

I look back at some of these instances in my life, when such small things could bring your world tumbling down. I remember being in a Brownie troupe. I was probably in first or second grade. We were going on a field trip to a pumpkin patch after school. My mom had given me my $2.00 for the pumpkin, and I kept it in my lunch bag. Well, being the absent minded child I was, the $2.00 got thrown away after lunch with the trash. I didn't even remember until we were gathered after school waiting for the bus. I called my dad. I remember watching for him at the edge of the field. We lived only doors away from the school, so I knew he would be walking over in a matter of minutes. When he got to me, I guess I expected him to hand over another $2.00 so I could go on my merry way. Instead, I got yelled at, in front of everybody, and he stalked off leaving me a crying mess. The thing I don't understand is why he didn't just take me home. Instead, I had to ride the bus to the pumpkin patch with all the other girls, and stand around while they picked out their pumpkins. Somebody took pity on me, probably the troop leader, and gave me $2.00 so I could get a pumpkin too. I was just elated. I happily picked out my pumpkin, and proudly showed it to my parents when I got home. I remember getting a definite "pissed" vibe from my dad, but he didn't say anything, so I figured everything was cool. I was 7 years old, and not very wise in the ways of the world.

My sisters and I carved the hell out of our pumpkins. We kept them under the kitchen counter until Halloween, and I must have checked on it every 5 minutes. Halloween came around, and we all three ran to get our pumpkins and display them on the porch. My pumpkin, however, was nowhere to be found. I remember running to my mom, and asking her if she'd seen it. I can't even remember what she might have said, but it never occurred to me that my father had thrown it out. Of course, that is what happened. I knew it somewhere, but it was such a horrible idea, I felt guilty thinking it. I'm not going to argue whether any of this was right or wrong. All I know is it broke a little girl's heart, and not for the last time.

When I think about the birthday parties that got canceled, the yelling, the grounding, being left behind at the house when you couldn't get ready fast enough, the hitting, I would think my sisters and I were the worst three monsters ever spawned on this Earth. What I have come to understand in my wise old age is that my parents were miserable. They hated each other, They still hate each other.

My mother resents every one of us for being born, she resents the things she didn't have growing up, she resents every decision she has made for herself since 1968. She was the oldest of 6 children, and by the time I was in high school, she was so sick of being in charge, of being responsible. She couldn't keep track of everybody. Any activity we kids wanted to do had to be written in the calendar, otherwise we wouldn't be able to go. What she neglected to tell us for long time was that we had to write this stuff down, just asking her permission and telling her the details wasn't good enough. I can't tell you what it is like looking forward to your best friend's birthday / slumber party, then not being able to go because mom says it wasn't on the calendar.

I remember the day I understood my mother the least out of any other time in my life. My older sister and I were a volatile pair. She could not stand the sight of me, and would hit me every chance she could get. I hated when my parents left the house, leaving her in charge, because I knew something bad was going to happen. It did every time, for years and years.

In 7th and 8th grade, I played basketball. On Wednesdays, my mom would pick me up after practice, and we would drive to church and pick up my younger sister and two other kids from catechism class. Every Wednesday we did this. After my sister got her driver's license, my mom thought it would be a good idea for her to pick us all up instead. I was waiting outside the gym when the car pulled up, and I wasn't exactly thrilled to see my sister in the driver's seat. I hopped into the front seat. The first thing she says to me is "when we get to church, you have to sit in the back." So, I know she was just being bossy and controlling, but at some level, I decided I couldn't roll over. I told her I should sit in front because the three kids always hop into the back. Why don't we just do it like we always do it. Well, I awoke the she-devil, and the she-devil commenced pummeling me. She was actually driving down the street at this point, and I vividly remember the look on the guy's face walking down the street when I snapped, and punched my sister right across the jaw, knocking her glasses off. I immediately got out of the car, and started walking down the street in the opposite direction. I was about to cross a driveway, when my sister came barreling up the driveway, missing me by inches. I thought she was a crazy bitch, and there was no way I was going to get back in the car with her. I started to go around her, but she threw the car in reverse, and hit the gas. I went the other way, and she put the car in drive and hit the gas. So, I used a classic basketball move, and made her think I was going right, and as soon as she put it in reverse, I ran in front of the car. I still don' t know how I managed to come out of that one without any broken bones. She drove alongside me until the corner, yelling at me the whole way, but I couldn't even talk I was so furious. Finally, she sped off.

One of my teammates was named Star. She was walking along, and asked if I was OK. I told her, No. I walked with her for a couple of blocks, and she told me I could use the phone at the nursing home where she volunteered. I called my mom, and told her everything that happened. She told me to start walking home, and when my sister got back with the car, she would come and get me. So, I started walking. And walking. And walking. I was in my tank top and shorts, it was dark outside, and I had been practicing hard for three hours. I was shivering so bad, and getting more upset with every step I took. I wondered where my mother was. Well, when I turned the corner and could see my house, I got an answer to that question. She was at home. She never left to come and get me. I think it's about 6 miles from school to home, so it wasn't a big deal. I walked home after school every day instead of riding the school bus. I don't remember feeling anything by the time I made it home. I just walked in the door and waited. Nobody seemed to notice I was home. I went to my room and just sat there on my bed. My mom finally came in, and told me she had talked to my sister, and had told her that something like this had better not happen again. I didn't leave my room the rest of the night. The only thing going through my brain was a crazed fear that now my sister was going to slit my throat in my sleep. I truly believed that she wanted me dead, and my parents didn't do anything to help me.

Luckily, I talked to my best friend about it. We had a counseling program at school, and my friend "anonymously" put my name in the box to speak to a counselor. I didn't know what else to do. The hardest part about that was having to take the permission slip home for my parents to sign. I didn't know what they were going to say. I don't think I even told my dad, but asked my mom to sign it. She did, and I had some great sessions the rest of that year. I do remember thinking how odd it was that I was the only one seeking help.

I look back on these things and it doesn't surprise me that I had thoughts about death from such an early age. I wondered why I was ever born. I wondered what my purpose on the Earth was. I used to watch the squirrels chasing each other in the backyard, and think, why wasn't I born as a squirrel? Or as some other creature that didn't have these kinds of hurt feelings all the time. I remember watching public service announcements, never really thinking much of them, until the one about child abuse came around. I never thought of myself as an abused child, until the woman on the commercial was telling a child he was pathetic. That was me. I was pathetic because my mother told me I was.

My childhood was spent with me living in a daydream for most of the time. It's no wonder I had so much trouble making friends. I never did well in school, not for lack of being smart, but lack of any motivation to do a good job. I also had a difficult time doing homework at home. I never thought about talking to my teachers about that. It always just ended up with me in a parent / teacher conference and then getting yelled at and grounded at home. I always decided that I was at fault. I never understood why they couldn't just let me be.

It seems that when I was in high school, whenever I had gone out and had a good time, I came home to a shit storm that ruined everything that had been good. I went to a church function once with my CCD class. We met up at a school with dozens of other kids, and had workshops and lessons, and at the end of it all we had a big dance in the gym. It was the most fun I had in ages. I got to spend time with some really nice kids who knew nothing about me, so we all got along just great! I got home later that evening and couldn't wait to tell my parents all about it. They were in the living room, and I spent a good 15 minutes just telling them everything I did. I was so happy. My father waited until I had finished before he told me that he'd gotten my progress report in the mail that day. I was getting a D in chemistry. So I was grounded until I brought my grade up. That would have been OK, except that I then got the lecture about where was my life going. What was I going to do after high school if I couldn't get good grades? Was I going to work at Taco Bell the rest of my life? At this rate I would never get into college, and I would never make a good living. No stress for a 10th grader or anything. I immediately started crying, because that's what I did. I was very sensitive, I still am. My father hated it when I cried, and he yelled at me to stop crying and start thinking about my future. I was excused, and I ran to my bedroom and wept. My mom came in a little bit later and told me my dad was sorry to yell at me, and didn't mean to ruin my day. That was lie. He wasn't sorry. He was angry at me for not being able to take the criticism.

I was a kid that never fought back. I never rebelled, I never ran away from home, I never drank or did drugs. I just took whatever they said to me, and cried. All I could think of was the future - my future and what it would be. I always told myself that things would be better when I graduated high school, and I could move away from home. When I was on my own, that's when I could start living for me. I dreamed of the "knight in shining armor" who would rescue me, marry me and give me babies. That's what I wanted more than anything. Luckily, that's not what happened, at least not right away. I had a few years to start to figure out who I was as a person. I learned so much about myself, and somewhere along the way I gathered this strength about me. Sometimes I hear myself giving people advice, and I think, who the hell am I to be giving anyone life advice? But, a couple of times it's actually helped out. That's where I think my calling is. My reason to be on this planet is to touch the lives I know with kindness and respect, and true friendship. Everyone deserves that now and again.

My older sister told me once that I was the strongest woman she had ever known. I was so moved by that - considering the source. It was weird though, because she is my elder, it's supposed to be the other way around. I never knew how I could touch people's lives until then.

2 Comments:

  • wow. I want to write something just like that but i can't cos my family know about my blog.

    Sometimes getting stuff out like that is as good as counselling and therapy. That's how i've dealt with my life -i write or type it all out then find some clever means of destroying it. Actually, i wrote a whole huge 200 page notebook on my last holiday on how I was feeling about the end of my relationship etc.

    I've yet to destroy it. I don't know how. Maybe this time i am subconsciously wanting someone to find it. I don't know.

    I enjoy your blog, as strange as that might sound. Keep pumping your thoughts out :)

    By Blogger Squishi, at 1:50 AM  

  • That was beautifully written, I wish I understood myself as well as you understand yourself =)

    By Blogger Lisa, at 7:21 PM  

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