Growing up, I was constantly being accused of things I didn’t do. Didn’t matter if I wasn’t anywhere near the area or my mother had seen one of my sisters do the actual deed, I was at fault. I heard it for years. Yes, I suppose it’s one of the downsides of being the oldest but honestly, it was more than that.
I was a convenient scapegoat who wasn’t going to stand up for herself. And my mother played favorites so S wasn’t going to be punished for anything she did.
I had learned to be afraid. My mother was a yeller, a screamer. She could make her feelings, usually rage or anger, known just by the volume of her voice. And the tone was usually condescending at least when speaking to me. So I learned to be afraid. She’d raise her voice, anything could set her off, and I knew the world was going to come crashing down on me.
Somewhere in there she threatened the police on me. Her or maybe my stepgrandfather because he could be just as loud and angry and demanding. I’m not sure but I became afraid of the police and being taking away by them which is interesting in light of my mother’s abuse (why would I want to stay but, then I didn’t know any better) and my love of crime dramas which of course, featured the police. It’s not something I fully understand except maybe it’s a reflection that authority figures weren’t trustworthy, that adults couldn’t be trusted. Unfortunately, I learned soon after that children, even those my own age couldn’t be trusted, after they started bullying and harassing me. And I figured that telling an adult wouldn’t do any good because I would be the one in trouble not the other kids.
So I learned fear and mistrust and blowing things out of proportion. All things that still affect me and affect me greatly. I couldn’t make a mistake without fearing unreasonable consequences, at least from teachers and bosses. My mother, well, you could never be sure what the consequences were and if they would change, which happened frequently. And with her, like I said, it didn’t matter who was at fault because I would be the one blamed and punished.
Up till about the age of nine, that meant spanking. Which is weird. I always knew where the paddle was (in a kitchen crock on the counter, visible to all) and there were constant threats of being spanked but I really don’t remember being spanked myself. I can remember one occasion where one of my sisters was spanked and it was maybe twice with the paddle and my sister screaming and crying and my mother stopping and letting her go but I can’t recall an instance where I was spanked. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen at least once but then I also spent many years repressing the past. I wanted to forget, to move on, to not have to deal with all the rage and anger swirling around, choking the air.
Don’t ask me why the spanking stopped at age nine other than that’s when we moved cities. The paddle was still around, still on the counter but it wasn’t used. I suppose it didn’t matter because I was definitely afraid of messing up, of setting off mom, of being arrested and going to jail. This was also when the bullying started in school and I didn’t really have any friends for years.
Then we moved house again (legal matters involving the previous owners and their inability to pay their debts) but school didn’t change but home got worse. I used school to escape home and home to escape school but I wasn’t safe anywhere. But at least the teachers didn’t yell and liked the fact that I loved to learn. And I was smart but nobody cared so I was bored in school but hating it and home was full of anger and being told that I would never amount to anything. And that bad girls like me go to Hell.
My sisters were still getting away with stuff. I was still being blamed but not punished as much. I don’t think my mother cared. With all four of us in school, she had time to herself which is used to watch endless amounts of TV and go shopping. She wasn’t any happier and she still screamed and yelled alot but her threats were largely empty but I didn’t know that. I was still afraid.
Then high school. Many of the subjects I loved and others I tolerated (P.E.) but it wasn’t home and my sisters weren’t there. Didn’t stop the comparisons though. I was taking honors classes and doing quite well in them (except math, my major weakness) but my mother would point out how they were getting better grades when I had flunked my Honors Algebra II test (the only time I failed a math test but still an F). I was taking what was essentially a sophomore honors class in math and that had been my only failed test but to my mother it meant I was stupid and less than my sisters. I took honors classes all four years of high school, got largely A’s except in math where I got C’s and graduated with a 4.3 GPA (honors classes weighed more), and was planning on majoring in engineering in college but for my mother that wasn’t enough.
I was grateful to go off to college but it wasn’t easy. I nearly flunked a physics class my first semester (dropped it before it could affect my grade) and decided engineering wasn’t for me. I also felt like a failure since I wasn’t going into a math or science and had been told, been indoctrinated, that the ONLY way I could be successful was to go into math and science, especially since I was a woman. I did manage a B in Calculus and then was glad I only had to take the one semester (I was two days into my second semester when I decided I didn’t wasn’t to minor in math so I dropped the second Calculus class). It wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I figured out that I wanted to major in Anthropology. Then I spent a year abroad (I was miserable and yet happy as well). Then my last year. I might have been close to graduating but I had spent most of my life doing what other people wanted, following their rules, fulfilling their needs, making everyone happy but myself.
I didn’t know I needed to register to graduate until my German professor mentioned she hadn’t seen me on the list (fixed that). Then I graduated but had no where to go, no job, no nothing. Nothing. My res director helped a little and I moved into summer housing. I still didn’t have a job and it took me the entire summer to find a place. Did find a place but the one roommate was psycho which I really wasn’t aware of when.I moved in. Fought with parents over money, sort of had a job, no car, and psycho roommate was making the living situation horrible.
Got out of that living situation only to lose the next one three months later (nothing bad, just choices on part of the landlord). At least at this point I had a car, which I would end up living in for the next SIX months. I would stay in a hotel on the weekends which helped me rack up major credit card debt. I was also not eating healthy since I largely are fast food. What really sucked is that people at church knew what was happening to me but didn’t do anything to help. Maybe once or twice but no real help. I was on my own.
I found the apartment I live in now after that time in my car. Still didn’t really have a job. Went back to school though I had only been looking for a couple of computer classes. Ended up with a decent part time job while in school though I had to travel an hour to get there. Parents moved after my mother forced my dad to retire and told me they weren’t helping me in anyway anymore. I graduated with my second degree and worked my part time job for a few more months till I quit that because I wasn’t getting hours and the travel wasn’t worth it.
So unemployed for six months till I started working for evil security company. My first full time job. I could finally pay all my bills on my own. I was finally an adult. I was 27.
By this point I had spent years being a failure, not succeeding, not fitting into the world, not being a success by the world’s standards. I’m still not a success. I’ve been unemployed for a year. I’ve been reduced to going to strangers to ask for help and being slightly rebuked for asking.
I’m not going back to Saint Vincent de Paul again. They nor I did anything wrong but I honestly feel so ashamed for going that I’m not doing that again. Did that woman mean to rebuke me? No but I already felt guilty for going there. Hell, it took me a long time to work up the courage to even go. So I was going to feel any slight, any off hand remark as directed at me for even showing up.
And now I’m in tears just writing and thinking about all this. And I still haven’t covered what I intended. Since this had gone on for so long as it it, this is a good place to stop.