Posts Tagged 'mental abuse'

In Regards to Why We Hit Our Kids

Apparently the post on “Why we hit our kids” was popular. It was also, apparently, an invitation for some less than stellar elements to come out of the woodwork, so to speak. Due to the type of comments I received on that post and the nature of several of them, I will not be approving comments on that post. I will be deleting them. However, I will deal with several themes that pop up in those comments.

Response #1: I was spanked and I turned out okay.

My response: I’m going to quote Elizabeth Esther on her blog in response:
“Even so, in defending spanking we often hear people say: “I was spanked as a kid and I turned out alright.” Um…no, no you didn’t. By defending spanking, you have turned out to be someone who perpetuates violence against children.” (Source)

I agree with Elizabeth.  You have become an advocate of violence.  I also want to point out that you have repressed what spanking really felt like and what it did to you.  I should know.  I definitely stuffed down the anger I felt at my parents for hitting me. I was angry but I couldn’t articulate that anger and I definitely couldn’t show that anger.  My mother was going to spank and disciplining me was the least of her reasons to do so.  I also had to stuff down those feels of anger and betrayal because I didn’t know how to live without my parents.  My parents were all I had.  Spanking was the norm and as a child, I had to put up with it, allow it so that I had a roof over my head, food to eat, the ability to go to school.

Response #2: Spanking was the only form of discipline I listened to.

My response: I didn’t learn to associate the pain of a spanking with not doing a specific behavior.  All I learned is that it was okay to hurt a child as long as you had an excuse.  So spanking wasn’t the deal breaker many make it out to be.  Plus, there is countless evidence that spanking is NEVER effective in changing behavior.  Spanking actually damages the brain.  Many studies point this out.  Again, many people lie to themselves because they cannot acknowledge that their parents actually hurt them.  I suggest reading Leaving Home: The Art of Separating From Your Difficult Family by David. P. Celani to understand this divorce in the brain.

Response #3: Spanking is Biblical.

My Response:  Actually, it isn’t.  The idea that “spare the rod, spoil the child” comes from a poem called Hudibras by Samuel Butler and involved Sir Hudibras making a lewd comment to a woman who promised to get him out of jail (Source).  And the verses that do reference the rod in Proverbs is not the rod that most make it out to be and applies to nearly full grown men, not children.  See Samuel Martin’s book Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me to see a full, Biblical explanation of those verses.

Also, several deaths have been associated with the Pearls’  teaching.  Too many “Christian” parenting books advocate spanking and first tine obedience when that doesn’t work.  Even James Dobson of Focus on the Family compares child rearing to cruelly beating a dog.

Hopefully, this will cover the major comments I saw.  I won’t answer the really rude ones.

 

Book Review: Mother, Mother

Major trigger warning for the book if you have ever been abused by a narcissist, been verbally, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually abused.   I would advise not reading this book if any of that applied to.

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This book was triggering for me because the way Josephine talked and behaved towards Violet and Will was so reminiscent of my mother and the friend I’m having issues with.

The book starts off with Violet being admitted to a psychiatric hospital after allegedly attacking her brother Will with a knife.  The story flips between her and Will’s point of view.  There is also Douglas, the alcoholic father, whom Will and Josephine thinks is having an affair (he’s not; it’s his AA sponsor), that he’s abusive (he’s the one being abused by Josephine though he honestly doesn’t have any sort of backbone). 

There is also Rose, the oldest daughter, who ran away from home.  But may have come back to hurt the family.  You learn about her abortion that her mother manipulated her into and then tortures her afterward for getting the abortion.  But she ran away over a year ago. And yet, did she really run away?

Will is his mother’s champion as pretty much sides with her in everything.  The autism diagnosis, the epilepsy, the homeschooling are all used to isolate him.  Add in Josephine’s picking out his clothes, dressing him for bed, using him as a confidant and confessor, using him as a full in for Douglas her husband, and you can see how twisted and evil and abusive Josephine really is.  She punishes him by putting a sticker on the back of her office door, makes put his nose to it and stand there while she reads the Bible to him.  Will is messed up but he is too ensnared, enmeshed in his mother’s grasp to notice.

This is one twisted, fucked up family.  I was pretty  sympathetic to Violet since I knew what it was like to have my words and actions manipulated.  Not to the extreme she did but it was family.  So was the isolation of siblings from each other.  My mother did that too.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book after only being 30-40 pages in and being triggered.  I’m not sure I’m glad I finished it but it was interesting to see I was right about a few things.

A recommend, see warning at top of post

Rules and Stability

Even though it’s 4:35 on a Sunday morning and should be sleeping, I feel more pressed to write.

Rules matter, especially to someone like me who needs boundaries that will be respected since mine rarely were.  I like rules.  Not too many or overly strict, impossible ones but good, clear rules that work.  Not just ones about walking in crosswalks or parking lot speed limits but also ones about not talking with your mouth full or using something without permission.  Social etiquette I guess I’m saying.

So when someone violated a rule and then excuses it (sometimes even using God as an excuse) or doesn’t even care, I am really bothered.  Especially when it is blatant and repetitive by a person.  Especially when someone uses God as their validation for breaking that rule.  I just don’t get it.  It’s mind boggling to me.  Right and wrong matter even in little things. 

It kills me that people think it’s okay to steal as long as what they steal is used to worship God.  No, it’s stealing, which is a SIN and a crime.  God doesn’t condone that.  I still honestly cannot understand how someone can do something like that, excuse something like that.

It reminds of when I was told my sister was having a child out of wedlock and my mother was so excited while she accused me of being an alcoholic for having one beer after I had turned 21.  It’s messed up. 

Rules matter.  Small or big, they matter.  And social etiquette.  If you say you are going to do something, then do it.  Otherwise you are just lying.  If you say you are going to call, call.  If you make plans with a friend, don’t change them at the last minute because you got distracted and made other plans that could have waited.  You just make your friend feel like they’re unimportant to you and that they don’t matter enough to you to keep your promises.  And don’t wait to the last minute to make plans either.  Respect your friend.  He/she is a person, too.

Rules provide stability.  Surprisingly, even with the abuse and neglect I suffered, I had stability growing up.  I was never homeless and we only moved three times.  The first due to family growth, the second due to job transfer, and the third was a result of legal issues of the previous owners that we hasn’t been made aware of. 

My dad had the same job and worked for the same people for nearly forty years.  We always had food to eat, even if my mother burned it or made spaghetti, again, for the fifth time that week.  (One reason I hate the stuff now and can’t eat it.)  I had clothes.

I had stability even with my mother’s threats, the yelling and screaming, the no respect for my boundaries.  My mother may have abused me but she also gave me the necessities.  I may not have been loved but I was taken care of.  I learned manners and how to follow the rules. 

I may not have had the emotional support I needed but I am not emotionally needy either.  I don’t break down if someone doesn’t like me or something I’ve done.  I may get angry but I don’t act like my mother and take it out on others.  Unfortunately, I take it out on myself.

I know this group of people and see how their parents are, even today, and can understand and see how they turned out the way they did.  The mother wonders why  her one child acts the way they do and I can see it’s because of the mother’s behavior.  And the father’s.  I can see it so easily.  And hearing about how they grew up also points out where their parents just didn’t provide stability.  It seemed like the family constantly moved, that the father was wrapped up in certain activities, that the father changed jobs frequently, that both parents were a bit neglectful.  I can see the effect but them I’m seeing it from the outside which makes it easier to see.

Rules and stability matter.  If these don’t exist, or are only partially there, then problems occur.  Short and long term problems.  People crave rules and stability because it helps you feel like things are going to be okay, that you are going to be okay, that things are manageable, that you have some kind of control. 

You feel like life is worth living.  You feel like you can get along with people.  You feel like you can manage the fear and that’s the  biggest reason of all.  Knowing you can beat fear.  Stability silences fear.  It provides reassurance, support.  Rules help you keep that stability.

So stability and rules matter.  They cannot be ignored or excuses or set aside.  They are necessary.  They help us live and live well.

Being Forgotten

I’m seven
Another Friday afternoon
Going to the office, having to call you, again, to come pick me up, pick up S

You say, voice distant on the telephone and not because of actual distance, that you didn’t forget, sounding airy and yet dismissive of me stating the facts
The secretary listening in but not caring, shifting papers, just wanting to go home herself

I don’t figure out until years later that if you could leave me and just pick up S you would

You didn’t want me but I didn’t understand that then
It was you and another baby sister you would pit against me and a father that preferred his computer and TV over everything else and a stepgrandfather who stomped most everyone down, except maybe you and S and K and G but everyone else was just garbage because we wouldn’t worship his lies and hate
Mostly it was about not rocking the boat and having you explode over the tiniest thing

You made sure I was afraid, afraid of you, of myself, of everything

Sometimes I think I’m still that seven year old little girl who just wants her mother to remember her but is aware at the periphery that it will never happen

Abandoned though picked up from the lost and found after being stuck behind a smelly, grubby sweater and held between two fingers as if touching me would infect you with some horrible disease

The stinky sock loved me more though it kept searching for its pair

Dust bunnies cried tears for me but all that dust covered up their caring

Silent walls rattle with your rage but I couldn’t hide from you, fear pressing from every aside

Sophia accidentally hitting me in the nose makes me proud of the one and only nosebleed I’ve ever had because it was something the other kids had done.  I fit in even though I felt and knew I really didn’t.  It was nice while it lasted.

But then I’m eight and another year and the girls have abandoned me as well because boys have cooties which I don’t believe exists so I played with boys instead
They were nicer and treated me better even if they were stupid for tearing the arms off their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

There’s still screaming at home and Willow can’t hide and the Killer Tomatoes have vanished and the Odd Couple take psychiatric advice from Bob Newhart while awaiting triage at the 4077th but you still expect the Waltons but have ended up with the Bundys more like the Buckets but without the flowers and accents

And then change and hell and yelling

But that seven year old is still waiting, hoping, barely, not to get thrown out with the crushed milk cartons and moldy bread and the crumpled napkins

Not Quite Letting Go

While the original title was the title of a song, I changed it because this reflects better about a decision I’ve come to after reflection.

I can’t really go into what all was behind this decision, at least the stuff that doesn’t directly involve me and my behavior and thoughts,  but upon reflecting upon interactions I’ve had in the last several weeks, things I’ve read, and just plain spending time in my head, I’ve realized a few things.

One, I’m in a much better place mentally than I was a year ago.  Granted, a year ago I was dealing with being fired from evil security company and all the garbage they had put me through.   I still have anxiety and depression (and.a very uncooperative phone keyboard) but I can manage and cope even being off meds.

Two, the way I look at things matters.   I don’t have to buy into another person’s worldview.  I don’t have to compare myself to others.  The way I see myself is okay.  I am not a failure or a problem or a loser or worthless (watch it, I’ll probably post a post where I’m in bad headspace and believe that garbage again).

Three, just because some shares the same faith and beliefs as me doesn’t make them more knowledgeable or wider or more spiritual.  I’ve come to the point where I just have to deal with faith issues and what not on my own.  I know part of that is from the fact that I’m an introvert and I end up around fellow Catholics that are major extroverts. I just can’t be something I’m not.

Forth, I seem to attract people as friends who aren’t really, hmm, capable of being friends to me.  I can’t go into this here because I’m not sure if certain people read this blog or not but certain behaviors stand out in my mind and made me think about friendship.  Mainly about my ability to make friends but also my ability to piss people off and offend them without really knowing why.  There are also issues about my own  behavior and how  I act.

Fifth, I am okay with being single.  Yes, there are times when I’d like a companion but I’m certain I’d screw up marriage and kids.  Granted, I didn’t have any real models of a good marriage growing up.  Also, I have anger and rage issues from my abuse and worry I would inflict those on any kids I had.  I honestly worry about being abusive.  I know being abusive is largely a choice but still there is that fear. 

Sixth, I heard good advice about dealing with the past from a neighbor.  It was Mother’s Day and we were talking but I didn’t want to try to explain my mother.  My neighbor pointed out that if anything I survived and  I’m alive and focus on that and be grateful.  I thought that was actually pretty good advice.  Considering I get the impression from some people and from certain circles that what I experienced wasn’t abuse, that I made things up and was lying, and that I just need to become best friends with my mother and everything will be perfect. 

My mother was a bitch.  Plain and simple.  She was mean, manipulative, narcissistic, judgmental, belittling, two faced, played favorites, put me down, insulting, mentally unstable, played mind games, lied, hypochondriac, and just down right cruel.  She made sure I was afraid of her so that I lived in fear.  Of her, of being hit, of being sent to jail, of going to Hell and not the one in Michigan (yes there is a Hell, Michigan; look it up), of failing.  She was not a good mother.  There are days I wonder how I survived but I’m here.

I have a phone relationship with her but that’s all I can have with her.  She’s just too damaging to have directly in my life.  I’m better off without a mother.  Though I keep wanting one that will love me for me (and the next fruitcake that brings up the Blessed Virgin Mary as a substitute mother can go scrub floors with a toothbrush) (I don’t wasn’t to get into it).

I know, looking back, that I’ve made friends with a couple women hoping they would be the mother I wanted, I needed but that always blew up in my gave because many have ended up having some of the same terrible qualities as my mother.  I have to remind myself.I don’t have a mom.  I have a biological mother but not a mom, which is different.  And I never will. 
One of those things I have to let go. 

I’ll also probably never have a good best friend that I can share everything with.  I’ll have friends but never a best friend. 

Another thing to let go.

Also dreams and major success, not I really want “major success.”

And at this point the problems with the keyboard have pushed me to the edge so I’m stopping here.

Anger, Rage, and Abuse

This post at Why Not Train a Child? really highlights some of the issues I have today.  The anger that I was not allowed to acknowledge or express when I was a child when my mother spanked me usually for something I didn’t do (my mother just preferred to spank me).

I was not allowed to be angry.  Anger was bad.  Only Mommy could be angry and when Mommy got angry I was in deep trouble.  When Mommy was angry, I was scared.  Even when Mommy wasn’t angry, I was scared because I didn’t know what would set her off.  It didn’t matter if I did or didn’t do something, if one of my sisters did something, I was the one that got in trouble, got screamed and yelled at, got spanked.  I was the Bad Girl.  I couldn’t do anything right and Mommy didn’t love me when I was bad.  I was almost always bad.  Bad Girls like me go to Hell.

Now I have a lot of anger and rage that boils under the surface and it wants out.  But I’m not allowed to be angry or have rage.  As a woman, we are taught that we are to be nice and happy and cheerful and never feel anything bad.  As a victim of abuse, I was taught that my anger was bad.  That my feelings were bad.  That I was bad.  When I was being abused, I didn’t know that I was being abused.  I thought everyone went through the same thing.  Everyone got yelled and screamed and spanked by their mother.

Now I know I have anger and rage and it sits there.  Sometimes it’s pretty quiet and I don’t have to worry about it coming out.  Then there are other times (like reading garbage by traddies) that it just wants to burst out and beat the crap out of somebody.  But I’m not allowed to have anger or emotions.  Feelings are bad.  Other people can have them.  I can’t.  I have to hide, squash the anger and the rage and deny it’s existence if I want to be even remotely acceptable as a person.  Other people are allowed to feel and express anger.  I am not.  I am expected to keep quite and be nice and happy.  But I can’t.  I just want to pound the stuffing out of something.  I feel like if I don’t get the anger and rage out then it will consume me, that I’ll end up in jail (not because of what I did but because of me) or locked up in a mental hospital because I am not socially acceptable to my family (which I already am not) or to society (which I pretty much am not anyways).  I feel like there are rules and expectations and freedoms for everyone and that those rules and expectations and freedoms are different or are not allowed for me at all.  Other people get to have fun and have friends and be loved.  I am not allowed to have fun or have friends or be loved.  I am not worthy of those things.  I am BAD.  Therefore, I must be so horrible that a whole set of rules apply just to me.  I am not allowed to have anger while everyone else is.  They are allowed to express their anger and there are not consequences while I am not allowed to have anger at all and if I showed that anger in anyway or even just felt it then I would need to be harshly punished.  Remember, I am BAD.  I deserve to be punished.

That mentality led me to doing some very harsh things to myself because I believed that if I was punished enough then everything would be alright, that I would be good enough, that I would be finally lovable, that I would be worthy, that I wouldn’t be arrested and thrown in jail for the rest of my life (still not sure where this came from but it was a major fear for many years; I still get anxious any time I see a police car even though I have never committed a crime and have had mostly positive interactions with the police).  I am not the only one.  I also call myself names, hit myself in the thighs ( I didn’t want anybody to see or know how bad I really was).  While I wasn’t raised in a patriarchal/quiverful/fundamentalist/traditionalist household I was raised in a household that had a mother that believed in corporal punishment and kept a paddle in the kitchen in open view and was very willing to use it. I felt by punishing myself I could stop my mother from punishing and abusing me.  Granted, a lot of what I did I didn’t do until I was in my teens.

I remember once (I don’t remember what I did) that I believed I had been so bad that I couldn’t sleep in my own bed but rather had to sleep on the floor in the downstairs bathroom (which had a shower stall, a toilet and sink so it was quite small and it was off the laundry room).  I remember being in tears not wanting to be sleeping in the bathroom but knowing that I had to sleep there because I was so bad.  I was in there for some time.  I even lay on the floor, so much in tears, thinking this was the only way to make things better.  Eventually, I left the bathroom and slept in my own bed.  The thing is, nobody knew what I had done.  It was the middle of the night and everyone but I was asleep.  I didn’t know that at the time I was depressed.  I just thought I was worthless and needed to be punished.

Even on my own as an adult I’ve felt that I needed to be punished.  I remember cooking one of those pasta dinners in a box.  I hadn’t been watching it and a lot of it stuck to the bottom of the pan and parts were burned.  I have to step back a moment and add that I struggle with my weight and how I view my body.  Even though I was never overweight till very recently, I was never a size 2 either.  I was healthy.  Yet my mother saw me as fat and called me fat and stupid to my face.  Even when I was a size 6 and had actually lost weight (when you live somewhere where you have to walk everywhere to do anything you lose weight) my mother still called me fat to my face.  She also didn’t like the fact that I was a vegetarian at that time (though it was fine when K decided to be a one) Well, I saw that burned food and while regular people would probably throw it out and/or salvaged the part that wasn’t burned, I decided that since I had screwed up so badly and that I couldn’t waste food because that would be a sin, that I had to eat the burned part and then starve myself to lose weight.  And yes, I am in tears at this point.  I was forced to eat a lot of food I didn’t like or couldn’t eat (there are foods due to texture or the digestive reaction that I have that I can’t eat certain food) growing up.  I think I ate three bites of it, in tears (which is what I am right now, in tears), and eventually threw it away even though I believed that I would be going to hell for wasting food like that.  As you can tell, I still have problems with food even as an adult who can cook and eat anything she wants.

At this point, I am going to have to stop.  I am getting too upset.  And I don’t want to make my depression worse.

Why I Need to Get In Touch With My Inner Bitch: The Traddies are At It Again

After reading this post at The Church Fanatic (I am in the process of writing an article about it for this blog but I am doing a lot of research for it so it will be a while) and seeing this thread at CAF, it seems like the Traditionalists are trying to out-extreme the extreme fundamentalists.  What’s worse, is that they seem to be able to convince innocent people that their opinions are Church dogma and that if they don’t follow they are going to Hell.  To top that, I get persuaded that I am not being a good enough Catholic, I start thinking all these horrible thoughts that I need to dress in a burqa, consider myself leading men into sin if they see my wrist, and that I need to go to the Latin Mass because the Mass I attend isn’t good enough even though I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near those kinds of people and there isn’t one near me anyways.

Actually, traditionalists have had such an impact on me that my thoughts go towards thinking

-I am horrible just for being born a woman (not true) (what’s worse is hearing this kind of claptrap from women who hate themselves) God made me woman.  God doesn’t make junk therefore I am not horrible for being born a woman

-not wearing skirt/dresses all time means I’m not dressing right (I’ve gained so much weight due to my depression that I only fit into my pants)

-that I need to be a stay at home mom (I’m not married nor do I feel called to marriage and I have to stipulate that this thought is along the lines of I have to be a stay at home mom but everyone else that is other women can have careers and hobbies and such while I have to stay home and never go out except to Mass) ( it goes along with my depression and the thought processes that I learned/fell into growing up) I was taught/learned that I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t athletic enough, wasn’t pretty enough so the only thing I was good for was being a mother and staying home.  Yes, my mother used to tell me I was stupid, that I wouldn’t amount to anything, and that I was going to Hell.  Can we say screwed up?  Oh, she loved to tell me I was fat when I was a size 6.

-that I am going to Hell because I’m not getting it, not living the Catholic faith “right”, not praying the Rosary 24/7 (I actually pray three decades of it on the way home from work because the local Catholic radio station airs it when I get off in the morning but I have issues with the concept to mother and Mary as my mother when my own mother abused me.  Plus, I want a mother all to myself and not one I have to share.  I know that’s selfish but that’s where I’m at emotionally when it comes to healing from the mother’s abuse.  Again, this comes from the traditionalists who want conformity and uniformity and not the universality that is the Church.  Traditionalists are so focused on the external that Jesus and God are practically forgotten except as a hammer to beat people over the head with to force people to follow the “traditionalist’ way of doing things.

There are more and they are usually worse at work (I work graveyard security and the radio doesn’t work in my patrol vehicle so I’m left with my thoughts).  Suffice it to say, I need to get in touch with my inner bitch.  What I mean by that is accepting and being pleased with the fact that I am a woman, that I have power as woman, and that I can and do make things happen.  That I can and should stand up for myself.  That taking care of myself is okay.  That I matter as a person.  That I am worthy of love and respect, not because of what I do but because of who I am.

I am me and that is Good.

I do not need to be afraid of me as I was taught.  I am not a bad person because my mother said so or because I don’t adhere to some anonymous traditionalist’s ideal.

I am me and God is okay with that.  He loves me for me.  He created me.  Like I said,  He doesn’t make junk.

 

 


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