Posts Tagged 'psychological abuse'

Walking On Eggshells

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I spent most of my life after my sisters were born walking on eggshells around my mother.  I never knew what was going to set her off.  Though most of the time it didn’t involve me doing anything. 

I was always afraid.  Afraid of the explosion.  Going from quiet monster to raging bull running down Spanish streets.  And I was always in the way no matter where I hid. Rage, rage.  Screaming and yelling.  I could always hear her, no matter what.  The venom dripping.  The insults, the put downs, the damning me to hell.  Nothing calmed this beast because she loved to rage in her power.

So I was always afraid.  Terrified of setting her off.  Never knowing the trigger or location of the trap.  My sisters never had to worry about the raging bull.  She might raise her voice at them but apologize and then point the finger at me and then the bombardment would begin.  They only had to deal with upset that would soon calm down.  I was the only one who had to face rage.

I was terrorized into my fear.  And constantly abused to stay there. My mother loved to see my cowering and hiding, my shivering fear.  She fed off that fear which made her feel powerful.  She didn’t have to carry out threats, only make them.  I was that afraid and believed all too well what I thought would happen.  Threats were never carried out but I believed the lies.  They only had to be true once.

Not just the going to hell but also being arrested by police (I was still a young child) because my mother would have called them to come and get me.  Remember,  the lies were absolute truths to me.

I still live with that fear.  Still afraid of setting someone off, though not my mother so much, any more.  But afraid.  Constantly afraid, especially of failure because no one likes failure so that gives them permission to rant and rage and hit.

Quiverfull and Childhood

Part Three

Warning: I will be talking about various types of abuse in this post and have inserted photos where appropriate.  Be advised.

This post builds off the discussion from Part Two.  I mentioned previously that many girls are forced to raise their younger siblings because their mothers just don’t parent.  Or in the case of Michele Duggar, passes the responsibility of parenting to a daughter so that she can keep having babies.

Since Quiverfull is focused on babies and numbers, children as individuals with needs are in an odd phase.  They aren’t babies and they aren’t married adults.  These two phases are the only ones that matter in Quiverfull.  That’s where the priorities are focused. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are then ignored until they get noticed.  The phase of childhood itself is ignored until someone notices a child acting (as in any sort of movement, not just bad or irresponsible behavior) or speaking.  The phase of childhood is considered a messy wasteland to be conquered by the parents rather than enjoyed as a season of human life. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

First, children are just numbers, not actual individuals with wants and needs and desires. They are soldiers in a battles against the secular world.

Two, children are considered property of their parents.  The parents have rights.  The children do not.  The children are merely objects to manipulate.

Three, children are seen as inherently sin filled and willingly disobedient.  Children are only capable of sin and incapable of virtue. 

Four, children must be homeschooled because any other sort of schooling is un-biblical, full of dangerous anti-Christian agendas, and a means of government interference.

Fifth, children rarely receive medical assistance in any form.due to paranoia about the government and beliefs that any healing is God’s will and can only happen if He desires it.

While there are more, these are a good starting place.

Point One: Children are individuals but not in Quiverfull.  Quiverfull is a movement that emphasizes numbers of people and not actual people.  Add in the distaste for childhood as a phase of life and things get a lot worse.

Points Two and Three go together.   When children are not seen as people, they have no rights or protections.  They are also open to great abuses, neglect, violence, and even homicide.  Since many parents come to believe that corporal punishment and spanking are acceptable means of forcing a child to comply with their demands, many children are physically abused in the name of love and God.  Many use verses out of the Book of Proverbs to justify their spanking.  They also read and endorse abusive parenting methods like Michael Pearl’s To Train Up A Child (which compares training children to training animals and to start spanking at three months), James Dobson (again comparing children to dogs), Rev Bradley, and Shepherd a Child’s Heart.

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Courtesy of Google Images

There is no biblical basis for beating the sin out of children so that they become God fearing adults.  But it is a belief espoused in Pearl’s and heavily hinted at in Gothard’s work (though I don’t know if he advocated corporal punishment). 

Pearl advocated “first time obedience” and demands it of babies.  “First time obedience” is the expectation that when an adult tells a child to do something that child must obey immediately.  Any hesitation, finishing a task already started, or asking for directions on how to do that something is seen as disobedience and must be punished immediately. 

For example: a thirteen month old baby is sitting on the floor, playing with a toy.  He puts the toy in his mouth (babies like to put things in their mouth; this is normal).  The mother sees this and tells the baby to take the toy out of his mouth.  The baby keeps the toy in his mouth because he doesn’t really understand what his mother is saying.  However, Pearl says the child is actively choosing to be disobedient and therefore needs to be spanked right this minute.

But first time obedience is expected of all children.  And being disobedient or even “rebellious” (a vague term that parents use to justify any spanking or to justify their anger and their desire to hit a child). Spanking then becomes the default method of parenting instead of teaching the child why let alone understanding child development in any way.

Children in Quiverfull face lots of violence, abuse, neglect, and are forced to behave in developmentally inappropriate ways. 

Teenage girls are expected to parent their younger siblings. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children face the threat of corporal punishment which I’ve expanded to include not just spanking but any use of hitting as punishment which includes slapping, punching, using some type of implement. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children are verbally abused through threats of corporal punishment regardless if those threats are carried out, through name calling, through insults, and through intimidation. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are sexually abused not just through molestation and rape but also abused through body shaming, purity culture, and dress codes. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are psychologically abused when parents threaten them, manipulate situations so that a child fails expectations,  play mind games, and through gaslighting.

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Children are spiritually abused because they are raised to follow an extreme belief system, are threatened with an angry, vengeful God that is out to get them and can’t wait to see them fail, and through the use of illegal and immoral tactics that are justified by the use of scripture verses.

Children are educationally neglected through the use of homeschooling.  Many parents use homeschooling as a means of isolating their children from others so that the parents not only do not have to teach their children a standard education but so that many parents can abuse their children and not have others know about the abuse.  Many children who receive a homeschooling education are usually very deficient in many subject.  Some children are not allowed to finish or even graduate high school.  This is especially true for girls.

Children in Quiverfull are medically neglected.  Many children are born at home.  If there is a midwife involved, she may be unlicensed. Licensing and training depends on state statute so many midwives are trained and licensed.  But there are those midwives and other medical practitioners who choose to operate outside the medical establishment. And with a heavy distrust of the government, many followers of Quiverfull will actively seek out medical assistance that is not regulated by any government agency.   Vaccines are seen as government intrusion so many parents refuse to vaccinate their children.  Or beliefs false information about vaccines.  Many children rarely see a doctor. Reasons include: lack of parental finances; government intrusion; doctors are typically mandatory reporters of abuse (depends on state law); belief that sickness is merely uncompressed sin and so the child needs to repent and get right with God; the belief that any sickness can be cured by prayer.

Children raised in Quiverfull suffer the most and are given the least amount of help and support.  They may live in an unhealthy home due to abuse, neglect, inadequate shelter, inadequate food, inadequate clothing, and inadequate resources and support. 
These children are victims.  They spend many of their adult years healing from the abuse they suffered, correcting their education deficits, and shedding false and dangerous beliefs and behaviors.

Why Yes…

I am fat.

There.  I said it.  I’ve admitted what everyone else has seen. What everyone else has said is the worst thing about me.  About how ugly and stupid I am for being fat.  How everyone has judged me and found me worthless.

Why am I fat?  I am not a pig.  I don’t gorge myself.  I don’t eat that much sugar.  I don’t drink soda at all.  I like certain veggies and I eat protein.  I don’t eat cereal or pasta or prepackaged foods.  I can’t stamd potato chips. I rarely eat candy. 

But I’m fat.

So of course I’m doing something wrong.  It must be too much sugar or eating portions that are too big or too many calories.  Remember, being fat is a moral failing.

But I’m fat.

I’m fat because I really am ugly.
I’m fat because I really am stupid.
I’m fat because I don’t want to be thin.
I’m fat because I was abused.
I am fat because food never made me feel ashamed of myself.
I’m fat because food is constantly being used as a weapon.
I’m fat because I’m unlovable.
I’m fat because I was not loved.
I am fat because I was bullied in school.
I’m fat because I never fit in.
I’m fat because I want born a girl and not a boy.
I’m fat because I’m surrounded by fat people who hate me because they hate themselves.
I’m fat because my mother constantly told me I was fat growing up.

I am fat.

Do I need a reason?

Remember, being fat is a moral failing so of course I need a reason, need to explain myself.

But do I hate my body? 

It isn’t perfect but I’m used to it. 

I think pretty is overrated.  I refuse to wear makeup to cater to a sexist agenda of beauty and youth. What you see is what you get. 

I think the BMI is useless and worthless and way too judgmental. 

I think fashion designers and celebrities get it wrong. 

So yeah, I’m probably only good enough to be the evil and ugly step-sister and even then I’m too ugly.

Guys aren’t interested in me. 
Women ignore me or hate me. 
People don’t want me around.

But food doesn’t care.  It has no vested interest in anything.  So it’s easy to go to for soothing.  No judgments, no shaming, no name calling.  It he’s no agenda, no politics, no meaning.  Food just exists.  It’s just there. 

In the end, I’m still fat.

The Paddle of My Memory

Over at Homeschoolers Anonymous, they’re doing a series on spanking and corporal punishment.  Never having been homeschooled or part of a fringe religious group or just fringe, I haven’t submitted a story.  But I did want to write about my own story of spanking.

What I remember most is the fear.

I know I was spanked and I think it started very early.  Everyone spanked.  It was the 80s.  Child abuse was barely a blip on the horizon and even then only the really horrific cases made the news.  Child abuse, as we understand it today, didn’t exist.  It was just discipline that got out of hand.  Everybody hit their kids.  Nobody thought it was wrong, as long as you didn’t break a bone or unless the parent was a drunk.  And even then it wasn’t that big of a deal.  God wasn’t involved in my spankings.

The paddle sat in a large ceramic jar on the kitchen counter along with other kitchen utensils.  It was always there in easy reach for my mother.  Easy reach, easy threat, easy use.  And I was the easy target. 

I can only really remember one time being spanked.  I’ve repressed a lot of my past.  The past was painful so forgetting it was better. 

The paddle is what I remember most.  That, my own fear because I just knew my mother was going to carry out her threat of spanking, and my mother’s rage. 

Rage seemed to be my mother’s default emotion.  Anger and rage.  The nice parts only came out when other adults were watching and she wanted to be seen as the perfect mother.  And with my stepgrandfather, it was the sycophantic worship that largely threw me under the bus.

I only remember the one spanking and even then only in pieces.  The paddle.  The pain.  My mother’s rage.  My bewilderment and anger.  
But that paddle loomed all the time.  It was a visual manifestation of my mother’s rage filled threats.  And my mother loved to threaten me with that paddle.  She didn’t need to hit me with that paddle, just mentioning it was good enough. 

I was terrified of my mother.  I was the only one of us four girls. My sisters were rarely spanked, if ever, and any punishment was meted out to me instead of them.  I was the one at fault in my mother’s eyes.

Verbal rage was much more useful to my mother.  Threats, name calling, insults went a long way with me.  And my grandparents reinforced them. 

I was a bad girl going to Hell.

I was never going to amount to anything.

I was too fat.

I was too stupid.

My sisters were smarter.

I was always “You’re S’s sister” never bothering to learn my name.

I wasn’t an individual.

The paddle disappeared after we moved from Phoenix to Yuma.  I honestly don’t know what happened to it.  I was nine.  The spanking threats had stopped but that didn’t matter much.  I was still terrified. 

My mother was like a bomb ready to explode but you didn’t know what was going to set her off.  And anything could set her off. And I was the target.

Empty threats worked on me. There were even times she didn’t need to threaten.  I punished myself.  I still do that.  If I just punish myself, them everything will be better.  The pressure will have been let out. 

Punishment makes sense.  Mercy and forgiveness do not.  I think they’re just traps to mess me up so that I can be punished as I deserve.  Punishment is love.

That’s what spanking teaches.  Violence is love.  If I’m being hit, it’s because he/she loved me.  Because I deserve it.  Hitting is familiar.  Being called names, threatened, insulted is familiar.  It’s love.  Real love can’t be nice.  Real love is mean and vindictive and punitive and based on fulfilling specific conditions.  If people are nice, it’s all a lie and they’re just waiting for you to mess up to really show you who they are.

I don’t expect love.  I expect threats and insults.  I will punish myself to make me feel better, to ease the pressure, to make things right. 

God doesn’t care.  He’s waiting for you to fail as well.  His love is only for a select few.  And most of us aren’t it. 

That’s my headspace.  That’s what’s running through my head many days.  Counseling, living far away from my parents have helped.  But my issues with this,one friend are bringing some of this back.  Being unemployed doesn’t help either.

More Poems

Drowning

You crash in
Carrying the ocean of your emotions as if a hurricane has sucked them all up.  You release them not caring about the consequences, the blown down trees, the ripped roofs, the shattered windows, the complete destruction of a town.  For you it’s all about
release
about you sharing
when nobody wants you to.  The winds keep howling but you don’t hear them.  You’ve moved on while I drowned. 

I couldn’t breathe under that deluge.  It may not have lasted forty days but it certainly felt Biblical. 

Then you were back again, that ocean,
that hurricane
winds and rain and destruction.  I still have water in my lungs from the first drowning.  I can’t survive a second but that doesn’t matter to you.

It’s the same stories, all centered on you
When you aren’t sharing secrets that shouldn’t be told
You violate people, talking about them out of turn, saying things they’ve said in secret that you blare out for a wink and a smile.

Your own flesh and blood and you cut it mindlessly
because it serves to promote your superiority. 
At least you don’t drown them in hurricanes,
just monsoon rains.

They’re used to it:
The cuts
The gossip
The lies
The inferiority
The second class civilization
The making it all about you

They’re living their own lives which you abhor.  So you seek out others to control

Drown

You do to them what you did to your own flesh.  Cuts and lies and gossip.  But the hurricane as well.

I drown every time we meet.  You love seeing me fade out of life.  Your love is for you alone.  There is nothing for me.

You drown me and take from me at the same time.  I’m just food to you, a mindless snack that you’ll complain about later.  But you’ll do it all again and again and again.

Drowning because you pull out the fear and the snake.  Then it’s old time religion and snakebites and demanding me not to tell but only to protect you.  But I keep drowning.

You keep the hurricanes moving but stationary.  The floods amuse you.  Watching me drown is your favorite show.

I know how to swim but you keep pushing
Me
Under
Drowning
Water in lungs
No chance
No air
Water, water everywhere

But it ain’t to drink

I see your face through the surface ripples.  You’re smiling in glee.  I’m drowning and it makes
You
Ecstatic

This is religion for you.  Hurricanes and drowning.
+=+=+=+=+=+=
Heat

I’m not talking about the sun or the oven or a kitchen after a mad round of baking.

It’s the anger.  The anger you engender in me.  It burns through my veins, leaving me incapacitated

Impotent

Not able to act or react
Cracking my teeth

Leaving me in pain, my jaw hurting and I can’t figure out why

I am stopped in my tracks, unable to move except to punish myself.  Because I am not allowed anger nor rage
Those are YOUR emotions
My feelings are not to exist

You hit and scream and yell
And all I can do is take it
Thinking silently that one day I will get to do that to my own kids
Today I know that’s wrong but then it was comfort
Adults could hurt kids with impunity
Kids had to take it
Abuse only happened in other homes
So I took the screams that hurt my ears, the names the scored my skin, the violation of my boundaries just so you could rule your little dark kingdom

Waiting to grow up so I could finally hit back
Hit someone who couldn’t hit back themself
Someone weaker than me

That’s why I took my nails to my sister’s arm over a fight about dinner
Not that she was weaker  She was more loved than I, well
Actually
She was loved and I wasn’t and I knew it
So striking Mother’s favorite was a way of striking back at Mother (not that I knew that then; all it got me was more screaming and pain while Favorite got her way, again)

But the anger and rage are still there
But now I can’t take them out on anybody
Well except myself which is what everybody wants
I am to be punished
I am told my anger and rage are unimportant
That they are made up
That they don’t exist

That if I act on them I’m only making things worse for myself
That if I feel them or acknowledge them in any way then I am an offense to God

Remember

I Am
Not
Supposed
To Be
Human

I don’t exist except at their pleasure

Feelings only matter if you are a select group of people
Otherwise you are supposed to buy the lies and obey their demands

Remember

Feelings are BAD

Bad things will only happen to you if you feel them.  Well happiness and pleasure in limits are okay but anger and rage and frustration and disappointment are illegal except for those in command
And you always bring them out in them

Maybe if you weren’t so useless
Maybe if I could actually hit back
Forget stupid convention
I just want to hit
To be in control
To not be the victim
To not be the unloved and unwanted child
To not be the ugly woman
To not be the subject of shame
To just not be

But that will never happen

#=#=#=#=#=#
I Said It

I hate you
There
I said it

You think I’m lying
You won’t take me seriously
But I tell the truth

I hate you

I hate your voice and the stupid way you dress (hello not a teenager any more so grow up)

I hate your favoritism and how you made sure you knew I knew that you wished I didn’t exist

I hate your double standards that only applied to me

I hate your stupid rules that were only about control

I hate how I’m not even a person to you

I hate how you praise and promote irresponsibility and immorality and put down self-control and respectability

I hate the put downs and name calling and just plain shaming because I didn’t fit your plans and didn’t make you the center of my life

I hate the screaming verbal abuse that made sure all I knew was fear and to be permanently jumpy at loud noises.  Or even just hearing my name.  My own name.  Cringing and flinching which I have to hide.  Remember, according to you and everyone else, I wasn’t abused.  I was just a bad girl going to Hell

And I’m not talking about Hell, Michigan

I just wasn’t good enough

I hate how all you thought me going to college for was to get an MRS degree

Which I didn’t
I got a real bachelors with real weight
Then I got a second

So maybe I’m in debt that I currently can’t pay but I have real degrees,
traveled in foreign countries on my own,
worked in a male dominated industry,
gained respect from people who didn’t give it freely,
learned to do without and be happy,
can deal with emergencies without panicking,
can jumpstart a car and diagnose many car issues,
am willing to learn about fields and subjects outside my comfort zone,
can work with a disparate group of people,
have been sought out by my coworkers due to my abilities especially in problem solving and dealing with cranky individuals,
have been recognized for my abilities to do my job above and beyond and to take initiative,
am recognized as being a good listener and not taking sides in a dispute between two people,
am willing to take time to learn not just something new but also how to do something better,

Well you don’t care but I’ve done more without you than with you. 

I still hate you

But I’m learning to love me

Actually, you don’t exist to me.  You’re not worthy of my hate.

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.

Finding the Same

Or the shame.

This time though, it’s about how I have emotional and physical reactions like I do with my mother.

I’ve come to realize this one person in my life hits several of the same triggers, even some triggers I didn’t know I had.  But mostly it comes down to after spending even a short time with this person I am exhausted and have a nasty headache that lasts for hours.  And the next day I am wrecked.  Like sleeping for 16 hours wrecked.

I started noticing a while back that after spending time with this person I was getting headaches.  I thought it might be allergies because they have pets but I’ve spent time with other people who have the same pets and haven’t felt this way.  I once again spent time with this person and realized that it was this person that was triggering my headaches. They are just so emotionally exhausting and draining to me that I end up with painful headaches.

There is not much I can do about this but it is interesting to realize how other people affect me emotionally and physically.  At least I have ibuprofen for the headaches. 

I know this person has no idea they are affecting me this way and I don’t plan on telling them.  I can even see how they have affected other people in their life.  Just writing about this person is starting to give me a headache.


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