This blog could potentially contain triggers. Please make sure you are emotionally safe before continuing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Childhood Home

I grew up in a house with plenty of yelling.  Was it more than average?  I have no way to know.  I do know that when I spent time at the houses of friends I watched their families.  There were a few like mine, a couple that were worse, but most of them were nothing like mine.

Sure, the kids fought.  The parents got frustrated and snapped sometimes.  But overall they seemed to like each other.  They seemed to be a unit.  A family.

I didn't really understand.  I saw and heard my parents fight a great deal.  I got yelled at a lot.  It kind of seemed like I was either punished or ignored.

Now let me be honest here.  This is very difficult to write.  I have a pretty good relationship with my parents now and I do believe that they did the best they could.  I believe they both had abuse in their pasts as well.  I believe they both had their own demons that they were dealing with at the time.  It's very hard to know how to raise your children differently than you were raised.  I know because I've spent the last twenty years trying and I still slip up way too often.  Also, I have a lot of holes in my memory.  I'll talk more about that on a future topic.  It's also very scary to write this.  I feel like I am breaking the famly code.  Maybe you have one, maybe you don't.  Often it's unspoken.  I actually remember having it openly stated to me.  We don't air our dirty laundry in public.  It's tough to rebel against the family code.  It's frightening to say that you want to develop your own code.  But that code just doesn't work for me anymore. 

Please try not to judge my family too harshly.  This is my perspective, and I'm the first to admit I'm a little screwed up.  This is my adult brain trying to make sense of things that happened to me as a child.

But in my mind, the way I remember it, my home was not a place of love and value.  It was not a place where I felt wanted.  I felt like I was in the way.  I felt like I was too much trouble.  Like I caused problems.  I wasn't good enough.  I know this is not an uncommon occurance.  I know that many children grow up having this experience.  But no matter how many others experienced it, that does not take away from what it did to me.  How it changed me.  The programming that went into my mind at a young age.

I think it's fair to say that my dad was a domineering parent.  He had very high standards and expected them followed.  He has a very strong personality.  Always in charge everywhere he goes.  Not very tolerant of childish mistakes, stupid mistakes.  Not good at dealing with emotion.  Not good at talking about how he feels unless he's angry.

My mom was more passive.  She wanted things done but felt he was too heavy handed.  I honestly don't know how my brothers saw it -- we don't talk about things like this in my family.  The way I saw it my dad was mean to me.  And my mom tried to intervene.

So dad would come home and get angry with me for a chore I hadn't done.  He'd yell; I'd cry.  I'd get the chore done as fast as I could and then go hide in my room until he left.  I don't remember ever having to be sent to my room.  I hid in there often.  Then after he left my mom would find me crying and ask what was wrong.  I would tell her that he'd yelled at me.  And when he came home I'd hear her lay into him, yelling at him for the way he'd treated me.  She'd yell and cry.  He'd yell.  Eventually she would leave.  Not too much time would pass before he was slamming my door open and yelling at me for upsetting my mom.  For getting him in trouble (it didn't take me too long to learn that it's better to keep my mouth shut about it, to not tell her anything, because then it would only get worse -- I'd get punished for telling).  And then he'd tell me that if I was going to cry he'd give me a reason to cry (I learned to hide my tears, to cry silently or into a pillow in my room, so I wouldn't be punished for crying and she wouldn't know it had happened again).

And this is where one of the holes comes in.  I don't remember how he punished me.  I remember getting the belt once, although my brothers got it a fair amount.  And I remember him pounding his finger in my chest.  But that's it.  Something tells me his punishment of choice was spanking, but I have almost no memory of it.

What I do remember is the fear.  I was afraid of my dad for as long as I can remember.  I didn't tell my dad no until I was an adult, until after I was married.  I learned to do what I was told whether I wanted to or not.

He's not like this now.  He has mellowed a lot.  I can't remember the last time I saw him angry.  He still shows disdain and disappointment.  He still has that way of looking at me that says, "You can't possibly be that stupid."  That was a phrase I heard several times growing up.

He seems to like me now, to want to be my friend.  And I am trying.  But it's hard.  I have chosen to be an emotional person again, to feel and to express those feelings.  I still can't do that with him.  I'm still afraid of being rejected.  He's just not emotionally safe for me.

Why do I tell you all this?  What does it have to do with my relationship with my husband?  So very, very much.


Kazzy said...

Sheesh. That sounds really hard. When I hear stories like this it doesn't surprise me at all that you have had such a hard time getting comfortable with real emotions. Your dad does seem pretty mellow now, but not overly happy.

Anonymous said...

I see that this could happen in my children's life with their dad. So, I'm open right now with them about their dad, like going through counseling before they decide to when they grow up. I try not to be condescending about him or excuse his behavior, but just to be open about it so they don't get the idea that it's normal, but wrong, then we pray for him our relationship with him. We know that we go through troubles and that none of us are perfect, but that God will heal us and work through us despite our trouble.

Anonymous said...

I just found your site and can relate to you in a lot of ways. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone with a lot of things happening in my life. You're a very gifted writer that can translate into words the very essence of our silent suffering as women and our roles as wives, mothers, and simply human.

Sheri Homer said...

I hate that my husband is a Hippocrate, he tears me down whenever he is mad, call me out my name even in front of my kids, try to make me feel bad about my body(pregnant and all) and has an issue Every time i ask him anything, but yet he can ask you the same things, all the time, whenever he wants. Has constantly said I cheat.o haven't gone out since we meet and haven't had a break since giving birth to my 14 month old and now 5 months pregnant . I hate that he constantly talks about the AFTER US scenarios but doesn't understand why i feel he doesn't want forever with me. He will Ask my opinion on something , but not for my true opinion but already having an expected answer he wants me to say. So if I do answer with my own opinion he disagrees and says oh I expected you to say this🤔😒he never builds me up as a mother or wife anymore instead knock what you do, they just never appreciates me anymore. Then knock what i where there for and did for him when i first meet him and he had nothing. Hard to stay or be happy around this type of energy. But he brought me down to have nothing that i had when he meet me, gave me mouths to feed and worry about and so how can i leave. Telling me to figure it out now on your own with, no job (been a stay at home since prego with son) no car (he ran mine into the ground and won't fix it)im showing pregnant and with a small child. I'm stuck here to listen to threats and bullying and no where to go.

Anonymous said...

I am living the exact same circumstances. Looking for answers..something on the internet..pathetic. have two small children watching me being treated awfully every day. They are not old enough to process what is happening. He moved us far from my family and friends and im isolated with these things that are getting worse. I left my career and everyone i love to start a family with him...and ive never been so scared in my life. Theres nothing anyone can say or do. I want to leave but now jave no money..i gave him everything..and if we divorce im afraid he will do something underhanded to get pur children. Plus he can make me stay in this state by law. He has said he wants to see me under the wheels of his truck. ....among a thousand other awful things. And i live everyday just tryimg to keep peace for my kids. I dont know where to go..what to do.