Posts Tagged ‘Child Abuse’

The flames licked at the log, radiating warmth to the dog-tired people surrounding it. I always loved fire: the heat, the thrill. My heart thumped with excitement each time I scooted an inch closer, but the heat burned my face and squeezed my eyes shut. The standoff continued between what my body could handle and what my curiosity wanted to explore, until eventually the heat itself made me a bit sleepy. It had been a long day, my feet were worn out from travel and play. My need for exploration was almost sated between sitting by the fire, climbing rocks, and experimenting on how long it takes hair to burn. Answer: not very long. My eyes drifted shut.

This is my dream. My mother created this dream for me, then snatched it away.

Our goal was Katahdin. My mom had taken us out of school for the last nine weeks, and we were going to thru-hike the Appalachian trail. We made it from Georgia to Virginia before my mother took us home due to my bratty brother misbehaving. I was ten and he was twelve. That boy needed to man the hell up. But the end of the trip didn’t snatch my dream, the prevention of me going and backpacking the trail myself is what snatched my dream.

Minors apparently can’t traipse about the country on their own, especially teenage females. Go figure.

But my mom promised to take me, then tried to kill herself instead.

She promised to go with me, but shouted at us every holiday instead. 

She promised to go with me, but refused to leave the house to get the mail in fear of the neighbors judging her fat.

In the end all I had was empty promises and the mindset that facing your problems is more important. But it isn’t. This is a major struggle I have had to face: the realization that your dreams are more important than your problems. Dreams are what make us human. They embody hope and the art of the mind. Problems are potholes in life, not the meaning of it as living in a family facing mental illness had engrained in me.

I found a shard of my stolen dream when I turned eighteen and realized I had both the money and legal right to backpack the Appalachian Trail. I continued dreaming.

I found another shard today when I finally understood that dreams don’t become reality without a concrete plan and a hell of a lot of courage and motivation. You also have to remember that tomorrows are not infinite. 

What dream did you lose along the way?

 

 

There we were, nowhere and everywhere. Literally nowhere, not that there was enough light to see the endless fields and trees and nothingness. We bumped along in a vacuum of darkness, cut loose and lost as we discussed our lives and explored any road we came across.

Our parents had fundamentally wronged us and abused us.

The continued to do so.

Our brothers were useless.

We were mentally fucked up.

We had no way to fix that.

Nobody would ever choose us first.

There was a rustling in the trunk.

Something was in there with us.

A murderer.

Oh. Shit. Here he comes.

Flashlight disproves murderer theory.

Culprit is crinkly wrapper on water bottle.

I love my sister.

Somewhere on our traditional, late-night drive, I glanced up at my right. In the window, my sister and I were reflected in the stars we had spent so much time admiring. Our little, trembling family of two had somehow become infinite.

Dear Mom and Dad,

You’re not my parents, but I still love you.

I don’t know when we disconnected, but it happened. I started taking care of myself and my sister without a second thought towards you. You may not have realized, but us kids saw that you were no longer there for us. Caring for ourselves became the natural, because nobody else would do it. Even when we asked, you wouldn’t DO anything.

You didn’t help physically or emotionally. In fact you emotionally abused us. Well Mom did the abusing, but, Dad… you let it happen and helped place the blame on us when in situations out of our control. Neither of you parented. I don’t think you even remembered how to do it or noticed whether we were even there. All you knew was the Illness. All you saw was the Illness.

I’m not sad about your absence. My world without you shone with curiosity and exploration and love for my siblings and friends. I knew I could handle things on my own. Only when you decided to show up and wreck my carefully constructed life with misconstrued ideas of what parenting means did I have a problem. Just seriously, fuck off on the parenting shit. All you managed to accomplish was a serious mind-fucking. It’s a full time job, not a fair-weather hobby. It’s not something to do to look socially acceptable or to give yourself confidence in your life status.

These are futures.

So, no. I never considered you my parents. I played along to make our lives easier, because honestly what parent enjoys hearing that they are not parents?

None. And nobody wants to deal with the drama following it either.

But I remember the good times. I close my eyes and look back on the smiles, the laughs. I love seeing you on occasion. Really, I just love you. I want a relationship with you, but I want it to be real. I’m tired of playing into these roles that don’t really exist. I’m old enough now that you can wrap you head around the idea of an OTHER category of relationship.

Mom and Dad,

You’re not my parents, but can we be friends?

All of You.

You create the social structure with every passing jab about crazy people and every stereotypical comment on families, making a standard to live up to. It becomes a joke to You and You don’t leave space for differences. Mental illness is The Big Secret, the dirt swept under the rug and covered with a smile, because in society, its only exists as sarcastic comment to lighten the mood.

So, fuck You all.

In a backwards way, physical abuse is more accepted. More understood. Everybody has been spanked or hit at some point and You can relate to the pain. There are institutions designed to save these children. Foster care may not be perfect but it is a resource for these kids. You can find a way to help them. People only want to acknowledge what they have the power to change. It’s the same reason people ignore homeless people: they’re scared there is nothing they can really do or they think it’s a lost cause.

An entire subgroup of our society has been forgotten, left to fend for themselves. In a home with mental illness, there is no simple solution. It becomes a battle between the rights of the parent and the health of the child. Since the parent is ill, they have not consciously done anything wrong and still have full rights. I have yet to see a child given the option of leaving their home due to severe verbal abuse or occasional physical abuse. Unless a child shows up with bruises every day, nothing’s done because their parent is ‘sick.’

In reality, You would never know a child is being verbally abused by a mentally ill parent. Probably not even their closest friends would suspect a thing, because mental illness is something to be ashamed of. Even if You understand that it is a biological illness, You’d judge them just a little in the back of Your mind. Do you honestly think they don’t notice?

So in the end, the children are forced into silence and left uneducated, because nobody takes children seriously. These kids are expected to take care of their ill parents, clean up after them, and support them, all without understanding what is going on. Adults like to believe that kids can’t see things and that by not talking about something, they are protected.

But that’s a lie. If even one adult took the time to explain the illness in terms they could understand or took the time to explain that things aren’t the kid’s fault, they might not have suffered as much. Many children of mentally ill parents develop depression and other mental illnesses of their own. They blame themselves for their parents illness and carry the guilt into their adulthood. They may even continue the cycle with their own kids, like my mother did to us. They are essentially doomed from the beginning by You. This is the cause of the century and many don’t even know it exists.

One thing that gets me is the expectations set for these children. In a two parent household, the ‘other’ parent relies on the children to help control the emotions of the mentally ill parent. It becomes the responsibility of the child to keep the mentally ill parent happy, and their failure if they aren’t happy. That’s bullshit. A person with a mental illness will feel and act however they feel and act no matter what ANYONE does.

This video shows this well.

 

 

Growing up, nobody explained anything or helped me emotionally understand what was happening. Someone told me quickly that my mom had Bipolar Disorder and that she was sick and it wasn’t my fault, then that was never mentioned again. I may have been told once that it wasn’t my fault, but my father’s behavior perpetuated the idea that it was. Also, he never disagreed when my mother said the reason she was ‘this way’ was because of me. Everyone just assumed we could put up with the verbal abuse, take care of our parent’s emotions and suicide attempts, and take care of ourselves with only the understanding that it was because our parent was ill. Yet, nobody sat down and really explained that to us. Go figure.

In Britain, there are more sophisticated forms of assistance for mentally ill and their caretaker children and there are still movements to improve these and include the kids more in the process. I mean, they already have to live with it.

This is a speaker promoting increased education and assistance for these children, who are essentially raising their parents as well as themselves.

You are just as responsible. Save our children.

 

Sorry I don’t fit the stereotype of coming out as gay.

Well… I’m not actually sorry. It’s not really any of your damn business, now is it? But, realizing that I’m straight impacted my life in ways I never imagined. I am officially out of the closet and I love it.

A few days ago, we went on thunder break on my job as a lifeguard. All nine of us crammed into the tiny guard shack and chatted away. We were soon joined by Matt, who had been enjoying his day off in the soccer field next door. He tore off his wet shirt to stay warm and kept talking, but I couldn’t stop staring.

My eyes just kept tracing over his abs and the little bit of hair making a treasure trail on his lower stomach. I could feel that little burning sensation in the pit of my stomach. He turned me on.

I saw him shirtless every single day and had even objectively admired his body before. Maybe it was seeing him in his plain clothes and the little peek at his briefs that got to me. Frankly, I don’t care. He is only and will only ever be a good friend.

But a better question would be: Why did I question my own sexuality to begin with? I’ve never once been attracted to a female. I’m not a virgin. I have been turned on by guys before.

It’s because my mother called me a dyke. That’s where this all started. Her constant comments made me wonder if she was right. I mean I’m not particularly girly. I don’t wear make up. I don’t crush on guys easily. A couple other people have asked me since if I am a lesbian. That made me question it, too.

But the thing is I’m not. I knew it all along, but still felt unsure. My mother’s behavior towards me and the topic, perpetuated my behavior that confused the people who then questioned my sexuality later on. Just because I was a bit more of a tomboy as a kid, society and my own parents boxed me up into their little stereotype. But trying to fit a square peg into a round hole doesn’t work.

Getting that turned on just by looking at a guy…. theres no way I could be a lesbian.

They’re not coming. Really, they’re not.

You probably hid in the bathroom so the other parents wouldn’t insist on waiting with you after the birthday party. You sat on the grungy toilet and held up your feet whenever you heard a sudden sound, careful not to touch the nasty stall. You listened to the endless chatter and friendly goodbyes until, finally, the coast was clear.

Then you waited.

And you’re still waiting. But, Mommy is never going to put you first. So get used to being forgotten. Get used to hiding from the other parents. Get used to walking home. Grow up, because in the end the only person there for you is yourself.

You remind me of myself at your age. I wish I could save you, but I can’t. Even if I called CPS and you moved in with the Brady Bunch, you would still struggle with the ultimate question: Why didn’t Mommy love me the way I am?

So grow up and love yourself.

I can’t save you or Emily. Her mom is sick too. Bipolar Disorder. I see myself in her too. If I had escaped at her age, I wouldn’t have fallen so far.

Emily is a good kid, a coworker of mine. She doesn’t deserve to be mind fucked. Neither do you. At sixteen, she can apply for emancipation now. I’ll support her as much as I can, but in the end it comes down to how much she wants it. It would break my heart if she wound up trapped in her mind the way I am now. God knows her dad isn’t a lick of help.

That reminds me, your daddy won’t save you either. He will always choose your mom or himself.

Please Emily, save yourself. I love you, just the way you are.

Please, just stop waiting.

Health. I’ve always been in tip top physical shape, but my life is beyond unhealthy.

Growing up, I lived for my mother. She lived for herself. I never earned her approval, and even worse, she convinced me that I was such a horrible person that she wanted to kill herself. So she did.

Although her suicide attempts weren’t successful, I fell into a never-ending trap of trying to become the daughter she dreamed of. I changed everything about myself, but it was never good enough. My looks were “atrocious”. My personality was “awkward” and “nerdy” and “selfish”. I was a “damn dyke” in her eyes before I even knew what the word meant. This was a nice day with mommy dearest, and I’ll not bore you with the nastier bits.

I learned how to hate myself and I did a damn good job of it.  I lived life as a teenage insomniac who squirmed in her bed at night with unbearable self hatred. My body literally couldn’t hold all of the disgusting feelings I kept. I eventually realized that all the parts I originally liked about myself were the “unacceptable” bits in my mothers eyes. As a freshman in high school, I couldn’t even recognize myself.

By the time I realized I wanted to be me, I was lost in a world of pleasing others. It was like using a shovel to dig yourself into a hole, then figuring out that a shovel wont help you climb out.

One of my main purposes in life had been to protect my little sister from feeling the way I did. As I transitioned away from living for my mother, I only tripped and fell into another hole, stuck living for another person again.

I threw myself into work and school and lived a full life. Essentially I avoided having time to think about who I was, to put aside the disgusting feelings. I was ugly and I knew it but I planned on doing the best I could with what I had. A pessimistic sort of optimism, huh?

I’m about to be a sophomore in college. This summer I am working as a lifeguard at the local Y. Every day my bikini line shaving job and uneven breasts are displayed to the world. My tan lines are horrific and my hair gets pool-frizzy.

At some point this summer, it just clicked. There was a ding in my mind that said “I’m pretty”. I felt confident and ready, without anything in particular to be ready for. I just felt pretty.

I know that looks aren’t what matters and so on. I know that many people think of words like “pretty” as objectifying. But to someone who has never felt that way in their life, it was more of an enlightening wake up call. I’m more confident with guys and people, not because they might like my looks, but because I like my looks. It’s easier to socialize when you don’t feel inferior to everyone around you.

I started to do more things for myself. I started to let my sister take care of herself more, since I spoil her too much anyways. I started reaching out for the things that made me happy, because I craved that pretty feeling. Living for myself, I think I’m on the verge of a healthier lifestyle.

Feeling pretty is the key to breaking out of my cage, because a good appearance proves that my mom is wrong about me and who I am.