Tag Archives: abusive mother

Making Connections

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I decided to make a solid effort to get back in touch with some family members that I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. Recently, I called my other grandmother (Dave’s step-mom). I adore this woman. She is just a sweet, little country lady. I always remember how her and my grandpa (passed away) smoked and drank beer and just lived. They gave no shits of what other people thought of them but they were good sweet people. I know that she was expecting my call because my cousin told her that we had been in touch and that I would be calling. I really just expected the phone call to be me catching up and telling her about my life, etc. However, she wasted no time telling me all the things about my parents that she kept quiet for so long. It was no surprise to me that she couldn’t stand my mother. Most people can’t. She is an overwhelming, dramatic person who has a problem with lying. Gran told me that she always thought that my parents to were like two peas in a pod because they were both liars and couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it. Most people only see my mother as the one with the problems because she is more outward about it and has some serious bitch-face going on. I inherited it from her, hehe. Dave always gave off the impression that he was a “gentle giant” or a “big teddy bear.” He made himself seem like such a trustworthy, honest, hardworking person even though that wasn’t the reality. Unfortunately, people fell right into believing this about him and thus felt bad for him because he was married to such a horrible person. The truth is though, he isn’t any better than her. They are both deluded and have issues. So, this comment actually made me chuckle with relief because she was the first person to verbally acknowledge this fact.

She went on to tell me how she always thought my mother was abusive. When I was about 3, we were at her house for Christmas. I had finished opening all of my presents and wanted to sit with Gran and help her open hers. My mother screamed “bloody murder” at me and made me sit in a corner while everyone else finished opening their gifts. My mother always knew that she wasn’t liked on that side of the family but she couldn’t figure out why. Just this story alone explains why. They didn’t like the way she treated me. She went out of her way to humiliate me and viciously punish me in front of other people. After my brother was born, I was forced to eat his leftovers. I couldn’t remember if this happened repeatedly or not. I have one vivid memory of her making me eat his leftover, hour-old, soggy, slobbered in cereal… because I poured him too much. My parents were still asleep but all of us kids were up with the grandparents. My grandma didn’t have an issue with the cereal but for some reason my mother did. lt was embarrassing and I wanted to throw it up so bad but she threatened me not too. She normally wasn’t abusive in front of other people but for some reason she was in front of family. I’m not sure if she thought that she had to look like she was trying to be a good parent or what but she was definitely doing it wrong. Gran told me that the food thing actually happened on more that one occasion. My parents would also fill my plate up with food and force me to eat all of it. She said that they were beginning to get concerned for me because every year that I came to visit I was just getting bigger and bigger. She was absolutely correct.

I had never really thought to attach my weight problems to my abuse. I wasn’t real heavy when I was a kid but I wasn’t skinny either. Looking at pictures, I’d say I was probably at a healthy weight. I remember my mother always squeezing my thighs and telling me how skinny I was and how she wished she had skinny thighs like me. At the same time, Dave had me neck-deep in porn, Hustler magazines, and sexy women galore. I was being taught that the women in these magazines were beautiful and hot. My mother has been overweight for as long as I can remember. When she was a teenager, she was thin and attractive. I guess she put on weight when she got pregnant with me and my brother and never lost it. Dave would always make fun of her to me behind her back. He would say that she had cottage cheese thighs and too much blubber and that she was like a beached whale in the summer. As far as I was concerned, Dave was not attracted to her at all. He thought she was disgusting. My mother also ridiculed other women for their weight (behind their backs of course). She would make comments about how some woman should be wearing that because she was too fat. She also ridiculed skinny women that they should eat something. It was confusing as hell as a young girl. I became very self-conscious about my weight.

My 7th grade year was the year that I ballooned the most as a kid. The outfits that were bought for me at the beginning of the year couldn’t even be put on much less zipped or buttoned by the end of the year. I graduated in the late 90’s so being obese wasn’t as normal as it is now. I was referred to as “heavy-set.” I wasn’t quite fat but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. I wanted to be in sports like soccer or track but I wasn’t allowed to register. It was always about money and time, the two things that my parents never had enough of. They didn’t even want to try. It kills me when I hear stories of kids from the ghetto, whose parents went out of their way to get their kids in sports or arts or something. Not my parents, it was too much of an inconvenience. So, I was pretty sedentary when I was young which didn’t help my burgeoning weight problem. I was taught to “eat everything on your plate” so I probably over ate a lot. As I was beginning to be more self-aware of my weight and was exploring how to control it or lose it. I don’t think my parents liked this at all. When we would go out for fried chicken, I would peel off the fried part and only eat the vegetables as a side. Dave would ridicule me that I was ruining the meal. My mother always prided herself on the fact that she never used Hamburger Helper and she always used real butter not margarine. This wasn’t entirely true because I clearly remember there being tubs of Country Crock in our refrigerator BUT I never had the Hamburger Helper, canned vegetables, or Ramen Noodles until after I left home. That doesn’t mean that what we ate was healthy. She may have avoided that stuff for dinner but breakfast would consist of anything from cereal to pop-tarts or even cake. Now, some people might be reading this and wonder what the big deal is. I’ve studied a lot of nutrition in the last 8 years and this is what I have learned. Starting your day off with foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates causes your blood sugar to spike and then plummet leaving the person not only hungry but feeling nearly sick and famished. I’m not saying that this was child-abuse but rather just pure ignorance. What it did cause was my metabolism to get even more fucked up than it already was.

I kept these eating habits well into adulthood. When I graduated high school, I was about 175 lbs. By the time I was 23 I was almost 200 lbs. I got up to 207 by the time I got married at 24 but that was because Todd and I ate out all the time and he really liked frozen custard (ok, I did too!). I wasn’t learning self-control and the overabundance of sugar and carbs in my diet left me feeling sick all the time. I’m pretty sure at a few times in my life I was pre-diabetic. After I got married, Dave was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so my parents changed their eating habits to better control it. When I was 29, Todd decided it was time to get active and lose weight. His father had also been diagnosed with diabetes because of his weight. There was also heart disease and high cholesterol that ran in his side of the family. At this point we had adopted a more organic way of eating but it still wasn’t healthy since it was still high sugar and empty carbs. Todd started running and I started eating more vegetables. One day he mentioned how he wished that we could be active together. I agreed. It was going to be hard for me since I was never active but it was necessary. Our son was turning 3 and I needed to set a good example for him. I also wanted to live long enough to watch him grow and flourish as an adult. I was also always in pain and never felt good so I was up for it. I started a regimen of eating better and working out and dropped about 15 lbs. I had already lost some weight just by leaving a high stress job and going to work for a natural market. My sister-in-law was getting married that year and I was one of her bridesmaids. She didn’t order the right size so the dress came in too small but it was from one of those companies that takes 4 months to make and there are absolutely no returns or exchanges and the wedding was 6 weeks away. Todd helped me find a diet that was proven to work quickly. It was the Scarsdale diet. Some might say that it’s an extreme diet but it worked. I lost 25 lbs in that 6 weeks and I learned more about healthy eating and such. The dress still didn’t fit but it wasn’t as big of a deal to get it taken out as it would have been before. I got down to 160 lbs and a solid size 10. I was smaller than I was in junior high and high school. I felt amazing! I looked great! This set me on track for a new lifestyle. I wasn’t going back.

Unfortunately, I never got below the 160 and I did put some weight back on but I was much more knowledgeable about nutrition and knew how to manage my weight even if I couldn’t lose it. That November, we went to my parents for Thanksgiving. I was pretty explicit with my mother that we were eating healthier and I had no intentions of gaining 5 pounds because she likes to cook like Paula Deen. She acted like she understood and was going to cook healthier because of her and Dave’s health too. The truth was that she had no intentions of slimming anything down. I was helping her cook and she seriously put a stick of butter in everything. When she got to the mashed potatoes I asked her to slow down with the butter and lighten it up a little. She got upset with me because this was a holiday and we should let lose and eat whatever we wanted. The truth was, I didn’t want to eat 5 lbs of butter. She just couldn’t comprehend this at all. I explained that I had to work very hard to lose the weight and i still had another 30 to go. I wasn’t about to get set back because of a holiday. She acted very offended and put off that I would be so judgmental of her cooking.  Damn straight I was getting judgmental. Dave was an obese diabetic and my mother was at least 100 lbs overweight and probably pre-diabetic. She never took responsibility for her weight. She always blamed it on a bad thyroid or whatever. It was obvious that she was very jealous at my weight loss. She made comments about how she wanted to lose weight so I offered my “expertise.” I would tell her that the first thing she needed to do was to start getting some physical activity, even if that meant just going for a walk. Her rebuttal would be that she either didn’t have the time or that her knees hurt. We it was pretty obvious why her knees hurt and she did have the time, she just didn’t want to move. Then I would tell her about the dietary changes that she needed to make by cutting out sugars and refined carbohydrates. Well, they were already doing that because of Dave’s diabetes. Hmmmm…. I found this interesting because Dave lost weight but my mother didn’t. I confronted her about this and told her that if she is eating like she says that she should be losing weight… at least some. Again, she would get angry and offended. She then started blaming her thyroid. Ok, I can understand if a person has a thyroid problem. She said that she would only eat a cup of yogurt and a banana all day and then a diabetic friendly dinner and still couldn’t drop a pound. What I learned about having an under-active thyroid is that it typically will only cause a person to be about 10-15 lbs overweight from the lack of hormone alone. I didn’t believer her when she said she barely ate anything. I know her and I know well enough that she was making a shit-load of excuses. She just wanted it to seem like she wanted to lose weight but the truth was that she didn’t. That was fine. I began to realize that there was no help for her. I was offering the help based off of my research and what worked for me and she would get offended over it because it required her to work. I eventually got tired of her shenanigans and just quit talking to her about it.

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I let go and gained all of my weight back. It was a delicious process. I ate a ton of cheese and cupcakes. I was a little depressed about it after she was born but I took responsibility that it was my fault and felt confident that I knew how to lose it again. As of writing this post, my daughter is 18 months and I am down to 175 but I have much more muscle than I have ever had. My husband and I are adopting an active and healthy lifestyle. I still have issues with food and I tend to mask it by saying that I just love it so much but I don’t think that’s it. I don’t know what it is really. I don’t turn to food as comfort but I do tend to overeat. Sometimes I’m afraid of getting sick or a headache from low blood sugar even though I know that I’m eating foods that don’t cause that. I do have a fear of being hungry. I’m not really sure why.

 

Age 24 & My Wedding

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Todd and I made a visit to see my family for Labor Day. This would be Todd’s first time meeting them. He was nervous (and mad) after I told him about my abuse. My parents were excited to meet him. Nothing real special happened that weekend. When I was able to have a private moment with my mother, I asked her what she thought of him. “He’s not what I expected.” I still have no idea what she meant by that. What DID she expect? I was crushed! In my sick mind, I was still trying to appease and please her. She did warm up to him, though.

Later in September, Todd proposed to me. I said yes, of course. We originally decided on a June date but then decided to move it up (we didn’t want to wait that long). I wanted to set it in April when everything was blossoming. My mother was in school at the time and told me that wouldn’t work for her because of school. We ended up settling on a date in March to work around her spring break. I was excited to finally get to plan my own wedding. Todd really didn’t care how it went. He preferred that we just elope and spend our money on an amazing honeymoon. I couldn’t give in to that though. I had dreamed of a wedding since I was little. I didn’t want anything extravagant or expensive. I had planned on getting one of those $100 David’s Bridal dresses. They had one that was Greek styled and I loved it. I wanted to have sort of Greek theme. I also had planned on just doing cake and punch in the church’s gym. The only problem I was having was the church. The church that we went to had a really big sanctuary. I wasn’t going to have that many people. I was thinking probably 100 at the most and this church sat about 3,000. I couldn’t really find anything within a reasonable price range to have it at.

My relationship with my mother had been on the mend and was on the upswing. When I talked to her and mentioned some of the above she told me that she had planned on coming to visit and help me plan the wedding and not worry about the financial part because that was her job. She had looked forward to this day more than I did. She didn’t get a wedding. She and Dave eloped at a chapel in a shopping mall on a whim. She came up for a few days in October. My parents didn’t have money whatsoever, so I confronted her and asked how she was planning on paying. She said she was taking out extra student loans and could scrape up a little extra. I fell for it and I knew better. When it comes to my mother, if you don’t give in and “trust” her or call her out on things like this, she will come unglued and make you feel guilty about it. That’s what she did to me. We ended up booking the church for the wedding since it was only $200 but she was not going to do just cake and punch in the gym. She really thought that we were too good for that and we would have so many people from out of town. She did make remarks that she wished I was getting married back in my home town because that is tradition and my parents were paying for most of it. I didn’t want to do that because where I lived was my home. I built up my own life there and had all of my own friends and such. I also felt uneasy about her promise so I wanted to keep things as close to me as possible. It allowed me to have most of the control- not her.

We then booked about $1500 in flowers and candle holders and the atrium at the Holiday Inn down the road from the church. This worked for my mother because they gave her a deal on a block of hotel rooms. I think the reception was going to cost $3500-$4000. This was to feed 150 people. I really didn’t think that many people would come and I told her that this wasn’t that necessary but she insisted. She insisted not because it was a “gift” to me but because she had to look good to all of her family and friends that she thought were coming. It was beautiful and I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but entirely unnecessary considering that none of us really had the money to pay for it.  The next day we went shopping for the dress. I was very clear that I didn’t want to spend much. I also thought that I’d be footing the bill for my get up but again, she assured me that she would. Still, I didn’t want to pay more than $300 for the whole shebang: dress, shoes, tiara and veil. I also wanted to wear flip-flops and not dress shoes. I was all about comfort and anyone who knew me, knew that I wear flip-flops from March until November. I found the one that I wanted but she wasn’t impressed. She didn’t think that it was pretty enough. It was simple and kind of plain. I was ok with that but since she was paying… she had more say. They brought back others but they were more expensive. The dresses just kept getting pricier and pricier and my mother just had them keep coming. She kept assuring me not to worry about it. Then, they brought back a “princess” styled dress with the poofy bottom and a beaded, strapless top. It was gorgeous. It wasn’t even white. It was a pinkish, pearly, beige. I loved it but I still felt that it was too much. As soon as I put it on, she swooned. The drama queen came out and made a scene about how beautiful her daughter looked, blah, blah, blah. Yes, the dress was pretty but it was also $1200. I just felt that it was too much and it was very bulky. I was going to have a hard time dancing in it or sitting or anything really. I even mentioned, “I suppose I could buy a different dress for the reception.” She flipped and said absolutely not because everyone needed to see the dress up close. It looked good on me and was flattering. We went and picked the tiara and veil. They were about $150 and more expensive than the others because of the unique color. I also needed the petticoat- another $100. We were almost up to $1500. She did her best to assure me that everything would be ok. When we were about to check out the lady helping us said that I had to pay for the dress in full right then and there. Of course my mother didn’t have the money or credit. “You could open and line of credit with us,” the sales lady told us. My mother couldn’t do it because of her bad credit so I was put on the spot in front of everyone there. “This is your only wedding, your dream dress!!” Ugh. I knew better and I should have put my foot down. I didn’t though.  If I didn’t give in, she would have freaked out. She promised she would pay the bill later. I didn’t have any choice with her. She made me weak and submissive. I hated it. So I opened the credit and charged the whole thing. I also knew that one of my bridesmaids wouldn’t be able to afford her dress because she was a student so I would have to foot the bill for her. My mother also planned on making the jewelry for the bridesmaids and I would use that as their gift also. I was ok with that because she if very good at making beaded jewelry.

Her visit came to an end and she went home a happy mother. She was so ecstatic over my wedding. Next, I needed to pick out invitations and shoes.

Age 20- Springfield

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I left for the Springfield Master’s Commission with a friend who also decided to go at the beginning of October. I won’t get into all of the details about the program because they are pretty mundane. I did however, call about mid-way through the year wanting to move home. I think I was starting to wake up the sham that this program was. We were constantly preached at to not compromise with the world and ‘be ye separate” and all of that bs. I was frustrated with the program because I was just free labor for the directors. I didn’t get any leadership “training.” These people really didn’t know what they were doing nor was their integrity really up to par. They set the program up with another gal that was in her 3rd or 4th year and was on staff in Phoenix. Between the cussing, gossiping and dating students that weren’t allowed to date, I just about lost it on them. I felt that it was very hypocritical to expect their students to be damn near perfect but yet they could just do whatever they wanted. The girl on staff that was dating the first year denied dating him but it was very obvious. They are now married and have been for a while. These people also gossip and trashed many of the church members which I thought was really shitty because the church was housing their stupid program. They were all fakes. I couldn’t stand it. Anyhow, I have a major problem with confrontation. I realize now that it’s because of the abuse from my mother. I had called home and told my parents to come get me because I couldn’t stand being there anymore. Instead of complying with my request, my mother went behind my back and called the directors and asked what the heck was going on. They had no idea anything was going on because I never confronted them about it. They called me into a meeting and asked me what was going on. I couldn’t really say what I needed to say so I let them talk me into staying. They promised that they would make an effort to be more Christ-like and we all carried on.

Throughout the rest of the year, my  mother and I had a few fights via the phone. I still wasn’t getting the funding that I needed and I desperately needed a car. I just kept getting the same run-around from her that she didn’t have it. I didn’t know what was going on back at home but both my parents were working so I felt that their money issues were just a complete lack of irresponsibility and I was getting the brunt of it.  She was constantly berating be over the phone and complaining about money problems. I was really fed up. The end of the year came and my parents came up for my graduation. I was going to stay the summer to help with youth camp and retreat and possibly come back for a 3rd year. My real plan was not only camp, but I needed to find a way to stay and not move back. I knew I wasn’t going back to Master’s Commission for a 3rd year. They never even approached me about it. I worked diligently trying to find a place and a job. The family that I lived with gave me until August. I thought I had a temporary place with a friend who lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with a friend. The rent was already cheap and then we would split it three ways. They backed out because they thought they were “enabling” me. WTF. They didn’t understand what I was trying to get away from, though and I think they were scared of the fact that I didn’t own anything. Another friend lent me her pickup over the summer while she was out of the country so I could get a job and on my feet. The month of June I spent helping with youth camp and applying for jobs. June came to a close and my roommate decided that she wasn’t going to move back to her home in Tennessee. She had a roommate for her little house but that fell through so she asked if I was interested. I had just got a job at a furniture store but hadn’t made a paycheck just yet but she was ok with that. So, I had a place, a job, but no car. Dana was going to be beck in a few weeks so I had to figure something out. It was going to work out, I really believed it and if it didn’t, there was always public transportation or I could get a bike. No big deal.

Since things were coming together so well, I felt that it was time to tell my mother that I wasn’t moving home. You would have thought that I murdered her cat or ended up in jail. She flipped out. I don’t know that I had seen her go that crazy in a long while and I was really glad that I was 5 hours away from her. Oh, I told her on her answering machine because she didn’t pick up the phone. She had already been so hateful to me that I just didn’t want to talk to her on the phone. She called the house and talked to the family I lived with and my roommate on two different phone calls. I’m sorry, she didn’t talk to them like a mature adult… she screamed and threatened. She told my roommate, “you tell her that I’m coming up there to move her shit home for her!! She is coming back whether she likes it or not!!” Kelly was pretty awesome with that phone call. “You do realize that she is a legal adult and you can’t do that. We could have you arrested,” she told her. So my mother never came up. She also called the church and chewed out the pastor and the Master’s Commission director. She was out to blame anyone and everyone. She finally got a hold of me. This was before cell phones and I had been busy working. I had picked up two jobs by then so I wasn’t home much. I informed her that I had two jobs and a place to stay. All that I needed was a car and some furniture and I was going to be fine. She assured me that I wouldn’t and couldn’t make it on my own and that I needed her. She didn’t say this nicely at all. In the midst of her freak out she revealed 3 of the reasons why she wanted me home: 1) she was losing a dependent on her taxes which meant less money in tax returns 2) she wanted me to go to college with her even thought I informed her the year before that I wasn’t interested in computer science anymore. 3) The church… what were the church people going to think? According to her, they sent me to this program so I would come home and be the youth pastor. I was never informed of this plan so I called bullshit. The couple that we lived with saw what I was trying to get away from and in no time offered to dip into savings and help me get a car. He bought be a 1982 Volvo 5-speed for $500. I would pay him back $100/month for five months. It was the greatest thing any one has ever done for me. I am forever grateful to them for that. Kelly and I moved into our little house at the beginning of August and I was on my way to being an independent adult.

Back in my hometown, my mother was just out of control. I still spoke to a couple of friends every now and then. I found out that she told people at the church that I had gotten mixed up in drugs and sex and had totally backsliden. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was working two jobs and was a youth leader when I wasn’t working.  Luckily, nobody believed her. She still complains how people at the church turned their backs on her. Here was reason number 2.

Age 12 – part 1

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This is becoming increasingly more and more difficult to write about because I remember so much more and the closer I got to puberty it seemed like the worse it was getting. The abuse was really beginning to be different. He had different goals. I don’t know what happened or who called but DHS came […]