Tag Archives: abusive parents

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.

 

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Ages 26-Current

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After I got married and had my son my mother really seemed to calm down toward me. I heard from my brother that this wasn’t so at home. He stayed living at home after high school and chose not to go to college. My relationship was really strained with him because of my mother. He didn’t help though. He always complained about her and how difficult it was to live with her and she complained about him. I am pretty sure she put him in a bad situation financially to where he was so dependent on her that he couldn’t move out. They kept telling me that he couldn’t afford to move out. I called bullshit because he was making as much money as I was and I owned a house and had a kid to support. My husband only worked part-time in those days because he was a student. He said that she kept borrowing money and not ever paying it back which left him broke. When he needed to pay a bill, she would “loan” the money back to him then when he got paid she had to “borrow” it back. It was a horrible mess and he couldn’t get out of it. This was one of the reasons I refused to move back home because I knew this would happen to me. She never kept track of anything she borrowed from us and then would have a terrible habit of buying unnecessary things for us and take it out of what she owed. In reality, those things should have been gifts since they were asked for. She did this to me once when I was in high school. She “borrowed” an entire paycheck of about $300. When she got paid, instead of paying me back, she bought $250 worth of dresses and purses because she didn’t like that I was dressing so grungy. It was the 90’s and it was more hippy than grunge, but whatever.

I got to the point that I was begging my brother to move out to save himself. His girlfriend was even living there with him. When that relationship ended he finally ventured out and moved into a house with a few other friends. The house was really old and run down. He had been spoiled in my parents newer house. That didn’t last long. He was back in with them a month later. I swore to them both that I didn’t and wouldn’t sympathize with either one of them. I also told Scotty that he needed to cut off all financial ties to her like getting his own cell phone plan and car insurance. He had a hard time doing it because it was all so expensive. He also raced his car so he put (wasted) a lot of money on it. This was an issue until he finally moved out at the age of 25 because he was engaged.

Even though my mother was on her best behavior with me didn’t mean that she was at home. Dave also wasn’t on his best behavior. One year we went to visit for Christmas. Our son was down for a nap so we decided to go do a little shopping and get out of the house while my mother stayed home to watch him (I had mixed feelings about my parents with my son but will explain later). I got a phone call about an hour after we left that we had to get back immediately. A man had showed up on my parents doorstep asking to speak to Dave. He was also laying down for a nap but got up to greet his visitor. The visitor was the husband of a woman that he worked with. Dave had been having an affair with this woman. When he stepped outside, this guy roughed him up. He was punched in the gut and the face and told that if he didn’t stay away he would be killed. My brother had come home just before this happened. He had bought a handgun a few months before and felt that this just might be the time to use it. Luckily, no one got shot, my son stayed asleep and maybe, just maybe, my mother had seen the light and would LEAVE HIS ASS. Now, Dave swore up and down that nothing really happened. According to him, he had only been sending her suggestive texts. Also according to him, she was in a strained marriage and was being neglected by her husband so Dave took it upon himself to offer her some “therapy.” Whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t something that a married man should have been doing. It was still an affair even if they didn’t have sex which I highly doubt they avoided.

That night, my brother, his girlfriend, my husband and I all sat down with her and tried to explain that he didn’t love her and never did and that it was time that she did the right thing and go her separate way. Their lease was supposed to be up in April and she had a steady job so this was the prime opportunity to high-tail it out of there. Did she do it? Of course not. Not even after bringing up all that he did to me. A few months later she told me that he promised to be a better husband and was sorry and they were going to work on their marriage. UGH!!

She had a bad habit of trying to make me her best friend. I had to tell her several times that I wasn’t nor did I want to be. She would get upset and say, “well, I have no one else to talk to. You are all I have.” She wanted somebody to bitch and complain to about Dave. I couldn’t take it. Every time she’d open her mouth, it was about him. If it wasn’t, then it was my brother to which I told her to kick him out. She wouldn’t do that either. It’s like she fed off of the drama. She also wasn’t getting the hint that I didn’t want to be her best friend. Anytime she would complain about Dave, I would just tell her to divorce him. She started getting just downright oblivious about how I felt and would proceed to tell me about her sex life with him and how he now has to take Viagra. I would stop her and tell her not to speak about her sex life with me. She just took it as I was offended because it was my parents and not once realizing that she is talking about having sex with the man that sexually abused me. It was becoming very painful.

I was confused for years about my relationship with them. Now that I had a child, I knew it was my utmost duty to protect him. I didn’t feel like Dave would be a threat to my son because he wasn’t a girl and I was certain that nothing would happen. (Don’t worry, nothing happened!) I wanted a relationship with my mother. Who doesn’t? I mean, I wanted a relationship with a mother who isn’t crazy. I knew that was never going to happen but I was trying my best to hold myself together. The disdain that I had toward Dave was becoming stronger. There was no forgiveness there and the older I got and the older my son got, I really started to see things differently. I matured. I was changing.

I had been very conflicted about my past. I had a decent relationship with my mother and things seemed to be going fine. For the last 7 years, or so, she would tell me a few times a year that she was going to leave Dave. She had so much against him beside what he did to me. She pretty much blamed all of her life problems on him: money, depression, her weight, her relationships, and the fact that she abused me. Yes, she said that. A few years ago I had a heart to heart talk with her because I needed to get some stuff off of my chest. At that time she was receptive and listened. Our relationship was good. She ended up blaming Dave for being behind all of the abuse that she bestowed upon me. I had a hard time accepting that. She said that he coerced her into spanking and yelling and being downright mean to me. I had a hard time believing that because he was actually a very gentle person and despite the sexual abuse, he never physically hurt me and never spanked me. She also said that she didn’t have a mother, or anyone, to teach her how to raise children or the difference between right and wrong. I was really shocked by her comments because once again, she was denying any responsibility. I took it though and didn’t call her out on anything. I have always felt that she is, and has always been, so delusional that she doesn’t even know when she is lying anymore. To her, she was speaking from her heart and being truthful. To me, she was saying that she had nothing to do with anything and don’t blame her for any wrongdoing. This was her fashion: always blaming someone else for her problems and playing the victim. I wanted to believe her but only because I didn’t want to hurt her. There had been many times that I wanted to turn my back on her to live my own life but I didn’t want to be just one more person to abandon her either. I was really beginning to have a tough time because I was having kids of my own and I could never do what she did to me or allow what she allowed to happen.

Age 23

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I had a pretty good job selling appliances but I was getting frustrated with my future. Although I had built a relationship again with my family, I was still pissed at my mother for not helping me get into college. Now I had too much debt and bills to consider taking on anything else and just needed to work and make money. Most of my friends were getting married, having babies and buying houses. I lived in a little house with a roommate who was going to be graduating college in two years so I needed to think about being a full-grown adult. Even thought I had debt, it was good. It was getting my credit score up and I was making more money in sales so I knew being completely self-sufficient wouldn’t be a big deal.

23 wasn’t really exciting until right before I turned 24. My life pretty much consisted of work, church and friends. I went to visit my family at Christmas, Thanksgiving and once in the summer. My mother came to visit me once for a weekend. She was proud of me despite the fact that I didn’t do what she wanted. She seemed to warm up to the fact that I was trying to be a responsible adult. That year she was relatively pleasant and I didn’t have any major drama with her.

There was a guy at my work, Joel, that I had a crush on. He was hot, hot, hot. Ok, he was very handsome! He was such a gentleman, too. He was also a Baptist. As much of a crush I had on him, I knew that it wouldn’t work out with my pentecostal background. Crazy right? A mutual friend of our was getting married at the beginning of June. I had just accepted a job at a higher-end appliance company so we weren’t working together anymore. He got a hold of my phone number and called me out of the blue one day and asked if I wanted to go to the wedding with him. Of course I did! The wedding was outdoors and just beautiful. I was so nervous too! Truthfully, though, I was bored. He didn’t drink (which was fine because I wasn’t a big drinker either) and he didn’t want to dance. So, we left after the cake. I wore a girdle under my dress so I could look my best and I got super uncomfortable.  On the way home I had to have him pull over so I could go to the bathroom. I was in so much pain from that damn thing! I also didn’t bring a big enough purse to put it in so I came walking out of the bathroom with my girdle and had to explain that I was really uncomfortable. He chuckled. He didn’t call back again either. I’m pretty sure it was the girdle incident. As much as I had a crush on him, this ended up being ok. A week after my date with Joel, there was a knock on my door. I quickly looked out and noticed it was a hot guy. I didn’t recognize who it was at first. It was Todd! I couldn’t believe that I thought he was hot! I was a little embarrassed but it had been a while since I saw him last and he “blossomed!” The “reason” for his visit was because my roommate and I were moving into another house and he was there to take a look and ask how I liked it. I had seen him about a month before at church. I did notice that he was paying more attention to me but I was so caught up in other people who I didn’t really pay attention back. A few days after his visit, I went to Starbucks with a friend. I thought it would be funny to hit on him. I had a very co-ed group of friends and we all hit on each even though it didn’t always mean something. I told my friend, “hang on a sec. Watch this…” He didn’t notice that I was there. I sneaked behind him and grabbed a sugar packet that said “sugar” in big letters. I dropped it on the table in front of him and said, “hey, I think you lost your name tag!” He looked up at me a blushed a little. We chatted for a few minutes and then I went along with my friend. A few days after that, my friend Ginger told me that he asked if we could go on a double date. She was engaged to Todd’s roommate but her and I had also been friends for a while. We went on the double date and had a blast. I felt so comfortable around him. I had always been nervous when it came to dating. I really never dated until this point either. The sexual abuse always came up in my mind and made me feel awkward. Even though I had been asked out, I always turned guys down or I’d go on one date and then no more. I was nervous about sex, no doubt. My brain was so messed up that I felt I couldn’t function around guys unless we were just friends. I felt comfortable around Todd. That surprised me.

A week later, we went on our own official “date.” He asked to kiss me goodnight. That never happened before. All of the kisses I ever got were always forced and unexpected. He was a gentleman and polite. He was also very caring and deep. Within a few weeks, I opened up to him about Dave. I explained that it’s weird because I still talk to my parents and I really didn’t know what to do. I never got therapy or counseling. I was still confused. I told him mainly because when and if sex were to come into the picture, I wanted him to know that if I was weird about it, it wasn’t him. He was gracious and understanding of me. He was the one. The more I got to know him, the more I knew he was exactly what I needed and the man I wanted.

Age 5

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I was in kindergarten. I still wasn’t aware that what was happening to me was anything wrong or bad. In fact, he had won my heart. We were pals, best friends, I trusted him with my whole heart and loved him. What I did know was that my mother was mean. She yelled at me […]