In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.















Monday, October 25, 2010

Closets

I have a thing for closets.

When I was  little, I remember hiding in the closet from my father frequently. I was scared to death of him. I would hide in my closet or under my bed and put my hands over my ears in effort to shut out his booming voice.

I felt safe in the closet.

I was told that he loved me and he probably did but he didn’t know how to show it.  Still as a young girl I didn’t understand this. It didn’t feel like love to me.  I always knew he didn’t like me.  I remember wanting him to like me and trying to do things that would make him happy with me.

As long as I can remember he was always angry. Unless he was drinking. Thank God, for the most part he was a happy drunk.

I remember him telling me that I was bad when I was very little.  I never understood what  bad meant but some how I knew that wasn’t good. I just knew that I was a bad kid.

When he was angry he lashed out at us kids. When he was extremely angry he would go into such a rage that I swear caused him to black out because he’d have no memory of doing these things.

To this day, I am sure he doesn’t remember much of what he did.

Thus I learned early on, to hide as soon as I see the signs of his anger. If I was unable to literally hide in my closet, I would mentally go there.

I learned early on to remain silent and to show no emotions. And no matter what happens, never ever fight back.

I learned to disappear and to fade into the background, where I was not noticed.

I also learned that there was no rhyme or reason to his insanity. What made him upset one day would not the next.

I believed as any little girl would, the things my father said to me and that includes the names he called me. Being called a slut or a whore before I even knew what sex was left me confused. Hearing that he never wanted me…another girl, broke my heart. I believed him when he said I was a mistake.

Being called a “retard like your brother” hurt to my core. Seeing him hurt my brother, made me want to literally kill him. I think a large part of me despised him for the way he treated my brother who could not help being “slow” or retarded, as people who were mentally challenged, were once called. With everything in me I hated him for all of this.

I hated that he used God to justify his actions. I hated that I was made to go to church when it seemed like such hypocrisy.

I had an older brother that would preach to me that there was no existence of God, while I did chores with him in the barn, which made perfect sense since I had cried out to God time and time again, and he surely had never answered my cries. 

I hated that he used humiliation and shame to silence all of us around him.

I hated that he was so controlling and thought he was right about everything.

I knew that no matter what I did, it would never be good enough.

I hated that he used his bigness to make me feel so small and insignificant.

I hated that he could act so nice and friendly to strangers and those outside the family. 

The only thing worse then getting “it” was seeing one of my siblings get “it”. I hated watching or listening to it. I hated seeing him and my older brother wrestling, and punching each other, in the middle of the farm yard.

Always wanting to scream “stop it” but doing nothing. Silently hiding away, waiting for it to end.

All I wanted was for him to stop…to just leave if he was so unhappy being our dad.

I used alcohol, smoking, cutting, starvation, sex and drugs to make myself numb and to feel better. 

The very last time that my father ever slapped me was when I was 18, after I had told him that I was pregnant a second time. (My first baby was still born when I was toward the end of my 6th month of pregnancy.) I had been down this road with him before and feared his reaction. Of course he called me a whore. This was also the last time he called me a name like this.

I didn’t expect anything different from him except this time I responded back to him. When he called me a whore, I said to him, “Mom was 17 when she got pregnant and you two were not married, so did that make Mom a whore too?” I probably deserved the slap I got. To this day, it is still worth it.

I’m not sure why, but I never questioned why my Mom did nothing to stop him. I don’t ever remember thinking I could go to her. I think something inside of me knew she had enough and didn’t need to deal with me. As I grew older, I assumed she had learned to keep quiet in order to keep the peace with him.  It was better if she said or did nothing. Yet, for a long time I hated her for this.

I have forgiven my Dad and my Mom. I no longer hate or despise them. They did the best they could with what they knew. I know that their intent was not to hurt me.

I am not real close with them now but I get along with them pretty well. I see them differently now because I understand so much more than I did back then. I realize they have their own sets of hurts and reacted out of them. Yet, I still fear my Dad. And I still doubt that he likes me. 

I no longer justify what my father did or my Mom’s lack of response, but I love them in spite of it. I will not deny that these things had lasting affects on me. I have spent a life time trying to get over them and undo their affects.

 One after another, I sought out men that ended up being replica’s of my Dad. I even married some of them. Being married to or living with the enemy, comes with it’s own price tags.

I stayed in these relationships for as long as I could because it’s what I knew to do and because I ALWAYS thought there was something wrong with me that brought out their meanness. I did everything in my power to do all the right things so that they would be nice.

I kept it a secret from everyone because I was ashamed.

I remember asking my brother, “How do guys like this find me? How do they know I will tolerate their meanness?”

The last time I was in an abusive relationship, I was defending his actions to a counselor and trying to justify his meanness with the fact that he loved me. His response was to get really close to me and look me in the eyes and say, “Of course he loves you and one of these days he is going to love you to death.” These words were the beginning to my waking up from my slumber.

Waking out of my slumber or the cycle of living in abuse was like having part of my body cut off.

I no longer use alcohol, smoking, cutting, starvation, sex or drugs to numb myself or to feel better about my myself or my life.

Taking off my tinted glasses has enabled me to see people and life in a whole new light.

I no longer consider myself a victim. Getting rid of the victim mentality has not only enabled me to take responsibility for my life, it has left me free to choose good people to spend it with.

I am married to my friend instead of my enemy.

I no longer think I deserve meanness or that I bring it out in others.

I am still a work in progress.

I am still working on accepting myself for who I am and seeing myself as others see me.

I still have a hard time being around strong, controlling or angry people. I still find myself struggling with seeking approval and feeling good enough.

There were events that took place and choices I made during this time of my life, that I have never dealt with. They are my dirty little secrets that I keep locked up in my closet.

Someday, I hope to have enough courage to  kick these things out of the closet too.

I believe that our experiences and the events in our lives help shape who we are, so I tell you these things today, not to gain sympathy or to have you feel sorry for me but to have you understand who I am and where I’ve come from.

I know I have come a long ways. I know I have a ways to go.

Still, there is not a day that goes by that I am not completely and absolutely thankful for the life I live now.

Until next time, love & hugs, Lori

 

 

 

 

22 comments:

blueviolet said...

That statement the counselor made to you was intense. No wonder it woke you up. That's a tough background and after years of that kind of conditioning, I can see how it would take a long time to break away from that thinking.

Colleen said...

Lori you are so precious. The you you are today is a strong, kind, loving, capable woman. Breaking the cycle of abuse isn't easy. You have great strength in you.

Brian Miller said...

i am glad you are in a much better place now...it breaksmy heart that people grow up like this...i am glad you dont hide anymore...or have reason to...

The Incredible Woody said...

My heart breaks for that little girl hiding in the closet and the teenager quaking in fear/rage. But knowing where you came from makes me appreciate even more the strong, loving woman you are! You are priceless!!

ladyfi said...

Stories like this break my heart... I know people with similar stories,and yet, they too - like you - are strong and beautiful and no longer hiding in closets.

A heartfelt piece. Hugs!

Busy Bee Suz said...

You have suffered a lifetime of hurt. You are such a deep and soulful person, who loves with her whole being.
I am glad you survived it all and I love how you share...we all learn from each other.
xoxox
Suz

Jeannie said...

I was not particularly physically abused - I don't think - (in my earliest memories I am terrified of my mother but I don't know why) but the rest of your experience sounds a lot like mine. I wondered for years how others figured out how vulnerable I was and played on it. I think it's just because we let them because we never had the self-worth to recognize the first signs and put a stop to it before it got so far. We simply didn't have the crucial "asshole detector" that kept us at arm's length because we had to live with such people.

I have to deal with my mother still and she still puts me down and sees nothing wrong with it. I freak out on her which is a little embarrassing to be honest but I suppose it's a step I have to take to state my boundaries.

I'm so glad you are in a healthier relationship now and have learned from the past. I wish you more healing in the future.

Together We Save said...

You are so amazing!! I am praying for you, and I am so sorry you had to go through all this!

Joyce A Gray said...

Lori, I applaud your strength in sharing with us. I came from the same kind of home, but was oh so lucky to find a very good man who has made a safe loving secure life with me. I am so sorry you had to go through so much but it has made you the woman you are today, a loving caring woman who has taken these babies into her home to raise. Bless you
Joyce

Jeanne said...

You are an incredibly strong woman to have overcome all this. Think how great the rest of your life will be!

My Aimless Infatuation said...

It pains me to say but "I understand abuse all to well". Thank goodness that I no longer live in it. Glad to know you no longer have to live in fear either.

Nancy said...

Oh, Lori, my heart bleeds for that tiny little girl. You were so helpless in the face of such horror. And that is exactly what it was, horror. I have such respect for the woman you've become. It's not easy to rise above what we learn from the people who should have been the ones we go to when we feel frightened or hurt. It takes a monumental effort to teach yourself that you are a beautiful, warm, wonderful woman who deserves the very best this world has to offer. And you are very special. Never forget that.

Hilary said...

You have every reason to be incredibly proud of who you have become, dear Lori. You are a strong woman. And you give so much to so many. You are among the women I most admire - particularly as a mother to your own kids and to your Littles. You are an inspiration.

LPC said...

You inspire me. May we all come out of our closets, of whatever sort.

Natalie said...

As you know Lori, I totally relate to you and your life.
We ARE blessed to have our hubs and our children.♥

mommytoalot said...

This post literally brought tears to my eyes.
It is so tragic that children suffer at the hands of an angry parent..and amazing when they do get past it. Keep up your faith...and love..
xo
hugs
Lisa

TechnoBabe said...

Very good writing and good for you to share real stories about your childhood. You and I have much in common and it brightens my day to read your awakening and your belief in your worth. Hugs.

slommler said...

I am glad too that you no longer hide and that you are now living your authentic life! A life filled with love and joy!
I so understand where you are coming from. I could swear you were writing my life!!!! Took me back and I remembered again how ugly a time that was. My dad is dead now...and I have to say...I don't miss him. He is in a better place and so am I.
Hugging you
SueAnn

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I'm so glad you had your closet and that you're in such a good place now.

Hugs,
SMB

Buckeroomama said...

I'm glad that you've moved on and are in a better place now.

Ash said...

coz of the past, you are a better mother/sister/wife/friend and ofcourse a daughter too. :) i want to meet you for real so i can give you big hugs x

~ash's mum

Stella said...

I think, sadly, that life is more full of your experiences, of mine, of my nieces, of my brothers, of your brothers than any type of Leave it To Beaver dream we've concocted.

It's what makes the human spirit so powerful. This ability to pull through, to be strong, to rise up, to be better to others than people have been to you. You do this so gracefully, my sweet friend, and I really love you for it.