My husband and I have made several trips to West Virginia now. It’s probably our favorite getaway spot when we do get to get away for a while. This trip was completely spontaneous. He came home from his last day of work for his week and went on our weekly Sunday morning date together and decided while we were taking a walk that we would just do it. We went home – he changed the oil in his van, I made enough food for dinner for our two teenage kids, instructed them to care for the cats (you really do have to tell teenagers everything), and we’d check in when we could. So a few hours later we were off driving the three and a half hour trip to his dad’s camper on the land his dad owns where he grew up in Barbour County.
Trump signs in the Arden – Philippi area: 2
Clinton signs in the same area: 3
The peaceful roar of the Tygart River rushing over the rocks near the camper.
The acorns dropping on the metal roof of the buildings at the empty Audra State Park. They are loud and it takes a moment to realize what it is.
Camping was over for the season at Audra State Park, but you can still walk down there. So we parked in the public area that wasn’t closed off and took a walk down to the bathhouses. The water was not yet shut off, so we took our showers.
Autumn in full swing. I absolutely love the smell of autumn when the leaves are turning and they fall to the ground, become wet, and the mushrooms take over.
He slows down on our way back from our trip into town to look at an orange 50’s Chevy in somebody’s yard.
A mobile home has only the roof and metal frame standing as we pass by. It looks like somebody blew in the walls with all the debris laying inside.
The stars before the nearly full October moon rises…. my god…. the stars!
The labrador retriever that came to visit us every day.
When the sun creeps up slowly from the mountain behind you in the morning.
Peaceful night time fires and local West Virginia Mountain Spice Red Wine. The only noises besides our laughter are the night time insects and the river.
I could live here.
I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember I was earning my own money. I’m pretty sure I was still doing the newspaper route on our street and had not yet started earning better money working retail at Kmart yet, because $28.00 for a concert ticket was a lot of money to me. I was doing the paper route from around the age of 14 to 16ish. My younger sister wanted to go to a concert and its not that I was against her going to the concert, but my parents did not seem to have the extra money to spare to buy her a ticket, so they asked me to let her borrow it. By this time in my life, I knew quite well that “borrowing” really meant “taking”, so I knew I was never going to see that money again. So I stood up for myself and I told them “no”. Telling them “no” meant my dad’s reaction turned into a red-faced rage, getting in my face, and telling me I was the most selfish person he had ever known in his entire life.
The reality is, it was never my responsibility as their child to pay for another child’s anything. My dad could have sacrificed a week’s worth of cigarettes (unrealistic, I know, but not the point) to send his daughter to a concert. But it was easier to burden someone in the house who had a little money. This was the man who would spend a couple hours at a time every so often watering his lawn so he’d have nice green grass in our sometimes dry summers and then yell at me about wanting to take a shower every day.
I can talk about these incidents now without the emotional weight they used to carry. I can’t say whether my father is a narcissist or not, but I do know he’s at least an emotionally manipulative person whom I feared for many years and who is vicious when he feels you’ve wronged him.
A few days ago, my youngest brother (there are 4 of us and I’m the oldest) unblocked me from Facebook and contacted me, wondering if it was ok for him to call me. I said it was and that I welcomed it. I pretty much had written off all of my siblings at this point, who all cling to our parents still and defend their behavior. I believe partially because I received the harshest discipline of the 4 of us for whatever reason. I no longer care to know what the reason is. It’s not my fault or my problem.
After just three conversations with my brother, I started having mixed feelings about him. Some are good feelings because we both love scenery pics, pics of the clouds and the sky, and animals. He also seemed to actually care and listen to what I had to say about things without getting upset. Finally! Someone with whom I could have some type of relationship in our dysfunctional family!
But then he is also gaslighting me. After telling him I was emotionally abused (both of us acknowledging we both carry different perspectives growing up), he said he believed me, but then followed up with “but I don’t think you were abused.” For a moment, I started to question myself again. But, only for a moment.
Then he took it upon himself after telling him about a more recent incident that occurred with my Dad before I started No Contact with him, to talk to Dad and get HIS side of the story and find out why he was upset with me, if at all. My brother got back to me and told me about this and then said “whoa, there’s a lot of things between you guys.” I think I handled it well for the moment, telling him that whatever it was, its between Dad and I. But then the more I thought about it, the more upset I was that my Dad thinks he actually has legitimate problems with me. The incidents in which I asserted myself is pretty much my life story with my parents as far as MY behavior. Sure, there was yelling and telling them off with choice curse words, but normally in response to emotional abuse. It took me a year of No Contact with either one of them to realize this about myself and to determine I was going to change how I respond to either one of them moving forward. I wanted less stress in my life and in my head. I hated how easily I got riled up and angry at them.
Shortly after my brother revealed he talked to Dad, I posted something about my father on Facebook. Immediately my brother confronted me in an instant message about “posting private family matters”. And in that conversation was this:
Once again, familiar feelings creeping up of being made to feel I’m the bad guy. I’m the reason why my relationships with my dysfunctional family are garbage.
His statement is what is actual garbage. I’ve had a problem with family members wanting to talk to me since LONG before Facebook was even invented. Facebook changed nothing about my relationships with my family. The only thing that changed was that at times, some family members knew I talked to my friends. At the same time, I’ve learned about how the family talks ABOUT me amongst themselves. So, THAT’S ok while not coming to me about anything to ask me why I do what I do or how I feel about anything, but its NOT ok to talk to my friends about why I do what I do and how I feel about things. OK, FAMILY. GOT IT.
So, Joe if you chose to click on this link and read it, great. I HOPE you do what I think you’re about to do and run to Mom and Dad and tell them how horrible of a person I am for airing dirty laundry permanently on the internet where anyone and everyone can read how shitty of a person Dad was to me. And really, the fact you would even help Dad paint me as the bad person just like he did to me as a teenager, makes you just as shitty. Just because you do it with a neutral voice without the hint of rage, doesn’t mean you’re not sending the same message. It took me a few days to figure it out, because sometimes manipulation takes some time to see through. But I see it. And I’m using MY best weapon doing what the family hates me doing the most:
TALKING ABOUT IT ON THE INTERNET.
If you don’t want your abusive behavior to be known, then perhaps you shouldn’t be an abuser. Silence is the abuser’s favorite power and fuck that shit.
I’m going to share something very personal and private because it exposes how harmful religion is to people and their marriages.
When I met my husband, I was still a virgin at the age of 21. The farthest I had gone with anyone before him was my first boyfriend touching my chest outside of my clothing (and at the time was deemed a fuck up and it never happened again). So, I really hadn’t been on any bases outside of making out kissing prior to my husband. HE on the other hand, was 29 when we met, had been engaged twice before, and has had, as is normal, several different sex partners. He was way more experienced than I was. This has been both a blessing and a curse in our marriage. There are ways in which the inexperience has made me inadequate. That does not mean my husband makes me feel inadequate. He has told me I satisfy and love him in ways nobody else had ever showed him before. He also cares about ME feeling good too and I feel satisfied and happy. We wouldn’t both be married happily after 15 years if that weren’t the case. Some older people I’ve spoken too were surprised to hear we still cuddle on the couch and still have sex. I won’t get into the details of our private conversation that made the inadequacy hit me like a brick, but it left me feeling very upset and pissed off…but not at my husband. I know this isn’t a reflection on me as a person by any means. And when he and I started having sex before we were married, I had Christians concern troll me and my life…AT THE AGE OF 21. I mean, I wasn’t looking to be a nun, for fucks sake.
But I still can’t help but cry and grieve at how naïve I am in some ways and I blame my parents and Christianity. My parents failed to have any sex talks with me beyond the birds and the bees basics. I was never told that it was ok for me to masturbate as a girl or encouraged to discover myself sexually. Not once. When I was in the Independent Fundamental Baptist church as a teenager, physical contact beyond hand shaking during church with members of the opposite sex was a huge no-no and was strictly enforced. And my first boyfriend’s conservative Christian family had pretty strict limits too though not quite as harsh as the IBF church. Kissing and making out was ok along with hugging and holding hands. But that was pretty much everything that was allowed. Even talking about sex was dangerous, because then you might start having sex and that was definitely wrong before marriage.
I did a little bit of trying to discover myself sexually in secret as a teenager, but I felt horrible about it like I was committing sin and doing Satan’s work, so I didn’t do enough to actually learn much about myself at all. In fact, I know my boyfriend didn’t masturbate either, because there were times we would make out and he would have an “accident” in his pants. He was so ignorant sexually, he wouldn’t let me put my hand on his thigh after this one incident because he was afraid (besides being embarrassed), that sperm would somehow find its way into my vagina by me touching his leg outside of his clothes in comfort with my hand. I was already 18 years old when this shit happened.
Some of this shit may sound funny, but its not. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists do catastrophic sexual harm to its followers by preaching this purity before marriage bullshit. I’m speaking on a different level than controlling women. It harms both young men and women with the type of sexual ignorance that people who are old enough to vote should not have about themselves or each other.
Everything I know about sex I learned from my husband. Thank the gods he isn’t a conservative Christian, otherwise that sentence would be worse than it is. But its still bad. Although I would change nothing about my marriage and I would change nothing about how my husband and I feel about each other, I should have had more knowledge and experience before we met. And I know I can’t change the past at all. And I know I can use my experience to do better with my kids. But I’m not alone. There are probably millions of Christians who are so afraid… I don’t even know why really …they do this permanent harm called sexual repression to their kids. It passes down from generation to generation except for those of us who break the cycle. By all rights, my first boyfriend and I should have been educated about safe sex. We should have been encouraged to masturbate as teenagers and discover ourselves. And we should have been allowed, within the confines of a normal and healthy relationship, to discover each other and learn regardless of whether the relationship would eventually end. In fact, it is my belief (although now I know breaking up was best for us both), that a major part of the relationship ending was sexual repression. I know his parents pressured him to either end it or get married because they were afraid after a year and a half we would soon no longer resist and start having sex and since we were young and in college, they knew were weren’t ready to get married. There was no room for safe sex and birth control for a 19 year old college student and her 21 year old boyfriend in his parents eyes without pressuring marriage as a solution.
So now, I sit and grieve that my ignorance has followed me even to this day. That I was robbed of developing normally. That part of me won’t know how to help my children when I allow them to do what I wasn’t allowed to do because I won’t be able to relate to them.
I don’t know what the Christian purpose of this ignorance is, but I hate Christianity for it. And I’m angry at my parents for doing nothing but teach me what I learned in 5th grade sex-ed about periods, eggs and sperm. I hate people and I hate religion for forcing me to suffer. I hate people and I hate religion for restricting me from learning about myself. I hate people and I hate religion for restricting me from expressing myself.
Fuck Christianity and fuck its Gospel of Sexual Repression.
Where to start? There is SO MUCH in my life that happened to bring me to this moment of flouncing from a Mennonite Church I had been attending for the better part of the past 16 years. When my husband and I renewed our vows, we had our church wedding here. We dedicated our kids to God shortly after our son was born. The former pastor’s wife I still consider one of my good friends. She’s truly a good soul and knows what living love looks like. There are several other good Christian people with wonderful souls who are good friends and I know they try to live out a form of self love and love for others that Jesus tried to get others to see for themselves when he was alive all those years ago.
But institutionally, Christianity is an abusive father. Institutionally, church is not emotionally, mentally, sexually safe. Yes, institutionally. I’ve experienced for myself and listened to far too many stories to believe there are just a bunch of isolated incidents and Christianity as a whole embodies goodness. Back in 2009, some one posted a timeline of events in Europe that summarizes how Christianity took over in Europe. My pagan ancestors literally converted for fear of death. http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/03/how-europe-was-overrun-by-christians/
I have a couple of books I’m reading about Germanic and Celtic history before the monstrosity known as Christianity took over Europe.
This isn’t a good start. Taking over by the sword and not by Love. It doesn’t get any better once Europeans spread to the Americas, but that’s not the point of this particular blog post, so I’m not going there. But there are plenty of resources to learn about that if you wish.
Eventually, I came to realize the damage in my own life wasn’t isolated incidents, but part of the institutionalized evil of Christianity.
A few years ago, I wrote a letter to the pastor of the cult church I spent my teenage years in. His wife treated me like I was the spawn of Satan come to corrupt her children. I confronted him for that after learning that Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN coerced a 16 year old girl and transported her across state lines TWICE to have sex with her. He is currently serving a 12 year sentence for his crimes. I was angry that I was treated like the spawn of Satan in his church while Jack Schaap was abusing his power and doing actual harm beyond the Patriarchy this cult religion preached. Jack Schaap and the previous womanizer and father in law pastor, Jack Hyles were the leaders of this particular faction of cult Baptist churches.
Last night, I stuck the following letter into the church mailboxes of the members of the Mennonite Church I had been attending. A slight background: they went through a “discernment” process to determine if and at what capacity, LGBTQ people would be allowed to be members and/or serve in the church. The church was pretty split on what we felt. Some people wanted total inclusion while others dug in their regressive heels, using the Bible as their weapon of hate against this “lifestyle choice” despite the real life testimonies of current and former attendees who proved it wasn’t a “lifestyle choice” at all. The discernment process was exhausting and rage inducing. In the end, they decided nothing, but have chosen to stay in limbo. I guess some people are just hoping the whole “issue” would just go away. Since that discernment process, my daughter discovered during puberty that she’s gay. Suddenly, I had much more to fight for than just being a strong advocate for my LGBTQ friends.
Then recently, I read how Vice President of Eastern Mennonite University, Luke Hartman, abused his power, coerced a young woman into a relationship and then mentally abused her, stalked her and even threatened her life when she tried to leave. It wasn’t just this alone that got to me, but how their local Mennonite Church and even the leadership of MCUSA (the broader denomination organization) tried to cover, lie, hide and victim blame. That was it for me, guys. How could ANY church argue against LGBTQ people being invited to Jesus’ table, serving God, and being church members when trusted men in power are sexually and mentally harming people and the church once again, caring more about their reputation than about bringing a criminal to justice?!
So here is the letter I wrote. No more silence, First Mennonite Church of Canton, OH. No more hoping this shit will just “go away”. Deal with yourselves, or become irrelevant.
Dear First Mennonite Church, April 22nd, 2016
Yes, our family hasn’t been there for a while and we probably won’t be. Maybe we’ll show up to eat some of your food at potlucks, but that’s it. It’ll be nice to check in with friends we don’t see often. But, I’m done with church and I’m done with Christianity.
I was emotionally abused as a teenager by my dad and by a church (not Mennonite) I was in. My daughter is gay. And during the entire “discernment” process, I was disgusted at many points during the process. At some point in my life also, I joined an Independent Baptist Survivors group on Facebook and learned about many sexual abuses committed by church leaders in the Baptist church and how the sexual abuse was covered up and the victims blamed for what was done with them.
And now Lauren Shifflett of Lindale Mennonite Church told her account of how she was sexually abused by Mennonite teenage boys as a teenager, raped at some point, and then sexually coerced, emotionally abused and stalked by Luke Hartman, Vice President of EMU who was recently busted in a prostitution sting. To this day, EMU and some church leadership of Lindale is trying to protect Luke, discredit Lauren and retraumatize her. If you’re interested, here is Lauren’s sister’s account of how the church and EMU has responded to the situation and to Lauren. http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/good-intentions-arent-enough/
Here is where my anger has just exploded about First Mennonite, the Ohio Conference and MCUSA in general. First Mennonite, the conference and MCUSA has had this decades long debate about LGBTQs. I heard church members utter ridiculous fears about gay people. I mean, gay people might teach young Sunday School kids that its ok to be gay, right? Ridiculous times where Bible verses were used as weapons to justify LGBTQ exclusion from church membership and participation. At the same time, sexual predators and abusers are protected and word salad performed by Mennonite leadership that brings no real justice to sexual abuse victims.
I just can’t deal with a church half full of complete hypocrites when it comes to sex. My daughter can’t feel safe being around people who might possibly confront her about her “sin” while those same people probably judge Lauren for being a victim of a sick abusive man. Patriarchy is a hell of a drug, isn’t it? And how dare any women or LGBTQ people who don’t live by its rules disturb men’s power, right? So you weaponize religion and the Bible. No different than other Christians I’ve experienced. Your doctrine of pacifism is a lie as the violence of emotional and sexual abuse in the Mennonite Church is allowed and covered up while people whine and cry about gay people forcing the Church to accept their “lifestyle”.
Well, I’m done. Some of you may feel sad or even angry I feel this way.
Well perhaps you should have thought of that before emotionally abusing people in your own congregation. You won’t get the chance to do to my beautiful daughter what you’ve done to others.
So ends my 36 year relationship with Christianity. I’m completely done trying to make a relationship with an abusive Patriarchy religion work.
Once, I was a huge fan of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. And in some ways, I still am. I have both autobiographies (Living History and My Life). I even took my copy of My Life to a house rep re-election rally in my state where Bill Clinton spoke and he signed my book. I will treasure it forever. Not everyone has a book signed by a President of the United States. I think its pretty awesome. I even enjoyed reading it. He writes similarly to how I talk in conversations. Talk about something, touch on something he and I could easily go off on a little trail and then bring it back to the original point or how that side thing related to the main idea (but sometimes, maybe not). It was amusing as I read it.
And Hillary …what an inspiration as a woman! To not just be a lawyer and not to settle for just being First Lady, but to actually be a Senator and a Secretary of State and now run a second time for President herself! How many women have that type of resume? Hillary has made history with her list of personal accomplishments, even if being President is something she doesn’t get to attain.
But something has happened along the way. I don’t know what it is. No, Bernie supporters, its not that she was a young Republican. I grew up Republican too, and I’m nowhere near where I was. To not allow someone to grow and change throughout their life as if they’re less of a person to have not always held your perfect purest progressive ideology is just you being an asshole.
No, I think its that she’s currently trying to play the game within the realm of Patriarchy…a game she can’t win. A game she shouldn’t want to win. A game that leaves someone looking disingenuous. For example, her tough foreign policy talk. She’s obviously catering to the center. After all, she has to seem tough and willing to make strong calls as Commander in Chief, right? Because women are weak and aren’t willing to go to war. But isn’t that what we want? Someone who is less willing to go to war and take a hard look at our current foreign policy and see how it perpetuates violence in the world as is and needs to change? I thought maybe a woman with our natural strengths would be more willing to do that. But she wants to play the man’s game instead and sound and be tough on foreign policy.
Like she wanted to be tough on crime. To not seem like a pansy.
And then there’s the answer she gave to some Black Lives Matters protesters when she met with them. When they confronted her husband’s mass incarceration problem (which she lobbied for), she didn’t apologize. She didn’t say “We didn’t realize at the time what the effects would be, and it was wrong and I want to fix it and make it right.” No, she placed the burden on those whom the policy hurts the most to come up with a solution. That didn’t sit well with me. She’s trying to play the Patriarchy game and I just don’t like it. I had a corporate boss who played the Patriarchy game in her corporate politics. SHE was probably the worst boss I EVER had. She was fucking ruthless. I just don’t like to see fellow women try to get ahead using that game and claiming they’re going to bat for the rest of us. I don’t think so. Does she plan on dismantling that system when she gets to the top? Or is she going to leave it intact because it gave her the power she has?
Now, we do have to realize how politicians have this game they need to play. How they need to use words and I suppose using logical fallacies are par for the course (like her straw man attacks on Bernie’s health care plan). And we have to give politicians a certain amount of grace because otherwise they end up not getting attention and their chances are lost. I mean, that’s how the political game is played and most of us fall for it hook line and sinker.
Which brings me to Bernie. I like him as a candidate better than Hillary. Though my own life story mirrors Hillary’s in changing my own worldview as I’ve grown, I do appreciate Bernie’s long standing voice. I know some critics may believe he’s just pandering because they’re just now hearing his particular rhetoric recently. But, recently his camp posted C-Span clips from the 90’s in which he was already mentioning in Congress how several policies were disproportionately affecting black people negatively in our society. He really was talking the talk before it was popular to do so among white people who think its trendy to be an “ally” right now. So yes, I do plan on voting for Bernie in my state’s primary. There are many other reasons and examples, but to me they all do seem to point to a man who wants to make some serious positive changes and I think we are long overdue for those changes.
But then his supporters. God, I avoid a lot of social media right now because the nasty Bernie supporters with their racist bullshit towards black people as if Bernie is the “obvious” choice and they’re “stupid” for voting for Hillary. Oh, those racist microaggressions. Progressive liberals…. You have a lot of fucking soul searching to do. Remember how I called you an asshole earlier for thinking you’re all high and mighty with your Purest Progressive Ideology? Yeah. That shit makes you look ugly. And the sexism? Christ man. “I’m going to be a sexist asshole to prove to you I’m more of a feminist than anyone!”
That’s literally how fucking dumb you sound.
The point is, neither Hillary nor Bernie are going to be perfect. In fact, neither one can be our savior. We don’t need a SAVIOR. We need to save ourselves. In fact, there is no other way to create a better country for everyone who lives here. And while voting for the right President is definitely a step in the right direction, this fighting and mud slinging in the Democratic party and the games we see politicians willing to play only reveals that every single one of us have a fuckload of looking in the mirror and savings of ourselves we really need to be doing.
A couple of years ago, I had a not so nice Facebook status about my parents which included how they didn’t know how to love their kids. I was friends with most of my family members on my dad’s side of the family at the time and instead of anyone coming to me asking me what was wrong or why I felt that way, they all rumored about me and my parents instead. My mom found out. And of course, my parents were mad at me for putting our business on Facebook. I said a hurtful thing about them and I shouldn’t have made it public.
Today, my husband wrote a Facebook status about my dad. Well, it was actually putting out the details of why we got rid of a car my parents gave us nine months before we sent it to its junkyard grave. My dad was really upset that we had gotten rid of it. Nevermind the fact my parents were given vehicles before and got rid of them when they lost their usefulness for my parents. And I had a light bulb go off after I read his well written Facebook account of what happened. The ONLY reason my parents don’t want their business on my Facebook page is more than just their fear it’s out in the public (they don’t understand the idea of privacy settings where only my friends can see my statuses). It’s because they don’t want people to see them as bad in any way. They already feel terrible about themselves, so they don’t need anybody else to see them as bad people too. When my comments on Facebook caused family drama and rumors, it was centered on perception and not wanting to look bad to others.
Well, today I say “fuck that.”
Starting with this blog post, I’m going to say whatever the hell I want about my parents. They don’t get to say whatever they want about me to family members that of course NOBODY comes to me about, so I have no idea what they talk about, and expect me to just keep my feelings to myself.
All I have are my memories and feelings. My husband had to write his story because he is affected by my parents’ bullshit like I used to be when my parents emotionally and mentally abused me. I had terrible nightmares about my parents for YEARS. The nightmares finally ended after I sent my mom the confrontation email in September 2014 that made her stop talking to me besides cordial short sentences at the Christmas family gathering at my uncle’s house. Not that my parents were actually ABLE to manipulate Matt, but they sure tried their best.
My parents have not respected me as a person since I was 12 years old. Yes, stuff happened to them by life, but I’m not interested in talking about that. No matter what happened to them in life, it does not excuse mentally and emotionally abusing their children. I also don’t know how my siblings feel and I will not attempt to speak for them. All I can do is speak for me.
My first memory of experiencing disrespect as a person was when I was about 12. One evening after school, I was listening to Jammin’ 92.3 on the radio. In the early 90’s, Jammin 92.3 in Cleveland Ohio played mostly R&B and rap of the day. “You Down with O.P.P” was playing on the radio and I was upstairs in my room dancing to myself and my dad came upstairs, face all red, ready to tear up some ass because I was listening to “that nigger music”. I learned a couple things. One, I learned in that moment my dad was very much a racist. And two, I had no idea until that moment that I was not allowed to explore what I liked and be myself. That night’s yelling lecture including drilling me on why I didn’t like country music as if there was something wrong with me for not liking country music. I was also forbidden from listening to Jammin’ 92.3. Of course, I didn’t obey as I listened to my beloved music on my Sony Walkman radio. However, I didn’t play it out loud anymore.
There are other examples too, but the point of the lesson I learned when I was 12 was that I was not allowed to explore my identity and figure out who I was. I was expected to like the same things as my parents. Music, clothes, TV shows, movies, whatever. And If I didn’t like something they liked, there was something wrong with me. My dad thought Steve Martin was an idiot and I was expected to share in that opinion even though I never got to watch Steve Martin to form my own opinion. This led to me not having my identity crisis until I was in college. That is a bad time to have an identity crisis and change majors three times because you no longer have any idea what you want to be in life.
So yeah, Mom and Dad. You were assholes. You were supposed to let me figure out who I was. And you were supposed to be ok with me being different and not liking all the same things you liked.
They were also the type of people to hold shit they did for you or gave you over your head. More than once, I was told that I was ungrateful and the most selfish person they’d ever known because they had clothed me, fed me, and did stuff for me while I grew up under their roof and whatever it was I did that hurt their feelings so bad made me a horrible person. I don’t even know what I did wrong other than refuse to give them my hard earned money so my dad could buy cigarettes. Or give them money to buy my sister concert tickets (it was only because I knew I wasn’t going to ever see that money again, it’s not because I didn’t want her to go to a concert). Or other such things that made me so selfish. I do remember saving up my tooth fairy money when I was little and losing teeth. I was about 10 I think and my mom asked to borrow all the money I saved from my tooth fairy money. I never saw that money again. So, if I didn’t want to give them my money from my paper route or from my job at Kmart or the city of Mentor, it was because I knew they weren’t borrowing it at all… they were just taking it. And I was actually trying to save money to buy things I wanted or needed and eventually for the stuff I would need for college. They even charged me $10.00/week for gas to take me to work at Kmart during my senior year of high school while my brother got to use the Ford Escort to drive where ever he wanted and even buy his gas and cigarettes for him since he had no job.
I have a life time of examples. My parents are still like this towards me to this day. There will be times where they love me so much and miss me and want me around. But as soon as my husband or I do something they perceive is against them in any type of way, they hold things over our heads and try to control us. They are sad human beings. Manipulative and mean. When I say things like “they don’t know how to love their children,” it’s not because I’m just being an ungrateful asshole daughter who doesn’t appreciate all my parents did for me growing up. Statements like that are made from literally decades of pain from two people who don’t have a damn clue what Love really is.
Perhaps if they hadn’t treated their oldest daughter like shit since she was 12 years old, there’d be nothing for them to feel bad about or to worry about looking bad to other people. I’m simply being an extrovert and telling my story. If people react to my memory of events and my feelings and my personal truth like my parents are assholes, then my parents only have themselves to blame for their own behavior. I have nothing to feel bad about. I know now from my self-healing process and by learning to love my own 13 and near 12 year old children that many of the things my parents did were wrong. I’m sure there are things I’m getting wrong. But I hope to do enough right that my kids’ blogs won’t have to focus on pain their parents caused that forces them to have to spend so much time trying to heal that pain as adults. Hopefully, I will do enough right they’ll be able to focus most of their energy on making the world a better place and finding out who they are and deciding what happiness looks like for them in a healthy way. That’s what love wants. I sometimes still grieve the loss of realizing I didn’t get what I needed emotionally and mentally from my parents as a kid and a teenager.
The title is less cliche than “what I would do if I won the lottery”, but its the truth. If I won the Mega Millions, the following is absolutely the things I would do with the money and with my life. The reason I think writing this down is important is not so much to chase dreams of winning it big, but to perhaps find away to make all these dreams a reality even if I never won the lottery. The idea that money is no object means I would do all this shit right NOW. But I can’t do them right now. I can however, live in such a way that all of these can be real goals that I can work to achieve in my life and make each one a reality. So I write this not only to get down on paper what my life dreams are, but to inspire for each of my readers to get down on paper (blog, journal, scratch piece of paper that you tape to your desk) what your life dreams are and to decide to live in such a way that each of your life dreams becomes reality for you.
- I want to go on a road trip cross country vacation. I want to relax, enjoy nature all across the country, go tent camping wherever I can and do this with Matt and the kids.
- I would buy a house in the Mentor Headlands and make it space smart, have radiant heat floors and solar panels.
- I would fix up both Hondas like new and continue to use them. I love my no airbag having, stick shift, bumper stickered car. We’ve done a lot of traveling together.
- I would start my own business. It will probably be a unique yarn shop. I would hire homeless/disenfranchised people for my business. I would pay them living wages. I heard Robin Williams wanted the movie makers in whatever city they filmed in to hire homeless people to do jobs needed. God bless Robin Williams.
- I would learn Wing Chun martial arts. I would continue to lift weights and I would learn and do yoga every day.
- I would run for public office. Maybe as an Independent. I am not sure where I would start, but I think it would be awesome to end up as governor of Ohio someday.
I remember vividly the day I tried to confront my mom with how she made me feel inside. Its not that I felt at the time that she was a bad mother, but I figured if she knew how I felt, she would be sympathetic and apologize and maybe we could heal our relationship. We got along pretty well up until I was in college. Even through my ultra-conservative church years, I remember having much more conflict with my depressed dad than with my mom. Still, when I hit college we began to fight. I don’t remember what we fought about anymore, but I do remember often feeling like she thought I was 12 and not a 19 year old college student who was finally having that identity crisis I didn’t allow myself to have years earlier.
We were in the van driving back home from somewhere during a break from college and no sooner did I try to explain my feelings that my mom started to cry. I hated when my mom cried. I loved her so much and she worked so hard and supported my dad through all his crap. The last thing I wanted to be was a source of sadness. She instantly lamented about how she wasn’t a good enough mother to us. That wasn’t at all what I meant to convey, but it didn’t matter. The inability of her to simply accept my feelings shut me up.
I believe many people who manipulate don’t mean to and don’t even know they’re doing it. My mom apparently genuinely had guilt issues. I suppose it was from how our lives changed when Dad became disabled and subsequently depressed and maybe she felt like she couldn’t be the mother she wanted to be. Whatever the cause of the guilt is (I can only guess), she carried this guilt for things she wasn’t responsible for, nor did I blame her at all. But when you’re depressed and too busy to even admit it to yourself, I suppose its easy to believe you’re a person who isn’t worth much. And then you end up manipulating people out of the guilt you carry around.
I did that for a while too. I lost two jobs in less than 2 years and began to think the reason I lost those jobs was because there was something wrong with me as a person. The years of accepting myself for who I was and not giving a fuck who liked me gave way to overwhelming self-doubt. I easily drifted to thoughts of worthlessness. And since my husband was depressed as well from a job loss and the death of his mother, we didn’t get along very well and it compounded the feeling of worthlessness for both of us. I’m sure I manipulated out of the guilt of being worthless and not having made better decisions in college and my career up to that point. I honestly had no idea I was doing it. And so I believe my mom did the same and truly had no idea she manipulated me into silence.
Fast forward to now, nearly a year and a half after going through life-coaching (effectively counseling without the license) and I once again am on the path to loving and accepting myself and not giving a fuck who among the general public likes me or not. I love myself so much now, that I refuse to be manipulated. I demand that my relationships operate out of health or at least be oriented with purposeful goals in that direction. Many of my relationships have directly improved as a result because the other person also has a desire to operate in a healthy relationship.
Two months ago, Mom and I had a fight over a literal misunderstanding. And then the manipulation began, involving both her and my dad. It was clear they did not want to communicate with me verbally anymore, so I wrote an email. I wrote two emails. One was really raw and harsh and used the word “fuck” a lot. The 2nd one wasn’t so raw. But I guess it was still harsh. I told my mother she had a problem with alcohol, that religion wasn’t helping her and that I was done with the manipulation. I criticized how she shuts down communication. I told her she needed to stop hating herself. I finally did what I tried to do 15 years earlier and confronted her for how she makes me feel.
When we were younger, if my mom was mad at my dad, she’d give him the silent treatment for about a week. The silent treatment she is giving me is now two months long. I’ve invited her down for two events, one being her granddaughter’s 13th birthday and not only is she not coming, but she hurried off the phone as quick as she could with as little words said as possible.
At first, the fight, the emails and their typical crap didn’t bother me. I moved past most of it in my quest for a healthier life. But the more I think about it and especially after realizing she’s still very upset with me, I can’t help but be 19 again, thinking about my mom crying. Feeling guilty over being somehow a bad mother that makes her daughter hate her (but I don’t). I must have cut her really deep to expose all the things she uses as a wall of defense. It is hard not to feel rejected by my parents yet again. It is hard not to feel bad for causing her so much pain and for being a source of sadness. I do feel rejected. I do feel bad for hurting her. But there is no apology hanging in the wind waiting to be spoken. I HAD to tell her how I feel. I HAD to confront this madness for myself. I had to communicate that it wasn’t OK to treat me the way she’s been treating me regardless of the reasons why.
Now I have to be ok with the possibility that she’ll never love herself and as a result our relationship can never heal. I have to be ok with the silent treatment lasting for a long time. I have no idea what she’s really thinking, or if she’ll ever have the desire to be emotionally healthy. All I know is that ever since that day when I was 19, all I wanted was for my mom to love me.