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More About Me

Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 3 results

  1. It's funny how many lessons we learned as children that we like to attribute to mom or dad. The respective holidays for our parents every year tends to make us all reflect a bit on their parenting skills when raising us, and it's nice to look back on thoughtful advice and recipes. You remember those heartfelt talks about life, parenting, education, or morality, and many of us out there treasure them. Some of us end up seeing those moments of advice and conversation as the bread crumbs that lead us to the players in our abusive childhoods that we didn't realize were participating in harming us. This discovery can discolor those childhood life lessons, or sometimes, make the message even stronger and more important to actually utilize. My own discovery of how much my mother participated in my abuse was not an easy one. She was always the martyr in our household; she would tolerate my father's belligerent, angry outbursts that would end with objects hurled across the house at walls and doors, verbally abusive words being shouted to tear her and I down, and sometimes his disappearing for a night or two. Seeing her constant struggle to keep him appeased gave me the impression that she was a saint. I would give her a pass when she would just lay on the couch all weekend sometimes, obviously depressed, and tell me to please "go outside and play". I would also give her a pass when she would tell me that my father would deal with me later when he got home from work. Which meant I would get the belt, and who knows what else, when she would recount the day's aggravation I had put her through. Sometimes it was just a threat, sometimes it was a malicious pay back because she understood how frightening this man was to me when angry. She knew how he easily would fly off the handle and rough me up physically beyond the normal standard of a simple swat on the rear end. Countless times she would step in while he was busy hitting me with his belt and screaming at me. "Stop, that's enough", she would say. Sometimes though, she would just stand in silence watching from the doorway to my room. So, she knew my anxiety of dealing with this man losing control while punishing me on her behalf was near torturous. But I always gave her a pass for this. I didn't understand that this behavior on her part was emotional abuse. I didn't understand that she was being a participant in the physical abuse I experienced, as well. I figured that people were supposed to lose control and give you both barrels of pain and admonishment for being a "bad" child. No one had ever said it was bad to punish your child. It never occurred to me that while the concept of punishment is okay, it's the method to punish that should be called into question. Instead, I grew up and even utilized her same mindset for a number of years: If you were bad, you got pain. And you deserved every minute of it. It took me until I was thirty-two years old to fully accept that I was the victim of not only my father's sick idea of structure and correctness, but also that my mother enabled him, not just because of codependency issues, but out of her own vicarious desires for me to be physically hurt, and purposely using him to do it. Don't get me wrong. Her blatant use of my father as a bully stick to frighten me, inflict retribution, and generally handle all the physical punishment is really just the tip of the iceberg of her terrible parenting moments. Long term, I would say that did the least amount of damage to me overall compared to the way I was programmed to respond to stressful situations and how I was taught to develop relationships. In a nutshell, she made me a rug for people to walk all over so that later I could use my pain as ammo to manipulate others to give me what I wanted. Admittedly, what I wanted from people in relationships was way below a healthy standard anyway as she didn't give me any sense of self worth, but I'm sure you all understand how martyr complexes work: one takes away the need to be responsible for life by scapegoating others as the reason for disappointment and failure. The codependency issues transferred to me too, but until the last four or five years, I was still in denial about being a victim of it, instead believing I was in total control of the abusive relationship I was currently in. Surely, I could just walk away and start over no problem. After all, I recognized the flags for codependency, and I was sure that because I was educated on what it was, and how to avoid it, then I could be in a potential situation for it and just walk away without issue. For those who have a vague idea of what codependency is, let me break it down for you. Essentially, you are in a relationship where one partner either enables or even supports the other partner's failures, immaturity, bad mental health, or even lack of responsibility. There was absolutely no way that I could ever become codependent. It couldn't happen to me. I was in control. The reality? I was codependent long before I ever left home as a child, and that is in large part thanks to my mother's own example of what a normal relationship should look like: tolerating abuse and only demanding accountability when it suited her needs. This general attitude has never wavered over the years. "If you are wronged in a relationship, you should have the advantage" was something she always demonstrated to me. Sometimes she even nearly said it outright when making statements about her relationship with my father letting me know that she could easily make it without him. I often heard this after he had angered her, was incredibly insensitive to her needs that day, and so on. But she would never since that meant she would tarnish her family image and make her readjust her priorities. She could have demanded the situation be remedied immediately to avoid future incidents. She could have insisted on a better standard of respect from my father. She could have taken control of her situation and never put herself in a relationship with an abusive partner again. Instead she stayed in for the long haul, and ultimately, I discovered that the reason why was because she wanted to be the more successful than of all her siblings, even if only in appearance. A divorce would fracture that thin veneer of superiority she had created which covered over all the cracks in her marriage. Ironically, she never instilled that desire for appearing successful in me. I was always a participant in making sure her life had that enviable sparkle, but my own future was never in the discussion. Anything I did was an enhancement for her, which is why I was never free to discuss family business if she weren't around for the conversation. This last bit of selfishness on her part is probably what ultimately saved me from going through my entire adult life being a codependent martyr at the expense of anyone I claimed to care for -- though sadly, I did end up that way for the first half of it. Her lack of desire to help form my future helped wake me up to the reality that I was doing a lot of the same things she had, but I didn't do it to look perfect to the outside world. I only did it to feel I had control, because if I had control, I had worth. And if someone wasn't willing to fight to keep you, then you weren't worth anything. Guilting my partners in order to keep them with me became a cancer to my relationship style. Even worse, due to my parents going out of their way to alienate family and friends, this guilting on my part served a double purpose: it gave me ammo to dismiss one from my life at the slightest provocation because of all the pain inflicted on me. I still struggle with that last section a lot. Emotional stress is still very difficult for me to process, so when I am attached to someone emotionally, and I perceive rejection, dissatisfaction, or any other emotional consequence from a relationship, I have an overwhelming desire to cut bait and run, and I try to bury the individual in all the fault of it. It's been a challenge, but I'm winning when it comes to recognizing that my urge to run has little to do with what the other person might be putting me through. I now have the awareness that it is my lack of ability to deal with level of stress that comes with partnerships. And point scoring is weeding out of my day to day life too. It has taken a lot of behavioral therapy to recognize when I am doing this, and I still have times I utterly fail. With all I've shared so far, it should be noted that I have nothing to do with my either of my parents. My mom took the longest to walk away from though. Like I said at the beginning of this article, it took me a long time to really comprehend the level of damage and general element of toxicity she had injected into my day to day living. Do I regret ever having had her as a mother? I do thanks to the fact that I didn't realize how damaged I was until I had already hurt my own children. So far, my kids have healed from it, but I know at least one of my children deals with codependency and martyr complex issues, and this child is floundering. I've tried to explain to my child that this misery is self-inflicted and unnecessary, that there is help out there, but right now, I can't get through. It's a horrible feeling to see a child behave this way, and I wonder how my mother was okay with seeing me do this and not want to fix it? It's a simple answer as to why: My mother used me for her own emotional gain. She might have taught me the basics of sewing, how to use a crock pot, and sang lullabies to me at night, but she also showed me how to manipulate, be unattached in relationships, and use abuse as a means to control a situation to get something I want. I think it would have been easier to Google the first three things she taught me so I would never had learned the latter and passed it on to my own children. I would rather have learned from an early age how to create positive situations where everyone I love benefit and grow, not remain within a repressive rut of failed relationships and alienated family. Now that I have reprogrammed my way of thinking to focus on bigger picture benefits, and understand that love is unconditional and selfless, I can't imagine demonstrating any other way of living. I try to live by this kind of mindset with my family, friends, and community whenever I can. The biggest benefit I discovered since walking away from my mother and programming has been that selflessness benefits everyone involved and breeds a more positive environment for success. Why would anyone want to continue living in survival mode, trying to subsist on scraps of respect and self worth? And why would one want to perpetuate this horrible cycle of relationship abuse if you know this isn't healthy? Mothering isn't about being perfect. And it certainly isn't about making that child into someone. Robert Heinlein had once written that “being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation.” (Have Space Suit, Will Travel). This I completely agree with. I firmly believe I didn't have a mother, but a ring master for a personal circus. There are many moms out there who are like this, and if you meet a fellow alienated orphan, give them an extra tight hug today. .
  2. The title of this entry says it all, doesn't it? Yes, my youngest son stood up to my father regarding some background religious insults that were being thrown at me when on a visit. The situation when down as such (according to my son): Grandpa (my father), went to pick up my youngest son to go out to dinner one evening. At some point, going from pick up back to my parents' home, Brett said that I don't love God. Grandpa then said that is sad, and that I love the devil. Yeah, not a lot of context there, but that is my youngest for you. Now, I first thought maybe there was a misunderstanding about what Brett heard. The boy is not the most accurate of reporters, and he didn't give me a reason why he even mentioned the fact I don't love God to my father. It isn't a huge family secret, I am very much out as an atheist. So, I asked Brett how the conversation came about and he said he didn't know. Personally, I know my Dad has a tendency to audibly thank his deity quite regularly...even at random moments while walking through a store. The guy just feels the urge to blurt it out. I think he had one of those "Thank you, God" moments and my boy chimed in his own thoughts on the comment. See, my youngest son is 7 years old. At that age, kids are very curious about the world and beliefs around them. He knows I don't believe in deities at all, and he has been to church a couple times and heard about Jesus. He clearly has not made up his mind on the matter, and I leave it at that. He goes to church now and then, and we discuss why deities can't be real now and then. A nice little balance. I really think he used my lack of "love" for God as a stepping stone to a broader dialog about lack of faith and what that means to a believer, only he heard something so atrociously shocking, he had to ask me about it. Anyway, my child is adamant his Grandpa said those exact words. Since I have caught him making up stories about conversations with friends in the past, I called his bluff and said I would call his grandparents immediately. I reiterated that this was a very serious phone call I would make and asked him if he was sure about what he is saying or if he was just joking (like he would normally say if fibbing). Normally he would panic if not telling the truth and he really does enjoy my parents, but on this occasion he didn't bat an eye and agreed I should call them up. I ended up getting a voice mail, and honestly, I laid it on really thick with my son able to hear every word I said, so if he wanted to renege on his accusation he could and nothing would be stirred up since I could abort the voice mail. I made it clear on the message to my mother that my son insisted that Grandpa told him that I love the devil. I told her that no matter what their beliefs were, I expected my children to be respectful of them in their home so long as no danger was imminent. I expect the same in return. Additionally, I told her I would not allow any further contact with the kids since such comments about me and Satan were highly inappropriate, and that I could tell he wasn't lying about what he had heard. So unless proven otherwise, their relationship was severed. Mom called me back about fifteen minutes later claiming that these conversations did not happen at her house and that she never heard my father ever say anything like that to my son. She said, and I quote this,"He is such a God loving man, Amanda. He would never say such things." Imagine that in a deprecatory tone. I made it clear to her this isn't about what SHE has heard said by my dad, but what my son says he had heard. She assured me that a discussion would ensue shortly with my father and would call me back. I made it clear that my decision to sever contact would remain in place unless I knew my boy either misunderstood what had been said or proven a liar. She then began to back peddle a bit saying that she has heard my boy say that I don't love or believe in God, but that they don't say anything in response or just agree with him and move on to a different topic. NOW she wants to admit that in fact these discussions have occurred. "Let me talk with your Dad and find out what is going on," she says nonchalantly like it isn't a big deal. "Well, you better. I wouldn't normally lend complete credit to my son about this, but Dad has said the same thing straight to my face many times over the years, Mom. This wouldn't be the first time he has done this." "I know. I know." About another half hour goes by and she calls back, this time I put it on speaker phone. No, she says my father didn't say anything like this at the house, ever. I tell her that I will try to get my boy to "break". What I mean by this is get him to admit he is confused about what was said or is lying. It isn't very hard to do. If he is the least bit unsure about what he heard when pressed, or is lying, he will "break" and admit it. I tell her he will apologize if he lied, but not if it is just a misunderstanding. Naturally, my father is not participating at all in this conversation, which is really raising a lot of red flags in my mind. Again, we hang up, and I go talk to my 7 year old in the other room. "Can you do me a favor, sweetie? Can you think really hard for a minute about your talk with Grampy and what he said about me? This is really important. If you heard him wrong (I give him an out), then it isn't a big deal, okay? It's important we get this straight." "He said you loved the devil, mommy. He picked me up from Daddy's, and we were almost back to his house and I told him you don't love God, and he said you loved the devil." "Are you really sure? This is really serious." "Yes, he said that!" "Are you willing to call Granny and talk to her?" There is no way in HELL he would want to talk to her if he were lying. "Sure." So, to really test him for a bluff, I pulled out my phone. The dial pad was lit on my phone screen, I looked at him and began to dial. Not a peep of protest. This kid was being honest. Still, I went through with the dial, and I assured him I would leave it on speaker phone and would step in if anything got mean. He didn't seem phased at all, in fact, as soon as my mom answered, he demanded to know why Grampy wasn't telling her the truth! Straight out of his mouth with authority! MY stomach was in knots, but obviously his wasn't. My mom of course told him that lying wasn't nice and that he makes up things sometimes and he needed to stop it. He immediately responded, calmly I might add, that he wasn't lying and then retold what he told me about the car ride conversation. "You know what, you need to talk to Grampy," she says in an authoritative tone, thinking that would scare him from the phone I guess. My mother always used Dad as the bully stick. If I made her mad, she would say,"Wait until your father gets home!" knowing full well that meant he would take the belt to me. Sometimes, she wouldn't even warn me. I would go to bed, only to be woken up at midnight and have him yelling at me and hitting me with his hands or a belt. He would get carried away on occasion and she would step in telling him to stop, but always doing so calmly, and never checking to make sure I was okay afterwards. My father was her personal pit bull, and she just sicked him on my 7 year old. I looked across the bed to him nervously, hoping he would back away and finally admit he was confused about what was said, ANYTHING, but not be subjected to my dad's wrathful temperment. My son didn't flinch or back off the phone at all. As soon as Dad got on there saying,"Boy, what is goin' on?", my boy leaned towards the phone speaker and said,"Grampy, why are you lying? You said mommy loves the devil, remember? In the truck?" "I don't have those conversations around here, son, and you need to think about what you are doing right now. Lying ain't nice." My mother can be heard in the back ground at this point telling him it has to do with the truck ride, not conversations at the house. See, mom wasn't in the truck that day, it was just grandfather and grandson, and I could tell she was panicked a bit. Dad says to her,"I don't know what happened in the truck. I don't care about that, and I don't want to be a part of this either. You hear me, son? You need to think about what you are doing. It ain't right to add things on to what is said. I'm not going to be a part of this. I don't know what your mother is trying to stir up, but I don't have those conversations. You need to quit adding things that didn't get said to conversations." My son looked like he had been smacked, but he wasn't looking sad, he was looking angry! He leaned over and said loud and clear,"I am not lying, and you did say that. I don't want to come over anymore." "Excuse me? What did you say?" "I don't want to come over anymore. Bye." And he got up and walked away from the phone, going back to his video game like nothing happened. I was floored as I hung up the phone. I was sure I would have to step in somewhere or that my boy would tear up and admit he lied, or something, but he didn't. He didn't even break a sweat, and I envy that. I was so worried about his well being, but I think it was because of my own unresolved feelings of intimidation and anxiety when dealing with my father, I just assumed that would be the natural reaction for the child as well. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn about distancing oneself from emotional situations involving my children's struggles with family and friends. I can't let my own baggage overshadow their own coping skills and obvious ability to handle it. This is the same lesson I learned when my eldest daughter proudly proclaimed her atheism on FB and she had my father, and another family member ramming scripture at her from every direction. I was worried about her feeling intimidated, but then I saw she simply deleted their comments and continued on. As she put it, "I don't force my beliefs on them, and I don't think they have the right to do it to me." Man, I've got a lot to learn from my children.
  3. "Mom, what happened?" My eleven year old son's curiosity was peaked when seeing my emotional and very teary eyed face yesterday afternoon as I watched the Boston Marathon bombing coverage on my lap top. Looking up at him, I realized I had to tell him something simply because I didn't want him to have it explained by someone else at his school the next day. Up until this point, he really had not a single clue as to what had happened other than my obviously distraught demeanor. See, I was on my laptop. I also had my ear buds in. This mom likes to keep tragic news and graphic imagery under wraps from kids until answers are to be had. I do not condone keeping children up to the same pace as the rest of the world unless their safety immediately depends on it. So, here I am with my eldest son wanting answers and there really weren't any answers yet. What do I say? What do I show him? Obviously, I told him what happened. Explosions at a world famous running event in Massachusetts. Many, many, many people were hurt, some were killed. They don't know who did it yet, but law enforcement was on it. Then, the next morning, he is on his way to school and I told him that if the school shows any news coverage with graphic pictures, I want to know about it. He has seen 9/11 images at school, which I am not pleased about. So I told him to not watch until he got home and let them know he does not have permission to watch news coverage of the event. I also decided to warn him about what people might be saying. Where I live, many people are prejudiced against those outside a European heritage. Phrases like "We should just kill 'em all" is tossed around a lot, and I do my best to make sure that my children understand the problem with that type of attitude and judgement. I related that some news outlets were saying it was someone of Middle Eastern descent which in turn might mean he has friends running their mouths about people of the same heritage. I emphasized not only how wrong this type of stereotyping is, but it can be dangerous. I recounted some episodes of violence against Sikhs after 9/11 because folks were too ignorant to know the difference between cultures, let alone that they shouldn't blame all for the actions of a few. Of course he immediately agreed and identified with what I was saying. I also made it clear if anyone was joking about the bombings, or joking about how funny it would be if the school were destroyed, that he should get away from those kids and report it to a teacher immediately. After this ten minute or so discussion, he asked me just how bad did it end up being. So, I opted to show him a couple photos. One of the explosion plume, and another of the now empty, blood soaked sidewalk. That was enough and clearly made him understand the gravity of the situation. I also explained that there was a mass bombing event across Iraq that same day, and scores were hurt and injured. So again, if he heard anyone running their mouth about any type of racial stereotypes he was really going to give them hell for it. This is the kind of communication I have with all my children on varying degrees of information. I think it encourages empathy, a big picture outlook about the world they are a member of, and that regardless of how scary the world is, it is not the majority of experience. Then they had a bomb threat later that morning at the school... Oy...
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