It is funny how when a child goes through abuse in the home, they feel that they did something wrong, or they said something to piss the abusive parent off. However sometimes the abuser reveals the real reason for singling out the child. It is a lesson I know very well because it was taught to my abuser as well.
I am referring to my late stepmother. As cruel as she was and as evil as she could be, I learned some lessons about her that did enable me to forgive what she did. Does that mean that from time to time the shadows don’t try to creep up and remind me through nightmares and such? Absolutely not.
I remember well how I slept with the lights on after she killed herself with that same pistol she waived at my head–and sometimes she went further–she would actually put the barrel to my head, and I can remember how cold it felt to this day. Often she revealed my existence as her reasoning behind her resentment of my presence in the family. The bottom line is, I stood up to her once I got older.
I find it also funny that when growing up, one thinks this is actually normal crap to deal with day after day. Once she took her own life, and the shock of her death subsided, along with my self-loathing thinking it was my fault she did it, I began to get around ‘normal families“…You know–the ones where both parents didn’t fight and they actually had meals together at the table like we did before my parents split?
However, back to my point…She would tell me things her mother said to her such as, “…I don’t want you and I never did!” Then she told me a story about how her two step sisters died in a fire that she believed her stepfather started. I wasn’t sure what to make of this story until I read it myself, but she was adamant that her stepfather set the fire.
I had a horrible tendency to turn my anger inward during and after those years. I remember hearing those negative voices when my stepmother committed suicide–and they were very “loud”, if you know what I mean. I kept hearing, “You should have done this!” or “IF you had done X then Y wouldn’t have happened.” The bottom line is that there was nothing I did to cause it being that I was only around 14 and nothing could change it. I had to work my way through that process of grief and self-loathing.
My dad was a total basket case, so I had to help arrange the funeral and pick the casket, as well as the dress to bury her in. THAT was the hardest part of that whole thing–having to help arrange it at 14. I am glad my sister and sister-in-law were around to help keep my head on track, and they did help me to handle this. To this day I have an aversion to going into funeral homes even though I make myself do it. All it takes is the smell of the flowers or the sight of a black suit to send me straight back to 1978. I don’t know why but that triggers those memories in a huge way. I find it ironic that I knew more about her childhood–her parents names and such than my father did. I also knew that she had three sons taken from her in Red Bluff, CA in the 1970’s so if anyone is looking to find her, then contact me via email.
I struggled with trying to find reasons for what happened, and trying to make “sense” of it, but there is no “sense” when it comes to something like that or any unexpected loss, I think. There was also that voice that kept saying, “What if I had done ____ differently? Would it change a thing?” I didn’t have a sounding board to take my frustrations out on so I turned to pen and paper, which was all I had at the time–aside from an imagination that when my pen flowed freely, the counselors became concerned. I also struggled with the fact that there came a day when I fully realized that what went on in our household was NOT normal by any stretch of the imagination.
Then came the day I had to forgive her and then myself. I realized that I both loved her and hated what she did, but realizing that she was not in control of her actions enabled me to forgive her and begin to rebuild from another starting point. I also had to forgive a few others in this process. When I say I had to “rebuild from another starting point” I am referring to the fact that after any traumatic event we can never fully be the person we once were. We have to debrief ourselves a bit and then start reprogramming from that point, I think.
Living with her mental illnesses was one thing, but her behaviors also taught me how “NOT” to be a stepmother. It also turned me off of the idea of internet dating and such because she WAS a mail order bride. Anyone can put on any image they want to present themselves to be, but you never know what they are until you are with them.
I choose to play it “safe” and avoid that trap, hence the reason I don’t connect with anyone to go out with from the internet. I have my friends I hang out with. If I go out with anyone it will be with NO ONE that I meet on the web.
Does this mean I am lonely? No. I am alone but I don’t get lonely. I have things to do and places to go and since I spent half of my life married, I’m in no rush. I am certainly NOT desperate either. Being single does not mean that my life is broken.
Now I want to say something else here. I read Cinderella as a child…I watched the version of it with Lesley Ann Warren and loved it. As I got older, as in my late teens, I began to realize how much truth in “Fairy Tales” really existed. Her friends were mice–AT LEAST in the Disney version. My friend was a mouse named Brutus. There is also truth in the fiction between us all. My fiction was that I was a princess or an angel in waiting…When I grew up, I realized that I am a statistic…A number…One of the many who fell through the cracks, but made my own way back out of them.
In fact, I think the song “Luka” fits more accurately–even though I’m not a boy. After all, Suzanne Vega was right…She only hit until I cried. I sure as hell didn’t ask why when she went on these rampages either.
Many of these fairy tales were written with happy endings, but in life, would they have been happy? We may never know. Look at “Sleeping Beauty“…The queen was pissed because she wasn’t invited to the Christening. The only thing that woke Aurora’s ass up was her true love’s kiss. What rubbish. All of these fairy tales have the sabotage of the memes we were taught running rampantly through them. The main theme being “Good prevails over evil”….Does it? Or, do we simply hope for the best, block out the worst and drive on hoping the next day will be better than the one before?
Either way I drew more inspiration for my writing from “Dark Shadows” than I ever would any of these “fairy tales”. I also drew from a movie called “Paperhouse” and ‘another one called “Spirit of the Beehive“. Perhaps it is because in the eyes of the child I once was, Barnabas (from “Dark Shadows”) could not help what he was and that enabled me to empathize with his fictional pain. In my opinion, he was bullied too.