February 28, 2016

Birth of the Ultimate Threat

Our father wasn't just an alcoholic.  He was also addicted to gambling.  Instead of working hard for his dreams of wealth, he went everyday to the horse track hoping for one lucky break.
When I look at old pictures of
myself  I'm always drawn to how
sad my eyes looked

I grew up listening to father promise us that, "Any day now," he would buy us a big house, cars, anything we wanted.  He constantly promised that we would never have to worry about money.  Instead, we were constantly evicted from apartments because he gambled the rent money away.

I don’t think we ever stayed more than a year in any apartment.  We were constantly on the move.

Our mother worked during the day at a factory making men’s suits for a famous designer and when she found a second job cleaning offices at night she finally decided to leave our father.  That didn't mean we didn't see father anymore.

Despite father putting a knife to mother's throat, having all her clothes shredded and being constantly evicted from apartments, mother would allow father to come and stay with us every weekend after she left him.  It was also when mother gave birth to a threat I had never heard before, but would cause me to live in terror of her.

When mother realized that I was not only making friends at the new school we were going to, but that I had found a best friend that I regularly talked to and spent time with, I guess she got scared.

She found new ways to punish me, such as kneeling on a bag of rice for over an hour while having to drink a large glass of water, or pulling out two or three strands of hair at a time while she told me how evil I was.

In addition to telling me that I would burn in hell for all eternity if I didn’t obey her, she also began threatening to kill me if I ever told anyone what happened at home.  I knew she wasn't just talking about the fights between her and father, but the punishments she gave and the horrible things she said to me.

I never doubted my mother's threats because I remembered the stories she told me of how she tried to self abort me.  She never wanted me which in my mind meant that she would have no problem killing me.

The trust issues I began developing when my father was going to push me down two flights of stairs on my bike, combined with mother's threats, would cause me to have trust issues well into adulthood.

The other problem with mother threatening to kill me was a distorted understanding of human emotions and behavior.  She had ingrained in me that no one ever said anything they didn't mean.  When she threatened to kill me if I talked about home life, it was the absolute truth.  What people said when they were angry was the absolute truth.  What father said in his alcoholic rants was the absolute truth.

As I grew older and entered relationships, I believed words spoken in anger by a boyfriend or friend was the absolute truth.  The true feelings they were hiding when they weren't angry.  My damaged mind could not comprehend the idea that someone would say something they did not unequivocally mean. 

Because of my distorted understanding of human emotions and behavior, I broke off numerous relationships with boyfriends and friends.

No apology could erase the hurtful words spoken to me or make me believe that anyone would speak hurtful words they did not mean.

Not only did I have a distorted understanding of normal emotional behavior, I had to learn and accept that my own behavior of never showing anger was abnormal.

I refused to ever get upset or argue with anyone.  Not only because I didn’t know how to, but because I was scared that in expressing myself I would hurt someone’s feelings.  Having had my feelings hurt my entire life, I knew how horrible it felt and I couldn’t stand the thought of causing someone that kind of harm.

Friends and boyfriends would always get more upset and tell me to engage, always asking if I had anything to say, or demanding that I say something.  Of course I always shook my head and in almost a whisper told them I had nothing to say.

I could not comprehend or understand the frustrations expressed by friends or boyfriends when I would not argue back or express myself.  I was taught to be silent and I could not understand why people were not pleased with my silence.

The truth is, even if I wanted to express my feelings, I didn’t know how to.  I wasn’t allowed to express myself growing up.  I wasn’t allowed to get angry as a child without being punished.

Instead of preparing me for life and teaching me to be an emotionally strong and normal functioning human being, I was thrown into the world without any normal behavioral traits.

I was thrown into the world as a victim, ill prepared to defend myself from becoming a victim again.  Eventually I would find it better to close myself off emotionally to people than to risk being hurt.

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