Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Adult Child

I was watching a movie of a true story about a woman who was on death row. Throughout the story they tried to convince not only the jury but the viewer that it was because of the womans childhood or lack of upbringing that made her a candidate for murder. I can't remember exactly when I had a conscious understanding of right and wrong but I knew from very early on what didn't feel right or seem right. In many instances we do have roll models that reflect right and wrong. We look to adults in youth groups, neighbors, relatives and yes even other children and their families, etc. Even before we are introduced to the world beyond our own we have an internal understanding of what is expected or what is society's normal. I tried to think about my emotions and my thoughts in what I believed was a world of turmoil.
I can remember being ten years old very clearly. There was a merge of personality still part child and another part of me entering the world of adults. I always thought that any stability that I had came at this particular time but I also had a deep and profound understanding of the dysfunction in which we as children were raised. I thought it was pretty amazing how much you know and understand as a child without even discussing it with anyone. Repeatedly watching attempted murder is like watching a murder being carried out over and over again. The irony was that it was like the Bill Murray movie " Ground Hog Day" it was the same violent and disruptive life style over and over again. I don't believe we became numb to the violence but on the contrary we learned to recognize the signs and expect the worst. My mother was an obvious key, as it was her actions that prepped us both early in the morning and through out the day. I can remember laying across the bed and thinking about all the negativity with in my own life. I don't really recall wondering what my brother and sister thought, in many ways we each were looking for our own out. I believe early on that it was about own survival. The 60's came with their own set of problems, it was a time of rebellion and change in society's structure, especially closer to the 70's. People were talking more and less was being hidden in the closet. Because we really knew it wasn't right, it forced each of us to leave home at an early age, to find an escape. My brother was the eldest he joined the military, my eldest sister fought and earned her right at 16 in the courts when she won her right with minor emancipation. The third born was pregnant as a teen and ended up marrying the baby's father and of course dying way before her time. I went to live with my brother after his release from the military and my youngest sister left in her teens on a road of most would expect from a troubled teen. Choices we were at the age where we could decide to get away and we did. But no matter where we run the memories come with us. Almost all of my life I had this internal drive to run, run as far and as fast I could,but no matter where I went I had to deal with all that happen. I couldn't run fast enough nor far enough and I couldn't hide. The beginning of writing was the first step in standing up and accepting the past as a chapter that happened. Turning the pages and looking ahead to the future without the need to run was not easy but necessary. I understood at this time the importance of facing our ghost and acknowledging that in many ways our tools to achieve were limited to what we were taught as a child. Do I believe my parents loved me, strangely enough I do believe my father did, I thought my mother regretted having children. She always said she didn't want girls and she had four of them. She hated domestics cooking, baking and I can guess really what I learned about all the necessary skills of homemaking came from my eldest sister Lex. I can't ever remember her lovingly combing my hair an when I try to think of the time that was positive with mother in those early years I find it almost impossible. Except for one day when I was really small and I had to have an operation on my feet, I remember crying as they took me from her, " I want my mommie, I want my mommie" In most situations that is what a child wants is to be loved and I guess that is why even though it's wrong we love our abuser. Love is a need no different than food and water and a essential part of our internal human being. Whether our love comes from a dysfunctional parent or an abusive spouse, we seek and need to be loved. I am not sure why that is so, doesn't seem to happen to everyone that way, but as much as I love my parents, I hate them for what they did to five innocent children. I am not proud of that anger that has remained inside of me for so many years and letting it go is in itself therapeutic. I spent the better part of my life trying to understand why my parents were like this and the obvious always surfaces, they were two people who were never meant to come together and have five children. The love between them was weak and they didn't have what it takes to rise above the negative chapters of life. I shall not carry their guilt and yet when push comes to shove I have done all I can to continue to walk without ruffling feathers. Why? Because I am so aware of what people are capable of and I have learned that fear is the ultimate motivator in a dysfunctional family. Once that trigger of fear is pulled the gears are in motion and a life is altered.


Gail said...


Oh my - the truth of your life is so intentional - I feel it deeply. I am hopeful for you because you know that running doesn't work. I know how hard it is to face ourselves, stand in our own truth regardless of the details and embrace that which is ours to hold. I aplaud your journey to wholenss and integration and I honor the difficulty.

Love and respect

Children with out voices said...

When one word falls upon a listening ear it gives a legitimacy to my emotions. I always believed that souls cross paths for a reason. I am glad that you and I have collided Gail.

Thank You

Gail said...


oh yes, just one listening ear is all it takes to give validaition to one's story. I remember the first time I spoke of my childhood abuse by the teacher to another perosn, face to face. I was at the YWCA hoping to join a support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse. The room I was in with this kind woman was more like a cold cell - but it matered not. Her total attention and obvious listening was amazing and as i spoke, tears fell softly from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. Those tears gave me strength and hope, her quoet listening saved me. And I am glad that you and i have collided too. I feel quite connected.

Love to you my brave friend

marsbar711 said...

Oh, how moving the story of your journey is! Having come from a loving, non-abusive family and a quaint, Mayberry-esque town, as a child, I could never have known what was happening out there in the "real" world. Becoming an adult and having further outreach to experiences and all kinds of people, it was quite an education to learn of the GOD awful abuse so many people had suffered as children...why was I so lucky? My heart breaks with each & every story I hear of innocent children suffering at the hands of adult monsters, how dare they! Whenever I have the opportunity to pass on a pearl of wisdom to a young person in need, I find myself saying; "your past does not define you, nor, does it determine your future." It is so necessary that all children know, that although, it is important where you came from, it is HUGELY important where you are going. I wish you peace and clarity as your continued journey unfolds. May GOD bless you and continually strengthen your