Yesterday's post brought up a few more memories.
Read that post Here
I've thought back over my childhood, and the events that shaped my future, many times. Trying to figure out what I did - and why - and learning from that deliberation.
Recently, thanks to Facebook, I've connected with a few people who were in school at the same time as I was (not necessarily in the same school year) and they have mentioned that I was always 'quiet' and 'prim and proper'.
Honestly, I don't remember being that way. Although, as I do think back, I remember a childhood that I looked upon as 'normal' - but hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 vision.
Images from Google
My mother confessed once. "I had to stop hitting you because if I hit you, the end result MUST be that you started crying, otherwise, I had to hit you again. You would stand there, in pain and yet defiant. 'That didn't hurt!' you'd say. It was getting to be too much like child abuse, so I stopped hitting you."
Actually, my mother didn't really stop hitting me until I started hitting back. True story.
Friends I speak to now I'm an adult don't share my view of my childhood being 'normal'. Regular beatings - and no, not just a slap on the hand - full, lean back and let go face slaps, 'forearm smashes' across the shoulders from my father on a couple of occasions, knocking me to the floor, and one particular time when my mother pulled me off my feet, towards her, 'forgetting' there was a wall between us. One dazed daughter later (me) and the point was made. One time, my father ran up the stairs and I knew it was for my 'benefit'. He ripped off my bedclothes, even though he knew at that time, (15 years old), I slept in just briefs, so I was all-but naked. I had the foresight to turn onto my front before he tore off the bedclothes but it didn't stop him battering me.
I guess I decided to 'reinvent' myself when I went up to 'big' school and I kept my head down (didn't always work, of course).
I suppose my strategy included the theory that I was always in trouble for something - even things I didn't do - and therefore, keeping out of trouble at school made a welcome change. As I said, it wasn't always like that.
If something had gone off in the village, attention usually turned to me. I was an easy target, my parents would always, without fail, believe the worst and come down on the side of the accusers - even in the face of no proof that the fault was mine.
And that time when I escaped being raped... I ran all the way home and my 'concerned father' yelled at me for being home late - and then told me he was taking me to the doctor the next morning to have me 'checked out' - in other words, to see if I was still a virgin.
Abuse and neglect on such a scale is sure to have its effects.
I wonder why I can be paranoid?
I was being sexually harassed at work at the age of 17 and after a while, I told my mother. "I don't know what to do about that..." she said.
At least she didn't say, well, you will wear those short skirts... - mainly because I didn't.
You see, the one anecdote that I come back to is the one my friend Hilary pointed out as just not right.
My father said to me, "How did you manage to get such a good husband?"
My reply was, "I took one look at you and thought, 'No way!'"
That had always been an amusing story... until I told Hilary. She was shocked and angry.
"How dare he suggest you're not worth a good husband! How DARE he?" she said.
Personally, I was confused until I realised what she meant. I had become so used to being belittled that it was just another one of those things. One more thing for which I must have done something to deserve... one more slap, one more nasty comment that I was expected to just shrug off.
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can also wound me.
The be-all and end-all of this is the lessons I learned from my childhood.
How to take a beating - and not just a little scrap, a full adult-to-child battering. I never wanted my children to know how to take a beating - especially not from me.
How to stick up for your children. My children know there's at least one person they can ALWAYS turn to, even if the problem is their fault. We can work it out, but I have their back.
Loyalty. You have some friends and you have family. Learn who will be there when the chips are down and repay that loyalty - always.
How NOT to parent. It goes without saying that I made some mistakes. I realised one mistake I'd made with my daughter that I hadn't until today. I'll speak with her about that.
Some childhoods are not all they're cracked up to be - make sure your children have the best that you can give and if the only gift you have is your time, then realise this - it will be enough.