Did you ever have a knee jerk reaction to something that you just didn’t expect? One day, you are going along and an issue comes up and your normally calm self goes from an emotional 3 to 10++++?
This happened to me in a very basic conversation about growing up with a mentally ill (paranoid schizophrenic) mom and father that drank. The immediate reaction was, “Wow, how did your dad’s drinking affect you? Have you thought about Al Anon to help? So horrible to have drunk dad.”
Deep breaths and then: “My dad’s drinking had no more a bad effect than growing up with someone who was mentally unstable and unsafe. No Al Anon won’t help.” (I don’t mean to bash Al-Anon. I know in proper hands that it is helpful to many-many folks.)
I harbor some pretty bitter and not so deep seeded emotions here. This is still the thorn in my flesh.
My mom in her need to “get help” went to this group and all it did was put blame on my dad for everything, and she was able to further perpetuate that she was not abusive or ill. It was only my dad’s drinking problem. Her hallucinations and break-downs had nothing to do with her need for help or intervention.
My mom’s illusions were far more real to her than the reality. For example, we moved a great deal. In moving and being the new kid, I was bullied. In the middle of 6th grade, we moved to Hot Springs, Ar. Lakeside. Being poor, new and nerdy, was not good for this district. I was shoved and pinched and called all sorts of names on the bus. Some of name-calling, I didn’t know what they meant. I told mom about it and her reaction was what did I do to cause this treatment? It must be me. No meeting or big meeting or intervention. So I endured.
For 7th grade, we were still in Hot Springs, but a different school district. Southside. I was one of only 2 white girls on the basketball team. This is important to note because my mom had decided that I was being picked on, even though, I wasn’t. This was actually one of the better schools that I wasn’t severely bullied. BUT, mom thought because I was white that things had happened. So one day I and the only other white girl were called into the principal’s office. He said one of our parents (Shellie was the other girl and no, it was more than obvious that it wasn’t her parents). We both swore up and down. No these things didn’t happen.
I confronted my mom about this. Why did you go in? Why did you say those things? She said this is what I told her and how dare I question her. I mean. What? When I did tell her about actual things, nothing. When nothing happened, she goes in and swears she is standing up for some of my rights! Also, to note. Even after the principal discussion, the coach gathered everyone and had the discussion. Shellie and I both were like no. Sorry. NO bullying after that whole thing either.
I must be more aware that this is a much thornier issue than I even realized. I am protective of my dad because we had our talk and “come to Jesus” moments of understanding. He is now gone and so when someone wants to put blame all on him because he was a drunk dad, I react quite strongly. He sobered up. He faced those demons. So much of growing up was blaming my dad. He was an easy scapegoat because Mom’s issues didn’t manifest in such large ways. She had “nervous break-downs.” If she did make something up, no one believed me that it was made up. The scars of emotional abuse and manipulation run pretty deep, but they don’t have to define me in a negative way or at all. They can be thorns that can be removed.