Friday, December 28, 2012

Be sure you're right, then go ahead.

When I was younger I was quite fond of the Davey Crockett movies Disney made. I always wondered how he knew he was right. I feel a lot of doubt. The funny thing is, being challenged takes a lot of that feeling away.

Why did I send my niece a mean, nasty letter? Because it was mean and nasty. I will slightly dispute the phrase abusive, but that's about perception so I will only slightly dispute it and live with the fact that other people different opinions.

Do I get to defend me? That's what it comes down to. Am I allowed to say, "No more." Was it my niece's fault? Of course not. She never did anything to me. I'm not holding her responsible for what happened to me. I'm not even holding her responsible for what happened to her. It isn't her fault she was raped by a parent either.

But she wants to continue living with her abuser. She wants to continue normalizing the abuse and tolerating it. I don't need to be mean to her to get away from her. It's not a requirement. Maybe someone else could have figured out how to do it nicely.

I am a flawed and broken person. I am extremely violent. I am nasty and mean. I was taught to be that way. It was extensively modeled. Maybe someone better than me could have found a better way to handle it.

I am limited by being me.

Am I sure I was right in hurting my niece? I know I was not. Hurting her wasn't the point and it didn't make me happy.

Was I right in breaking contact with my family? Yes. Yes. Yes. Unless you believe large scale sexual abuse should be normalized there really isn't an alternative view on this one.

I tried to stay with my family. Then I started finding out how many people my sister raped. And how they are all covering it up. Yeah, no. I can't be part of that. No thanks. My kids deserve better.

I am absolutely certain that I am the best thing to come out of that family. Vain? Sure. Arrogant? Sure. I really am. I completely fucking am. And my kids are going to be distinctly better than I am. I am going to make sure my family can't fuck them up.

My sister is a drug and alcohol dependent pedophile. My brother is drug and alcohol dependent and believes that if he ever had a daughter that would be bad because inevitably he would do things. My mother has not been able to have a stable relationship outside of our family (not even friendship) since I was a small child.

My aunt works like a dog into her 70's. She supports her three grown, disabled children. One has Lupus. One is a paraplegic from a motorcycle accident. One is severely diabetic and learning disabled to the point where he hasn't been very functional this lifetime. He has never truly lived independently. All of these kids are in their 50's now. They still can't function without their mommy.

Yeah, I don't want my kids turning out like my family. I judge.

I judge the drinking and the drugs and the lying. I judge the refusal to do honest work. I judge the attitude of superiority that allows them to terrorize children. How broken do you have to be to feel like a big person by raping children?

I am absolutely sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was right in walking away from my family. But I still feel bad that they hurt more because of me. I never wanted to hurt them. I just wanted them to stop hurting me. I wanted to prevent them from ever hurting my kids.

I'm going to go to the Police station today. I spent yesterday talking with therapists and social workers and online support groups of people who have a lot of experience with domestic violence. It is an information only sort of report. I want to ensure that if something happens it is treated as an escalation not step one. That is all I want. Nothing should happen today except a paper trail. There is "nothing to report" only I want my local police to know I exist and that I have a long history of being terribly abused by my family and I'm not sure if they are capable of stopping.

It's hard to judge these kinds of things until it is too late.

27 children die pretty much every week. They are killed by their parents for one reason or another. Family violence is endemic in this country. Given my story I have a much higher than usual chance of having things keep going. That's just kind of how my life goes. It isn't paranoia to explain my story in progress to people.

"I have not received any specific threats but they are absolutely smart enough that they wouldn't. The last several times I have seen my sister there have been posturing maneuvers up to and including her threatening to beat me up while I was pregnant. She would do it too. I don't want police to visit my family and "check up" or anything. I just want to know that if things start escalating I have a prayer of being believed and supported."

Because I am going to walk into a police station in a few hours I don't want to smoke. Which means I'm sitting with my anxiety this morning.

A while ago I read that anxiety is energy in the body that wants to be doing something but you are thwarted. I feel a lot better now that I'm in the count down to doing what I can do. I have a plan. It's not a great one. It's not an important one. I don't expect anything to change because of my plan--not really. But I've still decided my course of action. Now I can just put my head down and keep moving. I have a plan.

My two little girls are next to me on the bed while I write. Since I'm not smoking I don't need to freeze my ass off in the garage this morning. Instead I'm sitting in comfy warmth with cuddles.

My life isn't what other people want. That's ok. I don't do things how other people do. That's ok too. It is better than ok. It's unavoidable. We aren't going to all fall into Stepford line.

4.5 years into parenting I am a lot less sure about the right way to parent. I feel fairly certain that my specific doubts will increase instead of decreasing over time. I have to parent how it feels right to me. I know that I have very different needs and preferences than other people. Humans are weird like that.

I feel loved here in a way I have never been loved. Noah really doesn't understand how nice he is to me. He underestimates it. Or maybe he just doesn't really understand how nasty other people have been. He pays attention to me in ways that startle me.

Every single time I take my shirt off he comes to delighted attention. He is more alert than any teenage boy to the possibility of nudity. He is so happy and appreciative.

But it's not just the sex. He makes me breakfast every day. He does dishes. He cleans. He plays with our kids and works hard to take a serious interest in them. He shows them how things work and reads to them and generally takes it seriously that if they are going to learn about things it has to come from us. So we interact with our kids like crazy and hope that a whole bunch sticks. I'll be more methodical when they are older. For now I'm just showing them the world.

A friend came over recently and was relaying difficulty with her daughter in a store. It was kind of weird because I had this intense reaction about how I would treat the same situation. And I had this intense explosion in my chest when she was talking. Oh my god I would not handle it that way. But that's not because I am better or right. It's because I would freak out and start crying. It's because I have a lot of time to kill I have luxuries that people who work don't have. I can tell the kids at the door to the store, "Either you behave or we are turning around and going home." My kids think the store is an outing. I can go back for many days in a row until they are willing to behave to my satisfaction. People with jobs just can't do that. You have to buy food--right?

I don't think I am right because I have the Right Answer. I think I am right for me because I have paid a lot of attention to how I handle things over the years. I know my limitations. I know what things will cause me to start completely losing my shit. I work around them. It has been a long defining process.

I have "so much self control" because I carefully choose what I expose myself to.

Yes, I was mean to my family. Yes, my niece is a lot younger than me so I suppose I have an obligation to be nicer to her than to the people who are older than me.

I have no choice but to live with it. I think I will do ok at that. I'm sure I was right. There were no good choices. I had no good options. I believe I inflicted as little damage as possible. Oh believe me I could have been nastier.

Even though I hurt people I tend to hurt them in calculated ways. I protect myself--sometimes in ways that do not place other people as more important than me. I have to live with that. I don't think it will be that hard.

I am not in denial about hurting people. I try hard not to do it randomly. I try hard not to do it indiscriminately. I will defend myself though. If there is collateral damage--oh well. I can't always save everyone else from the consequences of their actions.


  1. You have some really coherent thoughts on parenting. Thanks!

  2. "Every single time I take my shirt off he comes to delighted attention. He is more alert than any teenage boy to the possibility of nudity. He is so happy and appreciative."

    Your descriptions of Noah make me laugh so much. You appreciate him and notice him much more than I was ever able to, and I'm really glad he found you. I'm glad you two found each other.

    "4.5 years into parenting I am a lot less sure about the right way to parent."

    This has actually given me some comfort. When I became a mother about six months after you did, you seemed so sure of everything you were doing, and I was freaked out that I was doing things all wrong. Since then, I think we've both embraced the idea of going with the flow and doing what seems right, rather than what a book/website/expert says.

    Oh, and I absolutely tell my kids that if they don't behave, we're going home (really just M- T's not quite old enough to understand yet, but he's getting there). And when they don't behave, we do go home. You only have to do it once or twice for them to learn that you mean it, and somehow they manage to behave.

    I consider myself a fairly lenient parent, and I like M to go out and explore and figure things out, but I'm also particular about what is acceptable behavior, and what isn't. When M is too wound up or too tired or too something to be able to handle that, then we leave the store/restaurant/friend's house. Sometimes it's not his fault really, but staying in that situation doesn't help. And if I need to go out and buy stuff another time without them, then I find a way to do that. There are usually ways.

    "I don't think I am right because I have the Right Answer. I think I am right for me because I have paid a lot of attention to how I handle things over the years."

    That's all fine and good, but isn't there some voice in there saying that the other person is doing it wrong and your way is better? I know I have that because I *do* think I do it better than lots of other parents. I think you do too, which is why your kids are awesome (just like mine). ;)

  3. Also, for the record (since my opinion matters so much here), you don't have an obligation to be in contact with someone just because they're related to you. And you certainly don't have an obligation to support them, financially or otherwise. You may choose to do so, or not.

    It sounds like the manner in which you broke off contact bothers you. Is that something you want to try to fix?