Tag Archives: anger

The Day My Father Died

pexels-photo-296234.jpegThe day my father died, the day they removed the ventilator that was keeping him alive, I left work early, even though I wasn’t sure why.  It just seemed as if I should, considering.  He was lying in a hospital bed 3-1/2 hours away and I could have made the trip back to see him off.  But I didn’t want to be there at the end.  It felt too hypocritical.  I couldn’t make myself wear the “good daughter” mask even one more time.

He had died to me so long ago, I didn’t think it mattered if I was at his bedside.  I didn’t want to hold his hand.  I didn’t need to say goodbye.  There were no words that could change our lack of connection or mend our relationship…not at that point.  Years of abuse had culminated in the construction of layers of walls meant to protect me from more damage than I could survive.

I sat in the sunshine that unusually warm October day, staring at the incredibly blue sky, knowing he would not experience the next beautiful day.   Nor would he see the leaves turn and fall from the trees or smell the lovely scent of flowers in the springtime.  For he would never see or smell anything ever again.  He would not wade the creek with fishing rod in hand or haunt his favorite fishing hole.  He would not mow another yard or drive his car, write a check, go out to eat, putter in the garage or breathe fresh air while gazing at the star strewn sky.  His tomorrows had all been spent.  So, I sat that magnificent day, thinking about the end of his life, waiting.  Knowing he was likely taking his last breath that very moment, the final second slipping from his hand as the air silently left his lungs.

But I felt nothing.  Nothing at all.

I knew I should be grieving, yet the emotions weren’t there.  I knew I should at least feel sorry that I would never see him again.  But the only sadness I could muster was over the reverberations of his life, the damage he did, the opportunities he missed to connect with a daughter who used to adore him.  All because he chose his lust instead of his child.  I felt an emptiness only because he left nothing worthwhile or cherished behind with me.  Only pain.  Suffering.

I sat beneath the vast cerulean sky as the warm air caressed my skin with a gentle breeze.  I wondered if it was over.  And when I couldn’t make myself feel sorrow, I retreated inside and waited for the call telling me he was gone.

I did feel a little guilt over my lack of distress.  But even guilt could not goad me to produce a tear or two.

The next day, I went back to work.  I went on as if nothing had happened.

I thought perhaps it would hit me at some point.  I assumed there would come a moment in time when I would feel some level of misery because of his death.  It didn’t happen at his funeral, which I did attend.  It didn’t suddenly roll over me like a wave of sorrow at any time during that first year after he was gone.   In fact, this coming October will mark 20 years since his passing and I have yet to shed a tear.

The only thing I have felt is relief.

I sat in the sun the day he died and felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders.  The stress of having to talk to him, to continue to act as if nothing had happened…gone!  The guilt of not going home as often as I “should” because it was so terribly hard to be around my sadistic parents…gone!   The pain of listening to him tell me I “turned out alright,” as if all the horrible things he did to me when I was a defenseless child hadn’t had any impact on who I had become…gone!  I didn’t have to think about him at all.  Or force myself to make that 3+ hour drive to see him ever again.  I was…free.

If only it was as easy to be freed from the destruction he left behind, from all the damage to my heart and soul.  His legacy.

I sat in the chair beneath the vast, blue sky without a tear in my eye.  Then I went inside, closed the door and stepped out of the chains that tied me to him.  Liberated, but wounded.  Relieved, but broken.  I silently closed the door and breathed a huge sigh of relief.


I had a dream last night.  I woke up in the middle of the night because of that dream.  I woke up angry.

It surprised me. 

It made me think.

It made me wonder.

Am I angry?  Really angry?  Inside?  An angry person?  Do I hide it, even from myself?  Am I deceiving myself into believing that I’m not an angry person?

Is that why I’m so depressed?

I’m asking myself the question…about whether or not I’m angry…because when I woke up, the anger was very, very, very intense.  I was angry with God. With my parents.  With the world.

Especially with God.  Because He has all the power.  To help me.  To make my life better.  But He hasn’t.  He doesn’t.

I felt the anger burning inside of me.

It’s stupid.  To be angry with God.  I know.  But…

He’s supposed to love me.  He’s supposed to want to have a relationship with me.  He’s supposed to be there.  To guide me.  To comfort me.  To bless me.  To provide for me.  He said He had a plan to bless me and not to harm me.  To prosper me.  He’s supposed to make a way when there is no way.  To protect me.  To look after me.  To care for me.  To want me.  He promised these things.  I didn’t ask for them.  He promised.  He said He loved me.  That he cared.  That I mattered to Him.

That’s what love means, right?

Son.  Of.  A.  Bitch.

Not much evidence of this going on in my life.

I’m alone.  I don’t make enough money to cover my basic expenses, much less to take care of all the financial things I should be dealing with.  I’m old.  I’m without a mate.  I’m still broken.  I am barely, barely, barely making ends meet.  Barely.  I have almost no, if any, friends.  I have nothing…except for my dogs and a few possessions that don’t matter in the grand scheme.  And I pray every day that God will please, I beg you, please, please, please take care of my dogs because they are all that I have ; all that really matters and they are the only reason I’m hanging on to life. 

I pray that my car will start.  It’s an old car.  Old, like me.  I thank God every time it starts.  Every time.  I thank God every time I come home and my dogs are happy to see me.  Every time they are okay.  Dancing and wiggling with little stubby tails wagging.

I want to be a nice person.  A good person. The person my dogs see.  But maybe I’m not.  Maybe I’m just an angry person.  A very angry person.  And there’s nothing good about me.

All I wanted was to be loved.  By God. By someone special.  A partner.  All I wanted was to be worth loving.  By God. By someone special.

I married a man, a man who never loved me.  I married him only because I felt in my spirit God was putting the two of us together.  God spoke to me.  Asked me to trust Him.  I trusted Him.  And my husband never, never, never not once, loved me.  In all those 22 years.  He never loved me.  That’s what I got for trusting God.

Thanks God.  For NOTHING.  This is love?

Thanks for putting me with a man who thought I was worthless and unlovable.  Who didn’t want me.  Thanks.

Maybe I’m a little angry about it.


Maybe I have a reason to be angry. 

Maybe I don’t have any reason to be angry.  He is God.  Perfect.  Never makes a mistake.  Knows all things.  Maybe I am worthless and unworthy of love.  Maybe He was right to put me with someone who would reject me every day of those 22 years we were together.

Maybe He is right in destroying my life.  Taking away almost every single thing that matters to me (except my dogs).  Maybe He is right to put me in a job where I can’t provide for myself.  Where it’s hostile and ugly.  Where nothing I do is good enough.

Because I’m never good enough.

Wasn’t good enough for my parents. Wasn’t worth anything.  Except to be used.  Abused.  Discarded.

They couldn’t love me.  I wasn’t worth anything to them beyond what they could get from me.

Wasn’t good enough for my ex.  Ex husband.  The “husband” that God led me to.  Bound me to. 

Was never good enough.  For anyone.  For him.  For any of them.


Because somehow, I’m less than.  Somehow I’m worthless.  Lacking.  Somehow unlovable.  Unwanted.  Because God never led me to anyone who could see anything good in me.  Anything of value.


I don’t know.  I know I’m not perfect…far from it.  But am I really so much worse than everyone else on the planet?


Maybe that’s why I’m so deeply angry.

The Day I Didn’t Want to Live Anymore

It’s hard to believe, but it has been almost nine years. Nine long, hard, disappointing years.

I lost my job the previous July when I decided to keep my integrity . What I mean by this is, I refused to do something illegal that my employer required of me. They “asked” me to “move on down the road” (their words, not mine) when I told them I couldn’t comply.

It was an especially terrifying situation because it happened about a year and a half after my ex-husband left me for another woman. I had no other income. No one to lean on. Little savings.

I was encouraged when I found a new job about 5 months later, but the new company was run by an egotistical, insecure, psycho-tyrant who hated and bullied me for absolutely no reason. He dismissed me after only 6 months.

I couldn’t find another job. 

My dog died that October. The holidays were approaching and I felt worthless, brokenhearted and alone.

Then I completely ran out of money. In danger of losing my home and unable to pay basic bills, I asked my brother for a loan. He declined to help, blaming me for getting myself into the situation to begin with. I blamed myself too.  But I had nowhere else to turn, other than to him, so I was feeling completely without options. 

That’s when I realized it didn’t matter if I lived or died. Nothing tethered me to the planet. Nothing in my life made it worth living.

I have fought depression most of my life. I was tired of fighting. Tired of losing every battle. Tired of losing everything and having to start over.  Again.  And again.

For some time, I had been seeing a counselor weekly and a psychiatrist monthly. They were still trying to control the depression with medication, so I was taking a shit-load of anti-depressants along with Adderall in a vain attempt to boost my mood. When I lost my job, I stopped taking the Adderall. I filled the prescriptions, but purposely started stockpiling most of the pills. This was my back door. My way out. Per my research, 120 mg. per day was the upper limit that should be prescribed. I was taking 180 mg. per day. Figured I was going to need a lot of pills to actually overdose. But I needed to have an option when it seemed all options were running out. It made me feel better to know I could, if life became unbearable, simply exit stage left and let everything go on without me.

I stockpiled about 400 20 mg. pills.

The day I finally gave myself permission to quit life, I took 300 of them. I also took an entire bottle of Effexor, having just filled my prescription.

Though I don’t remember much, at some point during that night, I evidently stupidly called my counselor, apparently because I wanted to apologize for being the first patient he would lose to suicide. I don’t recall the conversation. I barely remember the police entering my house or the ambulance ride to the hospital. My memories of having a black sludge of charcoal pumped into my stomach are a little clearer, mainly because I puked and puked and puked the stuff all over myself, the bed and anyone who happened to be in range.

At some point, they moved me to ICU. That, I don’t remember at all.

I think I was there for 3 days before I really became aware of my surroundings and situation. For those lost days, I was in and out of consciousness, mostly sleeping, content to lay without thinking or caring, listening to the alarm buzz on my monitor with interesting frequency when various readings were in the danger zone. 

Eventually, I was alert enough to realize I was very angry that I was still alive. That’s when I started trying to get up and at least go to the bathroom on my own.

After the 4th day, I wanted out of there. But they wouldn’t let me go.

On the 5th day, they explained I would be released, then admitted to the psychiatric hospital. This, they told me, was non-negotiable. There, they would continue to monitor my medical condition, but would also perform a psychiatric evaluation.

I was discharged into the care of my ex-boss and his wife, both of whom had become friends. She took me home to pack, then sat with me as I waited to be admitted to the psych hospital. I filled out the forms, then was taken through locked doors onto a walkway, down various paths, through a couple more sets of locked doors and into a small room where I was strip searched. All bruises and any cuts were carefully documented. They asked for my cell phone, but I managed to slip it into my shoe and told them I didn’t bring it. They then went through my bag and confiscated anything they felt might be dangerous. I hadn’t realized rubbing alcohol could be used as a weapon of destruction, but they took it, along with a nail file and all my makeup. The makeup would be placed in a locker at the front desk of the floor where I was being “incarcerated.”  Each morning, I would be allowed to use it there at the desk as they watched. Then it would be returned to the locker. 

I was admitted on a Friday evening.

The first thing I learned is that there wasn’t anything to do. Especially on a weekend, when all activities were suspended. There was one television on the floor. They offered a few out-of-date magazines and some self-help books for your reading pleasure. The only other entertainment available was to sprawl in one of the institutional vinyl chairs in the common areas and watch your fellow “inmates” or go to your room, which was shared with a roommate, to sleep or stare out the window.

My roommate had bulimia and I could hear her purging at times. Having been anorexic in my 20’s and 30’s, something clicked inside of me, possibly because my stomach was still in turmoil after everything it had just been through. I can thank that psych hospital for bringing ED back into my life. 

An attendant walked the floor continually. They had to account for your whereabouts every 15 minutes.

Sometimes, alarms sounded, signifying a patient had become violent or, as indicated by a different tone, wasn’t accounted for.

Some people were completely out of touch with reality. They sat where placed, babbling incoherently to themselves, drooling, rocking. Some spent most of their time crowded around the TV. Others struck up friendships, sitting in small groups, talking and joking. There was a lot of flirting too, since there were both male and female patients on the floor. I mostly stayed in my room, exiting for meals or to occasionally wander the halls when I couldn’t stand my room a moment longer.

Three times a day, I was called to the desk to have my blood pressure taken and I was given my medication, which had to be swallowed in the presence of the nurse. She checked my mouth each time to confirm I swallowed it.

I talked to a social worker once. I was scheduled for a 30 minute interview with a counselor the day after I arrived and again the following day. Other than this meager “therapy,” I received no mental health support what-so-ever. I found that rather ironic, considering I was, after all, in a “mental” hospital.

The only phone on the floor was located across from the center desk where the attendants sat. Though I had managed to get my cell phone in, I had to be careful because you never knew when an attendant would come looking for you. So I tried to use their phone as much as possible.

My first call was to my counselor. I begged him to get me out.

And he did. But there were conditions. 

On the third day, though not affiliated with the hospital, he was finally authorized to come in to see me. He told me he was working on my release, but I wouldn’t be allowed to return home alone if they did deem me to no longer be a threat to myself. I would also be required to attend counseling twice a week for several months. And someone would be put in charge of my medication, giving me only enough to get me through the day each day.

On the 4th day, the head psychologist finally called me into one of the small glass therapy rooms. He grilled me, eventually shaking his head and telling me he was reluctant to let me go. He said I was too intelligent for my own good and he knew I was smart enough to tell him what he wanted to hear so I would get what I wanted. Even so, he agreed to discharge me. 

I missed Christmas that year. I was released to my friends just before the new year arrived, as 2005 became 2006. 

A different friend had my medication. I had to go to her house to get what I needed each day. And I had to see my counselor twice each week…more if he deemed necessary. Plus, I had to see the psychiatrist twice monthly.

I had no money when I went in. I had even less coming out.

After two weeks living with my former boss and his wife, I was allowed to return home. My life was in shambles. And I didn’t even want a life. My anger festered.  Mostly, I was furious with myself.  For failing.  For being alive.

They tell me I forever changed the Adderall overdose bell curve. No one had survived taking more than 600 mg. prior to my suicide attempt. I took 6000 mg. and lived. The dose I took was so ridiculously high, they actually didn’t believe I took that much. But I did. I know I’m telling the truth. 

I don’t know why it didn’t work; why I wasn’t allowed to slip away into eternity.

But the most disturbing thing I don’t know is why I am still here.



I am deeply sad.  I am actually clinically depressed, suffering from major depression and I have struggled with this debilitating kind of depression for most of my life.  I feel down.  I feel darkly burdened.  But I don’t really feel.
Doesn’t make much sense, I know. 
I understand, with my mind, that I must be experiencing a lot of grief and pain.  I understand, with my mind, there must be a lot of buried anger, hurt, confusion and a myriad of reactions to the millions of things that have happened to me during my life.  I know this because I’ve read a bunch of studies that have been done by well credentialed, very reputable people who have checked the data and verified their finding and determined that when people go through the kinds of things I have gone through, they have a fairly standard set of reactions.  I’ve also been in counseling for years and have been told about these fairly standard set of reactions enough times that I do pretty much believe at least a few of them would probably apply to me.  But even beyond that, when I ping my heart, or what is left of it, I get a weak return ping that verifies the truth and reality of what I am reading and being told.  We are all a little different, but we are all a little the same too.  Here’s an example of how it works.
You grow up in an abusive environment.  You react in certain standard ways.  You tend to vilify yourself and see your parents as saints.  You tend to take the blame for the bad things that happen, believing it is all your fault.  Because you don’t want to believe that the people who are supposed to love, protect and nurture you would do such horrid things to you because THEY have a problem.  No.  It must be you.  So you swallow your anger and aim it at yourself.  You can’t aim it at the people you are totally dependent on, now can you?    That would be even more scary than believing it’s your fault!  So you make yourself out to be the bad guy and hate yourself and don’t believe you are worth anything.  It’s one of many, many, many “normal” scripts that we tend to follow when subjected to abuse as a young child.  There are thousands of these scripts.  You just have to learn which ones you’re playing.  You will have a library of them.  They shape your world view, how you see yourself in that world and what you think of yourself in relation to that world.
They also help you avoid emotions.  They help you bury them, run from them, deny them, change them into something else and act as if you don’t have any.
Today, now, after all these years, I barely register emotions at all.  Here’s an example of the difference between me and “normal” people.
I have a friend who lost her husband 7 months ago after 20 yeas of marriage.  He didn’t leave her on purpose.  He died after fighting a long battle with cancer.  He loved her to pieces, called her his princess and cherished every moment they had together.  She has been crying, writing about her loss, talking about it to anyone and everyone, crying some more, remembering him, missing him, riding an emotional ocean that ebbs and flows, that is sometimes calm and sometimes stormy. She is FEELING. She is EMOTING.  She is LIVING.  Even though she has experienced a great loss.
I, on the other hand, lost my husband after 22 years of marriage because he fell in love with another woman.  He never loved me, though I faithfully believed God would somehow remedy this if I could just.  keep.  believing. and hang on a little. bit. longer.  It was a devastating blow to me when he left on many levels and in many ways…spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally.  And I felt…numb.  I still haven’t cried.  I still haven’t talked about it or grieved or done anything but keep getting up in the morning, even though I deeply dislike my life and am so alone I feel like I’m living in a dark chasm, totally cut off from the rest of the world.  I can say the words…that he left me for another woman…and I feel nothing.  I KNOW there is pain there.  I KNOW it had a huge impact on me.  But I can’t feel it.  I just feel depressed.
I can’t tell you how greatly I envy my friend her ability to cry and scream and laugh and grieve.  And I am envious that so many people have rallied around her.  When my husband left me, I had one friend who stood by my side.  She was so busy with her 4 kids, she didn’t have much time to spare, so I didn’t get to see her that often.  But I knew she was in my corner.  Most people avoided me.  Like I was shameful.  But this friend who lost her husband is considered a hero among women because she keeps getting out of bed every morning.  Like I kept getting out of bed every morning.   She has 3 boys who love her and need her…a reason to keep living, perhaps?  I had a dog.  I could have used a little support.  A little cheering on.  She, the hero, has a whole freaking squad of cheerleaders.  I’m happy for her; really, I am.  But damn.  If I had been able to cry and scream and laugh and grieve, would people have been there for me too? 
I need to escape from the prison I’m in…the one that keeps my emotions locked away in some deep dark place inside of me that I can’t access.  I have a million tears locked away inside of me that I need to cry.  I am way overdue for giving in to a fit of racking sobs.  I need to scream.  I need to feel.  Truly feel.  Deeply feel.  Grieve.  Let it out instead of keep it all tied up within me where it’s causing me to drown in depression.   It’s numbing my soul.  It’s destroying me.  It may be too late; I don’t know.  And I don’t have any idea how to make this happen.  How does one make oneself feel?  It seems to come so naturally for most people I know.  For me, not so much.  Why is it so easy for others and so very, very difficult for me?
Why can’t I simply feel what I feel and react accordingly?  Why does everything in my world have to be so difficult.  So complicated.  So confusing. I am frozen inside.  And I’m afraid I will never heal if I don’t thaw.  And cry.  And grieve.  And scream.  


I’m taking this group class for sexual abuse survivors and we’re talking a lot about anger.  Evidently, I’m supposed to have some.  Everyone else in the class does.  Tons of it.  But mine is still safely buried…or turned inward toward my own heart…so I’m having a lot of trouble getting in touch.  Which makes a lot of what is discussed in the group rather difficult for me to comprehend or use in a practical way.
Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to hear something useful from the group leader.  Something that hit home.
She made the statement that to be angry, something has to matter to you.  Wow.
That suddenly explained so much. Because, when all is said and done, at the heart of my being, I don’t believe I matter.  And if I don’t matter, why should I be angry?  Why WOULD I be angry?
It has been eye-opening to me to realize that most people honestly do believe that they deserve to be loved.  They see themselves as worthy of having good things happen. And they are angry when bad things happen.  I, on the other hand, see myself as being worthy of nothing.  If something good happens to me, I’m incredibly grateful, but I certainly don’t think I DESERVE it.  And when those horrible, scary, awful things do happen, well, what else could I expect?  I am, after all, nothing.  Deserving of nothing.
My anger tends to be directed at myself, for being so worthless.  I beat myself up on a daily basis.  I reject myself so the rejection of others doesn’t hurt as much.  I tell myself not to expect anything good, so when the bad comes, it doesn’t devastate me as completely as it would if I expected better.  And when the rare good things do happen, I’m so much more grateful for them than I would be otherwise.
I don’t profess to truly understand, but the downside of hating myself and aiming all my anger back at me is crippling depression.  I’ve had this explained to me before but it doesn’t totally connect.  It’s basically that my anger has no where to go other than at me.  And when that anger is aimed inward, it crushes me and buries me under depression that takes my air away.  Because I can’t breathe, I have to fight to do the things that come easily to others.  Everything is work for me, whereas others actually find joy and energy in the same activities.  I am discharged where they are recharged.
But is it any wonder that I can’t be angry about the things others are angry about?  They tell me I should be angry that my parents abused me.  That my father sexually abused me.  That they hit me.  Rejected me.  Hated me, even.  They are angry about these things!  If it happened to them, they are FURIOUS!  But even if it didn’t happen to them, they are angry when they hear of these types of things happening to others.  They say it’s wrong.  That even criminals in prison hate those who have sexually abused a child.  
But to be angry, something has to matter…
I think I matter to myself.  I want good things for me.  I would love to be happy.  To be free of depression and pain and to actually feel some joy at being alive.  To be loved.  But I don’t believe I matter to others.  I’m told it should be enough to matter to myself.  And to God.  But for some reason, mattering to myself doesn’t seem to…well, it doesn’t seem to matter.  And mattering to God?  He is too hard for me to find and seems too distant at this time for this to have an impact on me.
When I talked with my counselor about this, he explained that our parents begin to teach us that we matter before we even learn language.  If we don’t get this message from our parents, it’s as if there is a huge lake where there should be solid land.  And because of that, even if we do receive positive messages telling us that we matter later in life, they sink into the lake and are swept away by the currents.  It takes a lot more of those positive messages when we are older to fill in the lake and create some land on which a foundation can be built.  Often, because of this, people give up on us or reject us.  We are too much work.  Require too much from them.  Which reinforces the message we got from our parents…that we don’t matter.
In my case, I didn’t get a positive message from my parents.  I learned early that I was a disappointment.  I was a colicky baby.  I had too many needs and required too much from my overwhelmed mother.  I was supposed to fulfill her, but instead, I was a lot of work.  I was supposed to make her look good, but instead, I made her feel inadequate, which made her look bad.  I could never be good enough, do enough, be enough, to make my parents happy and to make their lives worth living.  I failed from the very beginning and they let me know what a massive failure I was.  Over and over and over again, the message was ingrained in my soul by the time I was 2 or 3.  The lake created in my heart was the size of an ocean.  No foundation could be laid on the deep water.  I was worthless.  I was a failure.  I didn’t perform to expectations.  I didn’t matter.  My needs didn’t matter.  I was such a fiasco, nothing could redeem me.  I could never be a person, I could never have worth, no matter how hard I tried.  I was defective to the core.
My ex-husband, to whom I was married for 22 years, had an opportunity to do some filling in of that ocean.  I was open, impressionable, in love.  But instead of adding land to the ocean in my soul, he continued the excavation.  He told me he didn’t love me.  He rolled his eyes at me and sighed, disgusted with me for being…me.  Nothing I could do was ever good enough.  And I swallowed my anger, aiming it back at my own heart, because, it was, after all, my fault.  I was never good enough.  I could never do enough.  I failed.  I didn’t matter.
To be angry, something has to matter.  But the universe has never wept over me.  God has not moved the earth or stirred the wind in the trees over me being rejected and unloved and abused.  Karma has not proven itself in my world.  For I have always tried to do good, yet that good has not come back to me.  I have not reaped what I have sowed.  Unless by not mattering, I am reaping the harvest I have planted. 
Still yet, I do not know if I matter.  To me, yes.  To others, to God, to the universe?  Not so much, I fear.  And so I swallow my anger.  And so I cry more silent tears, filling the ocean that is supposed to be dry land with yet more water.  Water that carries my anger away, into the depths.  Water that fills me with enduring sadness.  And the currents of this ocean of pain take all hope away.  I am drowning…and it doesn’t seem to matter.

Mother’s Day, Just Another Day

My mother died in October 2002. It’s rather hard to believe it has been almost 10 years. I hear my friends talking about a beloved mother they have lost. How never a day goes by but what they don’t mourn because they miss them so badly. Even after 15 years, they get teary just mentioning their moms and remembering the special bond of love they shared. This causes me to scratch my head in wonder, but I toss off my befuddled thoughts with a causal “oh, well” and move on. Until Mother’s Day kind of throws it all back in my face. And I think once again of how pathetic it probably is that I haven’t shed so much as a tear over my own deceased mother. Not one tear.
We didn’t have that kind of relationship.
When I think about my mother, which I rarely do unless I’m trying to untangle the twisted maze of my past as I seek healing for my broken soul, I do not miss her or think of her with fondness. Her memory evokes a rather sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m flooded with feelings of confusion, fear, ambiguity, pain. Not pain from the loss of her, but pain because of the horrible things she did and said to me, the unrealistic and unhealthy demands she made of me, the way she abused, rejected and neglected me. I feel confusion because of the many crazy-making messages she conveyed to me in a million subtitle and blatant ways. She was a manipulator, a narcissist, devious and demanding, demeaning and destructive. I existed to bring her fulfillment. To make her look good. To complete her life. To fill up her empty world with goodness and happiness and success. Cue the butterflies. Well, maybe not.
My mother used me. She used me as a maid and servant: to clean the house, to do the dishes, to do laundry and iron and dust and vacuum and clean toilets and cook and mop floors and clean windows and mow the yard. She used me as a sounding board, telling me all of her many problems, often spewing her disappointment with my father in gory detail. I knew about their fights, problems they had sexually and emotionally. The complexities of their relationship were, thanks to her over-sharing,  an open book to me. She also used me to complain to about her co-workers (when she worked), telling me repetitively about how badly they treated her. How unfair they were to her. How mean-spirited they were. Truly, she complained about everyone and everything, pouring out her poison to me in mega doses that often overwhelmed me. Telling me why she was angry and how horribly she had been hurt by all the people in the universe. Everyone had let her down. They all thought they were better than her. They all treated her unbearably, including her own family. Poor, pitiful Willie! No one understood her. No one did her right. EVERYONE, in fact, did her wrong.
She dressed me the way she wanted to dress in clothes she wanted to wear, but couldn’t because she was so overweight. She cut my hair in cute little pixie cuts, which is what she preferred. I begged her to let my hair grow out, but that wasn’t the image she wanted to project, so I was shorn against my will time and time again. She demanded that I smile. That I act happy, always. She (and my father) also demanded that I make straight A’s. That I be subversively polite and keep my head down. That I have no needs, no requirements, cause no trouble, make no sound. Do what I was told when I was told to do it. Perform. It was all about how well I could perform in the role in which I had been cast at any given moment.
As I got older, I didn’t perform well.
I still made A’s. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t tell anyone about the abuse. I tried very hard not to have needs. I tried to pass silently through the house without creating any ripples. But I didn’t smile. And I stopped caring what she or my father thought about me. I stopped caring about fulfilling them, how many of their needs, wants and desires I did or didn’t meet or how perfectly or imperfectly I performed the many tasks they demanded I perform. In essence, I lost my mother when I was in my early teens. Because that is when my heart and soul could no longer bear the burden of her. That’s when I lost all respect. It’s when my heart closed completely.  That’s when love died.
Through the years, I prayed that God would put some people in my life who would act as stand-in parents; people who would speak into my life in a positive, healthy way to help me overcome all the damage my own parents inflicted. People who could maybe even love me just a little. But that was a tall order. I asked too much. It never happened. So I’ve continued to struggle through the muck alone, trying to find my way to sanity and health. If I ever get there, it will be no thanks to my mother. My mother who said she loved me, even as she choked the life out of me. She said she loved me when she told me how far short I fell and how horribly I disappointed. For years and years, I believed what she offered me was love…the best she could do, not perfect, but love, none the less. Love, I concluded, was a very painful, terrifying, destructive force.
I have finally come to understand it wasn’t love at all. She controlled me by telling me she loved me while always demanding more; squeezing compliance from my tortured being. She manipulated me into obedience by making me feel so terrible for failing her, I couldn’t bear the weight of my failure. I tried harder and harder, no matter how much it cost me or how much it wounded me. It wasn’t about me, after all. It was about her. Always her. Until I erased her from my heart. And then I was finally able to find a modicum of peace.
She tore out my heart, but not when she died. She did it all while she was alive. Which is why I have always hated Mother’s Day. And why I never have and probably never will weep over the loss of her.

Powerful Men

I have discovered another pattern in my life.  Another telling pattern.  Don’t know what to do with it, exactly, or if there is anything that can be done with it.  But it’s one of those things that bears mulling over in the quiet moments of the evening when one is alone with one’s thoughts.  I “mull” frequently, usually on the wrong types of unhelpful things.  I’m not sure if this is a helpful or unhelpful insight.  But patterns usually indicate something.  So I’m planning a good “mull” session soon to see if I can sort it out.
What I have realized is that I continually find myself at the mercy of powerful men.   And I really, really, truly, honestly, absolutely despise it.  I can most easily identify this pattern in business, but I have difficulty with controlling pastors of churches too.  I don’t react well when someone dictates.  Guess you could say, in a nutshell, I have a problem with authority.  I don’t do well if I’m under it when I don’t have any say in what happens to me or if I don’t have control over the way things happen, at least to some degree.  I have to have a level of authority too. Some say over my destiny.  A modicum of respect.  If I don’t have that, I get angry.  I tell people where to go (in my head) and have ugly thoughts about them.  I can’t sleep at night.  I get agitated and become frustrated easily.  I’m stressed to the max.  I feel hopeless, scared, filled with anxiety.  Vulnerable. When I feel like I’m being used.  When I’m under a powerful person who doesn’t give a rip about me.
Why does this keep happening again and again and again?  I mean, seriously…I know people who work for leaders who are fair and caring and who do the right thing by their employees.  They don’t lord it over them.  They build teams and consensus and value input.  They may have had a few bad bosses from time to time, but their overwhelming experience has been much more positive than negative.  Not me.  I’ve only worked for two people who were good bosses for very short periods during my 25+ year career for possibly 2 years total.  The rest of the time, I’ve been saddled with controlling, demeaning, weak, uncaring…even bullying…bosses.  Abusive in some ways.  You know…abusive…like my mother.  Like my father.  It hits all those weak, painful spots and sets me off.  Pushes me over the edge, even if I don’t let it show (much) on the outside.  
My ex-husband was not overtly aggressive, but he was very passive-aggressive.  So even during the 22 years I was married to him, during which he technically had authority over me, there was this undercurrent of rejection and disgust.  He was crystal clear on the fact that he didn’t love me.  So even if the authority figures in my life have not been outwardly aggressive, there has been this overarching withholding of approval that has plagued me.  No matter how hard I tried to measure up, I haven’t been able to meet the standard.  Because in some way, I’m defective.  Not because of what I do or don’t do, but because of who I am.  At least, that’s the overriding message I have received.
I know it started with my abusive father.  But it’s much more painful to explore the root than it is to deal with the branches.  So I avoid the root.  But it may be necessary to go back to where this all began if there is any hope of untangling and understanding what it has done within me.
Back when I was 4 or 5.  Back when I adored my father.  Thought he hung the moon and the stars in the sky.  Wanted to be just like him.  I was his fishing buddy and his bird dog when he went hunting.  I imitated him and my heart swelled with love for him.  Back then, he was my daddy…not my father.  Daddy.
Then all hell broke loose. 
I don’t have any vivid memories of those early years of abuse.  I remember horrible fights between him and my mother.  Fights that involved things getting thrown and my mother being knocked to the floor and both parents leaving for hours at a time as I tried to clean up messes and take care of my little brother.  I remember my father’s explosive temper that was often aimed at me.  He used his belt to punish back then.  Or his fist.  But at some point, he started coming to my room at night.  I was so little, I created another world in which to escape.  I created a caravan of desert dwellers who traveled with their camels, dogs, children, treasures, food, tents.  They passed through my bedroom each night and initially, they terrified me.  I would lay frozen on the bed with my eyes tightly shut during much of their journey through my room, especially as they walked my mattress from the foot to the head of my bed.  Occasionally I would take a peek at them.  Eventually, they fascinated me, these miniature people riding perfect camels.  They had bells on their fingers and toes that tinkled as they walked and they laughed and chatted as their children ran and played while they progressed in their journey.  They walked through my room almost every night until I was 7 or 8.  And then they stopped coming.
I believe, although I can’t prove it, that my father stopped sexually abusing me for a short period of time when I was around 8 years old.  That’s when the caravan stopped coming.  I know I was being sexually abused because I had almost every classic indicator…compulsive masturbation, early sexualization, sexually torturing and mutilating my dolls…things that most little girls growing up in mid-America would never think to do or would never know about.  But when the abuse resumed, I was a little older and could no longer totally blot it out.  I needed more sophisticated defense mechanisms, like disassociation and denial.  I have very vivid memories from 9, 10, 11 through age 14.  But they are tinged by darkness.  I often remember the first part, but not the second part of the incident.  Somewhere during the event, I would shut down and go away into the darkness.  In my mind, it’s as if I rolled over into black.  Into nothingness.
There are many times that I can remember begging my father to stop.  Tears streaming down my face.  Pleading.  It was as if my words made no sound.  They had no impact whatsoever.  I was nothing.  An object made for gratification.   And this, I believe, is the root of my deep distrust of authority.  This is where I learned that powerful men will screw you every time, no matter what you do.  One is nothing to men like this.  Men like my father.   To them, it’s all about the power they hold over you and using it to get what they want.  You are a tool.  A means to an end.  And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.  You don’t matter.  At all.
Can anything be done about the way I am continually disregarded?  Is it in my responses to authority that the door is opened to abuse?  Do I attract the type of people who are abusive to others?  Am I an easy mark?  If I responded differently, would they be less inclined to hurt me?
Questions, but no answers.  This is why I need a major session where I mull over the implications.  Try to dig at that root a bit.  See what I can uncover.  Try to understand what it has made me.  The one thing I do know at this point is this:  I am tired of being used and abused by powerful men.  And I’m hoping there is something I can do that will make a difference going forward.  I can’t change the past, but if there is to be any hope for me at all, I have to find some way to change the future.  Otherwise, I’m going to keep getting screwed.  And I’m very, very tired of getting screwed.


My parents were violent, angry people.  They were manipulative.  They were selfish and self-centered, controlling, hurtful, mean and harsh.  Oh, they wore masks…most people never suspected what they could be like or what went on behind closed doors.  They didn’t see the out-of-control behavior.  The temper.  The yelling, screaming, hitting, demeaning, belittling. The abuse.  They hid themselves well behind respectable jobs and proper smiles.   But the people I knew were monsters.  Abusive.  Raging.  Neglectful.  Hateful.  Sick.  Unloving.  Uncaring.  Spiteful.
My entire life has been focused on not being like them.
The thing I have discovered about having this “I’m not going to be like them” focus is that it creates a reaction that isn’t especially positive.
For example.  I don’t want to be angry the way they were angry.  Their anger was so out of control.  It was abusive and explosive and frightening.  So when I feel anger, it gets stuffed…super deep and really fast. I run from it and deny it.  And guess what happens to stuffed anger?  You got it…depression.  My mother was depressed, even though she didn’t stuff her anger.  But there you are…I’m just like my mother because I’m depressed and she was depressed.  In seeking to be unlike her, I’ve become like her.  I may have even surpassed her.  Because sometimes I’m so depressed, I can barely function.
Not only do I stuff anger, I stuff it so quickly, I can’t even remember feeling it to begin with.  So I can’t find my anger when it’s appropriate.  Even when I want to or need to.  In that regard, I guess you could say I have been successful at not being like my mother (or my father, for that matter).  They both yelled and screamed and wailed and hit and lashed out.  Their anger was never hidden and it was excruciatingly obvious neither one of them ever had a problem finding it.  I feel…nothing.  I express nothing.  I am a card carrying member of the poker-face club.  Meaning, it’s very difficult to tell if I’m feeling anything by my facial expression.  Because mostly, I’m not feeling anything, at least not consciously.  Mostly.  Well, except depressed.  Like my mother.  Which, by the way, depresses me.
So though I have been able to successfully stuff, mask and dissipate my anger, I haven’t yet found a way not to have any.  I may deal with it very differently than my parents, but I still have it…though I don’t experience it or act on it in any conscious way.  My counselor tells me it’s waiting for me and that I will eventually have to find a way to deal with it.  I’m sure I will strive to be unlike my parents if / when I do.  Though I don’t know exactly what that means.
Another example: I didn’t want to ever hurt a child the way my parents hurt me.  That has been a huge driving force throughout my life as I strive to not be like my parents.  It resulted in my making the decision, at age 16, not to have children.  I was afraid I wouldn’t have what it took to be a good parent.  And although I did reexamine the decision a few times in my adult life, my heart never changed.  I was desperate to make certain I didn’t wound a young, tender being who was depending on me to nurture and care for them.  I truly didn’t believe I would ever abuse a child.  But what if my lack created deep wounds in their soul?  No.  Couldn’t chance it.  So I never had a child.  I’m a heck of a parent to my dog, though.  And I’ve loved several of them during my life.  They are my child substitute.  Sadly, my focus on not being like my parents stole from me the option (and joy) of having children.
My parents were needy.  They were incapable of doing many, many things for themselves.  They relied on me to fulfill them, to complete their life, to clean the house, to take care of my brother, to complete their dreams.  I have worked very hard to keep from being a needy person.  In fact, I don’t even like to admit to having needs.  I try very hard not to need.  Anyone or anything.  That hasn’t exactly helped my mental health.  But by god, I’m not going to be like my needy, dependent parents!!!
Except I do need.  I am needy.  I just won’t admit it.  I won’t reach out.  To my detriment.  Don’t even know how to ask for help any more.  It’s a problem.  And my inability to reach out and connect to others has caused me to be very isolated.  Isolation is destructive.  It takes the meaning and joy out of life.  One exists, but never really lives.  My existence is very, very lonely and empty.
I have vowed that I will not be like my parents.  The scary reality is, I’m like them in far too many ways.  I don’t express things the way they did.  I don’t manifest my problems the same way they did.  But I’m a mess…as were they…just a different kind of a mess.  And a lot of that mess has been created because I’ve been bound and determined not to be like them.  And I’m not…not exactly.  But it frightens me that I’m like them at the core in too many ways.  And it happened simply because I determined to be different. It bothers me that they continue to control my life in this way.  That I still haven’t escaped them…even though they are dead!  But how can I escape them when the focus of my life is on…them?
I made a vow.  A vow that has driven me and controlled my life.  I’m reaping what I have sowed to this vow.  But you see, my vow is understandable.  I may be a mess, but at least I’m not a monster who has horribly wounded others.  My parents were monsters.  They put on a nice face for the worlds, but they were monsters.  They were terribly abusive behind closed doors.  To me.  I saw the real them.  And the truth of the matter is this, even if I’m depressed and isolated and childless, unable to find my anger and dead inside, unable to have needs and broken, above all else, I do not want to look in the mirror and find that I have become a monster.  If I can escape that fate, then maybe all the pain and loss and depression I’ve experienced (and continue to experience) will be worth it.  If I’m the only one who gets hurt, it’s okay, right?