Tag Archive | relationship

If Only … Thoughts on Mothers and Daughters

My relationship with my mother was a dismal failure from the time I turned approximately 13. Fault? I guess that doesn’t really matter, but I think we shared fault. She did not know how to communicate effectively to a teenager, and I did not know how to communicate with someone who did not know how to communicate.

 

From the time I turned a teenager, I wanted out of my parent’s house. That was my goal in life. I did not understand them, I did not even like them. I thought they were insane. I thought I would do a much better job when I finally have kids of my own.

 

When I finally moved out, got pregnant and married at age 18, I thought I would have my “white picket fence” and live happily ever after. I didn’t think I would ever need my parents again. And, truth be told, I rarely communicated with my mother and father after I moved out, unless it was to call my Dad for help for whatever reason – and there were numerous ones! But I was so wrapped up in my own life and problems, that I never called my Mom just to talk. We never, ever talked just to have a conversation, to find out how each other is doing.

 

I’m a Christian now, and I try not to look back at my life with regrets. It’s not easy when there are so many. I do try to leave it in God’s hands. But holidays come around, Mother’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary ~ yep, I still remember them, even keep them on my calendar(s). I think back to all of the night gowns given to my mother for Christmas. Bells for Mother’s Day or her birthday, she collected them. Candy was always a welcome gift. But how I wish we’d had a relationship. There are the clichés: hindsight is 20/20, if only I knew then what I know now… etc. I wish I’d been there for her when she needed someone. I wish I hadn’t been so self-involved. I wish we had talked!

 

All I have left over her, besides photos, are memories of things she did, how she looked ~ things that I now find comforting, and find in myself often. But I have precious few memories of the last 5 years of her life. That was my “self-indulgent” time. I couldn’t find the time to go the 15 miles from my house to where I grew up to see how she was doing. To see if I could help. To be there for her, or my Dad. It haunts me now.

 

If I could have a “do over” in life, it would be to have a better relationship with my parents… Mom especially. From that I would’ve learned to be better… better at everything. Perhaps my kids wouldn’t have paid such a price for a self-indulgent mom, and maybe I’d have a better relationship with them, as well. However, no “do overs” in life. You only get one chance to do it right.

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Revealed Chapter 9: Faith ~

We’ve taken up residence, the kids and I, in two separate battered women’s shelters in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties between 1990-1998.  On more than one occasion, we had to move out of our home while BB was away (he was an over-the-road trucker this time) and enlist the help of friends, relatives and people with trucks to do it.  Our moves were always clandestine.  While we lived in Cayuga County, it was difficult for me to get any “action” from law enforcement there, because BB’s family were all “buddy-buddy” with sheriffs, judges etc. ~ it seems everyone was a farmer out there!  If I called the sheriff for domestic violence, if they did manage to come, they always poo-poo’d the circumstances, even the time BB assaulted me in public in the Sears store in Fingerlakes Mall, then went and slashed my car tires afterwards so I “couldn’t leave him”.  Law enforcement assured me things would eventually “calm down”, and that I shouldn’t do anything rash.  Feeling thwarted by those who were supposed to help protect me and my children, I always wound up going back to him and reconciling just to keep a roof over our heads and some continuity in our lifestyle.  Does that even make sense?

 The stress of living in this fashion, never knowing where you’re going to be from one day to the next, was not without it’s humorous and even memorable times.  Once, my eldest was on a class trip for the weekend, and returned home to find to her surprise that we had (yet again) moved.

 We spent an entire summer at Vera House in Onondaga County.  Kristen was on her own by then, so it was me, Karalyn, Brian and Katie staying in their suburban accommodations.  Karalyn got a job at the nearby Burger King, Brian joined a summer soccer camp and we all spent time at the nearby town pool.  Additionally, Vera House provided for miniature golf and other activities.  We took walks (it was in a nice village), and watched the fireworks on July 4th over the river.  I was able to retain my car for the time being, so we had transportation, and yes, I looked for a job.

 But, in the end, I always caved in and ended up back with BB ~ usually I would get an apartment and he would eventually moved back in with us.  I was weak… what can I say?  you don’t know it until you’ve lived it.  Yes, I would time and again put myself and my children in danger by my actions… I am absolutely guilty.  It is a domestic violence “mentality” that I can’t even begin to reason.

 I remember those last few years (before I was finally able to get up the backbone to be on our own) by incidents rather than a time frame.  Most memorable was the fight that BB and I had that turned very physical and could’ve been tragic.  I was throwing him out of our house this time, rather than me taking the kids and running.  But he wasn’t going to go without a fight, and without whatever money he could steal out of my purse before he took off.  Once I realized what he was really after ($$), I made it my business to defend what little money I had from working with which I had to support my children.  I wasn’t going to let him get it.  Somehow, we wound up in the kitchen, both of us tearing at my purse and he was about to gain control when I decided it was time to put this to an end.  I grabbed the nearest butcher knife within reach and I sliced at him with it.  I didn’t connect, but it must’ve been enough to make him realize how serious I was, as he let go and bolted out the door.

 Another “memorable” event that still makes me cringe to this day was when we were driving in rural Cayuga County on our way to “somewhere” that I just didn’t want to go, but he was making me.  We were about a mile from our current residence on Blanchard Road, and he was driving his pickup truck with me in the passenger seat.  The truck’s brakes needed considerable work, and I was afraid to ride in it, but he insisted we had to go.  As we proceeded up the road towards Montezuma, I continued to protest and complain that I didn’t want to go etc.  He finally became so furious that he suddenly slammed the transmission of the truck into reverse (without stopping!) and the truck jerked to a halt then went into reverse as BB had his size 13 boot on the accelerator all the way to the floor.  The truck bolted backwards and BB floored it until we were headed backwards at about 50-55 mph on a rural (but not untraveled) road back to our house.  It all happened so fast that I was in a panic and utterly terrified.  As we crested the hill that led DOWN to our home, still going backwards, he tried to brake to slow us down but the truck’s brakes failed miserably.  We must’ve been going around 55-60 down that hill backwards when he shifted the truck down into a lower gear and threw on the emergency brake as we approached the house.  We slowed somewhat, but he eventually decided we would have to go off the road in order to stop, so he passed our driveway and hit one of the trees in our yard at about 30 mph.  It demolished the rear of the truck, needless to day.  Too scared to be furious, and too furious to be scared, we went at it with each other with an intensity that wouldn’t be rivaled.  Finally he left, in that battered piece of crap of a truck, and left me shaking and crying and marveling at the fact that I made it out of that escapade alive.  It was one of those many, many moments that I wished he was dead.

 There were so many other “incidents” where violence played a part in the lives of my children and me.  Far too many to list here in detail.  There were many court dates, orders of protection, move here, move there.  One of my biggest humiliations, oddly enough, was having to go to work, my place of employment, with a black eye on numerous occasions.  I was always nursing bruises, cuts, abrasions.  And the non-profit that I worked for sponsored one of the domestic violence shelters that took us in!

 The start of 1997 was really the beginning of the end of this chaotic fiasco that had been a relationship with BB.  I was finally able to secure a decent apartment for me and my family, without him.  I had a decent job at a local manufacturing company in Auburn, and was determined to rid myself of the lifestyle that had kept us all hostage for 13 years.  I must admit, it was miserable trying to break free of it.  Even though we were at peace, for the most part, I was lonely and depressed.  Over the summer of ’97, BB finally found someone else to prey on.  And, although he and I were still dealing with issues like child support and visitation, at least we didn’t have the “in-house” violence and stress that we’d had for the decade prior.  It was oddly difficult for me to adjust to the independence, even though I welcomed it!  Me and three of my children were now living in an apartment “alone”, and I was solely responsible for it all… first time in my life.  What a scary prospect!  But this is what I had wanted, and now it was mine.  I did finally feel safety was at hand for me and the kids, well, as long as BB was preoccupied with the new love of his life… he wasn’t bothering us.  Brian and Katie went to visit with him on some weekends, during which time I was guarded.  But things were starting to become a new normal for us, with only my temper to have to deal with, and that was more than enough for all.

 I’m not sure what led to it, but over the months until around early August 1997 I became more and more depressed and lonely.  It’s a self esteem thing.  But I was sure that I was never again going to find happiness, and I was still wallowing in that “all about me” phase that seemed to go on for years!  I was occasionally “seeing” some of my FWB (friends w/benefits) that I’d accumulated over the past 7-8 years ~ I haven’t mentioned much about that phase, but I had a “collection” of FWB, some that I had been seeing short term and some longer term to fill the various voids in my life starting around 1990 or so.  But something was missing, something was tugging at me and I was looking for that white picket fence yet again.  I simply refused to let that dream die.  But now it seemed like an impossibility, and the thought made me despondent. 

 One night, after the kids were in bed or watching t.v. downstairs (I really didn’t keep track), I was in my room and pretty much headed for the end of my rope.  I’d never been one to be “spiritual”, and I surely didn’t believe in the Bible or God or any of that “crap”, but I was at my lowest point and decided what the heck?  It couldn’t hurt… so I got down on my hands and knees, more of a slump on the bedroom floor, and I prayed to “God”, saying “If you’re there, if you’re real, I need you right now ~ I don’t know what else to do.”  I begged Him to come into my life and take control because I couldn’t do it alone anymore, I couldn’t do it at all.  My life and my kid’s lives were in a train wreck, God, and I wanted out.  I must’ve been on that floor for about 30 minutes, in tears and in prayer, before I finished what I had to say to this imaginary God and got up and climbed back into bed.  The despondency waned and I began to feel tired and eventually fell asleep.

It must’ve been about a week later that I was perusing the Personal section of the Classified ads of the local newspaper (yes, they had those back then).  Seeing nothing promising, I decided to place and ad, myself.  Couldn’t hurt.  It was free, and I had total control of the situation, which was perfect for me.  I place an ad, and people call this 800 number and leave a message, then I check the messages 1-2 times a day and return phone calls to those of my choosing.  Fascinating concept.  I wrote up what I thought to be an interesting and intriguing advertisement (which I still have!), and I placed my ad.  Well, maybe after about 3 days of listening to “gentlemen” leave me messages of every sort, I came across a possible “date-able” person, and I returned his call.  His was the only call that I would return from around 20+ messages left.

We ended up talking on the phone to each other 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, but really didn’t meet until November (I think).  It turned out that this gentleman was a customer of the place where I worked as a receptionist!  During the course of our conversations, he said he remembered me, and sounded quite excited at the prospect ~ guess I made an impression on him.  I, however, did not remember who he was in relation to my employment… so our meeting would be a surprise for me.  He showed up at my door with a huge bouquet of flowers, in a snowstorm.  He was taking me to dinner at a nice restaurant in Weedsport, NY, and we were going there in a snowstorm.  I was game for adventure.  We chatted extensively during the dinner, and I was beginning to realize that, although he was good looking, polite and nice and everything, we just had nothing in common.  He was a “Christian”, believed in God and all that crap; he was politically conservative (are you kidding me with this?!), and it seemed a lot of our evening discussion revolved around these two areas ~ religion and politics ~ neither of which I was interested in.  When he dropped me off home later, with a kiss on the cheek, I was sure I would not be seeing him again lest I be bored to death with uninteresting conversation about subjects I didn’t care about.

 However, he did continue to call me, and I called him.  Second date, third date… things were going well.  What?  He wanted to read the Bible with me?  Seriously?!  Well, ok, I’ll give it a try, even though I thought the Bible was a book of simple “hearsay” passed down over hundreds of years by people who didn’t even know or see Jesus Christ.  How accurate could it possibly be?  I’ll humor this guy who had begun to find his way into my heart with his humor, manners and he was obviously infatuated with me ~ that was the most important part.  So we read the Bible together… or he read it to me.  I asked questions, a lot of questions.  He always had seemingly good answers.  I was beginning to understand this “faith” thing of his.  Maybe, just maybe this was something we could share.

 Well, to make a long story short, we cultivated our relationship and were married in less than a year.  Yes, the kids liked him too.  It looked like I was going to get my white picket fence after all!  Well, sort of… it would’ve cost a small fortune to install one on our new yard in Jordan, NY, so I was happy with just imagining it surrounded our property.  I had faith that it was there, even if I couldn’t see it!

Revealed Chapter 1: In the Beginning ~

I remember having a good, “normal” childhood until Junior High when I met my first love.  I wasn’t even interested in boys at all until then, until “ST” started giving me all this attention.  Wow!  I was getting attention!  And from a boy!  He made me feel good; good about myself, good about us.  It only seemed natural to kiss him and to let him kiss me.  And that felt good, too.  It only made sense that during April’s Spring vacation, when I was a month shy of turning 13, that ST should ride his bike the 7+ miles to my rural home while both my parents were working and spend the day with me.  After all, we really liked each other’s company. 

 I’d like to say I was naïve and that it was all his fault, but that would be a lie.  Although I was naïve and inexperienced, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I was just as much at fault as ST.  Ignorance is not bliss.  When we became intimate with each other, it was a life-altering experience for me that I could’ve never foreseen.  I did not understand that it would be a defining moment in my life that would set the tone of decades to come, effecting my lifestyle, my children and possibly their children.  Like they say:  “If I only knew then what I know now.”  But, would I have changed anything?  Could I have?  And who is “they” anyway?

 I must admit that the now intensity of our relationship built quickly.  We talked on the phone before school, saw each other and “made out” as much as possible during school, and somehow made arrangements to be together sometimes after school; and I was addicted.  We were in love… at ages 13 & 14.  Is that even possible?  It sure seemed like it then, and I can remember it and still feel it like it was yesterday.  I made it to the ripe age of 13 before I became pregnant ~ surprise!  I won’t elaborate on this time of my life, because I already have covered most of it in my “Forgiven and Set Free” post.  I now have a better understanding and am able to cope with the subsequent abortion, after which my son’s father wanted nothing to do with me… another defining moment.

 The rejection that ensued left me feeling desolate, inadequate and shattered my self esteem.  In 9th grade, I may possibly have been the only student at Baker High School that kept a bottle of liquor available in my locker for daily consumption… who knows?  I drank in private and I drank to replace the feeling of emptiness that was left behind when ST turned his attentions to other girls in school.  I experienced intense jealousy that consumed me every day.  It left me miserable, and desperate to find something, or a someone, to make me feel good again like he had.  So, “someone” it was!  Or perhaps I should make that plural.  Thus, I began what would be a series of “relationships” with pretty much anyone who would look at me and show me any attention.  I didn’t really care.  Some were friends from school, some were acquaintances or friends of friends, some I picked up in local bars. 

When I turned 16, I was frequenting bars in the Baldwinsville area with a girlfriend, and meeting men.  No one ever checked ID back then.  Even the guys over the age of 18 and 21 who often took me home ~ to their place or not.  Talk about risky behavior!  It didn’t feel risky to me.  I was just getting what I needed (attention) from whatever source could be obtained.  At 16 I was with a friend in my favorite B’ville bar, we were enjoying a band that we had been following, and this guy asked me to dance.  I obliged.  He was kind.  He stayed with us the rest of the evening, then took us home to my friend’s house (I was spending the night with her).  On the way, he talked me into meeting him the next day, and he would take me for a ride and we’d just talk.  How absolutely dangerous and exciting!  I had no idea who this stranger was!  But I met him the next day anyway, and got in his car.  He drove me back to Baldwinsville, and to his apartment.  After it was all over, he confided that he was a teacher in one of the middle schools there in Baldwinsville.  I didn’t care about any of that, I’d gotten the attention I craved.  His name?  Never got it.   Next!

 From that point on, it was one selfish, irresponsible thing after another throughout the rest of high school.  I’m not sure how I managed to get through the business curriculum I was enrolled in, and be exceptional at it, but I did, even after I began using drugs at age 16 or 17.  Well, because, all my other new friends were doing it!  And it made me feel good and/or made me not feel at all.  I don’t recall having a “home life” during those tumultuous years of sex, drugs and alcohol in school ~ everything pretty much revolved around getting away from my parents and my home and having fun.  Was this fun?  I couldn’t tell anymore.

Next Chapter:  Senior Year