A Blueprint For Allowing Abuse!
I don’t remember the first time my mom hit me. I simply don’t remember a time when random acts of violence were absent. One of my earliest memories is of being thrown on the driveway and my head bouncing hard against the ground, a taste that I would later learn was blood but that I just thought of as ‘pain’ filled my mouth. I was 4 years old.
As I got older I began to be able to predict what behaviors were more likely to provoke a violent response, although I was never able to know 100% of the time what drove these outbursts. Other adults would remark upon my maturity, compliment my mother on how quiet and well-behaved I was – they never understood the motivation for my quiet and composed demeanor. By the time I had reached the lofty age of 8 I had become adept at reading my mother’s moods and adjusting my behavior to try to please her. When I was awakened at 2am with a flashlight in my face, my mother screaming at me at the top of her voice, being made to scrub the bathtub or clean the kitchen floor – I always blamed myself and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. As an adult I would learn terms like bi-polar disorder and manic depressive disorder but 8 year old me was left feeling insecure and uncertain as to what I could do differently to avoid abuse.
When I was in middle school and high school I began to realize that my home life was very different from those my classmates experienced. My friends always complained about their moms, I superficially agreed and supported them but always envied them. If the worst I could expect from my mom was to be lectured for talking on the phone too long? Sign me up. I navigated a nightmare landscape where nothing I said or did was right, the way I folded laundry one day was fine, the next day it was a disaster. I have lost track of the concussions I had been treated for, the broken collar bone, the torn iris, the spiral wrist fractures, multiple finger fractures and my defining facial characteristic, my scarred left eyebrow from when I didn’t exit the car quickly enough and got my head slammed in the door as a ‘warning.’ These physical scars are so much a part of me that I don’t often think about them. The mental scars run a lot deeper.
I have asked myself a million times, how could I marry a narcissist and not see what I was signing up for? How could I tie myself further to him by having 3 children with him? The answer is that I was conditioned from birth to believe that I deserved whatever terrible treatment I received from those closest to me. The worst gift my mother gave me was the expectation that love always came accompanied by pain, and that pain was always my fault.
The main thing I would like to say to my younger self, and to anyone else dealing with similar life experiences is that it isn’t your fault and you deserve better. No child is born deserving abuse, and no relationship should mean pain. Be the architect of your future and draw up new plans, build on your past as a foundation but don’t be afraid to break free and design your own future.
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