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My father died three years ago this month. The 18 months he spent with us, as we attempted to care for him  as he suffered from Parkinson’s, COPD and Alzheimer’s, were the second worst time in my life. (The worst was the death of my first husband when I was 34, and I moved to Florida to be with him and my mother. Dad made that even harder by  ordering me not to upset my mother when I cried over Tim; after all she’d lost her mother and her son-in-law within a month of each other, ignoring the fact that I’d lost my grandmother and my husband.  So every night I closed my door, put a pillow over my head, pulled up the covers, and sobbed as silently as possible into my pillow). Dad was uncooperative, unwilling to work with us, and demanded everything be done his way on his schedule.  In other words, he behaved the way he always had.

The very first morning, he ordered me to make him coffee. He didn’t ask. He said, “Make me coffee.”

Something deep inside warned me that if I gave in, the orders would never cease. I’d be an unpaid servant to a demanding old man. So I said, “I don’t want any coffee. Maybe later.”

In revenge he went into the living room and turned the TV volume, already loud, to a level that  would have been typical at a heavy metal concert. Mind you he had a hearing aid. He just didn’t like wearing it. He then claimed it was broken. I changed the batteries and put them in for him.  He turned the TV down only slightly. I turned it down to a level that wasn’t giving me the start of a major headache, the kind that requires three Tylenol with codeine to make it bearable.

And as soon as my mother-in-law, with whom we were living, walked through the door, he ran to tattle about how mean I had been to him, and she  turned on me.

And that’s how it started, and pretty much how it went on.

Dad was not a bad man. He never hit me as a child. He provided well. He paid for my Catholic school education, my college and one year of grad school, so I emerged without crushing mountains of debt. He had simply been spoiled by the women in his life—his mother, my Mom, her mother who lived with us my entire life—and  expected everyone to obey his wishes. And we did.

Unfortunately, I disappointed him by not being a clone of my mother, who was tall and thin, an Audrey Hepburn type, who was pretty and popular and smart and had led the enchanted life straight out of an Andy Hardy movie, I, on the other had was destined to be 5’3,” larger boned, bookish, shy, and not all that popular (I think the fact that I was in 6 schools before I graduated from  8th grade might have had something to do with that). His criticisms were meant to be helpful, I am certain, but oh, how they hurt.

The week before he died, he called me a whore. I don’t know why, and he wasn’t able to explain it—and his dementia wasn’t that far advanced, according to the doctors. I ran inside the house, called the Alzheimer’s Association and talked with a social worker. I told her what had been going on—the criticisms about everything from my weight and my refusal to watch sports with him because I hate sports to this latest comment. She asked me a lot of questions which seemed utterly irrelevant to me about my past interactions with Dad, and told me gently that Dad, whether he intended it or not, had been guilty of emotional abuse my entire life.

I wanted to deny it, but I knew it was true.

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn

“Children Will Listen” by [http://www.allthelyrics.com/...
 Stephen Sondheim ] from -Into the Woods-

When I was a child, I danced. I loved to move my body to music, even if the music was only playing in my head. There still exists some old home movies of my naked three-year-old self doing the hula in the bathtub, which Dad used to threaten to show any boy I liked. Dancing was as natural to me as breathing, and I didn’t’ care if other people watched.

When I was 4, my parents took me to the pediatrician to find out why I kept turning my ankles.  I wore down my shoes on the outside heel, and my ankles had a tendency to just roll out from under on the outside. (Later I would learn that one leg was  ¾ of an inch shorter than the other, and I had a scoliosis in my lower back; I was born that way) The doctor prescribed cookies for my shoes and a small additional  build-up on the outside heel to compensate. He advised dance class for my weak ankles—ballet would strengthen them he said.  So I began taking ballet and tap.  I loved ballet from the first—the ballerinas floating effortlessly over the floor like fairies, the sweeping music, the whole experience. I wanted to be a ballerina so desperately it hurt.  Of course, what we now know is that ballet as it was taught back in the Fifties, with its emphasis on perfect turnout  and putting children en pointe as early as  eight , actually made my ankles worse by hyper-extending the ligaments.

I didn’t care about the cookies or the fact that I had to wear oxford. I went to Catholic school; we all wore oxfords. I just kept dancing to everything from Elvis on the radio (it is possible to do a tour jete to “Blue Suede Shoes) to Judy Garland to Frank Sinatra to my parents’ Big Band albums. I loved it all.  Every time we moved, we found a new dance school for me, and I spent one afternoon a week pretending I was Maria Tallchief or Margot Fonteyn.

I wasn’t good.  You learn whether you are any good pretty early on because you don’t make it en pointe. I was the wrong body type for ballet, too big-boned , and I just didn’t have the talent. That didn’t stop me from loving the feel of ballet, however.  You don’t have to be great at something to enjoy doing it.

But all through this time, Dad was concerned about the way I walked, the way I looked.  Unlike mom, who had a boyish body with the flattest ass on the planet, I was destined to be a Marilyn Monroe  type, curvy, with breasts and hips and a round ass.  Of course, as a child, I only had a very definite butt.  I was an active kid. I swam and biked and danced, all of which build up leg muscles and the butt.  To Dad, the fact that I had a butt meant I wasn’t standing up straight—or it wouldn’t stick out like that.

He constantly reminded me to stand up straight, shoulders back, derriere tucked under, walking right. He said it in front of my friends and when we went out, and Dad, who had a magnificent baritone, had a very carrying voice. Coupled with his obvious disappointment that I wasn’t built like Mom and wasn’t going to be model slim and tall, I began to feel like there was something wrong with me, with how I looked.

I stopped dancing. By age 10, I was sure I was fat and wouldn’t wear anything shorter than my knees, even shorts. I had internalized already the meme of “she’s got such a pretty face; too bad she’s not thinner” that I would overhear Dad saying to Mom. I started comparing myself to taller thinner girls. I was the shortest kid in my class, and a lot of girls, by 6th grade, were already approaching 5’5” and were destined to be leggy and slim. I stuck at 5 feet. For years, reaching my final height of 5’3” at age 12, and it was pretty apparent that my body was gonna be more like Elizabeth Taylor’s, whom Dad considered a little plump, than either Hepburn’s, Audrey or Katherine.

I was self-conscious. I hated having to get up in front of the class to give a report. I hated having to walk across a stage for any reason, even though I loved acting (I could forget my obvious imperfection when acting; however because I was magically someone else, someone better).

High school was even worse. At 14, I was 5’3” and weighed 119 pounds, a healthy weight even in those days.  But I felt fat. My best friend was an inch taller than I and weighed 104. Dad adored her, praising her for being so cute, so pretty, when she came over. I wanted to be like her. So that summer Mom got me diet pills from the doctor to help me lose weight.  I’ll never understand why anyone in his or her right mind would want to amphetamines because they made me dreadfully ill and nauseated constantly. I felt like ants were crawling over my skin. I couldn’t sleep. And at the end of six weeks, I’d lost all of 5 pounds, no more than I would have had I just gone on a diet.

This was the Sixties, the era of Twiggy, of micro-minis, of Carnaby Street and short straight dresses worn by very tall, very thin models. The dancers on -Shindig- and –Hullabaloo- were all tall and boyish in their go-go- boots and skimpy dresses. I was short and round. It was not a good time to be curvy. I wore a girdle to make my round butt look smaller. I never wore a mini-skirt or anything more than  two inches above my knees. The Sixties did not swing for me.

In college, I wasn’t wildly popular with the guys, but I did learn not to hate my curves. I got paid to pose for a sculpture class (clothed in leotard and tights; this class took place at a seminary). I remember looking at one of the sculptures, which looked more like the body of Bond Girl from the Connery era and asked, “That isn’t me, is it?”

The priest-to-be said, “It’s as close as I can come.”

It was the first time I realized that those curves I’d despised so long might actually be…not ugly.

I joined science fiction fandom in the 70s.  I did costumes. And I ended up posing for cover reference for several artists. I was even immortalized by the late Kelly Freas on the cover of one of the worst books ever written –Spawn-, one of the few books published by Laser, Harlequin’s attempt to do sf/fantasy. I learned that my body type was actually desirable  for cover work and illos because while I was curvy, my 38Cs were sag-free.

And nobody laughed or jeered when I walked across a stage.

Mind you, at the same time that I was finally gaining some confidence, I was having major problems with my ankles and my back.  This is when I learned about the shorter leg and the scoliosis and the hyper-extended ligaments for the first time. I suspect my parents knew, but I doubt Dad paid any attention—he normally didn’t unless I was winning academic prizes. I had taped ankles much of the time, and I had to have physical therapy for my back, the result of the scoliosis aggravated by a fall down a flight of concrete steps to a concrete floor in high school (Dad didn’t remember that incident at all, even though I had to wear a back brace—think Victorian corset where the boning is over an inch wide and has no give at all—for four months).I suddenly realized that the reason my walk wasn’t a ballerina’s glide was physical, rather than my fault.

I know how trivial this will sound to some of you. But it wasn’t trivial. It sent me into therapy because I couldn’t figure out what was so wrong about me that my father preferred my best friend to me. That I wasn’t good enough. Four years of Honor Roll in high school and Dean’s List and a Phi Beta Kappa key and graduating magna cum laude and a fellowship from an Ivy League college—still weren’t enough for. I still got comments about my weight. And just before he walked me down the aisle at my first wedding, he told me to stand up straight and tuck my butt in. He didn’t tell me I looked beautiful. When I moved in with them in Florida after my first husband’s death, he refused to give me a house key, and demanded that I call home if I were going to be alter than eleven. When I pointed out that if I had a key, no one would have to stay up to let me in, he told me he didn’t want me coming in so late that the neighbors would think I was floozy.  And the day we arrived at his house after my mother died (we drove all night), the first words out of his mouth were “You’ve gained weight.”
I simply wasn’t good enough.

I went into therapy again while living with  him and Mom.  I told the therapist that nothing would ever be enough. I had sold short stories to some prestigious sf anthologies and magazines. I was published in English and German. My stories had been singled out for praise when the anthologies were reviewed.

 His response? “When are you going to sell a book?”

I told my shrink that if I did sell a book, it would most likely be a paperback, and Dad would ask why it wasn’t hardcover. If I went hardcover, he’d ask why I was getting such a small advance. Hell, if I made the bestseller list, he’d want to know why my book wasn’t number one.

And the shrink said, “Fuck him.”

Dad didn’t intend to hurt me, but he did. He was more interested in turning me into his idea of the Perfect Daughter than he was in loving the imperfect daughter he got as a result of the genetic draw. He gave me everything materially but withheld the praise and pride I needed most. His criticism was meant to make me better, make me look better, but all I learned was that  I was ungraceful and fat and not as pretty as my best friend.

I was lucky. I had  two men who loved me, and my second husband reminds me of Johnny Castle in one of my favorite movies, -Dirty Dancing-. Oh, he doesn’t look like Patrick Swayze though he’s damned good dancer. No. He acted like him. When Dad started going after me when we’d visit, my husband would give him that look and tell Dad not to be mean  to be mean,. He never actually said, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” but he made the same point.

Here’s the truly off thing. All those years I internalized being fat and clumsy? It wasn’t true. When Dad moved into the new house with us, I went through four boxes of  photos (he wasn’t in the least interested in any photos that didn’t have Mom in them or him).  There were a lot of shots of me as a child. And I wasn’t fat. I wasn’t skinny, but I was a normal, healthy weight. My only defect was a tendency to have one slightly bowed leg, the result of those hyper extended ligaments which made that ankle tend to roll over. I had spent years hating myself for absolutely no reason.

When Dad was alive, I tried to talk with him about this. He refused. He told me to get over, because it didn’t matter; it had all happened years ago and he had nothing to apologize for. (He did apologize for the “whore” comment after he said it.) I was very, very angry.  But he was old and frail and unable to change.  Instead I concentrated on making his last months bearable. I went on Netflix and ordered every version of Sherlock Holmes they had.  I got the first three -Star Wars- films (4 through 6; 1-2 would only have confused him and were too serious)and we watched them together.  When Obama won, we ate Brie and pate and drank champagne. I did the best I could In his eyes, it probably wasn’t enough, because I couldn’t give him what he really wanted: my mother there beside him.

After he died, I was still angry for months. But in December of that year, I  willed myself to let go of the anger, to let it flow out of me and ground itself safely in the earth. I still feel the hurt. I still  want to ask him why I couldn’t be good enough, but I know that even if we meet in an afterlife, if there is one, he most likely won’t be able to tell me. He’ll tell me to let it go—because, really, he never realized how much he was hurting me, even while he was doing it.

Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

Originally posted to irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (166+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dov12348, weck, Chi, jennyp, asterkitty, x, Pam from Calif, Ms Tex, Lorinda Pike, Vayle, Shawn Russell, hungrycoyote, Joy of Fishes, SFNerd, Friend of the court, Cassandra Waites, 2thanks, slksfca, puzzled, mama jo, kishik, sockpuppet, Linda in Ohio, third Party please, TiaRachel, HoosierDeb, TX Freethinker, Lorikeet, marina, cassandracarolina, a gilas girl, left rev, buckstop, Cali Scribe, Jennifer Clare, Waterbug, Pandoras Box, Philpm, jessical, pixxer, texasmom, Cinnamon, fumie, operculum, Dbug, Heiuan, harchickgirl1, SaraBeth, janatallow, Kitsap River, WI Deadhead, mamamorgaine, devis1, MrSandman, lulusbackintown, Debbie in ME, CamillesDad1, BusyinCA, Transactivist, parse this, pale cold, nofear, ER Doc, MNGrandma, Leftcandid, Meteor Blades, lineatus, GenXangster, Carol in San Antonio, mikidee, ClapClapSnap, blue aardvark, sngmama, tommyfocus2003, HappyinNM, PapaChach, aravir, tgypsy, Cronesense, TechBob, onceasgt, Dauphin, Ian Reifowitz, be the change you seek, myboo, Ekaterin, FloridaSNMOM, LibChicAZ, DrLori, ogre, Ellid, Audri, Wendy Slammo, expatjourno, elengul, white blitz, UniC, JayBat, annrose, dizzydean, Avilyn, hopeful, TriangleNC, congenitalefty, Tracker, RO45, Big River Bandido, kml, dmhlt 66, JanetT in MD, Unit Zero, kathny, Emerson, redlum jak, Onomastic, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, MNGlasnant, kkjohnson, martini, WiseFerret, Sapere aude, Kamakhya, peachcreek, zerelda, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, Heart n Mind, Dretutz, science nerd, michelewln, Pat K California, sfarkash, mollyd, mookins, magicsister, Mayfly, Brooke In Seattle, CA coastsider, blueoldlady, psyched, Pinko Elephant, EclecticCrafter, Renee, s l o w loris, petulans, wenchacha, kyril, suzq, GoldnI, HawkWife, irate, ArchTeryx, Dumas EagerSeton, DamselleFly, doingbusinessas, Milou, ladybug53, yuriwho, Bob Love, TheMeansAreTheEnd, eXtina, bsmechanic, wozzlecat, enufisenuf, joynow, Oh Mary Oh, maybeeso in michigan

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:25:07 PM PDT

  •  You have just made me realize why I have to (54+ / 0-)

    defend my partner from his father, and how he can never become "good enough" for that old curmudgeon. This will make our lives so much better;  thank you , thank you!!

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.

    by weck on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:39:52 PM PDT

  •  You have become one of my favorites (40+ / 0-)

    around here, and now I imagine you are quite beautiful, as much on the outside, as you are on the inside. And I am so sorry you had to deal with what you did, and I am encouraged you are growing past it, and in the process of healing.

    I am an inch shorter, and just as curvy, and possibly a bit younger, but not by much, and I have had to fight similar self-hating demons much of my life. I want young women now to realize just how gorgeous they are, as they are.

    curious portal - to a world of paintings, lyric-poems, art writing, and graphic and web design

    by asterkitty on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:53:28 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. (35+ / 0-)

      I love the Dove commercials because they show women of all sizes, shapes, weights, races, colors and ages.

      As for beauty--I photograph well because the combo of Russian Jewish and Irish genes gave me an interesting bone structure. I had glamor shots done 20 years ago before my husband's first employment and the guys who saw them assumed I was a model. I actually WAS a child model, oddly enough, but didn't enjoy so Mom didn't press me.  And somewhere there are a lot of nude sculptures of me floating around from those classes.

      I think we all have something beautiful about us. My college roommate had a big nose and shar features but when she smiles, her face shone; she could light up any room.  She was breathtaking in that moment, and she was also the kindest, sweetest person I've known, one of the hidden saints.  What I wish is that society would stop selecting only one type of looks as acceptable--and I mean this for men, too.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 04:21:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You may find this interesting (6+ / 0-)

        Guardian: art nudes have gone skinny

        Someone repainted classic nudes taking 20 or 30 pounds off the models.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:11:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Real scupltors hate that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark

          I dated an artist who took a life drawing class.  The models he was most excited about were either very old or fat.  The young, beautiful ones held no interest or challenge at all.

          He had the amazing gift to make every woman fell beautiful, no matter who she was.  We didn't stay together for other reasons, but that one is one of the things I admired about him most.

        •  The Velasquez painting is the one that looks like (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue aardvark

          me--that's my body, and a lot like my face--make her a redhead...

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:34:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I know what you mean. (9+ / 0-)
        What I wish is that society would stop selecting only one type of looks as acceptable--and I mean this for men, too.
        I come from a place where beauty is judged a certain way that's different and opposite of the mainstream. In this universe, I was...meh. In a culture where women are admired for the curves, I was the shapeless girl with the skinny legs. I was gonna be "fine when I grew up". I was 20. lol

        I probably needed to be brought down a few notches anyway. Any skinny kid with a lot of symmetry is gonna get attention for good looks but not in the hood. lol You'd better put some gravy on that. :-D

        And contrary to belief, black men from my hood are no more into obese women than anybody else. It's just more than okay to be the natural Dove commercial woman in the hood. It's preferable.

        Also, calling somebody "young" can be a pejorative that means "immature". Young and skinny are bad things to be sometimes. Shapeless and immature.

        Admittedly, that can cause problems with the self image of black girls like Tyra Banks who was teased relentlessly for things that made her a supermodel in the mainstream world.

        "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

        by GenXangster on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:16:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've always found Black men liked my looks better (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Philpm, kyril, GenXangster

          than white--my 38Cs apparently scared a lot of guys. I did the Black Queen from the old X Men (it's basically a Dominatrix outfit) for a base Mardi Gras party--and got a lot of admiring looks from the African American men while the white guys gave me furtive glances. I was 49 at the time . I really didn't hit my stride till my mid to late 30s.

          I've noticed that the African American community is more accepting of different shapes than the mainstream. The only magazine that actually did (or used to) swimsuit "the right suit for your body type" layouts that actually showed women of different sizes  was Ebony. The other mags showed thinnish women with proportions that weren't perfect but never anyone who was a size 12 with actual hips. I loved Mode which was for size 10-12-14---many of hte plus size models were actually larger--my hsuband loved it too.  Those were hsi sort of women. ANd yes, he's white.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:25:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I am not good enough for my father either. (30+ / 0-)

    My mother passed 2 years ago on May 14th.
    He told a story about being made to eat the very tough fat/grissel and to like it and he made sure I was not in the first row at the funeral.

    His lesson that day (again)
    i.e. eat whatever he throws at me and take it and like it.
    We had a falling out years ago due to his failings and direct scorn of my mother (left her collapsed and unconscious twice because 'he did not want to deal with it').

    I've never been the person my father wanted me to be. I never tried to emulate him, but in my own view, the person I wanted to live up to was my mother's father. I don't think I made it but he was a great man. Slow to anger. Patient. Stories I can't even put back together with wisdom inside them that I try to live up to (about how to be as a person).

    He excelled at inflicting mental anguish on others. I was not the perfect healthy child due to bronchitis and a neurological disorder which I took medication for into my teens. He converted his fear and early worry for me as a parent into loathing and resentment from the anger at what I experienced.

    I tried to mentally keep that door open, but after my mother's death, I closed that door. I will not suffer his abuse, not will I enable his hypocritical 'peace-of-mind if he calls later wanting forgiveness and to make up for lost time, or whatever other reason may come. It may sound bad, but frankly, I hope he is too proud to do so.

    -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

    by Vayle on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:57:44 PM PDT

    •  I an sorry you suffered this abuse (17+ / 0-)

      There's never an excuse for emotional or verbal or physical abuse--but somehow it's even worse when it's inflicted on a child who has health or developmental issues they can't change no matter how much they want to.

      Sometimes you have to close the door. My husband suffered physical, emotional and verbal abuse from his father for the first 19 years of his life. He never spoke to him again once his mother moved out--until he tried a reconciliation back around 200o. For his pains, his father told him he was too dumb to go to college and try to become a nurse--even though he knew my husband was pulling straight As.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 09:59:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Much the same, my own father uses whatever (15+ / 0-)

        information he has to insult and to drag someone down even if he knows the insult to be 'out of place'. (i.e. your husband pulling good grades while being told how stupid he is).

        It's a control mechanism they (abusers) fall back on even when they know they are wrong that just reinforces their own version of a story so they won't have to face their own mistakes.

        -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

        by Vayle on Thu May 24, 2012 at 04:40:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is absolutely a control issue (10+ / 0-)

          My father was the same way.  Emotionally distant and demanding, with nothing ever good enough.

          Then he had a stroke, and became a real bastard.  After the stroke, he didn't need alcohol--he just became a full-time asshole who was proud of his assholery.

          After my mother died, (she died of lung cancer and hid her symptoms until it was too late--I think partly because she couldn't manage living with dad any more and partly because I was in active chemo for a breast cancer recurrence and she didn't think we'd understand), Dad told me I wasn't dying fast enough.

          I threw him out of my house and told him to go fuck himself. It felt incredible.  Freeing, empowering, wonderful.  I wanted to feel bad for him, but would not let myself.

          We didn't speak for a year.  It took a year for him to summon his courage and apologize.  After that it was different.  I was the only person he respected.  Whenever he started on the bullshit, all I had to do was tell him to shut up.  Unfortunately, it took me 45 years to figure it out, and my siblings never did get the hang of it.

          "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

          by DrLori on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:09:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm glad you can have a relationship with him. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Philpm, Alexandra Lynch, kyril

            I do not anticipate being able to do so with my own father.

            -6.38, -6.21: Lamented and assured to the lights and towns below, Faster than the speed of sound, Faster than we thought we'd go, Beneath the sound of hope...

            by Vayle on Thu May 24, 2012 at 10:06:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, I did. But he died seven years ago. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Vayle, kyril, FloridaSNMOM

              The thing was, I had already written him off.  I learned I didn't need a relationship with him.  Turned out that he needed one with me.  It was his good fortune that I had learned not to treat people the way he did.

              The fact remains that, if you're strong enough to reject his manipulation, you're strong enough that you don't need a relationship with him.  You can miss him,  or you can miss what never was, but you're still better off without him as he is.

              "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

              by DrLori on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:40:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I understand. I really do. (23+ / 0-)

    I have walked many of those paths, and still bear the scars.

    Thank you for this...you are a good therapist.

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Wed May 23, 2012 at 03:59:16 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (24+ / 0-)

    I had some of the same experiences but I was 5'4" and 85 pounds.  I was too skinny (not any more!).  I even walk as you describe and have scoliosis.  I however couldn't dance.  In second grade I took tap and my teacher told my mother, kindly, that she was wasting her  money.

    It is hard to erase those tapes in your head from your childhood.

    Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Ms Tex on Wed May 23, 2012 at 04:00:36 PM PDT

  •  At 5'1", I envy your height (23+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry you had to go through this emotional crap.  Sometimes we survive despite our parents.  

    Your Words Have Power
    Use Them Wisely
    Words

    It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. ~ Helen Keller

    by Pam from Calif on Wed May 23, 2012 at 04:06:23 PM PDT

  •  All parents should read this poem from Kahlil (33+ / 0-)

    Gibran.

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
    which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children
    as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
    and He bends you with His might
    that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
    so He loves also the bow that is stable.
    http://www.katsandogz.com/...

  •  A beautiful diary. Thank you for sharing these (24+ / 0-)

    glimpses of your father's darkness and your memories.

    Your story paradoxically brings us light.

    Beautiful and sad but hopeful.

    I republished this diary to the group Abuse Survivors at Daily Kos with the following comment:

    "A long diary by an accomplished and favorite Kossack who writes well of life-long verbal abuse by her father. She quotes his verbal abuse, which may be a trigger."
    Once again, Irishwitch, thank you.

    Recced, tipped, republished, commented, Followed, and beaming you healing thoughts and images.

  •  I am off to eat a late dinner with my husband (18+ / 0-)

    who is finally home after a day spent caring with  his mother who's recovering from chemo and radiation. We're gonna watch a movie, and I'll check back later, so if you don't get an immediate response from  me--you will eventually.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 04:50:48 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the diary. A few lines really struck me (15+ / 0-)

      I was the shortest in my class from kindergarten until 8th grade, when I finally outgrew two other students.  And by 10th grade I had gone through my growth spurt, and at 5'8" was on the low side of average height.  But that still affected my confidence.

      And this comment described me to a T.

      I was self-conscious. I hated having to get up in front of the class to give a report. I hated having to walk across a stage for any reason, even though I loved acting (I could forget my obvious imperfection when acting; however because I was magically someone else, someone better).
      I was painfully shy about speaking in public - when it was me speaking.  But like you, if I was acting in a play, I was magically transformed.  It's not that I was someone better.  But I was no longer me.  I was just playing a part and felt perfectly comfortable doing that.

      It makes me wonder how much acting classes could do as a form of therapy, especially for those with low self-esteem?

      "Safety and security are the result of collective consensus. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear." - Nelson Mandela. Donate to TREE Climbers

      by TX Freethinker on Wed May 23, 2012 at 06:10:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks... (16+ / 0-)

    For sharing this. The title alone makes one stop and want to read this.

    I hope you had a nice dinner tonight.

    All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

    by kishik on Wed May 23, 2012 at 06:05:42 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful writing, such sadness tho (10+ / 0-)

    {{{{{irishwitch}}}}}

    my mother was your father

  •  I have often enjoyed your essays... (8+ / 0-)

    ...when you write from your head or your anger, with heart.  When you write from pain and love I freakin' adore your essays, if this is any guide.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed May 23, 2012 at 08:50:52 PM PDT

    •  To quote Steven King, I bleed on paper (12+ / 0-)

      (pr on a monitor).  I can write decent articles that ar well-researched and fact-laden--but they don't seem to reach people as much as the ones where I bleed.

      Maybe that's why my unfinished vamp novel has a seriously flawed (Daddy issues, can you guess?), difficult prickly heroine that likely no one would like but me (she does get better, and she's paired with one of my favorite historical people, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton--and ne of her first conversations with him is about his writings where he seems to despise gays. He responds, "I was a Victorian male. I DID get better which is more than some of your contemporaries have.")

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Wed May 23, 2012 at 09:11:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went to a career counselor and was told that... (10+ / 0-)

    I should stop worrying about my career and focus on myself.  She had listened to me for several sessions and concluded that my father was abusive to me too.  She said if anything I might need therapy, and that I needed to live life.  

    It helped me to see that you had had a similar epiphany at one point.  I think the person who made that diagnosis or description was well-trained.

    After this counselor made this statement to me, the scales fell from my eyes.  I was so angry.  This happened when I was about 26.

    He has been good on some many levels as a father, my father.  But I keep him at arm's length -- and he'll pass away I believe with us somewhat estranged.  The bar to resolution is that I can't get him to move towards me without everything being chalked up as my fault, not his.

    Anyway, this is all just to say thanks for a diary that resonated.

    I was a dancer as a child -- I really like dancing now -- and I was a comedian.  I think the dancing was kind of crushed out of me because it was too eccentric where I grew up for a boy to dance.  My sense of humor was greatly eroded because my father would demand that we were quiet at the dinner table and he humiliated me a few times for speaking up, even just to make a joke.

    I chalk a lot of this up to old, brutal models of fatherhood.

  •  My father, in a nutshell. (15+ / 0-)

    When I was sixteen, living with my mother (for whom I was never good enough until I damn near died - she's better about this these days), I wanted to try living with my father, who had divorced my mother when I was five. So I called and asked him, and he said he needed to consult with my stepmother. A couple of days later, I got my answer: "H. and I have decided we don't want any outsiders around when we're raising our children." That is exactly what he said. I will never be able to forget that.

    Sorry you went through such crap, irishwitch, and Blessed Be to you.

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:56:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for the forum to discuss this. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, mikidee, Audri, kyril, melo

    My issue regarding my parents was not abuse (emotional or physical) but rather a benign neglect. I might be wrong, but I cannot remember once when my mother (or father) ever gave me a loving embrace, a hug. Our family was not touchy-feely at all. And missing that, I went to the opposite extreme as a teen and young adult. Now that I am older, I can look back and analyze and begin to understand. But I am what I am. And I know that a burden shared lifts a great weight and the message travels far. I never danced, but I once dreamed.

    In the sadness of your smile love is an island way out to sea, But it seems so long ago we have been ready trying to be free.

    by BusyinCA on Thu May 24, 2012 at 06:29:03 AM PDT

  •  blessed be, irishwitch (7+ / 0-)

    thank you for moving me to tears this morning (in a good way) ~

    may your sharing of this story continue to heal you, help to heal others, open further dialogue

    this is also a very good diary to share with others to help demonstrate the power of words - especially on a child's psyche. so i also thank you for giving me another tool to add to my kit

    there is powerful magic in the writing of this... thank you

    "Don't say there is nothing you can do/When giving up is what they want from you /"Rise, rise, rise, rise, rise," she said/No, this isn't the end/No, I don't believe that it's over yet" - Fight or Flight, Amy Clarke

    by nofear on Thu May 24, 2012 at 06:32:51 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this reminder (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, Unit Zero, Philpm, kyril

    I was talking to my wife the other day about miniVark and mentioned that she does have kind of a big butt for a little girl. And my wife reminded me to never say that where she could hear it.

    And I replied that I knew that if I ever said anything was wrong with her body, even once, I ran the risk of causing her to obsess about it for years, or the rest of her life.

    The responsibility of a father to a daughter is as great as to a son. You must help them be ready to face a cruel world, and part of that is giving them emotional ammunition to fight back, and not giving them chinks in their armor.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:08:53 AM PDT

    •  Heh (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, Philpm, kyril

      Humor works.

      My 16-year-old struggles with weight, but dropped 20 pounds recently. She's so proud of herself. "I'm no longer fat, I'm just curvy! I can live with curvy." :) This became very interesting when we were shopping for prom dresses, and they all fit perfectly in the waist, but not in either the boobs or hips. She was actually laughing about it. Just getting rid of the tummy bulge has made her able to laugh about the curves, which was nice to see. This is a kid already being treated for depression and anxiety, so, one less thing she obsesses about, the better.

      The other one, the 11-year-old, is in a tough spot. She's boy-crazy already. She's already well on her way to being zaftig. And she's really brainy. All you guys, imagine the really brainy girl in 5th grade who already had boobs. Scared the shit out of you, right? The boys are scared to death of her.

      She was bemoaning her "bubble-butt" the other day. I told her that when she gets a little older, lots of boys will like that. Then I launched into a chorus of "Fat Bottomed Girls." She cracked up :).

      "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

      by ChurchofBruce on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:16:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is something worse than brainy girls (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Philpm, kyril, ChurchofBruce

        with boobs in 5th grade.

        Brainy girls who are taller than the boys in 7th grade. Minivark is well on her way to that ....

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:24:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was a brainy girl (won the Honor Prize (4+ / 0-)

          for highest GPA for 3 years running) but didn't get boobs until I was 14.  I was a smallish B until I went on the Pill fro cramps at 22--and then I blossomed.

          Funny story. At a party, I was wearing a halter top leotard that was slashed to my waist and bare  to the waist in back, where it was plainly obvious I could not be wearing a bra. I was 30 at the time. An sf editor asked an acquaintance if my tits really stood up like that without any help.  Friend asked me. I told him it was the Pill. To thsi day that editor probably doesn't know what color my hair is (red) but he remembers those boobs.

          Being flat-chested in 8th grade is as bad as developing early, though.  I started school before I turned 5 (my birthday is in November and everyone else turned 5 by then) so I was younger than most of my classmates as well as shorter. Mom bought me training bra in 8th grade because I was mortified at having to wear an undershirt under my white gym suit.

          The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

          by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:42:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And now I have yet another reason to (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Philpm, kyril, ChurchofBruce

            support coverage of birth control by insurance companies - perky boobs!

            In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

            by blue aardvark on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:51:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I was the brainy girl with the big boobs (0+ / 0-)

        in the 5th grade.  I scared the crap out of the boys too.  It wasn't til I was out of college and working that I was considered attractive.  I am Italian descent, short, very curvy, smart as a whip and I don't take any crap from anyone.  Guess who didn't date much in high school and college.  All of a sudden I was considered really attractive in my early 20's when I was so used to being the sidekick best friend.  It was hard to deal with.  I always thought I was fat, clothes never fit, everything had to be altered and I had to buy sizes way bigger than I really was just to fit the bust.  Being big busted and short makes you look huge.  I used to cover my eyes and ask a guy what color my eyes were.  lol.

  •  I always wanted to be 5'2" and considered cute (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, Philpm, kyril

    but at 12, I was already 5'6". I too, wore cookies in my shoes and oxfords(Catholic School)
    I heard the "She has such a pretty face..." But it wasn't from my Dad. It was from my Mom and my grandmother ( My Dad's Mom)
    May be it's just the Irish-but I too loved to dance and to act and to sing.
    And all the things that you were, I wanted to be.
    Funny how the hurts of childhood carry through. I just tell myself that they knew no other way to love.
    But they propelled me into the Army- where I found a life, my love and a purpose.
    Much love to you Irishwitch- dance like there is no one watching

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. Mohandas Gandhi

    by onceasgt on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:39:33 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for sharing this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, kyril

    I hope you got some release from doing so.

  •  Thank you.. this reminds me of my own father (11+ / 0-)

    When I was in high school I was 5'5" and weighed 95 lbs, and still, all I heard was "you're too fat" every time I wanted seconds at dinner. You could see my ribs, but I was still "too fat" in his eyes. I was constantly dieting, my sister on the other hand responded to his criticism by gaining more weight. He was also an alcoholic (still is) though he denies it and claims he could stop at any time, but he just doesn't want to. He used to make me bring him his beer, I used to call it "loading the gun". Now that I'm an adult, no beer is allowed in my house, and if anyone brings beer into it, I don't bring beer to anyone, period, ever. We have rum, and sometimes wine coolers, though none of us are heavy drinkers, but no beer. I can't even stand the smell of it.

    My dad once suggested that I get a job as a bartender because I'm personable and deal well with people and could make good tips and make more money then I was in fast food or retail. I could never get through to him that I couldn't do it because of him and the years of verbal (and sometimes physical) abuse at his hands. That I can't stand the smell of beer without shaking and remembering everything.

    I haven't talked to my dad in about six years. He's mad at me because I won't let him keep his grandkids over night. He still drinks, he still drinks and drives. I keep waiting to get the phone call that he's been in a fatal accident or worse, killed someone by drinking and driving. I'll be damned if he has my kids with him when it happens, and I won't subject them to what I went through.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:08:49 AM PDT

    •  Amen to you! (8+ / 0-)

      My folks were mad at me for years because I wouldn't let them babysit my son, and I supervised all visits with them.  

      Never regretted it for a minute.  Don't you regret it, either.  Your children will be far less scarred because of your caution.  Not only are you saving them from the possibility of drunk driving, you're also saving them from the abuse you endured.

      "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

      by DrLori on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:22:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  here here! (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Audri, Philpm, FloridaSNMOM, kyril, melo

        My parents travelled all over, moved all over the country and always wanted us to visit. No thanks. It was hard on me and I tried to keep my kids from being scarred.

        Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        by hopeful on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:52:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        I often wonder if I'll regret it on some level once he's gone but.. I just don't trust him with the kids. And as I don't trust him with the kids, he feels I betrayed him somehow. We used to do supervised visits with the kids until he caught on about it. And he's not one you can lie to.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:05:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wonderful diary...one question (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, kyril, melo

    Do you have any idea why he was like this?  I wonder what his relationship to his parents was like...

    My own father, who died when I was 22, sounds like he was in the same ballpark as yours, though he tried not to be that way.  My grandmother died when he was 16 and my grandfather was a tough sonofabitch who saw him as too much of a momma's boy.  

    I remember our driving lessons and my father telling me that whenever he would go out with his dad, that every mistake he made was rewarded with a smack on the head.  I guess my grandfather was just trying to make him "tough".  My father, try as he might not to be that way, often would fall into yelling at me when I made a mistake (he was 6'4" and 300+ pounds, so it was more of a bellow).

    When he was dying of cancer, we made up for a lot of stuff, but I always wonder how he would have been had he had a different style of parenting when he was younger...

     

    Buck up--Never say die. We'll get along! Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936).

    by dizzydean on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:47:18 AM PDT

    •  I have thought long and (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, Dretutz, Philpm, kyril

      hard about this. In my mother's case, at least, I just think she was born that way. There is a disorder called narcissism and I just don't think she could empathize at all.

      Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      by hopeful on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:54:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen to that. My mother, the narcissist, is in (5+ / 0-)

        her 90's and still dishing out hurtful, judgmental criticism across the board.  I happen to be favorite target as she hates "short, little farts."  She was 5'10" and describes herself as statuesque; and I am 5'3" and curvy which is the bane of her life.

        Alice Miller has an excellent book about children of narcisstic parents:  Prisoners of Childhood--later released as the Drama of the Gifted Child. Healing read.

        •  I've read it! (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Philpm, dizzydean, kyril, melo

          I got several books on the subject several years ago to try to figure it all out. I believe that there is also one called "toxic parents" or something like that.

          Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

          by hopeful on Thu May 24, 2012 at 10:41:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There's also a book (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Philpm, dizzydean, kyril

            called Trapped in the Mirror, by E. Goloub, which resonated with me.

            Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

            by hopeful on Thu May 24, 2012 at 10:45:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  reading 'toxic parents' was fantastic. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hopeful, dizzydean

            as was my first 'adult children of dysfunctional families' meeting.

            paradoxically healing it was, to cry for others' pain as if it were yours, and to be happy to feel one's feelings freely, and realise i was not the egoist i'd been told i was.

            my dad loathed me, with the exception of a handful of precious moments, when his heart would break out of the jail it was in. a week before he died, he told me, calmly and lucidly how he wished i had never been born.

            he died 13 years ago, still in denial to the end, a petty, vicious, hypo- and hyper-critical spirit dressed in impeccable public guise, a pathetic poseur of a human being.

            i never hated him back, just ceaselessly prayed he would see my virtues, so many hours wondering how i could ever get him to understand i was not a bad person.

            i went to the opposite ends of the earth to have my children, so they could grow up out their psychic reach.

            my mother was equally toxic, but redeemed herself during the last 3 months of her life, with 4 different cancers running amok in her body.

            she specifically asked to go on a week long trip, with us two sons, and without him to her place of birth, and after 2 days wasted on beating round the bush, we finally broke through, cried our eyes out for the 40 years of pain, and became friends in love.

            bless her, she healed our relationship, and though i had been the child victim of her rages and horsewhippings, her emotional controlfreak suffocations followed by coldness and grudging resentments, but those last three months allowed me to let go of my reactions to all that and love her as if she had been the mom of my dreams.

            death was a good friend, it makes us all want to clear our consciences when it is around.

            which made it so very mystifying why my father always felt he had something to lose by just loving me. some kind of territorial alpha BS.

            all their friends had monstrously dysfunctional relationships with their kids, listening to them talking together and complaining about their 'rotten ungrateful children', and seeing how many suicided, or crashed and burned, got smacked out etc never taught them a fucking thing, they were always perfect parents in their own eyes. as if water runs uphill!

            child psych in the early 60's was nowhere, the first psychiatrist they hired to diagnose me at 13 told them it was just bad luck, sometimes you just 'got a lemon', the second one wrote them a letter when i was 16, (found after their death) wondering with them how to tell me i was clinically insane without using the word 'mad', as it may alarm me too much.

            i ran away from home at 14 and was put in reform school, borstal it was called, a juvey prison. (england). after 2 days they came to get me, she dressed in a mink coat, he looking the spitting image of dan draper in madmen. i was summoned by the warder to meet with them, and when i saw their cruel faces i told the warder i would not go with them, so i stayed 2 more weeks, until i realised the only thing i would ever learn there was how to steal cars.

            i'll never forget the look on the warder's face, as he looked slowly back and forth, he knew i had seen him beat an inmate with a thin chain the day before, but whatever they were doing was obviously worse, though they had never put me in the hospital with their violence, the physical violence was actually a lot easier to get over than the mental.

            2 suicide attempts by 16, chronic depression, will-to-fail in almost everything i try in life, yet i still feel content and grateful enough to live and love one day at a time, thanks to those few people who were there to listen along the way, and let me vomit it all out. i am 61 now, and can testify how long it takes to work through this battering of your soul when you are young.

            the flipside is sometimes people have great childhoods and it's downhill from then on, so that helped me accept my fate better too, then do something about repairing. that's when i realised to heal yourself is to heal the world, starting with your own little corner and moving out.

            you write great, irishwitch, i have enjoyed your stuff here for years now. thanks so much for sharing this difficult and painful journey, doing so makes all our burdens lighter, strange as it seems.  ventilation is necessary,  so much of this stuff is swept under the psychic rug out of shame, and it sure doesn't do any good there, tripping us up every time we try to cross the room, and undermining our sense of a right to a good, even great life!

            be well all you lovely people, and teach your children well...

            why? just kos..... *just cause*

            by melo on Fri May 25, 2012 at 02:53:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  good grief, melo. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dizzydean

              this is a horrible story. My story is more one of benign neglect-not great, but certainly not as bad as yours. I am so sorry that it took you so long to work through your issues with your parents, but am so glad you did.

              At 56, I can attest to the length of time necessary, especially with poor psychotherapy how long the healing can take.

              But the scars remain.

              Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

              by hopeful on Fri May 25, 2012 at 04:15:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Dad came of age in the Depression. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dizzydean, kyril

      His Irish-American father couldn't hold a job and he drank far too much--all his brothers except one were alcoholics. His father was a good enough ice skater to try out for the Olympics and could be charming and was handsome when young.

      My grandmother was the child of Russian Jewish immigrants who worked hard and made money and owned a business and a farm--eventually they owned the company that made Mogen David. She had been gently raised and definitely married a man who didn't deserve her. She played piano beautifully and loved music, as did my Dad. SHe couldn't give him much  monetarily so she spoiled him in other ways, always praising his lovely baritone ( he used to make fun of me for singing off-key; I was a frigging alto and we always sound off-key so I stopped singing around him--my husband loves to hear me sing because it means I am happy, even if I am off-key).

      Mom was born into an Irish-American family that owned 3 restaurants. SHe was pretty, poised, smart, popular and skinny. He met her when was 15 and he 17.   He never looked at another woman.  Mom was very 1950s and she spolied him. My maternal grandparents retired early and lived with us  and gave me the love ans support Dad didn't. They helped him go to college nights and buy their first house.  SO yet another woman spoiled him.

      Dad was very conventional. He copied whatever others did, at first, I think, to smooth his rough edges.  He always wanted the Other Guy had, and it had to be the best he could afford. I, on the other hand, was an unconventional child who marched to her own drummer in subtle ways.  He simply didn't get me. Mom fit in so well after all; why didn't I?

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:53:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like your father and (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Audri, DrLori, Philpm, Mayfly, kyril

    my mother were peas in a pod. I was never good enough for my mother-too shy (a defect), too skinny, too fat, too whatever. When I found out that my knee and hip pain was due to one leg being shorter than the other, my mother said something like "Oh, dear, Dr. C. said I should take you to a specialist when you were little. Don't tell your father".

    Huh? I was in my 30s by this time. And she's worried about my father's anger? Not my suffering? Not sorry that she didn't get it figured out in time for me to avoid the problem, but my dad being mad at her....

    And, when at 27 I decided I needed to go into therapy, she sighed and said "we did the best we could (as parents)". I wanted to scream at her "This isn't about you!!"

    I've read a few books about toxic parents, and narcissistic people and finally decided that she was who she was and was never going to change. I just needed to protect myself from her, so that her rude comments didn't wound so much.

    She died of COPD 4 years ago. I couldn't even cry or be sad.

    Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    by hopeful on Thu May 24, 2012 at 08:52:02 AM PDT

  •  This reminds me of my mother (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, Mayfly, FloridaSNMOM, kyril

    She was a good mother in many ways, but after her mother died when I was ten, something in her changed.  It got worse after my father died very suddenly when I was 14, and it never really changed until the beginning stages of Alzheimer's had stripped away the memory of the pain that had descended on her when she was only 46 and never quite left her.  I was never good enough, thin enough, successful enough, and when she died my aunt took up the drumbeat about my appearance, my career choices, my taste in men, my hair....

    It's only now that they're all gone that I can truly be myself, and as much as I wish it were otherwise, I'm all but certain that things worked out as they were supposed to....

  •  Thank You (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, Mayfly, FloridaSNMOM, kyril

    So much of what you said resonates so strongly with me. My Mom was never intentionally mean to me but her comments hurt all the same. I was a skinny kid with mousy brown hair. I loved to read. I was a tomboy. I too ended up very busty. I too found refuge in the science fiction community. In the end I became Mom's caregiver and she came to appreciate me and my talents. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you will be able to find the peace that you deserve. You are a good person.

    "A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world." Oscar Wilde

    by michelewln on Thu May 24, 2012 at 10:35:38 AM PDT

  •  Wonderful New Yorker cartoon shows vast hall with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    rows and rows of seats plus stage and lectern sporting banner, "Reunion of People with Happy Childhoods"

    All the seats are empty except for a scattering here and there totaling maybe a dozen people.  

    I laughed out loud when I saw it.  My childhood also was very painful, but it did include some important and mitigating lucky breaks.

    "...it's difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

    by Mayfly on Thu May 24, 2012 at 11:59:16 AM PDT

  •  You were sent to Catholic school (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    but did your father recognize the Christian precept of Do unto others...?

    A quotable person once said "You have to be gentle with people." (If any reader recognizes this quote, I would like to know its source.)

    On another note, I have read that scoliosis places an abnormal physical stress (which would include psychological stress as well) upon its victim. Just the energy required to maintain one's balance is excessive compared to non-scoliotic individuals and is a constant strain upon the body. Add this to mental stress from an abusive parent and the situation is pretty bad.

    There is a Yahoo group for scoliosis that has tons of information.

    Thank you for this wonderful diary. I hope it is therapeutic for you and for all the commenters who were inspired to tell their own stories.
    .
    .
    .


    For the first time in human history, we possess both the means for destroying all life on Earth or realizing a paradise on the planet--Michio Kaku.

    by psyched on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:39:00 PM PDT

    •  It's a minor scoliosis as they go. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      But it explained a lot. Most of my back problems today stem from the fall down the concrete stairs to the concrete basement floor at school (I didn't see doctor until Sat. though the fall happened on a Monday because Mom figured it was just a sore muscle, nothign serious--till the doctor explained that having one hip nearly 2 inches higher than the other was NOT normal) which left me with facet joint syndrome which means sometimes  the vertebrae shift and press on the nerves--exquisite pain. Happened to me two days ago; I just bent wrong.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 01:58:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  {{{irishwitch}}} (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    It doesn't sound trivial at all.

    My mom was raised in the 50's by and asshole father who was a child molester and also a perfectionist who you could never please. I don't know how she made it through.

    But she was gripped by body image problems, and I was physically awkward my entire childhood. I was eating to deal with the fact that her father was abusing me. My dad glared at me every time I ate anything. And my mom talked endlessly of how I needed to wear slimming A-line dresses to minimize the presence of my thighs. I thought I was hideously ugly. I didn't realize that I was attractive until I finally understood I was gay in my late 30's.

    What i am trying to say is that you are not the only one. I'm so sorry that you had to go through that pain. I'm glad that you understand you are beautiful.

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Thu May 24, 2012 at 12:39:48 PM PDT

    •  I had help from therapists in my 20s and 30s. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      One of them told me I had done a lot of work on myself already and come to terms with my body type because I wasn't having the sexual  problems so many women have--I wasn't ashamed of my body. By the time I saw him at 32, I had gone through my sf fandom therapy phase where I MADE myself walk across that stage in a costume and realized no one was  making cat calls, that, instead, I got comp;iments which meant Dad was wrong about my body.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:01:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "I'd like to put a bullet in her head" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    was my mother in law's comment upon being told that she had to wait while my husband picked me up from the plasma center.

    I realize she'd probably shoot herself with it if she tried to shoot me, but it's still not exactly calming to recieve death threats from one's mother in law.

    She can listen to her son wheezing and gasping as he has an asthma attack, and rail at him for laziness. One minute she blames him for being fat, the next offers him more food. He is terribly stressed when he's around her.

    And since she is covering our utilities and owns our house....we can't simply cut her out of our lives. I wish to God we could, though.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:01:39 PM PDT

    •  I was lucky enough to be bale to live (0+ / 0-)

      Far Away from Dad from 91-1007. We were in ME for 4 years, during which we couldn't afford to fly down to FL. We saw them before we headed to Japan for 7 years and to ME for 2. I spent 2 weeks with them in 2003. Saw Dad after Mom died. When she had her stroke, I wanted to come down but he told me it owuld be best to wait until she was home because she was expected to make a full recovery. So I never got to see her alive again.  I think he really didn't want me there to come between them.

      MiL is recovering from chemo and radiation. Except for believing I was horrible to Dad (she saw him as a sweet old codger because he never showed her  his ugly mean side and used his not-inconsiderable charm to play on her sympathy), she's really great--albeit Very SOuthern Christian, which makes it hard for WIccans like us. We ssee her alone because family gatherings include the two nieces (if you've seen The Help, Thing 2 is Hilly and Thing 1 is her toady Elizabeth) and her eldest daughter who tend to be just swful to us and MiL says nothign to them.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Thu May 24, 2012 at 02:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You posed for Kelly Freas with a dinosaur?! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm following you forever.

    Great diary. Great diary.

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Thu May 24, 2012 at 07:22:26 PM PDT

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