Sunday, August 20, 2006

Rehashing the worst years

SO I just read this book examining the "therapeutic boarding school" industry, which was quite disturbing in that it is very cultish and not at all therapeutic, not to mention a number of teens have died in these places. There is one story about a kid whose parents sent him to one in Mexico I think, even though he didn't have appear to have any actual problems (besides crazy parents that is)--he was there about two years before some other relatives and a neighbor busted him out. What really struck me about the story was how much his parents sounded like my dad and stepmother---absolute control freaks, for whom nothing you ever do is good enough or correct. Oh, the memories that came flooding back! Like:

1. Being told I never contributed anything to the household (where I visited every other weekend) when I was about 10, though I could easily compile a list of chores I did--like wrapping presents, helping to cook, loading dishwasher, etc.

2. When I was 16 or 17--if something was wrong with my car and I didn't bring it to my dad (like the time my uncle fixed something small for me), I would get in trouble. But if I did bring it, I was accused of only coming over to have my car fixed.

3. Being accused of only coming over to pick up gifts from my extended family, like little Easter baskets. But the time I didn't take back the gifts (specifically to avoid the accusation), I was sent a long, nasty letter about how ungrateful and selfish I was, and that the gifts were returned, and the relatives told I didn't want the gifts and that they should never get me anything again.

4. When I was 14, my German class helped to host an international dinner, where people brought in international dishes for a buffet. Parents bought tickets in advance that were $2 each. My mom, dad and stepmom all bought tickets. My mom came and we had a great time. But my dad and stepmom came late (it was something like 5 to 7, and they came at 630) and of course there wasn't much food they made a big scene, threw a fit, insisted on getting their money back, etc. It was a friggin high school fundraiser! It was $4---these are middle class people who took vacations in Hawaii! All my friends, my mom, and my teacher were super nice to me about it. They recognized the craziness.

5. Then there was the time when I was 18 and living with them for a while, and we were arguing about some thing they hated about me (I think it was that my two closest friends at the time were black) and I just needed a break. I was trying REALLY hard to be reasonable, and said I wanted to go out for a drive just to clear my head. So they got in my face and said no, you're upset, you can't drive.
OK, I can see that, I'll just take a walk. No, we don't want you to leave the house.
Alright. I'll just go downstairs for a little while. No, you're running away from your responsibilities.
They FOLLOWED ME, into the basement, past my room, back into the laundry area, where my dad ultimately threw me on the concrete floor, sat on top of me and began punching me in the face.
I was later chastisted for scratching him during this encounter (I don't remember doing that, but it sounds plausible because generally if someone tries to beat me, I expect to try to fight back) and made to APOLOGIZE to him FOR MAKING HIM SO UPSET THAT HE HAD TO HIT ME, in order to continue living there. I should have just slept on the street (though at that point I had already had that experience and didn't want to repeat it--that was the time when I was homeless and my dad told me not to call my maternal grandparents because I was ruining their lives. My wonderful grandparents soon located me through friends, and desperately wanted me to come stay with them, which I did. My grandmother was pretty pissed off that my dad said that to me. I suppose I should have known better than to believe anything he said.)

I could go on all night! No wonder I have a friggin phobia about being tricked! (When I graduated from college, Hubby (then boyfriend) bought me a TV/VCR for my bedroom--and my first response was "Is this a trick?" Isn't that sad?)

All I can say is, thank God I made it through all that shit. If I try to restart a relationship with these people, please talk some sense into me! (I can always rely on Wa for that--he's my reality checker!)


At 5:05 PM, Blogger cole edwards said...

Maybe you should try some breastmilk for those problems...JUST kidding. I am dork trying to make you laugh.

WOW. Gina. My list is getting pretty long, but I have added your dad and stepmonster to my list of people I would beat up or help kill. seriously.

You are a remarkably sane, kind, loving, smart and wonderful woman. I would think it more reasonable after your childhood to become a crack ho.

I am so looking forward to seeing you soon. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

At 12:06 AM, Anonymous sharon said...

wow, that makes my psycho mother seem positively normal. how did you turn out so well-adjusted??


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