When I was a kid, somewhere between 6 and 10, a friend had a sleepover birthday party. It had the usual parts of said party, and at one point the birthday girl wanted to watch a movie or show or something, so we were all crowded in front of a TV.
I freaked out. Like, legitimately freaked out.
Let’s go back a bit and explain why.
First, I was in trouble for something at the time I was at the party My punishment for pretty much anything meant no television. I sat with the other girls for a few minutes and became TERRIFIED of my mother finding out, and I had no idea what a 2nd or 3rd level punishment would include. I went and found an adult and made them call my mother for permission for me to watch TV. I was legitimately surprised that she was OK with it, but that was more than likely a fast decision on what would make her look the “best” to this other girl’s parents.
It became a family joke, and I’ve told the story many times over the years, but it wasn’t until literally this morning I realized how abnormal that entire situation was. And it got me thinking about WHY I was so worried about breaking the rule.
I was actually terrified of her. Think about it outside of the context of this blog post. A small child, at another child’s birthday, so worried about the punishment for breaking a rule, that I have zero positive memories of the party. I have the same lack of good memories from our trip to Disney in Florida. I’ve always assumed it was because it was shortly before my parents got divorced and they were just shitty and I picked up on it. I’m pretty certain that trip had the same absolute fear of punishment from her.
It’s just not fucking funny, and I shouldn’t have to be working to convince myself of that.
How fucked up is that, y’all? Not only did she beat me down (Emotionally, I was never punished physically after the last time I was spanked at 5 or 6. That’s a story for another blog post.) so damned much that I was too afraid of her to enjoy most positive situations, but she gaslit me so fucking hard that it’s taken this long for me to realize they were both COMPLETELY her fault.
I keep randomly unpacking shit like this, and it’s always about 6/10 feel better for realizing something/being incredibly angry and sad that she did it to me. All of it. My therapist has to remind me at least once a month that I was a child and didn’t deserve any of what she did to me (minus standard bullshit teenagers do to piss off their parents and feel big). Not a single bit of it. I can’t tell you how fucking hard that is. I have to struggle with it every moment of my life, walking around with forty years of guilt trying to shove me down even from the fucking grave. Which means I have to constantly think about what she did.
It takes a lot of spoons, which is something else I have to constantly remind myself. This struggle is hard and it makes sense that I can’t just brush it off all of the time, and that is OK. The forgiving myself part is the part I am the worst at. I am my own biggest enemy, minus, of course, my mother.