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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My story, the prequel

Thank you for your positive responses to this post from last month. It was harder than I thought to summarize and explain what happened all those years ago. It was even harder to schedule the post to publish and then wait to see what would happen.
 
I didn't realize my childhood was different than those experienced by many of my friends.

As kids, we often scattered to various hiding places when we heard my dad come home. I spent what seems like the majority of my youth in my room, grounded for some misbehavior or another. My younger brother perfected his defense tactic of tattling on me for real or imagined wrong-doings. That means I read a lot under my covers, using the red glow of my alarm clock as a make-shift flashlight. I also stood in front of my bedroom mirror, imaging I was an actress who had to sell whatever random items I scrounged up in my room. Deodorant, books, clothes, anything. I escaped my reality to pass the time. I imagined my dad dying and being really sad about it. And then wondering if that'd be true.

We did whatever we could to escape the fury and abuse of our dad. I remember falling asleep in the upstairs TV room one evening, and waking up absolutely terrified that I'd get in trouble for being up past my bedtime. I heard my dad coming into the attached kitchen and I froze. I didn't dare move a muscle while laying in the recliner for fear the leather would squeak and I'd be revealed. After fixing his late-night snack, I heard him head down the stairs and settle in front of the TV in the living room. I figured I was as good as dead. The house was set up in such a way that the stairs were open to that living room, and I'd have to pass in my dad's line of sight to get to my own room on the other side of the stairs.

You may think that this happens to any child; a mistake is made and a punishment is issued. It just wasn't like that in our house. Sometimes you got reprimanded with a spanking that left you winded. Other times you were told how worthless you were. And still other times you weren't disciplined at all. There was no science behind it. It was all a tactic for control.

That particular evening I crept down the stairs holding my breath. I prayed with all my heart that I could get to bed and put the whole thing behind me. I strategically inched my way around the open landing and, after what felt like hours, finally darted into my younger brother's room (which adjoined my own).

That night is a pretty good representation of how I spent most of my childhood. Always afraid. Always thinking of how to avoid trouble. Never knowing when I'd take a wrong step. I often joke that I'm lucky my abuse was usually psychological rather than physical. But sometimes I'm not sure if that's true. I wonder if it'd be easier to have memories of being hit instead of memories of being told I'm the same kind of person as my dad.

7 comments:

  1. I feel so terribly bad that you lived your childhood in fear. I agree with you at the end though, I am unsure if physical or phsycological abuse is worse. I have a family member that used a lot of physcologicla abuse as a child and well into my teen years. It took me until after I was married to stand up for myself and learn to shut off all emotion to this person so that when the time came, as it always did and somthing set them off I would be prepared. Thankfully this person was not either one of my parents for I fear that I would not have been as able to cope. I am amazed at your strength in sharing your story.

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  2. Liv, I was just catching up on your blog and saw both this post and the one about your dad from last month. I remember when your dad did this to your house. My parents sat me down and explained to me what had happened, and it was and is so difficult to understand. I remember feeling like I wanted to reach out to you, but also feeling unsure and awkward about it. I feel bad about that. I am sure it is difficult to talk about this. I didn't know your dad was abusive to you guys. I admire you for putting this out there, and hope it can help others who are suffering from abuse.

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  3. Oh Abby, "awkward" is definitely a word to describe everything about this! And I can't even imagine how hard it would have been to figure out how to approach me after all this happened.

    To this day, I feel like I'm talking about someone else's life when I discuss these events. But I do hope it does some good. My siblings and I are proof that you don't have to give up!

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  4. Trin, I'm glad you've figured out how to deal with a negative influence in your life! It's so hard when you feel manipulated by people who are supposed to love and support you.

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  5. Thanks for your brave honesty! There are so many people who will read this and relate... I am sorry you have a childhood with memories like these.

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  6. I'm glad you have gotten to a place where you feel like it was someone else's life. That is awesome you haven't used this as an excuse to be negative. You are far more positive than I would have been.

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  7. How awful for anyone, especially a little child, to have to live their lives in fear. How you said you feel like you are telling someone else's story shows how different you have made your life despite what you were forced to endure. That is strength and oh do I admire you for that.

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