Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Sort of Therapy: Part One

I have been trying to use this blog as a sort of therapy, I think. Writing has always helped me sort out my thoughts and express whatever I feel I need to, but I don't always fall back on it. EG thinks that I should write at least an hour a day! Ha! It seems like a lot but when I write passionately, time flies by. I guess it's not a ridiculous idea like I first thought. But that in no way means that I'm going to commit to that.

A little background on my mental history - I love how shady that sounds - I suffer from what has been diagnosed as "major depression". Many, many people suffer from this. I don't know what the majority of people think of it - either they think that it's not a big deal or that it's not taken seriously enough. I believe some of my problem is biological in nature and inherited, and my circumstances greatly affect this too.

Looking back, I'm sure I suffered from it long before I recognized that anything was "wrong". I was brought up to disguise my feelings - all I knew was really anger. Everything made me mad. That is how I guess I dealt with things. That seemed to be how my parents expressed their own emotions as well. We were not by any means a very lovey dovey family. I was the most affectionate of any of us, and my mom still doesn't know where I "got" that. Ha! Both she and my dad were raised in somewhat unaffectionate homes as well.

Before I go any further with this - I want to make something very clear. I do not want to censor myself with this - if you "know" me and are directly involved in my life and don't like some of the things that I say, that is ok, but I don't want to hear about it. I am entitled to my feelings, just like you are, and this is MY blog. These are MY thoughts. I am not going to write things down to make you feel better about yourself. This is for ME. So if you are a family member, friend, whoever - and you feel what I write is shocking, scandolous, or wrong and want to go tell the rest of the family or whatever, go ahead, but it does not change anything. These are the things that I saw, what I recall, and it is not meant to hurt, embarrass, or anything else that you might find "wrong"; it is meant to help me. If you don't like it, don't read it.

Ok, with that said, when I was younger, I didn't perceive anything as wrong or different with my family. That's how it was, and that's how I was raised. My mom stayed at home with us for the most part, and my dad worked ALL the time. I didn't see him that often. When I did, we were to be quiet, because he was tired from working and needed peace and quiet. I didn't feel that he was that approachable, partly because of what my mom had warned us about (to be quiet and to leave him alone) and partly because he was never really that talkative or involved with us (to clarify for those that don't know me all too well - my brother is six years older than me. I was the "baby").

Up until I started school at age 5, I was only really exposed to family and some of the people that my dad worked with. I was with my mom all day and never went to a daycare. I never went to preschool. I didn't have a babysitter. The only time I was with someone else was when I stayed with my Grandma (my mom's mother) or with an aunt who had cousins that I played with. My parents both drank (my dad more so than my mom - she only seemed to be a social drinker) and my dad was a heavy smoker. I was ill a lot. I do believe a part of it was because of the smoking (I had multiple ear infections and had respiratory problems). My parents would have parties and invite their close friends over (usually people that my dad worked with). My dad would get pretty drunk and would pass out with a smile on his face. He was never a violent drunk. He always seemed his happiest then. He would dance with me and laugh at all my comments. He always seemed the most approachable when he was around his friends too. My mom would admittedly get annoyed at his drunken state.

We by no means had a lot of money. I know that we lived in a few rented homes but my dad bought us a trailer home to live in when I was about 4 years old. I remember the first time I saw was used and I remember seeing the living room first and there was a mattress laying against the wall because the owner was moving out. We lived in it in a small trailer park. My parents, were both very clean people. Our house always looked nice and our cars were always kept decent. My dad put a lot of money into various cars that we had. It was like a hobby to him. My mom was into Home Interior decorating and ordered from Avon all the time. We always had nice Christmases. My mom always wore really nice clothes (dress suits). She was always complimented on how nice she looked. But we never went on family vacations or outings. We did go out to eat a lot...every weekend I think.

When I started school, I was extremely shy. I had never really been around other kids other than my cousins. I became exposed to a variety of kids, races, different family dynamics. I met my best friend, who lived in a nice house about a mile down the road from where I lived (I will call her Boo). Her family was a lot like mine. Her parents worked all the time and were not overly affectionate people. She had a younger sister that was very close in age to her. I spent a lot of time with her at their house when I was allowed, I recall.

I think I led an otherwise "normal" childhood. My brother and I were not overly close, probably because of the age difference. He teased me a lot! My dad stopped drinking and smoking altogether when I was about eight years old, I think it was for mainly health reasons. He didn't hang out with his old friends as much but still worked as hard as ever. My mom tried to work the opposite shift as my dad for awhile, but it wasn't very long until she got hurt at work and couldn't work anymore.

My parents fought a lot about finances. I remember accusations being flung (I won't get into detail and I won't say who they came from and who they wear directed at). Sometimes they would try to involve me - they would ask me who said what and if the other one was wrong or did they say this or blah blah blah. If I picked my dad's "side", my mom wouldn't speak to me for awhile. If I picked my mom's side, I felt like I was pushing my dad (who I wasn't close to anyway but adored) even further away. My brother was old enough by this point to leave the house and go hang out with friends. He could escape. I couldn't. I do remember thinking that my mom started a lot of the fights and I hated that. I wished she would just not say anything. You could always tell if it was going to be one of those days. She would get angry over very little and before you knew it, it went from point A to point M in rapid succession, if you know what I mean. It just got all out of proportion. Even when my brother or I would get into trouble (and nothing serious, we were pretty good kids), my mom would get angry and then tell us to wait until Dad got home. She would steam and then make an even bigger deal about it to my Dad, and then he was tired from working all day and yelled at us...then my mom would add more fuel to the fire when things started to cool off just to get us into trouble all over again. Now I know that she suffered from depression too but never knew what was wrong with herself. She was a perfectionist in every sense of the word - and she would easily freak out over the littlest thing.

I think all of this made me really anxious. I was always a little on the tense side. Jumpy, I guess would be a better word. I did really well in school and life went on. Occasionally there would be my mom's threat to leave, I would panic and beg her not to go. She might leave for a drive or my dad might, but they always stayed together. It was an all too common cycle. I didn't know if this was normal or not, and there was no one to ask. I just hated the arguments...and I see now that I learned a lot of my behavior from these incidents.

Other things that I was raised to believe even though they may be wrong - as my parents were not really affectionate, and they had been raised by parents who were the same way, I was only allowed to do things until a certain age. Let me explain: it was no longer acceptable to call my parents "Mommy" or "Daddy" by the time I was a certain age. I'm not sure when this age was, but I'm thinking that it was by the time I entered the third grade. I had to call them "Mom" and "Dad". My dad used and mom used to have pet names for me, which promptly stopped around this time, save for a few of them. I wasn't supposed to hold my dad's hand any more, and I wasn't supposed to "hang" on them. That left residual effects on me, I suppose. When I hear someone call their dad "Daddy" and they are my age, or even a teenager, I feel disgusted, like it is all wrong. I felt the same way when I saw someone holding their teenage daughters hand. Maybe there are limits to things, and maybe there aren't - my view was clouded by parents that thought these things had "dirty" connotations to them and I guess I feel uncomfortable with that too - even though it is probably all in innocense.

This is getting so long! I will write more later...