Monday, March 28, 2005

The Importance of Recognizing Abuse... An Unbelievable Tale of Insane People In My Life

Ah, my first DadStory. I hope I can encourage you to make fun of my dad's psychotic antics, as well as the Special Education dopes who never found out what was going on. As my childhood was nothing but being confused, used and abused, it's all one really can do....
` And laugh from time to time, will ya?

When I was three or four, I was playing on a wooden swing-set made many years ago by my dad, who was at the time having a bout of logorrhea (lit. 'verbal diarrhea'). He was talking about utter craziness that most people would be trying to escape from, although I, having an Impressionable Young Mind, took everything he said religiously.
` It was all quite disturbing - he was telling me I didn't have rights in this country even though he did; that's why I wasn't allowed to do such-and-such, and I remember quite distinctly this exchange:

` I was saying; "But why don't I have rights?"
` He said; "Because I own you."
` I said; "And so does Mom, right?"
` And he said; "No, see, because I own you and Mom, just like I own the house!"
` So I said; "But I thought Mom owned the house, too!"
` And he said; "She does, in a way, just not the same way as I do."

I never asked what he meant by that exactly, but I know that he did mean that he owned me in some way. The way he talked to me in the third person, calling me 'she' and 'her' instead of 'you', really did seem to mark me as less than human.
` He wouldn't let me do the things I was supposed to do, instead getting in front of me and doing them, or even moving my arms and hands like a marionette so that he could still do what I was doing even if I was technically touching whatever-it-was.

...Yeah. Ha. Well, I guess that is more sad than funny. And this, most of all:
` I remember hating life so much as a small child that it wasn't long before I found myself at the top of the stairs, wondering if I should throw myself down them.
` I kept thinking; "This will hurt. But what if I don't die? But I have to die! I've lived long enough. I know enough. That's good enough for me!"

` Then my dad came up the stairs and I said to him; "Dad, I feel like I want to kill myself."
` And he said; "Well, everyone does, from time to time."
` I said; "No, I mean, all the time."
` He said; "No you don't, quit makin' stuff up!" and continued on.

I... was... four! From that day, I vowed not to kill myself - but not because I wanted to live! It was because I wanted him to make sure he knew that I was capable of feeling. I hated it when he didn't believe me - which was several times a day...

And my mom? I never talked to her unless I had to, so she didn't know much about my life, despite living in the same house. My dad didn't trust either of us, so neither did I: He told me practically every day that my mom was schizophrenic and could not be trusted.
` Constantly, he'd bring up examples of how insane she was because; "She doesn't remember that happening, but I do!" or, "She doesn't remember me telling her that! I tol' her and tol' her and tol' her that! And she says; [mocking in an unflattering way] 'Oh, I don't remember!'"
` His conclusion? "She has multiple personalities: She's a schizophrenic!" Not that dissociative identity disorder (a personality disorder) and schizophrenia (a psychotic disorder) have that much in common. But being a kid, I didn't know that.

` In fact, I thought Dear Old Dad was some kind of genius because I never really knew what he was talking about on any subject. (Guess what? Neither did anyone else!!) And as time went on, he got worse.
` He would always be telling me that he remembered things happening that I didn't. What was his explanation? I must be crazy, too! So must everybody else who he had the same problem with, which consisted of about... everybody else!

Ha... Hilarious!

And then, of course, he'd also blame people for things they didn't do, which would necessarily involve being Loud and Anti-Logical. Off the top of my head, I recall an incident from when I was nine: It was an hour after I'd eaten dinner, and I had just remembered that there was still some rainbow sherbet in the freezer. Naturally, I opened up the freezer door -- but... it wasn't in there!
` So, I went upstairs where my parents were, to ask Dad where the sherbet was, only to find him in the hallway/laundry/junk room, talking to my mom. However, he didn't notice me because he was directing Large Quantities of Logorrhea at my mom.

` A little later, I heard this huge roar of anger: "Where's the sherber'?"
` Well, that's what I had wondered!
` He marched me downstairs and showed me the freezer. "Where is it?" he demanded.
I said; "Actually, I wanted some sherbet today and it wasn't there, and I went up to ask you if you ate it or something, but you didn't hear me because you were talking to Mom, so I didn't think it was important enough."
` So here's a really typical example of his logic: "Well, since you didn't tell me before, you must be lying!"
` And I was like; "No! I did, but you weren't listening, because..."
` And he said; "Well, I don't remember, so I must be right!" (I'm not kidding!) Then he had this huge, terrifying grin as I sputtered in disbelief.
` He kept insisting that I confess to eating the sherbert, and I was panicking and crying, squealing like a Really Unhappy Pig; "I really didn't!"

` This dragged on into the night - though apparently oblivious, Dad didn't even turn on the light. He just made me sit at the table, the only light coming from the parking lot of the junior high school (at the time), pacing back and forth between the kitchen and dining room (which were by his crappy design, and which he never thought was important enough to finish).
` "What did you do with the sherber'?" he kept barking.
` "I don't know what happened to it!" I cried. "I thought I saw you eating some last night! I was going to ask you..."
` "Well, Mahm [Mom] sure as hell didn't eat it! But if you didn't, who did? Huh? How could you not remember eating an entire half-gallon [typical exaggeration] of sherber'? Huh? I know why! It's because you're a damn schizophrenic!
` "Maybe it was one of your other personalities! Was it [E]? Or was it [other E]? [Last name]?"

` "NO!" I shrieked, seriously not remembering having eaten any sherbert for at least a week (considering that I didn't like it very much).
` It was late before the repetitive grilling cycles were too much for Dad, and he finally allowed me to go to bed. Even so, the accusations didn't stop. For over a week, every time he'd walk through a room where I'd be minding my own business, he would stand in the doorway and give me the ugliest look, as if to say; 'You know you did it!'
` And then I would start crying, desperately pleading; "I didn't do it! Why won't you believe me? I'm telling the truth!" (Of course, even if he could see see that someone was telling the truth, that did not generally affect his opinion!)

` It stopped, however, just after I looked up from a TV show to see that he was loudly staring at me. I tearfully tried to protest even louder than this, and he walked off, disgusted, into the hallway/laundry/junk room. My mom also happened to be there, and she asked; "What's that all about?" Immediately, he began complaining about my behavior to her, and then, just as suddenly, he stopped talking.
` Wow!
` Then, he shuffled back into the room extra-slowly, staring at the floor. Most amazingly of all, he said in a barely-audible whisper; "I'm sorry."

` Wow! To think that Jerry ever apologized to me occasionally! That didn't keep him from getting angry over these things, though: For many years after the Sherbet Incident, he would gripe to me about how my mom had held this most vital secret in our sherbet status - he even made fun of the way she'd finally 'confessed'; "Well, I guess I'm your culprit."

That was my life, basically. I was blamed for many things, most of which I didn't do, which was especially evident in the accusations requiring me to break the laws of physics (stuff like me giving him physical and mental difficulties), yet I must have done these things, obviously, because I was a bad kid who was plotting against him.
` But again, I didn't know that. I was a kid. And he did a really good job convincing me that he was God.

Needless to say, he always told me to be a 'good person' like him. Well, I succeeded in imitating him exactly, and it wound up getting me into Special Ed.
` But he wasn't the only reason. I also have a severe reaction to hormones in non-organic milk. [Edit: Actually a psychosomatic disorder with symptoms as described below. Oh, and hormones - in general - don't actually leak out into milk anyway, though they are present in meat.]
` This 'milk-drunkenness' is very well-known to anyone who knew me as a kid; my eyelids would swell up and develop almost black circles under them, my judgement would be extremely impaired, my skin would get very itchy and irritated at light (but not heavy) touches, and my anxiety/irritability levels got to the point where I would laugh nervously, plot my next suicide attempt, and scream profanity at my very Special Educators.
` It was an awful feeling, it felt like my head was filled with wool; my thought processes would barely slog along, and I was so irritated and pissed off that I couldn't stand it! (Unfortunately, I was actually addicted to it!) It was about the most intense feeling I've ever had, besides the feeling I got when my dad would blame stuff on me, or when some horrible disaster (i.e. torture) has befallen me and someone thinks I'm making up some kind of excuse to get attention!

Anyway... some of my classmates had the same problem with milk and wheat and stuff, so... guess why they were there? [Allergies? Though I will note that two children who were treated for allergies showed remarkable transformations in only days.]
` Even though my teachers knew the problems they would have with us after lunch, we were still ordered to do schoolwork. I don't know about anyone else, but all I could think about was running around, crying and nervously laughing (everyone thought it meant I was 'happy' - even me!).
` When I got so shaky I couldn't stay put, I'd get this huge 'fear grimace-thing' and hide. In third grade, when I went to Garfield Elementary in Medina, there was this pine-green laundry bag filled with sheets for the kids to punch when they were angry, and I'd take the sheets out and hide in it.
` Mr. Peterson, a schoolroom volunteer from the Baptist church next door, would then just pull the drawstring and drag me into the hall, or sometimes down the stairs, as that's where the school time-out room was.


` What did the principal think of this? He would sometimes assist Mr. Peterson in dragging me down the steps when I wasn't in a bag! Once locked in the allergen-filled time-out room (which had been stripped bare, with plaster falling all around my ears), I would sneeze and cough, visibly discolored from all the bruises, hives and rugburns, and Mr. Peterson would tell me that they had called my mom and told her 'eeeeverything' that happened.
` Of course, by 'eeeeverything,' I assumed he'd meant 'eeeeverything', so I didn't think I needed to bother telling her. Which I didn't, since these episodes were way too embarrassing for me to willingly talk about.

` Eventually, this led to me being sent to my room after school every day. Since I wasn't allowed back out of my room, my dad could go in there as long as he wanted and there wasn't anything I could do to escape.
` Did he lecture me for hours? Yes. Did he offer any discipline? No. I suppose he pretended to, but in reality, this was mostly an important chance in his day to vent about how bad his co-workers at the phone company had teased and mocked him.
` Yes, that's right. He'd complain for hours about his personal problems to his kid!
` It went like this: "Bill Grimsley told me I didn't know how to handle this Trouble Ticket, but that's because he doesn't know anything!" or "All day today, they kept saying these nonsense words and then laugh when I asked what they were saying!"
` That sort of thing. He did the same thing to my brother, too, actually.
` By the time it was dark outside, I would be really tired and off my guard. That's when he'd grab me and spank me as hard as he possibly could. I'd say; "Not as hard as last time!" and he'd say; "I won't!" though I didn't think my begging for mercy had any effect (he'd argue otherwise).

By the time I was seventeen, I hadn't significantly matured or developed beyond this sorry state. I was in my fifth year of staying at home all day while my parents were at work; my main way of learning about the outside world was through television.
` It was in the fall of this year (1999?) when I found out that my mom had no idea I'd been regularly abused in school. She was just beginning to say that she thought my dad was 'ill', and I would tell her things that she said confirmed it.
` For once, we had a reason to talk, and one of these times, I'd made a joke about bags and me being in them, but to my surprise, she didn't understand what I was referencing. When I told her, she said; "If I had known that, I'd have pulled you out of that school right away!"
` I was surprised because I could have sworn my dad used to tell me how stupid and wrong people were for doing stuff like that to me - yet apparently, he didn't think it was worth discussing with my mom.

` It was because of his 'Yer teachers are wrong!' logorrheic spiel that I had no respect for teachers or their assistants. They were 'stupid', after all, so apparently being dragged down stairs and such was not grounds for getting them in trouble for any reason.
` Criminal? Stupid? Same thing!

Meanwhile, my dad upped three of his logorrhea topics. The first concerned how 'stupid' I was because I 'sassed back' - read; was frequently in a panic because I was unable to correct some misinformation he had created, whether intellectual or 'myfaultal'.
` The second was how 'smart' I was, because I had an IQ of 160 in first grade, not that he cared unless there was someone else around to brag to.
` The third was about how 'crazy' I was supposed to be, seeing that I wasn't telepathically tapped into his delusions and so could not anticipate what to avoid saying around him. (He probably came up with new ones all the time, too, for the sake of starting an argument.)

` I never understood these lectures of his. The only message I could derive was that I was 'bad' and there wasn't a thing I could do in order to change, unless I had his help. Except, his help turned out to be a series of traps designed to destroy my sense of self-worth. They were very effective.
` Basically, they went like this: "Come try this, it's easy! Hey, what are you doing, you stupid bitch? You're not capable of doing that!" or, "What do you think you're doing? No, of course I don't remember ever letting you do that - why don't you ask one of your other personalities?"

` Worst of all, he'd constantly be groaning that he was unable to break my spirit. Literally. I specifically remember this happening a lot over the years:

` "You're fight'n and fight'n wit' me, all the time!" he'd say. "You're just so stubborn and belligerant. Horses..."
` Here would be one of those maddening pauses of his, before finally continuing: "People break their spirits so that the horse just gives up and will do anything they tell it to. Nau, I've been try'na break your spirit for such a long time, so you'll behave, so I can control you, but all you do is rebel! You just think I'm being mean, but I'm try'na help you!"

` I really had believed that was true, because whenever I told a Special Ed teacher or counselor about how he yelled at me all the time, they repeatedly assured me that he only did it because he loved me.
` Yeah... he must have loved me more than anyone in the world! Which of course, is why I believed him when he said; "I love you more than anyone else, even Mahm! More than anyone ever, ever will, because no one will ever be able to stand you. You actually think you're gonna get married? If by some miracle you do, your husband will wind up being a wife-beater, because no one can stand you! No one!"

` Holy frell!

This was bad news for me, because in fifth grade, Ms. Kauffman (who later married Mr. Porter from the next room and had a baby girl), taught me, as 50% of the classroom's female student body, that I shouldn't learn with the boys because the only thing girls were good for is being uneducated housewives. (I wonder if she's the same way with her daughter?)
` I was kind of glad the first time I walked through the door of my sixth-grade class in Garfield, and found her sitting at the teacher's desk... and she told me in no uncertain terms to get out! What did I think I was doing? Going to school?
` Apparently, I wasn't enrolled in Garfield anymore, little did I know. Neither did my mom. So she found this little crappy 'retard school' on Remsen Road called C-FIT to send me to. Mr. Galbraith and his assistant, Mike Swanson, were two characters which greatly aggravated us kids to the point where people would have to sit on us!

My mom didn't know any of this for years either, until I told her that I ran into Dave Fowler from Mr G's class, and that he told me that they shut the school down for abusing the students. She was very shocked. She said; "No wonder you said you hated the teachers!"
` Yeah... all I'd told her about was how we weren't allowed outside for recess or anything all day, and that they'd make us sing along with a tape about stuff like 'And that's why there are no unicorns!' and... 'Kickin' down the cobblestones. (Da-da-da-dum!) Lookin' for fun, feelin' groovy! Hey there lamp-post, not so fast! (Da-da-da-dum!) Try to make the morning last!'
` Not to mention... my LEAST FAVORITE OF ALL:

You are my special friend, (Special friend!)
And when I think about what knowing you has meant,
I thank my lucky star (Wa-oo!)
That you are who you are! (Wa-oo!)
You are my...RRRRRGGGGHHH!!!

That kind of crap. Which is pretty aggravating in its own right.
` Anyway, even though my mom didn't know about the abuse at C-FIT, I was "home-schooled" after that.
` Good things: No more abusive teachers, just nice people - and some really annoying ones as well.
` Bad things: Dad, and Dad-related bull$&!# such as him saying there was a show on TV about me... myself... and how I thought there were cameras set up all around the house so he could watch me.
` (Well, I had
been on a hidden camera before and lied to about it, which Mr. G and Mike had laughed in my face about; plus, it is the kind of thing Jerry would have done if he didn't have to 'gettarountuit.')
` So for six years, I sat around all day while my parents were at work, thinking that they were somehow able to watch me from work or somewhere. I'd just sit there at my desk, screaming at the room, thinking I was getting through to them and then being disappointed when they'd 'ignore my pleas'.
` I'd be like; 'Well, that's just because they don't want me to know that I'm right about the cameras. Jerks!' The only time I ever left the house was when my mom would drive me to go 'socialize' in meetings like H.E.A.R.T.S. group, a homeschooler's book club, some other stupid thing that I guess was a book club at some time, and later, 4-H.
` Luckily, this boy named Phil went to all of those meetings, so I got to know him pretty well.
` I started going out with him when I was seventeen, when the roof was coming off my world and I needed a sane person to talk to about the level of insanity exhibited by PsychoDad.
` Phil had several stories of his own to share, mostly incidences where my dad would be spouting off utter insanity with a straight face. For example:

"So, Phil, you have sinus congestion? Maybe you have allergies... I have something you might try... See, before, I couldn't go outside and get things done because I was too stuffed up. But now, I take this; [places product on the table in front of him] Nasal-Crom: It changed my life!"

...Uh, yeah. Now do a Raisin Bran commercial!

Anyway, I have to go to a therapist in about six hours, no thanks to Jerry the Rat.

Just read everything above.
May I suggest that you have hardcopy of what you wrote. It needs a 'tad' organization, (re: which happened at which school)
Great reading. And, I can relate really well. I do know what it's like to be accused over and over and not be guilty. It's one of the reasons I am a recluse.
Hugs, ( and you know how many miles it is from here to there?) Geez. four days travel at break-neck speed-o.
Mucho' hugs

Dory | 04/04/2005, 02:03

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