Personalizing

One of the books I read a while back, that really hit home with me and I felt the need to recently re-visit was “My Parents’ Keeper: Adult Children of the Emotionally Disturbed (Paperback)”.  I bought it shortly before I started this blog back in 2006…   and before that point, I never heard of an ACMIP (Adult Child of a Mentally Ill Parent).

Up until that point, I hadn’t really taken the time to look Read the rest of this entry »

“sex is the most awful, filthy thing on Earth, and you should save it for someone you love”

So, I was doing some much overdue blog surfing… and went to one of my favorite blogs – http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/, and I happened to see a post called: “sex and the balls of the evangelical”, and the following quote at the top of the page really cracked me up.

Life in Lubbock, Texas taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on Earth, and you should save it for someone you love.“ –Butch Hancock, country singer/songwriter

Now, I don’t really know Butch Hancock’s work – but, this quote alone was enough to make me want to run out and buy his CD.  LOL

The rest of the blog post there was also verrrry interesting…  Read the rest of this entry »

Positive Recollections – (a book tag…)

I’m it!  Here’s a fun little “tag” from Kate at “One More Thing“…

The game goes like this:
“Find the nearest book, turn to page 123, start at the fifth sentence and type out the next three sentences.”

Sounds easy enough….

I’m at my desk… in my little home office.. directly to my right, is a book shelf… full of old and new books of mine… ranging from “Calvin and Hobbes” to “Mark Twain collection” to gawd only knows what.  Nearest  at hand, though, is a book I read not too long ago… Read the rest of this entry »

To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =)

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father.

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… Read the rest of this entry »

Forgiving Mom…

Linda Athis stumbled in here recently and commented on my blog… which led me to her blog called “Forgiving Mom” (http://forgivingmom.wordpress.com/).  I was amazed and intrigued by the many similarities she and I seem to have.  But, the one glaring difference, is that she has lost her mom… and she’s feeling the pain of that.  Still, she talks of coming to terms with things and forgiving her Mom before she died.  It made me wonder how I will feel when my mom is gone some day?  But, I still didn’t know if I felt the same “forgiveness and understanding” she wrote of…  

 But, between reading her blog… and all the soul searching  and reminiscing I’ve been doing this past year…  and talking to my good friend til the wee hours of the morning the other weekend…  and the post I wrote recently about Christmas and how BOTH my parents made sure we had good ones..  I realized something….

 I need to forgive my mom. 

I have said that I did, because I believe she is/was sick, so I could…  but… did I really?  I don’t think so. 

I know I have a lot of resentment bottled up in me towards her… I fight it all the time… She makes me angry… crazy…. hurt.  It’s hard to squeeze forgiveness in there. 

But… I think… I finally do.  I think I finally can. 

All this researching… reflecting… has taught me a lot.  Not only about myself… but also about my Mom.

 For years…  I’ve tried to make excuses for her… and tried to forgive her and love her in spite of so many things about her that still made me upset.   I wanted to but, I don’t think I really could.. or did.   

But, now… I see things differently for the first time.  I still think I had a right to feel the way I did towards her… but, I finally feel like I can start to let those angry and bitter feelings go. 

For years, I saw my father as the “good parent”… and the “martyr”.  I still see that… but, for the first time… I am really seeing that my mom not only TRIED her best to be a good parent too… but, that all in all… she really was a good mom.  It took two to make our family work at all… and my mother.. was also a “good parent” and “martyr”. 

She had her battles too.  When I think about just how much she was dealing with that I can probably never understand… and I think about my childhood and how she was… and still is with my brothers and our children…. I realize…  I was actually pretty damn lucky.  Some of the stories I’ve read about mentally ill parents were much MUCH worse than anything I had to deal with.  However, I bet my mother could relate to some of the worse case scenarios because of HER mother that was in and out of institutions her whole life.  What a rotten childhood SHE must have had.  I never really understood that as much as I do now. 

So, yeah… she was a religious nut and is a bit whacky at times.  But, you know what? She really did love me.  She really DOES love me.  And she tries her best to show it.  Looking back, I see that she really did everything she could to try to be a good mom and be there for us.  And she was.  Even with her illness and the religious BS… she was probably a better mother than a lot of women out there.  Losing touch with reality a little… and dealing with her past…. ??  That had to be hard for her.  No wonder she was/is a religious nut.  Maybe that was/is her saving grace?  Maybe without it, she’d be in much worse shape and need meds and hospitals too?  So, she didn’t always measure up.  So what?  Who does?  Ya know what?  I finally realize that she did damn good. 

Yes, I still look back at some things… and think, “that wasn’t right!”… “that shouldn’t have happened to me!”.   I still believe that.  I think I NEEDED to validate those feelings… and grieve a bit for myself…  but, I think more importantly I need to learn and deal with those feelings.  I feel like I finally can do that. 

When my parents fought (which they did a lot)… my dad always use to say he was only staying with her because of us kids.  She use to say she was only staying with him because her relgion didn’t believe in divorce.  Hearing this, use to make me wince and again think my Dad was doing something great for US…  but not her.  She was only there for religion….  

 But, looking back… I think I had this wrong.  Regardless of what she screamed at him…  she HAD to have stayed all those years for a number of reasons probably (as did he probably!)… and myself and my brothers just HAd to be one of her main reasons too.  I think, deep down, she knew my dad was a good father.  Maybe she didn’t want to admit it… because it was confusing to her since he was an atheist and all.  But she also didn’t want to deprive us of that.  I think she did want us to grow up with both parents… and that she DID have our best interests in mind.  Regardless of if she ever said it. 

Using “religion” as her excuse – was just that.  An excuse she could rationalize out and readily admit.   I mean, let’s face it… she has used religion for an excuse to support anything that she ever really did… or didn’t want to do.  I think, that had she REALLY wanted to get divorced and leave him… you can bet your bottem dollar that the Holy Spirit or God would have appeared to her and told her it was okay…. and that she SHOULD.  This never happened until we were all grown.  Why?  Because she didn’t really want to leave him!  Why am I just NOW figuring all this out?!

I am just now… at 41 years of age.. realizing that she also sacrificed for us kids… she also was a martyr for us… she also not only TRIED to be a good mom… but, WAS.  All things considered… she did pretty damn good by me…

And I’ve been a mean daughter…  Resentful.  Angry.  

I am so glad I am discovering these feelings before she’s dead and gone.  I am finally realizing how lucky I was/am to have her in my life.  I am finally realizing I need to let go of my anger and resentment towards her.  I am finally seeing her for the couragious person and loving mother she was/is…  

I need to tell her these things…  that she was a good mom.  I don’t think I’ve ever really told her that and meant it.  I really mean it now.  I need to tell her.

All is fair in love and conversion…

Another post at “de-conversion” got me thinking.  The post is called “My life of proselytization“, this time from HeisSailing…   

In his post, he said:

 “I witnessed the Gospel of Jesus Christ for most of my adult life”. 

Now, I was much younger  than he was when I was a full force believer.  But, I believe I felt just as strongly.  I believed it all.  I went around trying to “save” all the kids in my neighborhood… but, my main mission was to save my own father.   

HeisSailing made a comment about getting his mom to come to church:

“I would try to convince my mother, once a committed Christian and now a practical atheist, the error of her backsliding ways. I even got her to go to church with me a few times, but not before informing the pastor that I was bringing her and if he would not mind directing a word or two of his message her way.”

This really reminded me of how when I was a young girl, I would be pressured into singing or doing “specials” in front of the church.  Then, I would be asked to put the pressure on my father to come to church to see me.  After all, I was “Daddy’s little girl”, didn’t he want to see me perform?  So, he did come… for at least the first few years of “specials”. 

Each time he said “yes honey, I’ll come see you sing” –  I would report back to my mother.  Then my mother, her friends, the pastor, and my brother and I would rejoice.  He’ s coming!  Hallelujah!  And we’d all pray hard every day until the day of the “special”, that when he came… THIS would be the time the lord would come down and bonk him on the head and turn him into the perfect Christian father and husband.  When it didn’t happen… we’d go back to plan A.  Try, try again.  Repeatedly I was put in this position of trying to save my own father.  For years. 

Eventually, my father stopped coming to every “special” of mine.  He knew the deal… and he didn’t like being approached by the pastor and pressured each time he came either.  It was like the whole church was looking at him when he’d come.  “Here comes that atheist husband and father!”.  They could’ve sold tickets to see the freak atheist!  LOL  So, I can’t blame him for not wanting to come – even at the time.  He probably also sensed the pressure being put on me, and didn’t want to be a part of that either. 

I know it was very hard for him to eventually start telling me, “no honey, I won’t come see you sing”.  I would then have to report back to my mother that I had failed.. he won’t come… I’m sorry.  She would then freak out and get very upset.  She made me feel terrible when he didn’t come.  She’d make me ask him again and again.  And, then they’d argue and she’d try to make him feel guilty for not coming,  and make ME feel guilty and like he didn’t care about me in the process.

Eventually, I didn’t WANT to keep singing either.  (surprise surprise!).  Mostly because I didn’t want to keep pressuring my dad and going thru this.. and because I was starting to have my own doubts about all of it.  Not only about my beliefs, but I started wondering if I even had a good voice or not!  (loletinf!;)  When I finally stood up for myself and said that I didn’t want to do a “special”, I suddenly didn’t feel so special anymore.  Not just my mother, but the church leaders also made me feel really bad.  Like I was a quitter… giving up… back-sliding… and, they then put pressure and guilt trips on ME asking me over and over when I would sing again.  My mother even said something like, “how is your father ever going to be saved now??! “. 

Looking back, I can’t believe how much plotting and scheming it all was.  The pressure, fear, and guilt used! Unfortunately, since I was in it, I understand their thinking and putting the pressure on my Dad.  They really felt it was their duty and apparently rudeness, politeness, respect, and common courtesy fly out the window when you are trying to save someone’s soul (and do your Christian duty ).  This is bad enough. 

However, what really gets me (and I don’t want to sound whiney here, but) is how could they do that to me?  I was a little girl.  A little CHRISTIAN girl who wanted to believe all they were teaching.  They played me.  They used me.  How could they put that kind of pressure, guilt and fear on me?!?

 And, when I say “they”, it was NOT just by my mother.  It was also her friends, the pastor, the choir director, the church leaders.  What kind of people scare the crap out of a little girl telling her that her father, (who she loved wholeheartedly and was a GREAT Dad) was going to burn in hell?  Tell her that over and over?? Which is bad enough… but, then tack on the, “unless YOU can save him” part.  ??  And we prayed.. and prayed…  And I cried… and cried…

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how adults, in their right minds, could think this was an okay thing to do.  ??  The “RIGHT” thing to do??  It makes me mad still when I think about it, and leads me to the only logical conclusion I can think of, and that is that they ALL were not in their right minds! 

HeisSailing wrote:

” I then became exhausted from witnessing. I was exhausted and drained from believing that I and my small sect of Christian brethren have the exclusivity on truth and everyone else, no matter what their beliefs, are going to eternal torment. I was sick of believing that I was on the narrow path of righteousness, and my loved ones are on the wide path leading to destruction when in many cases, they are just simply much better people than I am.”

This is a huge part of why I eventually didn’t believe and don’t believe in any one religion, or in religion or God at all really.  Not only because I can’t fathom the idea of my own father going to hell (which is a biggie, I admit), but, also ALLLLLL the other people.  It can’t be.  It makes no sense. 

HeisSailing then wrapped up his post by saying:

“Then I became sick of that guilt, I became sick of that arrogance of exclusivity, I became sick of looking at our life as a trial from God to see if we believed the correct doctrines, and I refused to accept it anymore.”

Like him, I also “became sick” of these same things…  The eternal dangling carrot, and the constant fear of hell. I am glad to be rid of them.    

PS – If you haven’t already – I suggest you go read HeisSailing’s post in full, as he writes much better than me and makes his points with much better reasoning…

Take care,

~smj

Strange Voices… ?

114636_red_i.jpgI was reading over at “de-conversion“, and saw a post by “Thinking Ape” where he mentioned that;  

“most schizophrenics don’t believe it is god talking to them, if anything, it is usually the devil”. 

Now, I’m sure this is his opinion… but, sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and from what I have seen, I agree.  Schizophrenia runs on my mom’s side of the family.  I think she has some form of it, although she’s never been diagnosed.  Her mother, and her brother both were mostly institutionalized.   I’ve mentioned this before – and how she’s not like them… but, still… 

I use to visit my Mom’s mom, my grandmother, frequently.  Psychiatric wards and hospitals are some scary places, Man.  When I was a kid, she use to come to our house and visit for a day or two.    I always thought she was odd… but, I knew she was sick, and just accepted it.  I still loved her, and felt she loved me.  She use to want to come and live with us… she’d stay in my room and make comments, like “what a nice spare room you have here”.  And, I was like, “hey!?  That’s MY room!”.  LOL  As I grew older, I watched her go in and out of different homes, but, always wound up back at a more secure hospital.  Eventually, my mom stopped taking her out of those places for visits, and we would go see her there.  We, meaning myself and her… sometimes, my one brother.

My Grandmother’s behavior was unpredictable.  Sometimes funny.. like, she’d just start taking her clothes off anywhere… and, sometimes, confusing… where I just couldn’t tell what she was saying or doing.  It was difficult to understand what she was saying most of the time, but, when I could make it out, it was frequently something about Satan, Beelzebub and scary stuff.   She sometimes looked like she was possessed… or like she wanted to scare you. 

I think Grandma believed herself to be possessed by demons.  What a scary thought!!   I wonder, if my mother heard/hears voices like that sometimes??  That is scary too.  Maybe that is why she was convinced my dad was the devil himself??  Perhaps that is why she is so religious?  Perhaps, she NEEDS to be – to ward those evil voices off?  I don’t know?  I’m just “what if”-ing here…

In my Grandmother’s last several years on this earth, I visited her much more than my mother did.  I don’t think my mom could take it.  Then, my mom was out of the country, so she wasn’t even here when she died.  I think she was relieved to not be here to handle things.  I think my mother  really did believe that  she (her mother/my grandmother) was possessed by demons and would get very agitated around her.  Even when she was trying to do something nice for her birthday or something, my mom seemed mostly annoyed with her.  We never stayed long.  Almost like she thought my Grandmother was purposely being schizophrenic to make her life hell.   I’m sure it was difficult on her (my mom) too her whole life.  I’m sure I’ll never know just how difficult…

I felt bad for my Grandmother.  I saw her as a lonely old woman… sick… confused.  Not evil.  As an adult, I visited her regularly and brought my son.  She always  looked so happy to see us… and never wanted us to leave.  She always told me she loved me, and squeezed my hand.  Yeah… she still acted weird often.  But, I found that if I laughed off her weird behavior, or just acted like nothing and changed the subject – she usually snapped out of it.  I felt like I was the only good thing she had to look forward to.  

My uncle is a different story.  I hardly know him, and the few times I did visit him I felt very unsafe and awkward…  My Mom does visit him, though, and she doesn’t seem to have those same ill feelings towards him as she did her mother.  I guess, I can understand that..  he’s her kid brother.. she doesn’t blame him…. I think she does blame her mom for a lot… even though it was not her fault.  Sounds familiar… eh?

The more I recently am learning about growing up with a mentally ill parent, the better I not only understood myself, but also my mother.  Ok, now I’m reeeeealy feeling guilty – I still haven’t called her.  I will… right now!  LOLetinf!

~smj