My Story Part 2-The Mixed Bag

I think that I will spend a blog entry on each part or issue that has set up the framework for my life. The three challenges began around the ages of five to seven and continued to give and give for years and years.

I said that i didn’t have many memories of my childhood and I don’t. I have a very poor memory. I suspect that the poor memory is defense mechanism on my part. But I do remember some interesting clips. This one is about growing up in an alcoholic home.Do you remember when gas stations gave out drinking glasses with a purchase of 8 gallons? We had a set. I can see a four ounce dimpled smokey juice glass. I am standing on the right by my father’s chair in the living room. He is drinking a glass of wine. I must have ask him why, as only a small child can do I suppose.

He told me that he works very hard and he needs this to help him relax. He also said that a man of his position would have a drink in the evening.

Little did I know that the one alcoholic drink after work that dad enjoyed, would evolve so that the next 15 plus years would be a nightly nightmare for all of us. Within a short period of time, the glass of wine became two or three double martini’s before dinner, wine with dinner and many bourbons as a aperitif for the parents. For the rest of us terror rained.

Dinner was always after seven in the evening, which I think is very late for children. We would all listen for the sounds of dad coming home… what mood was he in??!! What was the night going to be like??!! Most started with the interrogation of each of us… “did you say your prayers” or “did you do your job”. If your answer was negative, then you were “it” for the night. Woe to you. We all took our turns being “it”.  You would have to answer (now I know to be) insane questions.

Dinners often extended for two or more hours of terror for us kids. I choose to become the chair so that it wouldn’t be my night. Whatever dad said, I would agree with, so that it wouldn’t be my night. It didn’t help me much, because I had amble turns. I could never think fast enough. I never had the right answers. But why would I? Continual fear and terror does not promote clear thinking.

One of my sisters has a very sharp mind. She could argue with my father, point for point. Oh, I envied her so. But that caused her to have more “it” nights than the rest of us. We all felt badly for the abuse she would draw, but we couldn’t help her either… we didn’t know how. We would tell her… “Just say yes”, just agree with him. It doesn’t matter what you really think.” God bless her, she just couldn’t do that. She stands her ground on everything. I wish I had her clear and sharp mind.

I will not bore you or pain me by sharing what happened during dinner. It was very unpleasant. But it didn’t stop there. Frequently dad would wake us up in the middle of the night. He would make us all gather in the hall for exercises or to pray. That was very hard on us and very confusing.

Every one of us was thrown out of the house; some younger and some when older… the sad thing… we were good kids.

Not everything was bad. We learned how to sail and camp. We were all in scouting and dad did activities with all of us. I learned how to sew, knit, crochet and cook from mom. Good thing, as I started cooking by age 10. And I like to cook. I am pretty good around the kitchen both in cooking and baking. I played with decorating cakes for about 10 years and made several wedding cakes!

One custom we had (other than drink) had a powerful impact on my life. This involved Christmas. Every year, around advent, we would draw names from a hat. We would make a gift for the person we drew. It was not my gift to them but the family’s gift made by me. We all learned to be very creative and crafty. We would help each other in the gift making. One year I had my brother, Mike. I wanted to make him a macrame shelf unit. It was 2 shelves with macrame connecting everything and holding it to the wall. I made the macrame. But I ask Mc to help me with the shelves. He taught me how to pick the wood, cut it, drill holes, sand and stain the shelves.  Then I put it together. This was typical.

Many children of trauma have many good experiences and many traumatic ones. It is a mixed bag. My parents did the best they could with what they had. Alcohol colored everything that happen in childhood. As an adult, I chose to not drink. That was possibly the best decision I ever made. I couldn’t cover the pain I was in, but not drinking opened the way to heal it.

Through this experience, I learned to be invisible. In any situation, I can be “invisible” quite well. Now I want to get my work out, but I am so “invisible” that people can’t see me. This is up for healing. Watch me bloom.

Your assignment for today… be grateful for what you have! :)

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