The Strong-Willed Child
Please take a moment as I recognize the title of this chapter. These are not my own words. They are the title of a book written for parents by Dr James Dodson. This book helped me to fly on auto-polite while I sorted the goods and bads of my mothering. Later, it would serve to help me create new behaviors and practices after my life came crumbing down.
I am a broken person. I was born into a broken home. I was born of a broken woman. I was predestined to be broken and useless.
I refused to accept the things I could change, but not before I became broken and useless.
I was a strong-willed child from birth. There are probably 100's of reasons, but I blame the fact that it was just me and my mother for the first 4 years of my life. And then I started mothering my siblings. I just grew myself up until I declared that I wouldn't depend on my mother again at the age of 10.
My first unwarranted emotional breakdown came when I was 16. One of my many chores was to wash the dishes and put them away when I got home from school. Our pots and pans belonged in a side-door of the stove. It was a tedious task to get all of them to fit without falling over when you closed the door. This day, the pan lids were declaring war. I found myself bawling my eyes out as I sat on the linoleum facing that stupid door. These were real tears and real frustration...over lids. When the main tears subsided, I analyzed what had happened and decided that I was starting to go crazy. I did NOT tell anyone. But I tucked the incident away in my head to retrieve if I ever needed it.
I needed it the day that L faced me with his fists clinched and his eyes scowled at me, "You hate me." I didn't let him see me lose my inner self. My outer self became bat-shit crazy. I grabbed him by the back of his neck and marched his little butt onto the front porch. I told him he better pray to Jesus that his daddy got home before it got dark because I would kill him if he came back into that house. I methodically packed up every toy, every piece of clothing and all his furniture except his mattress which I put on the floor. I took all of it out the backdoor so I did not walk by him, but I knew he could see me putting loads of bags and furniture into the shed.
Poor Micheal drives up and has to hear the reply to his "Whatcha doing, bud," question.
Mom said I have to wait out here or she will kill me.
I write this and wonder what that man was thinking in that moment. He had to know he was entering the foyer of Satan when he walked through his front door to face someone who most definitely had lost all sense of goodness or sanity. He met his wife, crying and begging him to take the boys and leave her. It was more than pot lids. She had become her own mother.
I knew I couldn't hold it all together anymore. I had been treading water for too long. I was tired and the drowning victims were starting to push me under. In defense, I was lashing out. In truth, I was drowning too.
I had set out of a journey of goodness on Mount Motherhood to enjoy each and every step. It was supposed to be shrouded with love and happiness; Mary Poppins was supposed to show up when times got tough to sing about "spoons full of sugar helping the medicine go down". That woman never showed up, even with the poop plopped on the trail or when the hurricane blew through.
The psychiatrist said that I had cyclical depression. Based on my answers, the abuse I had endured, I had been dealing with overwhelming issues of depression my entire life. It seemed that I needed a receptor chemical to help my brain actually use the chemicals I was already making. I just needed to take 1 pill, every day...for the rest of my life.
Laughingly, I can shake my head and roll my eyes acknowledging that I was bound to exit my childhood pretty darn screwed up. Statistics are prevalent about kids like me. 70% of all sexually abused children will become sexual abusers in their adult years. Kids who live with physically abuse father are 10x more likely to marry an abusive man. Children of alcoholics...children who are neglected...runaways...people who do not get a further education. We could keep going. I am a broken person.
And I could start listing yours too. You are a broken person, I bet, if you've kept reading this mess all the way to this chapter.
I had purposefully, and with anger, put my hands on my first little. (Think back...the one who I would never harm or hurt.) I actually spoke the words "I will kill you" to him. I would not have, but he didn't know. I might not have even known in that moment.
Now I have a certified doctor of mental health disclosing to me that I am a broken person and that I am so defective that I will forever need a pill to help me be normal.
Even facing the real music of my life, I was a strong-willed child over and over again for ten years as I tried to leave that pill and just be a great human being. She never arrived despite the pep talks, the praying, the reorganizing of my life, the books I read or the therapists I paid.
It is no wonder that I was given such a strong-willed child as my own. Broken people break people. I created him.
Take a bow, Shelly. You did what you purposely set out to never do.