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Day 6 Overprotective mother/ Can't go outside the yard

Discussion in 'Structured Educational Program' started by NolaGal, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    The significance of this just hit me. I remember the one time my sister and I ventured outside our yard (which we were expressly forbidden to do). We went over to a neighbor's yard and played over there. I remember a hula hoop being involved somehow, and I remember which neighbor it was. I don't know why we did it, but it was a HUGE deal. I think we were pretty pleased with our own daring. That felt good, I remember, until my mother caught us, of course. It was one of the few times we got spanked with a belt. At least I did, I'm not sure if my sister did, being three years younger. I think I was probably six or seven at the time. Our mom spanked us with the pink Avon hairbrush sometimes, or the fly swatter (eew - now that I think about it!) or " a hickory" (usually a piece of willow or a very thin, green, tree branch - our great grandmother sometimes used them, too.) She would also spank us with her hand from time to time.

    The belt I only got three times. Once for not sleeping in "the pink bed" (my new bed) instead of in my parents' room (I think I was two or three), for going outside the yard, and for misbehaving at my mom's friends' house. Just writing this brings up a lot of stuff about " the pink bed", actually. It was always a story that was just "there". Even as a kid it was "something that happened when I was really little" so it has been in my memory most of my life. I think I almost took it for granted, starting early on. My mom would talk about the "only times you ever got a belt spanking", and that she "had" to do it so we wouldn't leave the yard again and put ourselves in danger of getting hurt or kidnapped.

    A f***ing belt - really? That's really not cool, if you back up and look at it. I'm sure it's way better than what she dealt with as a child - she probably got the buckle end of the belt, on way more than three occasions - but still. I can totally understand a swat on the butt for various things (like when I stuck a bobby pin in the electrical outlet when I was 2 - I don't have any trauma from that spanking, I don't think) but a belt is pretty extreme, especially for my relatively minor crimes. She never beat us, and she never let either my bio father or my stepdad hit us, at least not to my recollection. It's still not cool.

    Okay, so now I'm realizing that I got spanked for not sleeping in my own bed. (I think I remember being afraid of something, afraid to sleep alone for some reason.) I also got spanked a few years later for not staying in the yard ("somebody could kidnap you" - she was genuinely distraught!) I had to be where she said, within her boundaries, always. When I learned to ride a bike I could only ride on the street in front of the house - just back and forth, back and forth, and she had to be near the window so she could look out frequently.

    I very rarely got to go over to friends' houses when I started school. My mother had to know the parents or I couldn't go. It got so that I rarely asked. I had a tiny handful of friends until I got into my teens and became heavily involved in the dance studio. I still only had a couple of close friends then, but we went on trips to dance conventions and my mom knew their moms through the studio, so I was allowed to spend the night with them. Before middle school I can count on one hand the times I spent the night with a friend. Even in high school it was a big deal to ask to go over to a new friend's house. When my grandmother was sick (dying) I remember asking my mom if I could go to a movie with some of the drama club kids and she told me that she had too much on her mind to be worrying about me, that I needed to stay home so she would know I was safe. Again, I rarely asked.

    I'm reading over this and I started to say that it sounds so much more extreme than it really was. It just felt "normal" at the time, but I think that's because I pushed back most of the anger and frustration. I've always known, intellectually, since I've been an adult, that she was WAY too strict on me, but up until now I don't think I've really let myself get angry about it. I swallowed the anger as a child. Her attitude has always been "well I HAD to do __________ because ___________ could've happened if I didn't." Consequently, I always worried about HER on the rare occasion when she went on a trip, or even just to work. I was constantly afraid that she would be killed in a car accident. I remember her telling me how to dial 911 when I was really little. I'm sure she gave me various scenarios as an example of when I should do it, but the one that sticks out to me is "if you come in my bedroom and can't wake me up". So I lived in fear of that, too.

    She made me so emotionally dependent on her. She constantly told us how much she loved us, and that we were her whole world, the reason she was put on earth, etc. She also always tried to make us happy within the confines of what she thought was safe and appropriate. I really almost worshiped her. I was afraid to make her angry, but I was even more afraid of disappointing her. Her approval was everything to me.

    I see now that she drew these boundaries around me and forced me to stay in them - the yard, the pink bed, etc. She wouldn't let me go to Mexico on a high school trip because "we couldn't afford it" (years later she admitted that it was because she was too afraid for my safety.) As a senior in high school, I had worked myself into a little bit of excitement about going to the big state college (I wanted a private, artistic college but "we couldn't afford it", so I was trying to make the best of things) but then they told me that "we couldn't afford" for me to stay in the dorms. I would have to live at home and drive back and forth every day - about 40 minutes each way. I got married when I was twenty because I wanted some sort of independence (yeah, marriage = independence, lol!)

    After I "screwed up and ruined my life" by getting married and dropping out of college, my sister all of a sudden started getting everything they refused to give me - she went to Paris in high school AND college, got lots of new clothes, a boa constrictor (I had always loved snakes and wanted one, but my mom was afraid of them). She got to go to a private college, got a brand new car. I don't blame my sister one bit. We've always been close and I'm glad somebody got something out of my parents' warped sense of things, but I still have some jealousy, anger and sense of injustice. I did deal with a lot of these particular feelings a few years ago, so I don't think they're my main issues right now, but I'm suddenly looking at how all this fits into the big picture.

    I really don't quite know what to do with this information, this new insight I've gotten while writing this. I currently have a very good adult relationship with my mother. It's amazing, though, how she remembers so many things differently than the way they happened. My sister and I have both caught her in what would seem like outright lies, if we didn't know that she was trying to flip certain memories so she wouldn't feel guilty.

    My mother did try her best, and she had been abused as a child plus her mother had been a huge worrier, too, so it just came on down the line. I think one reason I never felt a desire to have children is that I was afraid I would drive them (literally) insane. Now if my husband and I do foster parenting and/or adoption at some point I feel like I'll be able to be a good caregiver and role model type of mother figure, not an obsessive bundle of nerves. I just don't want to pass that on to anyone
     
    StevieG 2013 likes this.
  2. Endless luke

    Endless luke Well known member

    It seems like this was good for you to write out and you got a sense of the conflicts involved even if it's not clear what to do with them yet. It's still difficult for you to be angry at your mother because of how you were manipulated as a child and because of your dependence on her. I think there's probably more work to do in uncovering some of the anger but I have no answers on how to get there. Perhaps the solution is just to keep journaling.
     
  3. NolaGal

    NolaGal Peer Supporter

    Oh, yeah. It's hard to be angry at her because I do still love her so much. We usually have a lot of fun when I visit her or when she comes to New Orleans to visit me, but I have to keep boundaries on what we talk about. I actually just wrote another "book" about my childhood. For some reason all my journal entries turn into life stories, lol! I think I'll post it but I hope people don't think they have to read the whole thing. I just like having it "out there" somewhere. Thank you for your response ;-)
     

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