Bad Childhoods

The thing I find most frustrating is that bad childhoods are a dime a dozen. Everyone’s got stories and most of them are much worse than mine. But then, at least from the outside, most people seem to get to leave that shit in the past. Like, yes, things really sucked back then, but then I got out and I pondered my life and I realized how the shittiness affected me and I came to accept it and I moved on.

But very few people talk about what it’s like when you grow up and become an adult and your family is still comprised of ridiculous assholes. Only it’s worse because now you have to pay attention to them or they’re doing dumbass crap that can put them in the poorhouse or wind them up dead.

I really don’t know how to manage loving and adoring and worrying over these fucking fuckers.

It’s one of the things I appreciate about Jo writing about her family. Lots of people have managed big, dramatic “fuck you, I’m never talking to you again” moments.  But it’s nice to read someone else struggling with “god damn, will you break my heart every time or just every other time?”

I don’t know. It’s stupid, I know, to be this upset over what is, basically, four feet of garden. But every week, I upload pictures of my garden to Facebook for them to see. When they come visit, I like to talk about and show them what I’m growing where. I don’t know how many more ways I could have said, “This is important to me and brings me joy.”

And I’d like to think, as my dad’s daughter, that when I continually say, “this is important to me and brings me joy,” that a little, just a little, effort would be made on his part to not take a van and a camper right through the middle of it. Or, if that is for some reason impossible, for him to call me and say, “I’m sorry, but the only way to get the camper out of the yard was to take it through the flower bed. I didn’t want you to just come home and find it that way.”

But why would he do that when he can be clear to Arkansas long before I notice?

This, folks, is why I have forbidden them to read the blog. Not that anyone but my mom would. I don’t come from a family of big readers. And I know that, if my mom wants to do something, my dad will keep her from doing it if there’s any pretense. So, my saying “Don’t read the blog,” since he doesn’t want to, means he keeps her from it.

But I have forbidden them from reading it for exactly this reason. Because they have no respect for the things I love, that bring me joy, and they will ruin it because they cannot see it as important.

Anyway, yes, over twelve hours later and I’m still livid and hurt.

The rest of my week is filled with visitors, all of whom have said how much they’re looking forward to seeing my garden. Instead, they will get to see the giant gap where my dad drove his van through it.

That is so tight a metaphor for my whole fucking life that you shouldn’t even be able to call it a metaphor. There’s nothing ‘meta’ about it. It’s just the phor of my life.

18 thoughts on “Bad Childhoods

  1. There’s a really good book, Victoria Secunda’s “When You and your Mother Can’t Be Friends”. It focuses on mothers and daughters, but is still useful for dealing with other relationships. The best part of the book talks about how to draw a line between “I’m never going to see you again” and “I’m going to suck it up and let you hurt me whenever you want to”. I found it really really helpful for dealing with my own messed up family. I think you might like it.

    You’ve got my sympathy, and empathy, on a truly sucky situation.

  2. I have no other words other than I am sending you love during this time.

    And I do understand. I miss my mother who did value and nurture the things I love. My father lives 14 miles from me and I haven’t seen or heard from him since April. I do see him playing Farmville though with wild abandon. I’m glad he found that joy but I’ve had to walk away countless times due the fact that he just doesn’t get me. I know he loves me, but he doesn’t get me.
    My mom did.
    It’s a hard and slippery slope loving someone and then backing up to protect our hearts and souls from disappointment.
    Sort of like being a human yo-yo.

  3. There are things you can say, calmly, about limits you want to set, that might well get their attention. But you have to police those limits, again calmly, because they won’t do it for you. That takes less energy than continuing to be tangled up and involved with them, but it still will take some. A different, less painful, energy, though.

    But don’t apologize or feel that you have to defend your anger and hurt. I still cry some over my vandalized nandinas, and that wasn’t even family.

  4. Oh, B. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply my heart hurts for you.

    Forget the wine – I’m bringing my garden gloves and a trowel. OK, and also the wine.

  5. Oh, B, I’m right there with you. *hugs* If I were closer, I’d come help you salvage what you could of the garden.

  6. Thanks, everybody. I really appreciate it. It’s fine. I mean, it’s not fine. I’m still very angry. But I can salvage what can be salvaged. Thank god the e. Tennesseensis weren’t very big yet, or I would have probably exploded from anger.

  7. I came late to this and even after thinking about it for a while, I don’t know what to say other than I’m sorry.

  8. Dear B., writer of awesome stories and gardener of note,

    Your garden grows in our collective memory, and sent offshoots as far north as Hoffman’s Mistake, IL that are growing, blooming, and getting ready to make veggies.

    Your gleeful photoblogging of your garden’s progress inspired me to get my ass in gear with a veggie garden and a flower bed, neither of which had been touched in 2 years.

    So very sorry for your loss, sorry for your family’s shortcomings in the not being a dick department (language, sorry. I read the interwebs too much).

    The nice thing is… Well, something will grow back if you help it along. Dig your anger and hurt into the ground and try to leave it buried there.

  9. I love your garden photos. I hope things recover–nay, thrive in the wake of this vandalism (of soil, of heart). I look forward to the new pix of the new things growing.

  10. “[T]hey have no respect for the things I love, that bring me joy, and they will ruin it because they cannot see it as important.”

    This is not only how I’ve felt about my family but basically about nearly everyone I know, all my life–coworkers, church folk (back when I went), all the powers that be, and etc. Dang, I’m alienated from this culture. :(

    A therapist once told me that people don’t really “get over” things that have happened to them–they just have increasingly long periods over the years in which they don’t focus on them. But it’s damned hard not to focus on PHYSICAL EVIDENCE of abusive obliviousness of one’s feelings and values which has been PLOWED into your actual, dad-gum lawn.

  11. Ginny’s right, and I just adore what she said up there.

    And hey! While they’re all away, we can plant something else there. Or you could come slip-n-slide and momentarily forget it.

    Finally, I still have my Bates Groupon. Maybe you’d like to help me spend it!

  12. Yeah, this is why I live nearly a thousand miles from my mother. And yet, every time she opens the “I want to ask you about” door, I walk through it, not seeing Lucy right there ready to yank the football.

    Be who you are, love who and what you love, and let the rest go. That’s the goal, anyway.

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