Hello Friends, I apologize for the delay, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on my autobiographical anthology, Injustice: My Bell Jar Diaries, it has proven more difficult than I anticipated. For those of you who are seeing this for the first time, I’d like to invite you to visit my page at the link below, which includes my introductory post, numbered posts that ease you into my story, and supporting posts to provide additional context. It is my hope that I’ll be able to reach those suffering from these issues, be a source of encouragement and inspiration, create awareness, and drive change! Thank you for reading and thoughtfully commenting on these deeply personal stories. I appreciate you all continuing to support me! P.S. In an act of reciprocation, I’ve continued My Blog Soundtrack: Songs I Write To at the very end. Enjoy the music and my little message!
These are true stories that may shock you — anger and haunt you. Posts under this category may contain disturbing content that could upset or trigger individuals. *MILD LANGUAGE*
We were known in our one stoplight town as the most polite, respectful, well-behaved children from a big wholesome Christian family. Mmm hmm, that’s what they all saw: The Lie, The Facade. Our reality was, we were TERRIFIED children, positively frightened to be anything less than exactly what they demanded of us. The alternative was too heavy a price to pay.
“Children are meant to be seen and not heard.” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that… We could never say, “Can I,” it had to be, “May I?” If we forgot — cue the glare and condescending “I don’t know? Can you what? Come back when you’ve learned how to talk right.” Or, “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.” Gee, I wonder why I’m so Type A. One of the most sacred expectations was to say, “ma’am and sir” when we spoke to any adult. But here comes the BOOM…this has to be one of, if not the worst of them all…
For us — LOVE was earned, not freely given.
To quote my buddy, Forrest Gump, “That’s about all I got to say bout that.”
I’m a proponent of good old fashioned manners and place a high value on respect. However, their parenting took things to excessively unhealthy levels accompanied by constant rigidity, inconsistency, and secrecy. “What happens in THIS family, stays within THIS family. Don’t you dare go around telling anyone our business.” That included family members not living under our roof. No degree of equanimity existed. We lived in fear — knowing at any moment he could go off. Sometimes, we could see the wall cloud, the beginning stages of rotation. Other times, it was too abrupt to see the precursor. We didn’t have a shelter in our storm, we didn’t have a cellar to take refuge, no meteorologist with a warning to forecast our F5’s. This man — our human tornado, leveled everything in his path. There was a secret phrase among the three eldest children that we’d whisper or silently mouth, “Don’t rock the boat. Do NOT break ranks.” We were his little toy soldiers. Ordered about, serving our purpose, fulfilling our duties. He was a former Marine and a textbook Narcissist. My mother, a homemaker and a classic codependent. What a pair, huh? The perfect storm of parenting.
I remember with such clarity the first time I saw Rockwell’s Freedom From Want, in a library book, and thought, “Well, we sure look the part, but that’s the point, isn’t it?” How absurd! I was jealous of a painting! Later that evening, I opened the book and stared at that picture while I wrote in my diary about how ironic the title was.
Dinner was served promptly at 1900 hours. No exceptions. We obediently took our seats and silently bowed our heads, instinctively lifted our hands to clasp the ones on each side as he led us in prayer. Holding hands at the dinner table, forming a ring, representing the circle of love and unity of a family. I wish it had been meant for ours. After the prayer, in unison, we said, “Amen.” Now, this wasn’t the part where we proverbially dug in. Oh no! You waited patiently with your hands in your lap until a bowl or plate was passed to you. No elbows on the table. No needless chatter permitted. It was disrespectful to speak at our dinner table unless addressed directly.
He sat at the head of the table, no one else, even if we had company, a chair was never placed at the opposite end. His authority must never be challenged. He reigned supreme, the king, the head of the household. Their marriage was not a partnership, but rather a grotesque portrayal of heliocentrism. He was the sun, she existed to revolve around him. My mother passed the bowl of mashed potatoes to him first, then the platter of pork chops, the basket of rolls, you get the idea. She prattled on, sweetly soliciting any attention or praise, listing errands she ran for him, his shirt had been mended, folded, and placed on top of the dresser. Always the dutiful wife, always the respectful children, always the perfect family — with Narcissus at the helm.
The food had been passed around the table and we made it to the “May I have seconds portion.” Nod, smile, chew, do not speak. Hold on, we’re almost there. Until, one of my brothers, 8 yrs. old, asked me to pass the peas and knocked over his glass of milk. In one fell swoop, our dinner went from zero to sixty. We each put our forks down, moved our hands into our laps, sat up straighter, and leaned back slightly in scary synchronization.
His chair flew back across the floor as he stood and roared, “Damnit, what in the hell is your problem?” He slammed his fist on the table like a judge’s gavel. The plates jumped but we didn’t dare. He came up behind Sam, grabbing him by the back of his neck, gritting his teeth he put his mouth right up against his ear, “Do you think we’re made of money? Huh, boy?” He smashed his face into the table and screamed, “DRINK IT! DRINK IT!” I was fuming, I gripped the bottom sides of my chair, my anger flared up inside of me like a wildfire in the wind. My chair screeched against the wood floor. His head swiveled, grip unchanged, still pressing my little brother’s face down in milk, little bubbles popped in the puddle as he breathed. “WHAT? Do you have something to say?” he snarled and I just stared. “Are you deaf? I asked you a question!” It took every ounce of me to say through clenched teeth, “No, sir.” struggling to remain silent I gripped my chair even harder trying to hide myself shaking with rage.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. He stood over him and forced him to lap it up. I looked away… “NO! You watch or you’re next!” He pulled Sam back up just inches from his face, “Have you learned your lesson, boy?” Milk dripped from his face, he managed a shaky, “Yes, sir.” He went back to his chair shaking his head, instead of sitting he looked at each one of us, disgusted. Then — in a blink, he upturned the table sending shards of glass and food through the air, shattering nearly every dish. “CLEAN THIS MESS UP! Then get to bed,” he shouted, clapping his hands at us, “MOVE! MOVE YOUR ASSES!”
Needless to say, the expression, “don’t cry over spilled milk” takes on a whole new meaning to me, it holds such a negative connotation. To this day, when I hear it, I stiffen, if I see someone accidentally knock over a drink, I still flinch. My therapist recommended this book, when I got to this page I screamed, “OH MY GOSH! YES, EXACTLY!”
Just as I chose to share, you chose to read. I humbly and respectfully thank you all.
To Be Continued…