May 17, 1998
This first journal entry is being written before I've put up this website. I'm going to build this site locally, before I contact one of the free homepage services for space. I've already got an email account set up especially for here.

This is different from when I built my first website. When the "domain master", a very dear friend of mine, gave me space for a page, he wanted me to get some stuff up as soon as possible and then build it up. When I told him about doing this site, I felt bad because I didn't want to use his domain for it. He understood, however, that I didn't want anything to link my two sites together. He is truly a wonderful person and I thank God often for his friendship.

My husband also agrees that this site is a good thing. Over the years, our marriage has suffered because of my paranoia and desire to avoid confrontations. We're in counselling, and now the poor man is finding out that he's married to a total fruitcake. (My words--not his.) Though he knew some of the things that happened to me, he never realized how these things affected my thought processes until now. At our last session, I said that some of the things he did, reminded me of my mom. You would have thought that he would have gotton mad, stomped off, and refuse to speak to me, but he didn't. He very gently talked to me and let me state some of my fears and concerns. I feel rather ashame of myself. He does love me more than his ego and I have done him a great injustice over the last several years.

One of the things I'm going to do tomorrow, is to gather together all the horrible clothing my mother have given me over the years, and burn them. She started giving me her old clothes when I was pregnant with my second child. They were too big for me at first, but she kept telling me that I was indeed that big, and a few months later, I was. I don't know if there is a real connection there or not, but it absolutely depressed me to wear those horrible polyester outfits. Unfortunately, we were finacially strapped at the time, and I really didn't have much else to wear. My mom's obsession with polyester knits is totally beyond my comprehension. Poly-cotton blends are fine, but 100% polyester is hot and uncomfortable, and I snag it on everything. She does give me clothing made from other fabrics, but I usually wear them out in an effort to aviod wearing the polyester.

Another dear friend and I have already made plans to hit the second hand shops in town, to rebuild my wardrobe into something that is truly mine again. Perhaps then I will feel upto unpacking my sewing stuff and making the dresses I have been planning to make for over a year now.

May 18, 1998
Well, I did it. I went and collected all the offending outfits I could find. There is one bin of clothes I didn't go into, but I don't think there was any in there. If there are, well, I'll just have another bonfire.

It was funny, I kept doing things to put off the burning. I finally went ahead and registered for this page's permanent URL. My heart beated fast and I began to perspire while I did it--you would have thought I was disarming a nuclear warhead by my nervousness. Though I was planning to wait a day or two before I put up anything at the permanent URL, at the last moment I went ahead and put up some files so I wouldn't chicken out.

Finally, I pulled myself away and went to the pile of clothing and fruit wood twigs that were waiting for me. Last Christmas, my mom had given me this green polyester knit house dress. It screamed my mother's taste. I almost didn't put it in because it was still relatively new, and a gift. Then I reminded myself that it epitomized what I hated in those clothes and why keep a gift that makes you feel like a loser. While I watched it burned, a little voice reminded me that I had chosen it, but I reminded that voice that I wasn't truly given a real choice--Mom had call before Christmas and asked me if I wanted the green, or this horrid multi-colored one. Frankly, I wasn't given a choice at all. Mom made the other one sound too awful to even consider, and when I said the green, she said, "I thought so, that's the one I liked." She got herself one, too.

It's kind of silly, when I think about it. Mom has been complaining about my choice in colors since I was three. You would think she would have given up by now, but I guess as long as she can stick us with something as a gift, she still feels in control. Not that I have any problem with the color green, I am rather fond of it, but not to the extent that my mother is. When you get right down to it, the woman is quite compulsive, in a rather chaotic sense.

So, I watched the pile burned with a grim sense of determination. I expected it to smell worse than it did, but maybe the fruit wood had something to do with it. Half way through, I began to wonder if it was worth the trouble, since it wasn't triggering any gush of emotions. I carefully prodded the burning pile, making sure that the fire could feed on every piece of fabric. The water hose was on full blast nearby, watering my fruit trees. Then, as the fire began to burn itself out, and there was only ashes in the fire pit, I felt as if something deep inside of me ease up, and could feel the corners of my mouth turn up. Smiling, I went and got the hose and soaked the ashes. There was no sign that I had burned anything but wood. I felt good.

Tomorrow, I will hopefully finish up my verbal abuse material. Maybe by evening I will have everything installed at my Tripod site.

May 20, 1998
The best laid plans of mice and men don't mean anything when a virus comes to call. I've spent the last two days being sick, so I still don't have all my verbal self-defense stuff up. Tonight, I wanted to play. It's strange to say that, but I never really played as a child, at least not in a carefree way. I always had to keep an eye out for someone else. It's bothers me that after all those years of being so "stable" and serious, that I have these desires to do childish things. Like wanting to play dress-up. I don't remember doing that as a child, though I have been told that when I was a toddler that I use to love standing in front of a mirror, modelling different poses with my blanket. I love to dress up in costume, but I hardly ever have a reason to do it. Tears are streaming down my face now at the thought of it. Me, a mother, crying because I want to play dress-up. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I truly wonder about myself.

I didn't play dress-up tonight, though. The picture to the right is what I did instead. <<chuckle>> I have a weakness for shiny stuff. No wonder I have never felt any dismay at growing older--I never really grew-up. Tomorrow, I hope to feel better. I promised a friend that she could borrow my Elgin books Friday.

May 23, 1998
There is a great sadness in my soul today and I'm not certain why it is there. I felt is most strongly after visiting a personal website and reading of how they could not put up a picture of their beloved child because of his grandmother. I had mentioned something, that had happened in my own family, to my elder cyberbrother yesterday that is somewhat related.

It happened a few years back, when my children were still babies. A sister and her then husband got into a terrible mess. To this day, I am not sure exactly what occurred, but during this time my mother told the authorities many things that were not true, and tried to get custody of my sister's children. The disgusting thing was, though she wanted custody and ultimately control of the children, she didn't want the responsibility of raising them. She told me very firmly that I would have to be a mother to them, so she could still be a grandmother to them, as if she thought grandmothers were a essential necessity to a child's life. She didn't seem to think so when we were young. We hardly heard from our grandparents at all. To quote my sister, "We grew up without grandmothers and still survived. Our kids would probably be better off that way too."

It was very hard on me. I love children, but I knew there was no way I could give my sister's children the love and special attention they would need, without endangering my own children. You see, my sister's children had severe emotional problems, and often hit and bullied each other. My children were all younger. How could I give them the unconditional love they needed to heal and grow, if I was terrified of them doing serioius injury to my own children. And what's more, if Mom had gotten custody, she would have insisted on me doing things her way, and I would rather die than give that woman that much control over my little ones, after what she did to us.

But God and the courts were merciful, and my mother's evil scheme failed, but not before I tore myself apart, trying to figure a way I could help my sister's children and keep my own safe at the same time. About the time the decision came, I had decided that I had to refuse to take my sister's children, and put the safety and health of my own children first. Even though my logic was flawless, the guilt I felt was overwhelming and I was developing serious stomach acid problems. It was this trauma that finally led me to the point of being totally incapacitated by depression.

I am a rescuer. Somewhere deep in my psyche is this idea that I'm suppose to make sure that everyone is safe and happy. I have been slowly trying to modify that idea. Sometimes people are better off living through their problems, and sometimes you're only making things worse. And sometimes you only succeed in destrying yourself.

Despite what I have written, my sadness is still here. Perhaps I mourn for all those I cannot help. All those little hearts with jagged wounds that they cannot understand. All those souls that scream in anguish. All those battered bodies with no one to protect them.

Perhaps because, when I look inside, I find that one of them is me.

May 26, 1998
The kids are out of school for the summer, and I am having trouble finding time for my introspections. I really don't want to do this at night, because I have problems enough getting to sleep. I don't think getting emotionally worked up will help matters. I got up at 6am this morning to have some uninterrupted time to myself. No such luck. I have one child who's as light of a sleeper as I am. She got up when she heard her dad getting ready for work. I'm going to try 5am tomorrow, and if she still gets up, I just have to do it at night. There's no way I could physically or mentally handle 4am.

So far, I have had five minutes between each interruption, tops. So much for Daddy's "Now, Mommy needs some time for herself, so you be quiet". She's now sitting on the couch, holding a moth she caught this morning.

My next step in dealing with my problems, is to reread the books that helped me in the past. I am sure there are some things I didn't really deal with the first time around. I'm starting with Toxic Parents. This morning I'm retaking my "psychological pulse". For simplicity's sake, the author's questions are stated in the plural, even though the answers may apply to only one parent. . .

I. (My) relationship with (my) parents when (I) was a child:
Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless? Yes.
Did they call you insulting names? :S I suppose so.
Did they constantly criticize you? Yes.
Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you? Yes.
Did they beat you with belts, brushes, or other objects? Yes.
Did your parents get drunk or use drugs? No.
Did you feel confused, uncomfortable, frightened, hurt, or ashamed by this? N/A
Were your parents severely depressed or unavailable because of emotional difficulties or mental or physical illness? Most definitely.
Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems? YES.
Did your parents do anything to you that had to be keep a secret? ROFL! I'll explain this in a moment.
Were you sexually molested in any way? No.
Were you frightened of your parents a great deal of the time? Yes.
Were you afraid to express anger at your parents? YES!

I guess I'd better explain the "ROFL" before I go on to the next section of questions. When I was about 9 or 10, my mother came bursting out of the house and marched over to where I was, near the mailbox. I could tell from her face that I was in trouble, but the life of me I couldn't figure out what I had done. In a very menacing voice, she began to inform me that some things were family matters and should never be discussed to people outside of the family. She then went on to explain that she would never do such a thing, because good family members didn't discuss family things with strangers. I stood there in total shock, because I didn't have a clue what she was talking about. Finally, she asked if I understood and I nodded, because I was sure her going through the whole speach a second time wasn't going to clarify things for me.

It wasn't until two decades later that I realized what had triggered that verbal brow beating. I was telling my therapist about an assignment I had done in fourth grade. I was suppose to write about the worst day of my life, so I wrote about the time I broke the lid of the cookie jar. I remember writing almost a whole page, so I must had gone into some detail about that beating. It had never occurred to me at the time, that this was not normal behavior for a parent. Anyway, in the middle of telling this to my therapist, I burst out laughing. I had suddenly realized I had done this assignment a few months before the mailbox incident. My mystery was solved. ;o)

II. (My) adult life:
Do you find yourself in destructive or abusive relationships? Every now and again.
Do you believe that if you get too close to someone, they will hurt and/or abandon you? Yes.
Do you expect the worst from people? :S Most of the time.
From life in general? Sometimes.
Do you have a hard time knowing who you are, what you feel, and what you want? Yes.
Are you afraid that if people knew the real you, they wouldn't like you? Not really.
Do you feel anxious when you're successful and frightened that someone will find out you're a fraud? Only when cleaning the house.
Do you get angry or sad for no apparent reason? Yes.
Are you a perfectionist? Sort of.
Is it difficult for you to relax or just have a good time? Yes.
Despite you best intentions, do you find yourself behaving "just like your parents"? Not often.

III. (My) relationship with (my) parents as an adult:
Do you parents still treat you as if your were a child? They try.
Are many of your major life decisions based upon whether your parents would approve? No.
Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions after you spend or anticipate spending time with your parents? Oh yes.
Are you afraid to disagree with your parents? Yes, but I do it anyway.
Do your parents manipulate you with threats or guilt? Yes.
Do your parents manipulate you with money? Not successfully.
Do you feel responsible for how your parents feel? Not any more.
If they feel unhappy, do you feel it's your fault? No.
Is it your job to make to it better for them? Resigned from that post a few years ago.
Do you believe that no matter what you do, it's never good enough for your parents? Yes.
Do you believe that someday, somehow, your parents are going to change for the better? Gave up on that fantasy.

The author says if you answer "Yes" to one third of the questions, then reading this book can help you a great deal. I answered positive to 71% fo them. Eep!

But as the book says:
You are not responsible for what was done to you as a defenseless child!
You are responsible for taking positive steps to do something about it now!

May 28, 1998
A couple of days ago, I told my husband about what I had written here. He asked me to to tell him about the "cookie jar lid incident" that had ultimately to the "mailbox incident". I thought I had mentioned it when I was in individual therapy, but perhaps I had only glossed over it. Part of me is saying that it isn't necessary to go into detail about, especially since my memory of it is probably fuzzy, but the whole point of this website is for me to stop keeping this at arms length. So here I go. Feel free to skip this next paragraph....

I was only five, thin and scrawny, without any hint of baby fat. I had pushed a chair up to the kitchen counter to get a cookie out of the jar my mom had made in one of her ceramics classes. It was a rather simple design, I believe I have seen similiar cookie jars as greenware, during my own ceramic endeavors. It was glazed with a speciality glaze that had green and red bursts on a white background. Anyhow, as I took the lid off the jar, it slipped out of my hand and broke in two. I don't remember if Mom came in and found me picking up the pieces or if I went and told her what I did. I do remember that it was in the kitchen that she freaked out. I was slapped across the face a few times, knocked to the floor, and then she jumped on top of me. (She probably weighed between 200 and 250 lbs at the time.) I remember my face being slammed against the floor several times. I remember being hit repeatedly, as she yelled incoherently at me, and my hair being practically pulled out by the roots, all while this large woman sat on top of me. I didn't think she was ever going to stop. Later, the lid was glued back together, with only a thin line to testify of my misdeed.

Another incident happened when I was six, that sticks out in my memory because of its total stupidity. I was very bored, so I took a diaper pin and started to carve a design into a small bar of soap. My mother caught me and screamed, "You shouldn't play with that! You'll hurt yourself!" which sounded well and good, until she tooked the pin from me, grabbed my hand, and STABBED me seven or eight times in my arm to make her point. I couldn't believe how stupid this act was, as I watched her draw blood from one or two of the wounds. She did more damage to me, than I would have ever done to myself. I would have at least stopped after the first time I accidently poked myself--I sure as hell wouldn't have repeated the experience seven times. I'm not an idiot.

May 30, 1998
Well, I have reread the first half of Toxic Parents, now I am entering the exercise part. The first one is to identify my beliefs, feelings, and behaviors. I still have marks from the first time I went through this. I guess I'll see if I've made any progress:

19921998 BELIEF
X- It is up to me to make my parents happy.
-- It is up to me to make my parents proud.
-- I am my parents' whole life.
X- My parents couldn't survive without me.
-- I couldn't survive without my parents.
-- If I told my parents the truth about (whatever),
It would kill them.
X X If I stand up to my parents, I'll lose them forever. *
- - If I tell them how much they hurt me, they'll cut me out of their lives.
X X I shouldn't do or say anything that would hurt my parents feelings. *
X - My parents' feelings are more important than mine.
X X Ther's no point in talking to my parents because it wouldn't do any good.
- - If my parents would only change, I would feel better about myself.
- - I have to make it up to my parents for being such a bad person.
X - If I could just get them to see how much they're hurting me, I know they'd be different.
X - No matter what they did, they are my parents and I have to honor them.
- - My parents don't have any control over my life. I fight with them all the time.

* I have made some efforts to stand up for myself, but even though the worse hasn't happened, I still feel uncomfortable when I am doing it.

On a good note, I have shown improvement. If you mark four or more of these beliefs, then you are still very psychologically enmeshed with your parents. I have detangled myself quite a bit, but I still need to work on it.

Now for the feelings part. I still have a problem dealing with my own feelings, this may be the section I need to review the most...

19921998 FEELING
X- I feel guilty when I don't live up to my parents' expectations.
X- I feel guilty when I do something that upsets them.
XX I feel guilty when I go against their advice.
-- I feel guilty when I argue with them.
-- I feel guilty when I get angry with them.
X- I feel guilty when I disappoint my parents or hurt their feelings.
X- I feel guilty when I don't do enough for them.
-- I feel guilty when I don't do everything they ask me to do.
X- I feel guilty when I say no to them.
XX I feel scared when my parents yell at me.
XX I feel scared when they are angry at me.
X- I feel scared when I'm angry at them.
XX I feel scared when I have something to tell them something they may not want to hear.
-- I feel scared when they threaten to withdraw their love.
XX I feel scared when I disagree with them.
-X I feel scared when I try to stand up to them.
-- I feel sad when my parents are unhappy.
XX I feel sad when I know I've let my parents down.
-- I feel sad when I can't make their lives better for them.
-- I feel sad when my parents tell me I've ruined their lives.
-- I feel sad when I do something that I want to do and it hurts my parents.
X- I feel sad when my parents don't like my (spouse, lover, friends).
XX I feel angry when my parents criticize me.
XX I feel angry when my parents try to control me.
X- I feel angry when they try to tell me how to live my life.
-- I feel angry when they tell me what I should think, feel, or behave.
XX I feel angry when they tell me what I should or shouldn't do.
XX I feel angry when they make demands on me.
XX I feel angry when they try to live their lives through me.
XX I feel angry when they expect me to take care of them.
-- I feel angry when they reject me.
Well, I check over a third, which mean I'm still enmeshed to my parents emotionally. Bleh! Fear and anger seem to be my worse areas, but I have gotten rid of most of the guilt--a good sign. As for the reversal in feeling scared when I stand up to them, I guess I may not had been quite as honest with myself earlier. I still have intense physical reactions at the idea of dealing with them, but they aren't as bad now.

I guess I might as well get the behavior part done.

19921998 BEHAVIOR
-- I often give in to my parents no matter how I feel.
XX I often don't tell them what I really think.
XX I often don't tell how I really feel.
-- I often act as if everything between us even when it isn't.
X- I often act phony and superficial when I'm with my parents.
X- I often do things in relation to my parents out of guilt or fear rather than freedom of choice.
-- I try very hard to get them to change.
-- I try very hard to get them to see and understand my point of view.
X- I often become peacemaker in any conflict with them.
-- I often make very painful sacrifices in my own life in order to please them.
-- I continue to be the bearer of the family secrets.
-- I am constantly arguing with my parents to show that I'm right.
-- I constantly do things that I know they don't like to show that I'm my own person.
-- I often scream, yell, or curse at my parents to show them they can't control me.
-- I often have to restrain myself to keep from attacking them physically.
-- I blew my stack and cut my parents out of my life.
Hmmm....only two now, that's makes me borderline. Never was a very aggressive person. Doing the opposite of what someone whats all the time is just as bad as doing what they want all the time. They're still making the decision - you're only reacting.

Well, I now have a clearer picture where I stand. I need to work more on my fear and anger. It's also nice to see that I have improved over the years. Who knows, maybe I can whip this problem yet.

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