Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reporting From Ground Zero: A parade of child abuse refugees.

Warning: This is going to be difficult reading. If you are hoping for light-hearted fun, come back later. I now deal with the dreadful consequences of bad child raising.

Saturday began about 4:30 AM. I gulped down some coffee and went to my beloved computer. First the three-day news feed backlog. The world is in trouble, but no one has dropped an atomic bomb as yet. From there I dropped into MacPhilly's blog ( and to my surprise, he's been busy.

The first post was an humorous piece on our beloved coffee and all its variations. The second post caused me to have an unexpected collision with my past. He spoke of being a responsible parent. I quote in part from:

Parenting Is Not For Wussies.

Yes. I can discuss nail care. I can tell you what colors to wear to accent your skin, I can tell you and probably most women how to dress for success. However, topics of interest, general hygiene and a good eye for color do not make a man less a man or more a man. What makes a man is character. And when it comes to parenting - character counts. Parenting is NOT for wussies. (emphasis added.)

I've been wanting to tackle this topic for awhile now. And, I don't think this is going to be my last post - primarily because from what I've seen there are a lot of parents that DON'T. Parent that is. And it's criminal, these people are potentially ruining their child's life and that's not fair to the kids.

(emphasis added.)

So. Parenting. Rule number one: Parenting is not about you. Parenting is not about how other people perceive you. Parenting is not about what other people might think of you when they see your child (however that does not excuse allowing your child to go out in a slovenly fashion), it is not about making sure you're in the right mini-van or SUV. Parenting is all about the kids.

Specifically, parenting - real parenting - is about how much of you you're willing to lay down. How much of yourself you're willing to sacrifice for your child. Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about working 48 hours a day so your kid can have new toys. I'm not talking about being the world's greatest super-soccer mom and being the land ferry for hundreds of kids. What I am talking about is how much of your ego you're willing to lay down. How much of your convenience you're will to forgo. How much you can control your language, your viewing habits, your attitude and/or anger - all for the benefit of your child.

Let me give you an a few examples of what I mean. When was the last time you changed the channel when a commercial came on (other than possibly some ad for a slasher flick) to protect the modesty of your daughter or the eyes of your son? When was the last time you promised your child that you would discipline them if they mis-behaved, then dragged your butt off the couch to follow through on that promise even though your favorite show was on, or you wanted to research something on the web or whatever else you were doing? When was the last time you had a disagreement with your spouse - and held your peace until a time when your children were not present? When was the last time you didn't do something you found interesting, but instead happily did something your kids wanted to do with you? (emphasis added.)

All of the above are the types of selfless acts that I'm referring to. This type of behavior is not for wussies. Wussies yell at their kids and try to intimidate them - but won't discipline them correctly. This shows your children that you're also just a stuffed shirt or a bag of hot air because obviously you're not a man or woman of your word or there would be consequence. Wussies want to see a commercial that isn't appropriate for their children to see more than they want to protect the innocence or virtue of their children. Wussies make promises to play with the kids on the swing set, but then make excuses (I need to do my nails, work, build something, clean - whatever) and don't keep their promises.

You see - parenting is NOT for wussies.

Before I leave - DON'T confuse what I'm saying. I'm not saying that your children should be the center of the home. They shouldn't. Mom and dad should. And for those of you that are single parents - you are the center of the home. You are the anchor just like a mom and dad should be. Stability and love flow down hill from you. And I'll talk about that, and how important it is in another post. But for now I just wanted to clarify.

So. There you have it friends. Parenting is NOT for wussies. If you're a wimp, if you've got no spine (read: character) then don't be a parent. If you already are a parent, see if you can find some skelegrow for that spine of yours. It's a painful process growing a spine - but your kids will thank you for the rest of your - and their - life.

posted by MacPhilly

I fired off a grateful response for his gift to his children and then it was time for 6 AM phone prayer. Old Authority-Want-to-be stated we needed to talk before we began. Her voice became totally flat, lower and emotionless: "As my accountability partner I want to tell you that I lost it last night with my husband. I hit him until his face was bloody." I have both been a client in crisis and counseled others in crisis. I knew I had a serious problem. I had to make a speech which usually does no good. I've known this woman for 5 years and watched her life slowly deteriorate. Now, she was graduating into the fast-track towards: health, the morgue, prison, or one of several different hospital wards. I told her she needed to call her HMO IMMEDIATELY and tell them what she had just told me. I tried to be as gentle as possible, but I made it clear, that once the physical battering begins, everything changes. I then swung into prayer, where I pleaded for God's emergency intervention, His Grace and strength, for this lady to do what needed to be done. When I finished, her voice was back to normal and she said that she had a meeting to go to, but thanked me for my concern. I became nauseated. She had returned to that damned river DENIAL.

I felt my emotions churning and memories were coming back. Funny, I felt badly for holding hate in my heart towards her drug-addicted husband, who can really be a piece of work. But, now I had a fellow traveler in the Face-re-arrangement club. I cried, for him, for me and for Authority-want-to-be. I had set clear boundaries already with Authority-want-to-be. She had joined a 12-step group, but wanted me to be her accountability partner and sponsor. I said no. She was supposed to be MY counselor. Can't mix roles like that. Also, she needed to pick a helper from the group she spoke in. Someone who could catch her in her denial and cover-up. I wasn't a member of the group. She obviously felt she could push my hand by dropping this latest bomb-shell in my lap. I know I'd have to set some very strong restrictions on our relationship, as I was having serious symptoms of my own emotional problems.

As well as having a classic case of Bi-Polar disorder, I have an extremely mild version of what troubled my mom. Psychosis. It is the most serious and intractable of the mental illnesses. Serious cases can be sociopaths, mild cases just are prone to having an over-reaction to feelings. For me, it isn't the happiness side of things, but the sadness side. When I remember an incident from my past, I can get lost in time. I forget where I am, how old I am and have trouble realizing that the memory isn't actually happening to me. I also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A condition where one re-lives, over and over memories of trauma, as they try and resolve their mental turmoil. Thankfully, most of the PTSD has settled down.

I buried myself in music, but felt just a bit out of focus. I had to pick up my new shoes and didn't get to it until almost 6 PM. When I came home, my other new friend wanted to see me, to bring me a huge burrito, he'd been given. He had four of them. This seemed like a way to relax and get my mind off myself and onto something else, anything else.

We chatted for awhile and then he decided, he could trust me.

"You know, I was a male prostitute, until two years ago." (oh - ah, would you like some sugar with that coffee...?) I scrambled to not over react. I know from reading that people who drift into prostitution, in either sex have horrendous child abuse problems. I hoped he wouldn't continue.

He hiked up his pant leg to reveal an ugly scar.

"This is where my father shot me. He was trying to kill me. Most nights our family didn't know if we were going to live through the night"

Before I could react, he'd pulled up the right arm of his shirt to reveal serious tendon damage on his upper arm.

"This is where he through me through a plate glass window."

It was time for me to make my second speech of the day. He had no money (naturally!), no previous counseling, except to physically leave prostitution. (Just stopping that lifestyle is just the beginning of recovery.) This 27-year-old was reaching the age, when all the crap would come out and he'd get therapy before, during, or after having a breakdown. That is of course assuming, he doesn't get so messed up as to attempt suicide. How to say all of that in a way that keeps hope alive. I closed my eyes, prayed for God's help and words came forth. I felt I'd been heard, but his pain wasn't great enough (yet) for him to do anything). By now, my vision was going in and out of focus. I politely told him, I had to get up early for church, so I bid him good night.

I was angry, but couldn't get clarity. I complained to God, that I just couldn't listen to the horror stories any more. Re-telling me is not how someone gets healed. There is a whole complex relationship in therapy, and friendship isn't in the plan. A therapist, from time to time, has to confront you severely - in a way, a friend would be loathe to do. I turned on my Bible mp3 and went to sleep.

Sunday was a nice morning and I got dressed, with new shoes, a nice pair of earrings and the hope, that God would help me with some of the confusion still in my mind. I kept picturing my friends husband with his swollen and bleeding face... Church was a disaster. I wanted to officially change my deaconess, but no one was there to help me. I decided to go to Pastor. He's very familiar with Miss Authority-want-To-Be. Her claims of being suicidal were, apparently, based in stirring up drama, and not in a real suicidal situation. Not realizing that, I spent six weeks at my HMO in emergency crisis intervention. I was determined not to make that mistake again. I laid it out and let him know that I was bailing out. I had to protect my own mental health. He told me to continue to pray for her, but otherwise, he'd take care of it. I felt like I could breathe a little easier. Now, they were singing one of my favorite songs. I tried to rise above my roiling emotions to get into church.

The assistant pastor was on a tare. He wanted us to understand the importance of joy in the life of the Christian. Not about performance, or working harder, but getting closer to God, to let His love give us the strength for the 'longsuffering', etc. I tried not to get defensive. These messages usually lead into something which is not good for me. Then, almost as an aside, he screamed out:

"... and if anyone tells you what to do: you should, or why don't you... You know they don't love you, or they don't know any better!"

My entire body went numb. So, to direct people to counseling and set up personal boundaries was a no-no... ? Rejoice, always, and again I say rejoice! My mind returned to the last time I'd seriously tried following this advice.

I was in AA. I wasn't an alcoholic, but didn't realize it. I was sober for 2 years, still having active blackouts (sober), morbidly depressed, unemployable and wretched. People in AA are very sensitive to 'the pity party/pot'. They falsely assumed, I was having a pity party and slammed me with very rough 'tough love' confrontation:

"You act as if. When you want tot cry, you smile. When you want attention you give it to someone else, or no one will talk to you because you are acting like a looser. Around here, 'we stick with the winners'".

I went numb, but the threat of total abandonment drove me forward. For six months I did everything that woman told me. Then one night, I started speaking in a new voice with a Puerto Rican accent:

"I got to get outa the closet".

I tried to switch back. I had pretend playmates all my life, and took all the parts, like a play, but I never had one of my 'pretend friends' come out and take over before.
I mailed in my latest 30% check to Dr. Scott. (This act of faith/desperation, would heal me.) The next day I had a Social Security evaluation interview. I was still the new me. I went through a 45 minute interview as someone I didn't know and then tried to go home. I began blacking out, and when consciousness returned, I was in an intersection, walking into on-coming traffic! After six blocks of this, I went to the nearest AA group that knew me and they took me to a county hospital.

I was interviewed, prodded and examined. Highland Hospital in Oakland has too few beds for an entire town that could use their facilities. So, I was informed that there were no beds. I said, fine, I'd probably be back. I Need psych, but running into on-coming traffic will eventually bring me to emergency, where there is a bed. This doctor asked me if I was threatening him. I said no. Just stating facts. I was having blackouts, talking in a different voice and personality and kept trying to get someone to run me down in the street. It would be a matter of time... I got a bet, way down in Fremont.

Once in the hospital, more interviewing and I watched my entire personality collapse. I spoke every pretend voice I'd ever done in my life. I thought I was undergoing demonic possession. I was afraid to pray: would God interact with a psychosis? Which voice was the real me? I finally took the leap of faith that God would talk to my other voices and after seven days, I returned to my normal personality. The lesson there. I am not able to repress my emotions for your comfort. I will not do another tour in lock-down so you can convince yourself that your advice is 'right'.

Back to my tears at church this morning. I tried to leave the building, being stopped by another assistant pastor.

"How are you?"

(Are you blind...? Maybe he thinks this is joy.) When I told him I was having a bad day, he responded in a sing-song refrain: "rejoice in The Lord, always, and again, I say rejoice Sister!"

There is a proverb:
Proverbs:. 25:20 "Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart."

Now, I was really loosing control and knew I had to get out of there. But another male friend had bought a cake for me. He took one look at me, kissed a falling tear and said:

"Baby, what's wrong?"

I blurted out that I couldn't tell him because it was all confidential and then collapsed into his arms, sobbing. Now, I was seeing all the blood-based memories, cascading through my consciousness. (Hello, Grief Work, must we do this, NOW?)

Authority-Want-To-Be, pulled me into her arms. (She's the one battering her husband.) She started in:

"Baby, I'm really fine, really." I can't take that kind of bull and really started crying. I yelled back at her through clenched teeth that she was NOT alright. She then began using small-child, or puppy-talk.

"now, I'm gonna get help, just like you said... " (bull), "... but can you pray for me...? Can you? Please. Can you do that for me... "

I was watching the room spin around and the light level was diminishing. I was going under. I knew there was no one at this ghetto church that had a clue as to how to help me. Authority-want-to-be was now 'shush-ing' me. I reared back and screamed:

"You've been on my ass for three weeks to cry. I'm crying! Now, you want me to stop! I CAN'T!"

She had lost the color in her face and I was fading fast. I changed my tactic. I yowled:

"I wanna go home!" at which point, my male friend, snatched me out of Authority-want-to-be's clutches and half carried me to his car.

Arriving home, I discovered the burrito God had provided the night before, now having a cake besides. This is how God talks to me when He knows I've fallen over the edge. I guess at least He knew I was having a bad day. I let myself cry for a few hours and then was tired enough to sleep. I hoped that upon waking, I'd be back in balance. I was toying with making a medical appointment the next day, if I couldn't stop crying.

I'd done all the right things. Eaten, drunk plenty of water and slept. When I woke up, I thought of my friend back east. He just has a way of calming me down. I just wanted him to pray with me. I felt hearing someone else pray, who wasn't currently beating their spouse bloody, might help me regain my balance. He was available. I made contact. He sounded a little tired, but it was wonderful to hear him speak.

He asked me if I'd read his last post. No, he told me to go, read it and call him back. I felt my tears starting again. I gritted my teeth and marched over to his sight."Blessed Assurance". I had asked him for assurance, because I thought that would make more sense to him than to give the truth, which was, I'm in crazy-making pain and I think you can make me feel better.

His post was as example of a healthy, centered believer who felt assured! I'm getting dizzy again. I knew that if I tried to speak via phone, I'd come apart again. Text messaging while blacking out, isn't easy either.

I made a decision. I text messaged back, that I was in too much pain and had to take extra meds. to sleep through it. I cut the connection, gulped down two emergency sedatives and waited for unconsciousness, with the mp3 Bible in the background.My friend, was a bit put off. He let me know that he was willing to be there for me, in spite of having other duties, and that prayer like I wanted wasn't normally his thing.

(I'll remember that.) I hate child abuse. All of this post is an example of the fallout from bailing out on the children you sire. It is the father, not the mother that seems to have the strongest influence on the kids. With chemical assistance, I'm reclaiming my sanity. I'll be easily tired for a few days, but the hysterical, non-stop crying has stopped.

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