Perfect…

I have to tell you, this is the first time I have ever seen Pink’s video. I’ve heard the song and identified with much of it, but the video is disturbing. The reason I like her so much is that she says the tough things, and doesn’t hold back.

This video is about invalidation, basically.

It’s important as parents to keep from invalidating our children’s emotions. We have to teach them how to deal with the hard things, yes, but if they are being wronged in some way, we need to lay blame where it’s due. If that child acts out to protect him/herself, we need to ask why. We should NOT blame the child for protecting him/herself. Perhaps teaching a better way, yes, but when someone hurts them, they need to know that they matter, too, and not so much, the behavior.

There are so many things that I remember growing up, yet so much I don’t remember. I remember snippets. First grade… I remembered my teacher’s name for many years after. I, thankfully, don’t remember her name, now. That was many years ago, yet it had a profound effect on me. We were having a type of spot quiz, in which I was given the word, “Of” to spell. I had been reading for 2 years already, including novels, and the backs of hairspray cans. I read everything I could get my hands on. “Of”..such an easy word. I confidently said, “O…F”. My teacher said, “I’m sorry, that’s wrong.” and “try again.” I tried to come up with several possible variations that would satisfy my teacher. I knew my original answer was correct, but she said it wasn’t. According to my teacher, no variation I could possibly come up with, was right. She was the teacher, I was the student. I was instantly wrong, regardless how I felt. This bantering went on for what seemed to be a long time. I got upset because I knew I was right. I could spell and read better than anyone in class. Long story short, I was locked in a closet. That’s where my memory of that day, ends. I didn’t tell my parents because I knew it wouldn’t matter. I would get into trouble for my “behavior” and for not spelling the word right. I knew that. It fell by in time, and I continued through school.

At home, my parents would pack what I needed for school. Much of the time my Dad packed everything. Pencils, paper, lunches, etc. When it came time to leave for school, my Dad would get in my face about a pencil. Yep, a pencil. He scared me into promising not to lose my pencil. This was every single day. I was teased unrelentingly throughout my school life. I would go to school where I would be made fun of. Of course some kid would take my pencil, thinking it would be funny. Inside, I panicked. I cried. I was afraid to go home and tell my dad I lost a fargin pencil. I cried easily, which made me an easy target for being teased. I couldn’t tell my dad or mom that I was being mistreated at school. All that mattered was the pencil.

My mom taught me the “golden rule’ during this time. To a child that was raised to believe that her feelings and well-being didn’t matter, but that everyone else’s did, the golden rule turned into a dungeon for me. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Simple, right? To this little girl it meant picking that statement apart. This is what I came up with, “Do anything in your power to keep from hurting others’ feelings. How would you feel if that person made you cry? You wouldn’t like it, would you? Don’t make someone cry. Don’t hurt their feelings.” Sick, I know.

I started getting molested when I was 7 (that’s the best I can come up with, I really don’t remember how old I was…all I know is I was very young.). My grandmother was a nurse in a nursing home. I would go to help her and spend time with the men that she took care of. One man, fat and balding, wearing those blue striped farmer’s coveralls, asked to spend time with me. I thought it would be fun, and my grandma was ok with it. I remember a mirror, a restaurant or 3, and nasty canned prunes. I can’t smell them to this day without gagging. I remember years going by. This man found out where we lived somehow, and would show up while my parents were at work. He’d send my brother out for pipe tobacco and while he was gone, he would do his thing with me. I can’t smell pipe tobacco, either, without getting sick. I was 14 when this finally ended, and only because we moved and I talked to my Youth Pastor at my church, who in turn told my parents. There were times that i should have told the man to stop. I should have been able to talk to my parents. There was one occasion that my Grandmother walked in on me and the man, while I was at the nursing home “helping” her. Instead of tackling him, she turned her back and walked away. Nothing was said or done, and it continued. I remember one time, crying, thinking that I didn’t want him touching me. The man proclaimed his love for me and if I ever said anything to anyone, i wouldn’t be allowed to come back. Enter “golden rule” speal, here. I stayed quiet.

If I had talked to my parents, myself, I wouldn’t have been believed. I would have been accused of making it up. If I had mentioned my grandmother’s involvement  i would have heard, “Your Grandma wouldn’t do something like that!” I was trapped in quite the little pickle.

I grew up feeling and knowing I didn’t really matter. All that mattered was “behavior” and inanimate objects.

Completely and 100% invalidated throughout my life.

There was my sister and I as teens. She ruled everything including our Dad. I had to get up at 4:30 every morning to get a shower. I couldn’t be up that early because I would wake everyone and get into trouble if I did. That meant putting make-up on in the dark. My step sister always wanted me to do her hair and would get pissed if i didn’t. I had to make time to do that.

There are so many things. Growing up with severe asthma, my doctor told my parents to get rid of the cats in the house. My parents didn’t want to kick the cats outside because that would be “unfair” to them. As a result, I had daily asthma attacks, where the only relief I had was when I went to school, or those days that i was so bad, my parents took me to my Grandma’s for the night so I wouldn’t be around the cats. By the time I was 12, my lungs were 25% blocked by scar tissue. I self medicated much of the time. I slept maybe 3-5 hours a night, for years, because I couldn’t breathe. I quadrupled my medicines a couple of times, to try to be able to breathe. Cats are lethal to most asthmatics. I was in the ER at least once a week. When I did have a severe attack, according to my dad it was my own fault because I forgot to take my medicine. He had it in his head that just because I took a pill for my asthma, it would keep me from having attacks. It was a preventative, yes, but the cats’ dander was stronger than any drugs.

The cats mattered. Their well-being mattered. I didn’t. I got into trouble for having an asthma attack, because THEY wouldn’t follow the doctor’s orders and GET RID OF THE CATS. Of course, it was my fault. I spent one entire night and most of the next morning barely breathing enough for a whisper. I was afraid to tell my Dad that I needed to go into the hospital. It finally got so bad that I had no choice. I got the breathing treatment, and on the way home Dad picked up hamburgers. It had been so long that I was in that attack, I couldn’t keep it down. I threw up all over his dash-board.

Invalidation.

My subsequent relationships echoed the rest of my life, previous. I learned not to express anything. I learned that if i told the truth about what was REALLY happening, I would get into trouble because of one reason or another. I learned to be afraid at all times. Afraid of hurting others’ feelings. Afraid of the backlash if I uttered a sound in retaliation for mistreatment by anyone.

I see my granddaughter, now. To me, she’s perfect. I’ll kill any bastard that puts her through one smidge of what I went through. I want her to know she matters. I want her to know that she can stand up for herself, but to be caring and loving, as she is naturally.

My grandbaby is perfect. She loves music and loves to sing. She loves to make someone happy. I am starting to see signs that she has some inner turmoil. It shows in her coloring. If she’s proud, she’s careful to stay in the lines. If she’s upset, she scribbles in black. This kills me. I want to stop this for her before it becomes her own dungeon. She’s only 4.

I want her to know beyond anything else that she matters, and no matter what…

She’s perfect to me.

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2 thoughts on “Perfect…

  1. Keep letting her express herself through her coloring. You can’t protect her from everything, but you can give her a safe place to land, to open up, to express herself. If you can do something, you will.

    1. I am still working on getting a bedroom ready for her, here. I always want her to see grandma’s house as a safe place. I want her to know that no matter WHAT, she can come to me and stay if she likes. I see signs that life is going to be a difficult road for her. The thing is, is it doesn’t have to be. Moms will be moms and unfortunately our children don’t come with “how to” books. That’s what is nice about being a Grandma. i look back and see vividly, all the mistakes I made with my own kids, and understand kids better. I also have a ton more patience than i did with my own kids. My little buttercup needs to know she’s loved above all else.

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