[insert rant involving child abuse]
I knew abuse. Never sexual, thankfully, but I knew all it's evil brethren. Physical, emotional, mental, neglect, and being forced to grow up way too damn fast. My father was free with the belt and the flat of his hand. My mother was an undiagnosed depressive most of my young life and my young life reflected that.
What's the big deal about physical punishment? THis wasn't physical punishment. I got the belt for spilling a glass of milk and smacked for not having the correct response quickly enough. I distinctly remember trying to shield my sisters with my body while he was trying hit all of us for the room not being spotless. I got hit to be given a reason to cry. I can't say I eventually learned the rules, because the rules were always changing. I just learned to quickly ascertain the mood of the house, of my father, and vanish accordingly. Solidity was one thing I wished for as a child. I spent much of my high school career babysitting my siblings or doing school functions. I still flinch or jump at sudden movements and try to vanish when the mood of an area isn't right.
My mother could've been a travel agent for guilt trips. Emotional blackmail was her game. My father only enabled her. I really didn't have a mother, most of the time. Even though she was there physically, she was never actually a mother. From roughly the age of 8 or 9, I raised myself and my sisters. With her, too, the rules were always changing. Well, there was one constant: don't disturb Mom. Don't show her anything to make her mad or sad, or she'll run away again. I was always the one that had to figure out where she'd run off to, so I could tell my father so he could retrieve her. I knew it wasn't normal, but I lived in fear of the 3 of of being split up and put into separate, evil foster homes. I know that Mom's the reason for a lot of my emotional problems. I was 12 when I talked her out of suicide the first time. I think I was 16 when I talked her off the bridge. Not even my best friend knew what was going on at home, although her folks suspected. I just knew I had to keep it secret, or CPS would take us away and split us up. I never thought to run away, my sisters needed me and I at least had most of my basic needs met (dinner was hit or miss some nights.) I just spent as much time out of the house or in hiding as possible. I made good grades (although I always feared showing my parents less than a perfect report card.) I tried to protect my sisters and do what I could for them, which admittedly wasn't much, especially with the way my middle sister turned out. I couldn't (and still can't) be perfect enough to satisfy myself (or what I thought Mom and Dad needed to be happy back then.) I thought that if only I and my sisters could be perfect enough, if the house was kept clean enough, my parents would be like regular parents.
We also didn't get much positive touch. Hugs were few and far between, maybe once a month. I don't remember my parents ever kissing me at all. I started trying to hug my parents goodnight in high school and it was stiff, like the end of a bad date. We got hit far more often than we go hugged or praised.
So, yeah, that's why I'm all kinds of FUBAR. I'm so afraid of passing that down to my kids.