I’m never really sure how to address this issue with a significant other, friend, or any member of my family. So this will probably end up being word-vomit, but here goes.
I hate people being mad at me. I can’t stand it. I get so anxious and afraid that I can’t handle myself. Part of it comes from a continued culture of violence that was perpetuated in my home growing up, and part of it was from a very bad romantic relationship that I was in.
Yesterday, I left for work in a hurry. I had turned on the lights on the Christmas tree because they were so pretty, and I was sitting there enjoying them when I got a call saying that there was an emergency, and that I was needed as soon as I could get there. I quite literally changed clothes and left my house. I didn’t even grab anything to eat. I made a mistake. I left the Christmas tree lights on, and my roommate got home before me. He saw them on inside and was freaked out, because he’s very easy to worry. He thought that the house was on fire.
He called me a few minutes later, rather frustrated with me. He was as nice to me as he could be, given the scare that he had just had. He was frustrated and kept repeating himself over and over again, and I got really defensive. I told him that he was being irrational, and that it wasn’t as big of a deal as he was making it. I minimized his feelings, and I tried to talk my way out of being at fault.
He said something to me that really made me think. He said “I have a right to be upset. Even if there is very little chance of anything bad happening, the chance is still there. And that’s on top of the wasted electricity that I’m the one paying for.”
That in itself didn’t really do anything. But my sitting on the floor at work crying because I was afraid to go home because I had left the Christmas lights on and he was upset was a good reason to think. I know that unless I started a physical altercation with him, he would never hurt me physically. Even then, he would only use force that was necessary to keep himself safe. I know that I was not in actual danger, but my fear response kicked in.
People that know my family often only see how great my parents are. Don’t get me wrong, my parents could be far worse. They were mild to me compared to how their parents were to them, and most of the physical punishment I received stopped very quickly when I was old enough to tell them if they hit me, especially my mom, that I would hit her back.
I really don’t believe that my parents wanted to hurt me. I just think that they were trying to make me behave in a manner that would make me acceptable to the world. A well-mannered young lady.
I remember very vividly one afternoon, my mother caught me in a lie. I had said that I had already practiced my piano piece for the night, and that I was tired and wanted to go to bed. I was tired, but it was from playing outside with some neighbor kids instead of playing the piece that I was supposed to be working on. She didn’t actually touch me, but she told me scary stories about a lady that cut her daughter’s tongue ever time she told a lie, slicing it so deeply that she would have to stitch it up every once in a while. For really bad lies, you know. She told me this story as she sat behind me on her computer playing solitaire, making me stay up way past my bedtime to practice the piano. I was in third grade when this happened. I stopped playing the piano soon after.
When I was really small, my dad was my protector with from my mom. He was fair in his punishment, and he only resorted to physical punishment when I had done something really bad, and he never punished me in anger. Things changed when I was around 9 years old. Dad was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, and was immediately put on heart medication. He became very mean. He would threaten me on a daily basis. He would smack me in the back of the head for not jumping up from my homework to hand him the remote that was sitting on the table right beside him. But he wanted me to do it. So I did. I cooked, cleaned, did laundry, mowed the grass…. everything. I would hide in the back corners of our basement for hours, pretending to be doing homework or laundry. I would be hiding and praying for my dad to become my nice daddy again. I would immerse myself in fantasy worlds, but I could never write any of it down. I would get in trouble for wanting a different family because my parents weren’t as bad as their parents had been.
I remember when I was about 14, we had just moved into the house where my parents still live. My dad wanted soup beans and corn bread for supper. We didn’t have any canned beans that were unpacked yet, and dry beans need to cook overnight, or at least several hours. I told him this, and he stood over me while I looked through all of the kitchen boxes that I had packed. I finally found some beans and and a pot, after searching for almost half an hour. I found the supplies to make the corn bread, but I couldn’t find the pan that I typically bake cornbread in.
I served him supper at the table, and the cornbread was a little thicker and had a little less crust on it that normal. He was so angry at me that he threw the bowl of beans at me, and said as soon as he found the iron skillet that I was supposed to use, he was going to hit me in the head with it, like I deserved. I ended up walking out of the house and sleeping on the porch that night. He locked me out, and forbade my mom from answering the door.
I don’t tell these stories to be pitied. My parents and I have a much better relationship now, but I still get really scared when someone is mad at me. I feel like everything I’ve worked for is going to come apart, and that I’m going to fail and have to go back to that kind of life.