When I Was a Kid…

we only had one kind of abuse, physical. No one knew what verbal or mental or emotional abuse was back then. If it didn’t leave scars you probably weren’t abused. And even then, there was still come room to justify it. I remember when the it seemed like after school specials started dealing with that kind of stuff instead of just drugs and teenage pregnancies and scoffing at it. I mean, some part of me acknowledged that there was probably some cases, but most things had to fall under the “sticks and stones” thing, right?  It seemed like that stuff had to be made up, an excuse for whiny cry-babies to blame their problems on everyone else.

I can count on one hand the times my Dad took a belt to me, most spankings were done by hand, and usually at a fairly early age, I was a pretty quick learner and didn’t need too many “boundary checks”. I’ve always told people I felt incredibly lucky to be blessed to be born into the family I was and was happy to speak of them with pride and defend them when necessary.  Several years ago I wrote this post and then I followed it up with this post a couple years later.  The person from the first post, the one who said it must hurt to be me?  That was an ex.  At another point and time in her life she told me that she felt bad for me, that my parents had abused me.  That was so…  ludicrous to me.  She was the one that came from a crazy, broken family.  She was the one that had been sexually assaulted by step parents.  My folks were celebrating their 30-somethingeth marriage at this point and I just couldn’t figure out why the heck she’d even say such a thing.  She’d met my parents, they were lovely, wonderful people.  She loved my folks, she knew that I never complained about any of the physical punishment I’d ever received, I even credited it as part of why I was so successful (using the metrics I knew at the time).  I love my parents.  I’m proud to be their son and on a regular basis I talk about how awesome they are.  So what the heck did she know, how could I be abused?

Today however, I had to have a painful discussion.  Hah, apologizing when you’ve made a huge deal about how the other person is wrong always sucks a little bit.  I had to talk to my ex and tell her that she was somewhat right.  She’d told me way back when that the abuse was emotional, that they’d done something to me to completely close me off and make it impossible for me to share anything.  And to some extent she’s right.  I still have a problem with the idea that it’s “abuse”, but she’s right.  It’s been a tough couple of days, figuring stuff out.  Friends have cared enough to share some uncomfortable truths that dredged up a lot of stuff that I’d forced myself to forget.  I’m not going to air the specific details here, but ugh.  And she was right, now that I’ve got this new understanding?  It DOES hurt to be me.  Fortunately she didn’t rub it in too badly, just told me she was glad I was finally figuring it out.

That second post ended up being largely wrong.  Sure, I do compartmentalize things, and only share things in certain compartments with certain people, but even then I don’t ever open up.  I share the details, but not the emotions behind them.  I didn’t realize that until the last day or two.  I’d thought the communication thing was just a problem in romantic relationships but nope, it’s pretty universal.  I assumed that I did a good job of opening up, but it’s been fun (definitely NOT the right word there) to talk to old time friends and hear how frustrated they’ve gotten with me over the years, tempted to end the friendship with me because of my lack of openness and vulnerability, my tendency to answer serious questions with smart-aleck responses.  I asked a good friend to help me with my homework project and one of the first things he mentioned was that I should find a way to open up to people and communicate better.  This guy’s known me for 8 years and I’d never mentioned (huh, go figure) that my recent communication problems were something I wanted to fix.  That was a pretty eye-opening experience that started the wheels turning.  Apparently the only time I usually share is when I’m telling a story to illustrate a point to help the other person out.

Looking back on my friendships I realize how one-sided they are, on purpose.  I say I don’t have the ability to say “no” to friends.  There’s a reason for that. If I can be depended upon to do favors for my friends like fixing their car, their computer, lend them money, let them live in my basement, help them get a job whatever, they’ll like me right? They couldn’t like me just because I talk to them or am interesting or a good guy. I’ve got to “buy” their friendship.

This is going to be interesting…






One Response to “When I Was a Kid…”

  1. […] was going things the right way, knowing I’m trying to grow in my Christian faith. As I wrote here several friends pointed out how bad I’ve been in our friendships, how emotional openness and […]

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