Friday, April 27, 2007

Fearless Friday (this is probably way too long!) & Mother Talk

I received an email to join something called MotherTalk. Today's topic is overcoming fears and anxieties that I, as a mother, have overcome. Here is a link on today's topic

There are just so many things and I really have no idea where to start.
I was painfully shy in elementary school and middle school. I started gaining weight around 10 years old and that is when my shyness kicked in. It didn't help that my granny, who lived with mom and myself, always picked on me for how much I weighed and how much I ate. Then she would turn around and yell at me for not cleaning my plate every single day. I grew to fear my granny and hated to be around her alone. Life was OK when mom was home but there were a few times that mom was away for more college classes or jury duty. She seemed to be called to a statewide jury duty quite often.
My sophomore year of high school was hard. I rarely saw my friends and found it so hard to just smile at others and say HI every day. Towards the end of the year I did eventually make a few friends, and most of those friendships are still going strong. The hard part of high school was bringing my friends home. My granny was always there to ridicule or call me names, especially if I had a boyfriend with me. I did come out of my shell enough to date two guys.
When my mom re-married when I was 16 I was so afraid she would make me stay with granny while she moved in with her new husband. I have no idea what I thought that. I'm an only child and it had been just Me and Mom for 14 years so I should have realized that mom would never abandon me. I was so happy when they were back from their honeymoon and helping me pack up my bedroom to move the 10 whole houses up the street where my step dad lived.
Four years later my step dad passed away. By then I was working full time for Sears and just kind of plodding through life. At that time I wasn't dating anyone and had no idea where my life was headed. I ended up re-discovering a boy I went to elementary school with. His family also attended the same church for many years.
His family moved back to town and was just waiting until his date rolled around to head off to boot camp. He had joined the Navy. We ended up getting married while he was home on leave just after boot. I truly believed then that I loved him. I hope I loved him a little to marry him and move to California.
The first couple of months were happy and carefree. I did the little wife bit and decorated the small base apartment we lived in, did the cleaning and cooking and made sure everything was always nice for my husband when he came home every night. The first time his ship got under way it was so hard. I had never, ever lived by myself and I was staring at 2 months, all alone. I had spent so much time working on my house and making sure my husband was happy that I didn't stop to think about friends again. I spent two long months looking for a job to keep myself occupied.
When the ship pulled back in to port and my husband found out I was looking for a job he showed a mean, angry side I had never seen. He didn't physically hurt me then but I've come to learn the mental and emotional abuse can hurt almost as bad.
The base we lived on closed down so we moved to Air Force housing about 20 miles away. By the time we were settled he told me to get a job or get out. I got a job and all seemed OK. I told myself over and over just do what he says and he will be happy with me and life will be OK. Every time I turned around there was some new rule, or else. I couldn't cut my hair. I couldn't loose weight. That one I never understood, most men want their wives to loose weight. I wasn't allowed to. He wanted to keep me chubby so I wouldn't be tempted to find another man or another man wouldn't find me attractive. I couldn't have friends or do anything but work and go home. By the time I realized how stupid I was for staying I realized I was pregnant.
I was torn between staying and putting up with the abuse just so the baby would know his father or running away, not even running home, just away some place we wouldn't be found so the baby would never know his father. I ended up staying and dealing with an even worse temper and his cheating. Oh, he was happy to be a father but it angered him to see me happy being pregnant.
After I had our son he promised he would be nicer and better. We had to move again and when our son was just 4 months old a horrible fight turned into him forcing me to have sex. I don't call it rape anymore, I did give in and he did use a condom, that broke, and resulted in a daughter 8 months later. She came early and the only reason the doctors could think of, besides his constant smoking, was the stress I was under. She was perfectly healthy for being early.
By the time our daughter was a couple months old the physical abuse started and I stayed for another 2 years, living through another move (this time up to Washington State) before I had the means and the courage to leave. He fought me on the divorce, trying to intimidate me to tear up the papers and move back to Washington with him. He, of course, had his parents believing that I was the one in the wrong. He made the mistake of letting his temper come to life in his parents' garage and had me cornered, with a raised fist, when his dad walked in. After that his dad helped me file the divorce papers.
By now I was living with my mom and granny again. I found a great job and was looking for a place to call our own. The kids were growing so fast and I was cowering in the corners of my heart and mind. I put on a false face at work and no one at work knew what my past was like.
For all of my shyness I still craved being around a man and knowing that I was wanted and needed by someone other than my children. I started dating a co-worker that was 7 years younger than me and that was more destructive than my marriage. By the time I realized this I had done so many things I never thought I would. I left the house every night as soon as I put my kids to bed, not even bothering to wait until they were asleep. I thank God every day for my mom putting up with the stupidity I put us all through for almost a year. She never once complained, at least not out loud, about my behaviour and how horrible I was acting.
By the time the "relationship" with the younger guy ended I decided no more men for a very long time. I needed to find out how to be a grown up on my own without someone for me to lean on and rely on. I needed to learn how to rely on myself.
About the time I was really finding out who I was and was finding a level of confidence I never knew I had my company hired another a new guy. I was nice, as was every one else, and said hi to him when I saw him in the halls or outside. Then came 9/11 and as we all sat in the office watching the devastation and chaos unfold on the East Coast this new guy decided he'd had enough of being single and the tragedy of the day had him feeling like he was lost. And asking me out on a date was a way for him to start on whatever path he felt he needed to be on. We went out a couple of times before he asked if I wanted to bring my kids with us one night. I was amazed, the kid I dated had never wanted to even meet them. I suggested dinner at my house for the first time and everything went so well. My kids liked him and he liked them.
Then just a couple of weeks later he scared me by talking about marriage and more babies. We had only dated for 3 weeks. I let him know I wasn't ready to get re-married and I didn't know if I wanted more babies. I broke up with him and he ended up quitting and finding a different job. According to a mutual friend this guy thought he was very much in love with me after only 3 weeks together. It may have been possible but it scared me enough to run and hide under my covers.
I drifted along in my new world of confidence that held the ability to tell people NO when I needed to and was happy. I worked, played softball on a women's team and a co-ed team, I bowled, and I played with my kids.
I overcame the fear of a school diagnostician telling me my son was mentally retarded and would never learn anything. I've had my poor son tested by so many specialists and they have all agreed on one very long diagnosis. He is Autistic, slightly mentally retarded, has Tourette's Syndrome, severe ADHD, and OCD. I told the school principal where she could shove it when she told me I should just put my son in an institution. Come on now, really, what year are we in?
I even overcame the fear of intimacy when I met my husband on a blind date almost 5 years ago. We've been married 4 years now and we did add another baby to our family, we now have 5, hence the Yours, Mine, and Ours title. There are still way too many fears that I have. I keep comparing different milestones in this marriage to my previous marriage and my wonderful husband steers me in the right direction.
He stands by me and holds me when I cry at night because my greatest fear is turning into my Granny. I hated her as much as I loved her. She passed away 9-11-05. I don't want to be as hateful, mean, nasty, spiteful, and horrid as she was. I would have loved to have learned her love of gardening and crocheting and knitting. I kill plants in less than a day and can't crochet even part of a line. I never even tried to knit.
There are days when I can feel anger boiling inside of me because of something one of the kids has done. Then one of them hugs me and I take a deep breath and tell myself that I AM NOT MY GRANNY. I never will be. I love my life, my kids, and my husband. My husband does help keep me grounded, thank god his patience for anything is so high.
Keeping confidence in yourself is one of the hardest things a person can do. Especially for an overweight, staring down middle age, mother of 5. I manage to do it though. I hold my head up high and proud when I'm in a store or out in public. I'm slowly learning not to eat to feel better and I have great friends that have had similar childhood experiences and we are all helping each other.

My Life is Wonderful.


Walker said...

Life is a learning process and sometimes the lessons are harsh.
You ex husband was a bully and a tyrant who wanted to keep you down on purpose.
Forcing you to submit to him is rape in my book and he’s not fit to live outside of a cage.
Leaving him was the best thing you ever done.

Your grandmother sounds a lot like on of mine, my father’s mother.
A real domineering bitch who beat use mercilessly and encourage my parents to do so to and they did.
I don’t even know if she loved us to be honest.
My other grand mother was just plain cool.

I don’t think you will become your grandmother we become who we want to be.
Your ex was an asshole because he wanted to be one.
Your grandmother was what she was because she chose to as you choose to be who you are.
I am happy your life has found the loving path you deserve and it sounds like you life is wonderful

Angel Without Wings said...

Hi Shannon, I was directed here by Walker and I'm so glad I stopped by. What a touching, brave, sad but ultimately happy post!

It sounds like life is finally cutting you a break and you deserve it. I'm glad you got out from under the control freaks in your life that have bullied you into submission.

Your husband sounds like a wonderful man.

Peter said...

Hi Shannon, what a brave lady you are to share those deep personal things about your life, so happy to read that things now seem so much better.
I am also here because Walker asked for some support for you, let me say that if I were only to have one regular reader/commenter I would want it to be Walker.
Hope things continue to improve for you and as Walker said, you will not turn into your granny, just being aware of the need not to will stop that happening.

itisi said...

Hi Shannon, here via Walker! I just got done reading this post! You are to be commended for sharing this with all of us. Some people wouldn't. I think you are a very courageous woman with all that you have been through and having a special needs child on top of everything else.
I am happy that Walker has directed his readers here. I will read you more often now that I know of you.
I am so happy that you have found someone that supports you and holds you when you cry. You will not turn into your grandmother, you are too smart for that. And have a way bigger heart! Take care and I will be back.

jules said...

You sound like you've finally found YOURSELF. What a wonderful accomplishment. The fact that you've found a great husband to boot is icing on the cake.

Susan said...

I am here via Walker,
He is one of my favorite bloggers. I am so glad he directed me this way. Your story was very moving and I am touched by your writing. You must be very strong to have come out of this with such a positive outlook.
Have a great weekend.

Shaz said...

I so love your honesty. I think this is a great medium to release and you have done it bravely and brillantly.

patti_cake said...

Shannon you have overcome so much. You are so lucky you have found Scott. A good man IS hard to find!