Unreasonable Fear

I grew up fearing African Americans and before you judge me as a racist, read my story.

When I was in Junior High School, schools became integrated. The African American students would stand in large groups blocking the sidewalk daring whites to try to get though them. I avoided the sidewalk. There was a small girl named Sharon who started making fun of me and I did my best to ignore her. I was not that outcast who gets bullied, I was fortunate to have many friends both male and female.

One day as I was walking to my friend’s house after school, a large group of African American students formed a circle around me. I was petrified because it was obvious that something was about to happen. Sharon moved to the center of the circle and started taunting me. She kept saying, “Push me!” over and over. I just stood still knowing that what usually happened in these situation was that if I made a move, the whole group would jump in and attack me. Another reason I wouldn’t make a move besides trying to avoid having my ass kicked was that I was appalled at girls or women fighting though I have to admit that I was a closet bully toward my sister. Luckily, one of the girls who was walking with us lived in the house in front of which I was confronted. Her mother came out and chased the group away. To be honest, I was petrified. I believe this happened because I was the only one small enough for Sharon to pick on.

Moving forward, where my friends and classmates might kid around with African American bully students, I wasn’t friendly or unfriendly toward them which was probably a downfall. In high school, a very large African American girl named Mary grabbed my windbreaker and ripped it off me which was not an easy feat. I said nothing. A small African American girl would tell me things like how she dreamed that my boyfriend’s car would get stuck on a railroad track and he would be killed. One night my best friend’s twin brother was beat with a baseball bat in the boy’s locker room after a baseball game by a group of African American students. I was friendly with some African American students but was still easily intimidated.

I had good experiences when I went into community college with fellow African American students so I started to get past my fear. Unfortunately, when I worked for a police department two African American co-workers claimed racial discrimination because I was transferred to the day watch and her friend was transferred to my previous watch in a move to separate the two friends in hopes of increasing productivity. Since I filled in a lot for people in key positions, it was considered a highly beneficial move by administration. I became stonewalled by the other clerical staff and when I asked someone why, they told me they could not go against these two girls and implied that they were afraid.

Because it was so painful to be ostracized, I requested to remain on my previous watch. The Sgt. was not happy because he told me that I was allowing myself to be bullied. The personnel manager and supervisory staff called a meeting of the clerical staff and a letter was read that one of the girls had written citing favoritism because I was white. They were upset because our administrative Sgt. used my work examples as the quality of work everyone should be putting out. In fairness, I had education and experience that was not the norm for the position. I took the job because it was something I always wanted to do. I never had to defend myself in this meeting because first of all the personnel manager offered to do some testing if they really wanted to know who was the best typist etc. Then one of my supervisors pointed out that I had been transferred from department to department continually and had never complained. There was no discrimination and it became clear in that meeting. After that meeting, things got back on a friendly basis because I didn’t hold a grudge. Shortly thereafter, one of the girls who caused the problem was fired for selling criminal records.

I worked a temp to perm job for a very difficult African American woman. She supervised six white Insurance Agents who had their own agency offices. She referred to them as “my white boys.” When I could no longer put up with her crude and rudeness, I quit though she begged me to stay. She made me uncomfortable by complimenting my looks in a creepy manner. An African American woman who had previously worked for her called me one day and wanted me to help her on her reverse discrimination suit. I declined. The agency had placed temp after temp in this woman’s office because no one would stay but I didn’t want the drama. I could have reported her for her racist remarks but I just wanted out.

These are prime examples of bullying yet I never recognized it as such until now. I saw it as being the target of anger for a past I had no part in. It is possible that these bullies were influenced by anger passed down from generation to generation and I did feel the fear that their forebears felt at being bullied by white slave lords. However, what purpose did any of it serve? It just repeated the same dance in reverse and did not solve anything for either side.

What I am learning today is that I cannot blame an entire race for the actions of some just as I am tired of being blamed for something I was not responsible for. We all just need to stop and do some deep reflection. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by the hate groups and the support of their actions by the media putting it in our faces over and over again.

What if we just turned off our televisions in protest of being fed negativity hour after hour, day after day? What if  we stop looking at social media for a few days and depend on our own reflections? Its not like we haven’t seen enough to know what is out there. We are all being manipulated! Lets just stand up for ourselves and say, “Enough” at least for now and let things calm down.

PEACE AND LOVE

 

 

A Woman’s Choice

You probably think I am writing about abortion but that’s not what is on my mind today or is it?
I am writing about women choosing a man over their  child. Again, I am not talking about abortion though often it would have been a better choice. I have seen it, read it and heard it over and over again…a child tells their mother that her boyfriend or husband abused or molested them and you would expect her to become protective of her child and take action against the man, wouldn’t you? But what she does all too often is to go into denial or even turn against her child, calling them a liar.

Why? Because she is desperate to have a man. Why? Because family and society said she had to depend emotionally on a man or because she is as addicted to this guy as if he were a drug. So this child who believed his mother loved him or at least cared what happens to him, is dumped on other family members or into the foster care system. He’s thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.

That’s if the mother hasn’t joined in the fun. When she does, the child lives from day to day wishing someone would see him, really see his pain inside and out. If they tell, they will have no one or at least that is what they believe.

Would it have been better if they had not been born? That is what that child thinks they want…never to have been born.

So You Think You’ve Escaped Alcoholism

2592So you think you’ve escaped alcoholism, not a chance. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be effected by alcoholism.

Alcoholism affects everyone who comes in contact with an alcoholic. It could be a parent, a sibling, a relative, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, husband, wife, friend, child, or a co-worker. That is why Ala-non, is a support group for families and friends of alcoholics not just families of alcoholics. You may not have the disease but I can say that you have the ism’s  without ever having met you.

It is said that alcoholism is a family disease and I believe it with all my heart. I grew up in an alcoholic home. Why do I call it an alcoholic home? Does that mean that all my family members were alcoholics? No, our home revolved around my alcoholic mother because her actions or in-actions affected every one of us. Our emotional make-up developed around coping with her drinking and the effect it had on us. I like to see my mother as having alcoholism rather than as an alcoholic but it is my habit to use the term alcoholic which is unfortunately a label. She grew up in an alcoholic home just like I did.  I have the utmost love and strive to understand because but for the grace of God, go I. As alcoholism is said to be genetic, I could have followed in her footsteps. I am lucky, I don’t like the taste of alcohol and yet I am unlucky in that I don’t like not having control. Why is that unlucky? Because I have to fight the tendency to control everything around me to ensure that it doesn’t give me that feeling of not having control over my life and to avoid the helpless feelings I had growing up. I also believe it is a learned behavior, we do what we know and alcoholism is what we know.

That is why even though you think you have escaped the parent or ex, you are wrong. You were affected and I can prove it.

Do you have problems with authority figures?e75f70e61261afa370d84fcbf1da6be7

Do you have problems getting along with others?

Do you have control issues?

Is your relationship picker broken?

Are you hyper-vigilant?

Do you fight depression?

Do you lack confidence?

Are you an under or over achiever?

Are you a people-pleaser?

Are you a care taker?

Are you a fixer?

There are many other symptoms but I’m sure you get it and you know which one of these have developed in you.

In my work as a Crisis Call Counselor, I could pretty much bet that regardless of the crisis, the conversation would eventually reveal that the caller had been affected by alcoholism, either theirs or someone in their past or present life. I consider alcoholism an “emotional” disease because it can bring about anger, sadness, depression, resentment, etc. in the alcoholic or those affected by a person’s drinking. The reason persons affected by another person’s drinking are considered to be co-dependent is that while the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, the affected person is addicted to the alcoholic. I have had so many friends, boyfriends and a husband who were addicted to alcohol and in the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know there was a problem. It’s like a magnet! I have friends in Ala-non who say it is because alcoholics are charismatic and exciting. Perhaps we see something in their personalities that we wish we had.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I’m not with him/her any more, so I don’t need Ala-non.” I have thought that myself but I always end up going back because my ism’s become overwhelming. This post is not meant to advertise or push Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics, yet it is what I know so I do highly recommend them. Just like the person with alcoholism, only you can decide that you need help and what support is best for you. I have been told, “When it hurts bad enough, you will get help.”

“Co-dependent No More” by Melody Beattie is a really good book for understanding the effects of alcoholism. I read this book like a person dying of thirst drinks water. It told me that I was not crazy and there was hope.

People addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will to try to convince others that it is your fault, don’t take it on. Think 3 C’s – You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you can’t cure it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of, alcoholism in you or someone else is not your fault but it is your responsibility. If you are afraid of the alcoholic becoming angry because you are seeking help, 12 step support groups are anonymous as is therapy. If you go to a meeting or see a therapist and you are not comfortable with the environment or personalities, try another meeting or therapist. There are many meetings and therapists available. If you are in a remote area, I understand that there are meetings online. Just do an Internet search of Ala-non or Adult Children of Alcoholics. There are two daily readers, One Day at a Time in Ala-non and Courage to Change that are utilized by Ala-Non. I find ODAT (nickname) useful when you are in a relationship with an alcoholic and Courage to Change is a good all-around book. I mostly use Courage to Change and it seems to be a favorite among recovering Ala-Non’s. Before using these books, it would be helpful to do some research on alcoholism. People active in Ala-Non attend open AA meetings to learn what the person with alcoholism experiences.

I have tortured my mother all my life by trying to get answers or justifications.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you are not alone. Everything you have experienced, someone else has experienced. It helps to talk with other people who are experiencing the same thing or who have been there and survived.

There is always hope.

 

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Three and Final

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      So the drinking binges at Margaret and Doug’s house continued and my sister and I continued to resent them. Once, I wanted to send mom a rose with a note on my birthday but I was living in the city at that time and it was going to cost too much to have it delivered. I called Margaret and asked her if she would pick it up and give it to mom and she said she would be glad to. I called in the order and Margaret picked it up and called mom over to her house. She even took a picture of mom as she cried when she saw the rose and read the card. She wrote me a note about mom’s reaction and I have kept and cherish that note. I loved Margaret so much and wished I could wake her up to reality but I, like so many others, stayed out of it. At that time in my life, I would never have crossed that line because it would have been highly inappropriate. I don’t know that I could prevent myself from approaching Margaret today. My parents loved Margaret and they had been through so much together and I believe that my m0ther’s secret about her father wouldn’t allow her to judge . Is that that why she stood by Margaret and by association, Doug?

     Mom and Gayle went by Margaret and Doug’s for drinks one evening and after they left, things got really dicey. I am not sure of all the details but Doug was drunk and there was an argument between Doug and Margaret’s oldest adopted son, Terry, in their front yard. Doug went into the house and got a gun and it was taken away from him by whom, I don’t recall.  Doug went back into the house and got another gun and pointed it at Terry. Margaret moved in front of Terry and Doug shot the gun hitting Margaret and killing her. He got another shot off and hit Terry whether it was before or after he shot Margaret, I don’t know. Terry lived and when he recovered, he left town and would not respond to his family’s attempts to locate him. Doug went to jail and after serving his sentence was released. Sadly the house went to him as Margaret’s husband, not her children. How ironic that was.

     It hurts to this day to think about the loss to Margaret’s biological children, her adopted children, her immediate family…my family, me… When I returned home after my divorce, my mom and I joined a church that was across the street from the house where Maggie died. After a while, I got used to seeing it and it began to blend into the background but Margaret will forever live in my heart. The thing is, as humans we all make mistakes, some more serious than others. Margaret was a victim of the heart, the heart wants what it wants and she was too vulnerable to see where her choices were taking her and to realize that she was taking everyone who loved her along on her tragic journey.

     Alcohol was a contributing factor to the tragedy that became Margaret’s life. When I am asked why I don’t drink alcohol, my answer is that alcohol has caused so much pain in my life. I was born lucky in that I hate the taste of alcohol and while it played a big part in my single life, it has no place in my life today. We have friends and family who drink alcohol and attend events where it is served, however, we don’t keep or offer alcohol in our home. My sister and I were hopeful that our mother would stop drinking or at least cut down after Margaret died but for her it just wasn’t that simple.

*I have changed the names of those involved in this story even though it was a very long time ago. There are lessons to be learned from this story so if it helps one person to see the truth in themselves, it will have been worth the telling. I leave it up to the reader as to what they take away from the reading of it.

 

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part Two

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     Margaret got her new house and though it didn’t seem much larger than the old one, I’m sure getting away from the memories of the old house was a relief.

     I wish I could say that life improved for Maggie but while she might have thought she was on a good path, she made a very large mistake. She became desperate to prove that she was desirable to men. She started dressing provocatively and going out with one man after another. She finally settled on a merchant marine.  I found him to be creepy and couldn’t understand why my parents would have anything to do with him. My mother’s explanation was that they put up with Doug for Maggie’s sake but I think they just didn’t want to see what a useless creep he really was. Maggie’s biological children were adults and had their own families by then but her five adopted children were still at home. Margaret married Doug and he moved into the house with her and her adopted children.

     There was a lot of heavy drinking in that house and my mother and Gayle got into a habit of going by there after work to “have a drink”. Maggie and Doug lived in the same town where my mother worked. We had moved to another town a short distance away and had to drive to their town or another one for groceries etc. My mother would often go to the “grocery store” after work and then go to their house and drink. It was very frustrating for my sister and I because we would have to track mom down if we needed permission to do anything. We felt lonely and abandoned waiting for her to come home and when she got home, she was usually drunk.

     Reading my stories would make it easy to put my family and family friends into a “white trash” category but they weren’t. The fallacy of this kind of dysfunction is that it doesn’t happen to decent people. Not true. If you follow my blog, my hope is that you will see that dysfunctional families often don’t know that they are becoming dysfunctional or are dysfunctional because their lifestyle is no different from those in their social circle. It’s kind of like, “If its o.k for them, its o.k. for us.”

     Eventually, one of the Maggie’s adopted girls told her school officials that Doug had been molesting her. The other girls were questioned and at least one other, maybe two admitted that he had molested them as well. When she was notified, Maggie called the children liars and Children’s Protective Services split the children between her biological son and daughter. This is a woman who I loved and spent so much time with, who was as much a part of my life as my own parents. How could she do this to her kids? How could she choose that asshole over her kids? Why couldn’t she see who he was or why didn’t she want to see what he was? It hurt.

     When I worked for a police department, I saw first hand that women will betray their children so often to hold on to a man. I don’t need to tell you that though, do I? Constantly we read or hear in the news about the boyfriend or the stepfather physically or sexually abusing the children or even worse, killing them. Yes, I know that women do it also but it is different. Men don’t have the same desperation to have a woman be a part of their life as women have a desperation to have a man in their life, its ingrained into women. Our mothers push and prod to get us married and have children and if we want more, if it isn’t a priority, then there is something wrong with us. Yes, we are progressing but not entirely. There are those who do not have parents encouraging and supporting their need to become individuals before they become a wives and mother. Those women can easily fall into the get married, have kids and struggle mentality, after all, that is what we are supposed to do. Some religious zealots believe it is our sole purpose based on bible teachings.

     Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents had a big party for family and friends. That year, my brother, sister, sister-in-law and I could not believe that my parents allowed Margaret to bring Doug to the party. He tried to talk to me but I excused myself and walked away. The next day I asked my parents why they invited him and told them how I felt when he was around. I will never forget my dad saying, “He would never do anything to my daughters.” Hello Dad, is anyone in there? He would molest Margaret’s children but not yours? Was my dad that naive or did he just feel guilty for exposing me to Doug in the first place? Needless to say, I felt angry that my feelings were dismissed so easily. My dad did not know that I had ever been molested because my mother never told him.

     Margaret’s daughters missed her and and it being Christmas…they told Children’s Protective Services that they lied so they could go back home. One of the daughters was in my computer class at the community college and she told me that they didn’t lie, they just wanted to go home. I didn’t ask any questions, I just let her talk as she told me what they went through with Doug. By then Margaret was dead.

Continued Part Three

 

 

Dramatic Exits – A True Story Part One

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     The phone rang sometime in the middle of the night. Our parents came to our bedroom and told us that Nate had shot himself and they were going to the hospital. Neither my sister nor I had any reaction whatsoever, we were neither sad nor surprised.

     After our parents left for the hospital, we talked about our lack of surprise and emotion being because there was always some kind of drama associated with Nate and Margaret. Maggie and Nate were my parent’s best friends. My sister and I were very close to Maggie and loved her as we would a favorite aunt.  Nate doted on my sister and I thought she was attached to him but she confided that the older she got, the less comfortable she felt around him. I, too, had grown less and less fond of him as I got old enough to be wary of the behaviors of adults. Still, Nate and Maggie always treated us like we were their own children. They had two of their own close to my brother’s and my ages and our families were very close. It was always as if they belonged in our extended family and we in theirs. We visited with Maggie’s parents and younger siblings in rural east Texas where they lived in a small house with an outhouse. Everyone called her mother “Big Mama”, even though she was small, most likely because she “ruled the roost”. Big Mama and Maggie  were both freckle-faced with reddish hair, had wonderful laughs and were very loving. Every morning, Big Mama would cook up a big breakfast with bacon, eggs, homemade biscuits and cold fresh milk. When we were in east Texas, we would also visit Nate’s mother who was a tall stoic woman but the visits were confined to an hour or two.

     Nate was possessive and controlling not only of his wife and children but of my mother as well which always made me feel uncomfortable. At times when they were all drinking, most often with another couple in their group, there would be arguments started by Nate or Joe, our previous next door neighbor. Nate would act as my mother’s protector even from my father always making me feel unstable. Joe also interfered in my parent’s marriage, always kept tabs on my mother and I can recall him playing tattle tale to my dad. All of this chaos disturbed me especially as I have always been hyper-vigilant, feeling a need to know everything going on around me in order to stay safe.

     My dad was raised in the Church of Christ and his family were devout members. My mother joined the faith when she married my dad. It was attractive to her as her father was an alcoholic and Church of Christ did not allow drinking or much of anything else. Things for me went to “hell in a hand-basket when my parents met Nate and Maggie and Joe and Gayle. My parents started drinking and there were too many late nights with our parents getting drunk, flirting and getting loud and obnoxious. I was uncomfortable with the couples dancing with each others’ wives and husbands. There were times when the men would want to dance with me which really made me uncomfortable.  I look back now and realize that even as an adult, I was uncomfortable with older men possibly related to my grandfather’s sexual abuse. The parents would sometimes put the kids to bed at whatever house we gathered and often left us over night. Sometimes my parents would put my brother, sister and I in the car as they were getting ready to leave and left us there for what seemed to us like hours most likely thinking we would fall asleep. I always imagined that terrible things happened in the house while we were in the car and they were in the house because their behavior frightened me. I didn’t like it at all. I was hyper-vigilant as a child and still am in adulthood. I got through a lot of my life by using daydreaming as an escape.

     Maggie’s brother and sister-in-law were killed in an automobile accident and they had five surviving children. Nate talked Maggie into adopting the five kids. Mom says it was to tie Maggie down to the house because he was jealous of her job working as a dental assistant. Their house was too small for their two children (a boy and a girl) and the addition of  three girls and two boys but there wasn’t enough money to buy a larger house. They argued about how overtaxed they were quite often and one night it got really heated. Nate told Maggie that he would take care of things seeing that she had a bigger house. He went into the garage and shot himself in the head leaving her to raise seven kids alone.

Continued Part Two