Category Archives: Part 1 Abandonment

First Chapter

Childhood Conditioning-Abandoned

I’m a product of childhood conditioning. My parents met at a dance hall in Pocatello, Idaho in 1937. Mother came from humble beginnings, growing up on a farm in the small, Southeastern Idaho community of Downey. To escape the drudgery of farm labor, one Saturday a month, she and her girlfriends made the hour-long trek […]

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On my journey discovered that I was a survivor. I don’t have clear memories of ever being told I was bad, but I think I somehow translated my childhood experiences into a self-concept that different meant being bad. Heading toward adulthood,  I first ran from my differences, and then shoved gears into reverse and ran to them, always pushing myself so I wouldn’t be left behind or left out. Along the way, I uncover a duality deep within my being.

Partially accepting the imprint from my mother, I sometimes assume a woman-as-victim role, which I play out many times. The other side shows up as some version of a girl warrior with the mental picture from my inner being of a little girl in diapers who stands spread-legged with boxing gloves on, challenging whomever or whatever, saying, “Put up your dukes.” The size and attire of the girl/woman changes over the years but the image exemplifies a strong sense of determined survival in direct contrast to the victim role.

What I know now:

  • That duality accompanied me through adulthood, along with a powerful feeling that I would always be protected and guided.
  • However, it took many years before I could connect that sense to any spiritual model or belief system.

If you would care to make a comment, or if you have a personal experience to share, please fill in the comment section below. You may be assured of confidentiality.

Stay tuned. Next episode: “Untethered”

My childhood home was godless, devoid of any religious sustenance.  Both of my parents had been raised in devout Mormon homes, but that religion wasn’t practiced in their adult life. However, my mother made a half-hearted attempt to expose my brother and me to that religion by sending us to Sunday school. The weekly excursions to the LDS Third Ward had no connection to any parts of my life, and as soon as I could wiggle out of going, I ceased making the two-block trek. I don’t recall talking to my brother about it so I don’t know what his reactions were—however, neither of us became Mormons.

I brushed up against Catholicism and Christianity by sporadic attendance to services with a friend, Catholic, my aunt, Central Christian.

I remained unchurched until well into my forties. I gradually picked up dribs and drabs of spiritual food wherever I could. The concepts of Spirit and “Higher Power” didn’t solidify for me until my introduction to them through attending 12-step meetings—Adult Children of Alcoholics and Al-Anon—that I attended while in graduate school in Philadelphia and later still, the Science of Mind, a New Thought spirituality.

During the next twenty-five years, through three states, another country, the deaths of my parents, and reunification with my daughters, I bounced back and forth between the Unity and Unitarian faiths.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself in the telling of my story. I must weather multiple spring rains, droughts, and floods before I am able to develop beliefs and practices of my own that will fulfill my spiritual quest.

What I’ve come to realize is that:

  • Mom and Dad didn’t deliberately deprive me of God. By sending me to Sunday school, Mother was attempting to expose me to religion/God the only way she knew how.
  • In that thwarted effort, I ended up having an important part of my growing self neglected.

God enters by a private door into each individual. – R. Waldo Emerson

Stay tuned. Next episode: “Survivor.”

 

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A child who is not loved by her parents will always assume herself to be unlovable rather than see the parents as deficient in their capacity of love. –Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

           My sense of not belonging to my family continues to grow. From puberty to when I leave home at age nineteen, whenever Mother gets frustrated with me, she says, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you be like everyone else?” So many incidents rattle her sensibilities and evoke her chant that it’s hard to remember them all. At the time, I don’t understand what she means. I think of myself as a good girl. I am obedient, do my chores, work hard in school, and never talk back.

My feelings of not belonging are reinforced by my father. I have clear memories, before I reached puberty, of trying to crawl onto his lap and being pushed away, not with malice, but definitely rejecting. Unlovable. If I close my eyes, I can still see him sitting in his chair, feet propped up on the footstool, even smell the smoke from his cigarette smoldering in the ashtray on the end table, mingled with the faint odor of beer.  

            Later, when I would ask Mother if I could do something, go somewhere, buy an item, she’d say, “Go ask your dad.” This was her always-thwarted attempt at drawing him into the parenting role, because each time I’d ask him, he responded with a resounding “No.”

“But why, Daddy?”

“Because I say so, that’s why.” My needs, requests, wishes—all—not wanted.

Over and over, I think, and sometimes say, “Excuse me for taking up space,” or “Pardon me for living,” turning my existence into a walking cliché.

What I’ve come to realize is that:

  • My mother lived in an era when girls didn’t have many choices, especially farm girls without goals or aspirations. I don’t think she saw me as a threat, but rather, a reminder of what was unattainable for her.
  • My father wasn’t rejecting me but rather the feminine. He’d had a cold mother, a wife who nagged him, and a daughter who wanted something he couldn’t give.

If you would care to make a comment, or if you have a personal experience to share, please fill in the comment section below. You may be assured of confidentiality.

Stay tuned. Next episode: “Unchurched.”