If Only She Knew Then What She Knows Now ...
Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Growing up in an alcoholic home, and learning from a codependent parent was a blueprint for my life. I grew up watching what is known as "The Dance" between the love/hate relationship. You know, where you love the sober side of the person, but you hate the addicted side. At the same time, you grow hearing every excuse given by the fear-driven codependent. Things like, "He wouldn't have done or said that if he hadn't been drunk." Little did this 16 year old, pregnant teenage mom know where she was going in this life, but she was sure knew where she'd been.
As part of my own grief recovery work, I knew I had to allow myself to take a deeper look at her, now that she is approaching 60 years, I knew it was time to heal her heart. As you read through the steps she's taken, you may relate with some of what she's been through. If you cannot relate, you are very blessed. No, this isn't some sort of biography of a troubled teen, but the concepts of what recovery did for her might just raise an eyebrow. Her testimony may allow you to look inside of your own heart to see, relate and discover how grief comes in to play. How, if not healed, grief can lead you down a very dark pathway.
You see, I sat down one day after coming across this old photograph of my younger self, and I thought, like most of us do, 'If only she knew then, what she knows knows now' would life be different for her? Who knows, because none of us are capable of changing the past.
If you look closely, you may see a hint of happiness in her eyes as she is anticipating the birth of her first daughter. She had so many things she wanted to give her, do for and with her, but mostly she wanted her to have a home where both parents got along, loved one another, and there would be no addictions or violence to make her feel afraid. As with most young couples, money was tight and the bills were always due with little left over to lavish the young daughter with all the things she had hoped to give her.
Now look a little closer and you'll see the sadness in her eyes as well. This photograph was taken at her baby shower. Most of her friends from high school had deemed her a tramp, and labled her with all sorts of horrible names. They encouraged her to just get rid of it, and told her she was ruining her life. Yet she finished high school but wasn't able to walk across the stage like the rest of her class. Senior prom night was not as she had hoped for as the car load of friends drove by her tiny apartment and yelled, "LOSER!"
No, I am not having a pity party, I am expressing how words can hurt. You see I carried those words for many years. Sadly, I believed them for far too long. You see, what she didn't realize was the weight she carried called, Abandonement. Her biological father went off the deep end before she was born, and was a raging alcoholic. She didn't even know him, but was born into a house filled with a grieving mother, and three grieving sisters. All feeling the depth of grief of having their family ripped apart over his affair, leaving their home, school, friends and family. Her mother packed everyone up and left New York and headed to Texas. There was no going back and they all felt the impact of abandonement. We all felt like orphans in some way ...
Deep grief can lead to anger, and I for one, certainly learned quickly how anger can be used as a shield. I was molested at age 4 and shortly afterwards, I was diagonosed with grief. You see, it was the perfect storm for a four year old who couldn't verbalize her inner feelings. A lot was happening then as I'll explain. Now that my mom was working a full time job, it was up to others to care for me while she worked. I had been passed around to a few of my aunts, a few neighbors, and my older sisters. Part of what I look back and piece together is that I was grieving my mother. There was no consistant care giver as every few months, the caregivers changed and the new roles, and routines I had to learn was a vicious cycle. I was placed in a child care center and yet, I didn't know how to play with children my age. I fought with them a lot and the inner tough, and angry girl emerged.
I believe the anger stemmed from seeing all the other kids with both a mother and a father. Hearing the other kids talk about their dads taking them to the park, to go swimming, to the movies and so many other activities. I wanted a dad too, but little did I realize, the one that would soon arrive would be nothing like the stories I'd heard from the other children.
The time came when a new man came into our lives. Two of the four girls were married, and left home by now. This man was also a raging alcoholic. The beatings and verbal abuse created a living hell that no child should endure. Fear was a part of our daily lives as we learned to tiptoe around on egg shells to avoid the bombs from exploding. So, my starting point was that I had to begin to heal a lot of trauma in that four year old girl. She was carrying around guilt, shame, fear, anger, and was also trying to please everyone around her as she yearned for some inner peace, happiness, and normality in her life. Instead, she and her older sister listened to the screams as he beat their mother behind closed doors.
He left with his rage, and we both would tend to our mom's wounds and reassure her that everything would be okay. Little did we know, we were tranferring that same codependent spirit into our lives. We thought this was normal. Yet we each had formed different ways to escape the madness. She threw herself into her art work, and became an extremely talented artist. I threw myself in to horses. We had horses behind us in a field, and I would often stand at the fence and just talk to them, They seemed to have an uncanny way of listening, and offering comfort.
Being diagnosed with grief at the age of four years, due to vomiting spells that would make her pass out after the dry heaves set in. Yet, after the diagnosis, there was no counseling, play therapy, or medication given other than Peptobismal for the vomiting. The roots grew deeper as time passsed for her. She was living in home and enduring alcoholic rages, and the verbal abuse was ripping out her inner soul. She was called 'Worthless - Idiot - Fat - Lazy - Stupid' - and some of the most vulgar profanity no child should ever hear. She rarely heard that she was pretty, beautiful, or smart.
By the time she was seven years old, she found this photograph of herself as a baby. It was the day the family left New York and headed to Texas. Words can never express the pain that was seared into my soul as I read the words, "UNWANTED" My mom was quick to say that I was wanted, but she had taken these photos to try and hurt my father who chose the other woman. That was the day I was told about my half sister who was three months younger than me. I now knew the rest of the story but it didn't ease my brokenness. I felt u