Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Ripple Effect

Par-tay at Sanford and Son's house!  WE GOT RIPPLE!
 NO NO NO NO.  Not that kind of Ripple.  You people need a time out.
Start again:  The Ripple Effect

THANK YOU.  Jeebus, you're all so immature.

My version here of The Ripple Effect is the way my childhood abuse affected me, my reactions to it, and how my kid saw my reactions still ongoing into adulthood - and how that affected HIM.

There are so many aspects of this subject that I could explore.  I need to just get this little entry up, and then get back to it.

I've written before about how my sisters and I - we didn't have any role models to learn from as far as raising kids went.  So instead, we all just aimed for the opposite of what happend to US.  Which worked, in a way, because all of our kids are bright and happy and weren't raised in abuse.  Yes yes, applause to US for stopping the abuse at this generation, but did we really?  Because I'm seeing The Ripple Effect in Mike (my son) and while I feel that I did an OUTSTANDING job raising him given the tools I had (a ballpeen hammer and a melon baller, it wasn't easy using THOSE particular tools which is why I say I did a bang-up job) I feel like he is another abuse victim of my parents, a generation removed.

With strangers?  I was a goddamned WARRIOR, I never backed down from any confrontation or situation.  I was a 5'4" bundle of rightious indignation and woe betide the fool who puts me or my child in danger.

With my family (and narc boyfriends), he saw me react with fear, isolation, and running away.  He had no context for that behavior - he didn't know they were learned responses from MY childhood, so he (as children will) assumed that my responses were correct for that situation.  He learned to stress out at slamming doors (even though we NEVER slammed doors, it was always the wind or an accident), he learned how to react with fear and vulnerability.  He saw me do something, and figured that's how you do it.  (like making a buncha U-turns when you drive somewhere, it's just how you get there!)

About the time that testosterone hit his system, he decided that a fear-based response wasn't what he wanted to do, so he decided to become FAR more aggressive and began to react with "great vengeance and furious anger" when cornered.  He is un-learning that at this time (the USMC likes 18-year old guys for just that reason, lottsa anger and testosterone, and they focus it and create a big hammer).

So yes - I never abused that child (besides the whole 'no chocolate for breakfast' thing).  But his responses to stimuli were the same as my own, nonetheless.

You never know how you're gonna screw up your kids, but rest assured, they will tell you :)

We ULBs are teaching the youngers to un-learn these response behaviors at a far younger age than we learned it.  Little by little, maybe we can diminish the number of people who are target bait for these predator nards. 

ULBs:  Leaving caution tape, picks, shovels, flashlights and maps for victims of narcs.


  1. Your son has entered and participated in a Reality that is far beyond your world, Gladys. Or most of our's. OK, "Far Beyond" doesn't capture it-let's just say, "It's different. Very, very different."
    PLEASE get where I'm coming from: Your son is a Combat Vet. That changes up the equation *entirely.* This has not one thing to do with you. His reality has nothing to do with your raising him. Nada. We don't train our kids to go to War. The reality is there *is* no "training" for this, OK?
    Gladys, you "lost" your son years ago. Not by what you did or failed to do, but to the reality of the Military and what happens when one is actively involved in War. Your love for him comes through loud and clear.
    But he's in a world that is so discrete, so incomprehensible from the average, ordinary person from your's, from mine, it's indescribable. You clearly love one another. But the reality is, his closest are those who participated in literal Life and Death situations.
    And civilians don't know that reality: We've not lived that. Experience trumps words any day.
    And thank gawd, the Selective Service etc. ensures we never will. Imma just sayin' if you see N-fleas, please don't make assumptions. Your son has lived in a world where "Fleas" are simply not important.
    In fact, they don't even register our radar.

  2. Thanks, TW - I realize what you say about his military experience is very true. My point above, tho, was more the effects my responses had on Mike when he was a child, 6, 7, 8 years old. Long before the Corps and his tour had an effect.

    It's that stuff that's hard to look back on.

  3. Yeah. That hurts. And it's real.

  4. My kid got dragged through my NFOO's shit long before I realized (accepted?) it was shit. Well into adult hood I just thought that was how families functioned. I even found a man who had basically grown up with the same reality.

    So, yeah, I feel pretty responsible for fucking up my kid. Some how, in spite of my choices, she's turned out to be a kick-ass woman who is also my bestie. Phew! We made it through!

    I didn't know then what I know now so I just have to forgive myself and get over it.

  5. Gladys,
    I hear ya loud and clear. No matter how much we try, try, try not to pass on to our own children the steaming buckets of shite we were handed by our 'parents,' our realities are shaped beyond immediate understanding by those experiences.

    It's a tough nut to crack, this process of figuring out that we hurt, how others hurt us AND trying not to hurt anyone else (esp. our kiddos) while continuing to muddle forward. Sometimes I fail as a parent no matter what I do.

    But... I'm honest with my children about my failings. I ask them to point them out to me so that we can talk about them, I can work on them and we can build better relationships because of those failings. And that, that DOES make all the difference, becuase I'm showing them how to be human, even when I'm broken, and also how to heal.

    That's what I see you doing in this post and in all of the Glory that is Gladys; being honest, even when it doesn't feel nice and even hurts a little bit, in order to be better, do better. And THAT is so far opposite of how we were raised that it isn't even on the same fucking planet.


  6. Gladys, FWIW, it seems to me "ya done good." IMO, to raise a child to become a decent, caring, productive adult human being is the ultimate goal of any not-what-we-had Parent.
    You've accomplished this, Gladys. But I don't know a parent who hasn't focused in on any moment of frustration with their kid or situation in which they wished they'd handled it differently that hasn't felt that guilt.
    *Except* for our's: There's no guilt when you're perfect. Ever notice how EPs always seem to focus on that beat-to-death EP word, "Of course, I wasn't PERFECT." How interesting none of the ULB's ever mention "Perfect." Kids don't need "Perfect." They need unconditional love. The rest is frosting-maybe drippy, maybe outta-the-can frosting, but loaded with unconditional love.
    Your's comes through loud and clear.