I’m sitting here trying to think about how my life was before mental health disorders became an issue. I remember being very young and watching scary episodes in my family play out before my eyes. I was scared and sensed there was danger so I just stayed clear and pretended I was sleeping while chaos ensued around me.
I had an interesting childhood, a very loving and devoted Mom and five siblings. Four of them were a lot older than me, and graduated or were in high school when I was born. My parents had a loving marriage before reality crashed in and my Dad found someone else. That time in my life was heart breaking and unpredictable, as I was sent to stay with my Dad and his new family that belonged to his girlfriend. I seen and heard things I didn’t want to know about.
Alcoholism was predominant in my family tree at that time. So I saw adults behaving badly fighting, cursing, and other drunken behavior. I never saw that with my Mom. She was very religious, honored God, and we went to church every Sunday with her. Every second weekend I would be in the middle of these drunken debauchery nights and feel so confused. I would wake up on the Sunday and there would be no church.
At first the thought of sleeping in was exciting to me but there was always work, and plenty of it. My Dad was raised to believe that idle hands were the Devils workshop. So if he had to work then so did his kids. We had chores to help out with the household and other outside ones. My favorite thing to do was help my Dad in the garage working on his logging truck.
I would spend hours with him cleaning the cab, greasing the axles, and operating the tire gun. I loved those times because we would talk and the stereo would be blasting Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, and George Jones. He loved the old classic country and I would entertain him with my singing and dancing to Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy.
I was only four when my parents separated and I was your proverbial people pleaser, trying to make them both happy. My Mom’s heart was broken as she tried to pick up the pieces of her failed marriage and move on and raise my sister and I. I was her friend and confidant helping her through and remaining loyal and steadfast. She suffered from anxiety and depression throughout my whole life.
I always prayed to God to give me a magic wand like the a fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and make her fears disappear. My Dad had told me he just wanted to be happy so he chose a different life with a different family. This was something that was very difficult for me to except, but I really tried for my Dad’s sake. I think this is where these adult situations gave birth to my anxiety. A monkey on my back today that I still have to control.
I never planned on having to make everyone happy, but somehow I felt like it was my job. What was life like before my parents separated? I have no clue, I was too young to remember. I have a few memories and some involved traveling , visit my Grandparents, and meeting lots of different people. My Dad and his girlfriend were in the process of building a house so there was always people coming and going. My brothers helped with the construction, my brother in-law with the electrical wiring, concrete mixers and painters.
I still remember placing my hands and carving my initials in the cement. Before I knew what divorce meant at five, I was a product of it. My parents never officially did that paperwork, it just felt the same as if they did. My Dad never did remarry as my Mom wouldn’t grant him a divorce. Yet they both moved on, my Mom found solace with raising us and being devoted to her church.
My Dad worked a lot and took us traveling to the United States. I’ve seen the open skies of Montana, driven Route 66, had my hands, feet, and legs in all four corners, and spent time wishing upon a star in Disneyland. I look back fondly on those family vacations with a smile. My Mom never got amazing trips like this so I always made it a big deal to find her a souvenir. I remember when we would make phone calls home to her, how lonely and sad she sounded. My Mom’s children were her life.
My oldest siblings were old enough to have their own lives and two were living on their own, and two still in high school. So having my middle sister and I filled up that void she felt with the empty nest syndrome. There was happiness coupled up with the confusion, and I spent a lot of time with both sets of Grandparents.
Before I was even six years old I knew what the classic black and white movies were, how to plant and maintain a garden, and every tune of an Irish song lovingly sung by my Mom and Gram. I still remember hearing stories of the old country(Ireland and Scotland) and how my Great Grandparents came over to start a new life after surviving hardships in their countries.
What was their life like before they ventured to take a boat to the new world of New York and later Western Canada? I often pondered this in my head as I read stories of Charles Dickens. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from my parents discussions of my ancestors. Knowing I come from people that are so resilient, has had me rely a lot more on my intuition then people’s versions of the truth.
This has served me well from the past to my present. Today I work through my own mental health issues and my children’s, keeping mindful of who I was before, and who I am today. That scared little girl who loved to sing and dance grew up to love to write, and express herself authentically. And if there’s anything I learned in my childhood was be true to myself before trying to please others.
This is my Sunday confession to Ash’s www.morethancheeseandbeer.com. Today’s prompt was the word before and I chose to write about my childhood. Please check out her Sunday confessions on her Facebook page, and all the other talent that link up. Thank you. ?