In my quest to improve myself, I have come across another blogger, Peregrinerose, who is dealing with determining how her “psyche, experiences, history, etc. contributed to choosing a life as a sex addict codependent.” I had to use her words there because they are perfect. That is what I would really like to do as well.
She is working through some questions from a book by Mic Hunter, and was kind enough to email me a digital copy of the questions that he proposes the spouses of sex addicts ask themselves. There are 100 of them. I may or may not spare you my answers to them all. We’ll see how lucky you are. The first one is:
How would you describe your relationships with your parents and other family members as you were growing up? Generally speaking, were these relationships characterized by feelings of: Love? Fear? Warmth? Anger?
A hard one right off the bat, huh? Okay. Here goes…
Maybe this is a great place to start for me. One particular phrase from the S-Anon “Problem” has always stumped me. It reads, “Most of us grew up in families with secrets, and we were not taught to think about our own needs and take positive action to meet them.” I don’t really think that is true for me. At least in all my thinking I have never been able to identify with that.
My Mom taught me to think about my needs. She always talked through things with me. I felt loved and supported by her. My family also didn’t really have a lot of secrets, at least not that I know of. My grandma is an alcoholic, but I don’t remember that being a secret. We talked about it openly as a family, especially as she was struggling (a few falls while drunk, one of which put her in the hospital near death, a few car wrecks, etc.) and when she went into alcoholics anonymous to start her recovery. She is now 13 years sober.
Back to the actual question at hand… As I was growing up I would describe my relationships with my parents and other family members as close. Both of my parents were very involved. Most, if not all, of our extended family lived close by. I remember regular visits to both sets of grandparents, and having lots of family time with aunts, uncles, and cousins. I would spend weekends or even whole weeks with either my Nanny and Papa on my Dad’s side at the beach or with my Ma and Pa on my Mom’s side at their horse farm.
My Mom stayed home with us kids. We were all home-schooled, me for the longest. I remember my Mom working very hard on her lesson plans. I still remember the stick figure puppet things she used to teach me my numbers and sounds. We went to story-time at the library every week, sometimes more often. She would get all of the Newbery Metal winning books and read them to us, like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (an amazing book). One of my favorite memories to this day is her reading The Cay to my brother, sister, and I on the couch at home. She did all of the voices (one main character had an accent), and I can still picture the way the story came to life in my mind.
My Dad was the sole bread-winner. I know that he worked very hard to provide for us. We never had the best, newest, or most expensive thing but we had a lot. More than a lot, really. My Mom designed our house and they build it (not with their own hands, but my Dad did do some of the work) on a gorgeous 10-acre piece of land. It was “in the country” enough that our neighbors were spaced out, but close enough to “town” that I went to one of the best public high schools in the state. We were also only about 35-40 minutes or so outside of our state’s capital.
My Dad wasn’t one of those workaholic fathers, though. He worked regular hours (early mornings, but no late nights and no weekends). He attended every single one of my events. He was the loudest one cheering for me at softball. He was the president of the choral boosters club, calling bingo every week to raise funds. He played with us a lot – letting us ride him like a pony when we were really young, playing catch in the yard with us as we got older, and supporting the things that we loved. My parents gave me and my brother and sister everything they could and more.
I think back to those times growing up and wonder how they did it. One income. Three kids. A nice house, lots of land. We had 3 horses and a pony. Sure, three of them came from my grandparent’s farm, but they were not given away for free to us. My Mom and Dad both spent a lot of time with me looking for my first horse, too. We visited farms, talked to owners, test-rode several, and found the perfect one – Petey, an American Quarter Horse.
I took horseback riding lessons, gymnastics, played softball, sang in the chorus (and went on all of their trips, which weren’t cheap), and I wasn’t the only one. My brother played sports, too, and was in the high school band. He got a drum set one birthday or Christmas that was set up in the corner of our living room. My sister tried one thing after another – violin, softball, art. Not a lot of it stuck, but they never told her not to try something she was interested in. Her real passion was animals. She had a crazy cat, bunnies, a dog, and she adopted the pony that started off as mine, Blue, even though she wasn’t interested in riding him. When I started school (and when my brother started), we were in a private school. I don’t know how much it cost, but it couldn’t have been cheap.
Lest you think we were rich or something… Did I mention that my Dad isn’t a doctor or lawyer or physicist? He is a machinist. It’s not working at Wal-Mart, but it isn’t raking in the cash, either. We never had a new car. The ones we did have were reliable and safe, but never beautiful (Cheesy 80’s van? Check!). We shopped the clearance racks. My Mom sewed us some dresses, we didn’t buy a lot of new things, we did a lot of crafts and outside activities. My Dad taught us how to balance a checkbook, put money aside to save no matter what, always pay off any credit cards in full every month, and never buy something we couldn’t afford.
Overall, it was a great life. Certainly nothing glaring stands out in all of that. Generally speaking, I felt love and warmth in my family. I guess it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine, though. When I really thought about things today, I have to admit there was an undercurrent of pressure to my childhood. I don’t remember it being something my parents overtly expressed or pushed on me. I just always had a deep desire to give something back for all of their sacrifices.
Maybe some of it stems from the home-schooling. My Mom taught me and my brother, then all 3 of us, at the same time. We were all in different stages and grades, obviously. We also had very different needs, education-wise. I was always pretty intuitive, and could sense that my brother and sister needed more guided attention than me. So I always did my best to do my best. I didn’t want to distract from them – my brother was hyperactive and my sister took longer to grasp things, and when she did she might forget them again a little while later. Neither of them were slow or stupid by any stretch of the imagination. They just really loved using their imaginations – with their heads in the clouds, constantly moving, always more concerned with something else.
Plus, I was the oldest… My brother is only a year and a half younger than me, but my sister is 5 years my junior. Given that, I was obviously more capable of sitting at a table and doing my work without distraction. Don’t mistake me for a completely benevolent child… I mostly wanted to get outside as fast as possible to ride the horses or climb trees. However, I do remember making a conscious effort to not ask questions unless I had to, to get everything as perfect as I could, and to not take away from other things my Mom had to do.
The other side of my Dad is that he had a short fuse. He would often yell or snap at the drop of a hat. It made me skittish in a way I didn’t like and tried to hide. He also lacked some compassion. I remember one time my Mom was away on a women’s retreat with church. It was just us kids and Dad. It was great fun. We were taking a walk/ bike ride/ scooter trip down our street and up to the mailbox (which was ages away) one beautiful night. I was speeding around on my little push scooter, loving life and showing off. I hit a corner too fast and wiped out in a patch of gravel on the pavement. I skinned my knees, elbows, and hands badly. I still have scars to this day.
Of course it felt awful. I don’t know how old I was… somewhere between 7 and 10, I think. I was bleeding, there was gravel in my knees and elbows and hands… My knees especially looked like hamburger meat. My Dad got me up, helped me home, and started working on my injuries. I know I was crying – ugly, sobbing cries – and saying I wanted Mom. He, of course, told me that she was away and wasn’t going to be able to come home tonight. He not so gently got the gravel out of my wounds, poured hydrogen peroxide and maybe alcohol on them, and put some Neosporin and gauze over them. I’m sure he told me more than once to stop crying and whining and wincing and carrying on. That wasn’t the only occasion where I learned that I should just suck it up…
The older I got, the more I realized that if my ideas and his didn’t mesh it wouldn’t be good for me. I was a smart-alec. I would get mouthy when I shouldn’t, and I lacked respect (or at least tact and forethought) in many instances. But I also questioned things. A lot. I was always intellectual and prone to deep thinking. When my questions turned towards the church, his faith, and the things that logically didn’t make sense the door was slammed shut in my face. God exists, he wrote the Bible, everything in there is gold, we go to church (all the time and as a family), and the list goes on… Think Brick on The Middle (if you have seen any of those Bible episodes). THAT didn’t go over very well…
So, the short answer (bet you wish I had started with that), is my family relationships were characterized by all of those things – love, warmth, anger, fear, pressure, support, misunderstanding, and the list goes on. I’m not sure where exactly I’m supposed to be looking right now when it comes to my family dynamics. There were a lot of them. Maybe the next 99 questions will give me some direction.
- Changes… (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Pink (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Be Still My Swirling Thoughts (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing? (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Breaking the Negative Codependent Cycle (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Do You Have an Addictive Personality? (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
- Announcing the Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists, The First Organization to Specialize in Training and Certification of Partner Specialists (prweb.com)