4.11.2013

A Bit on My Past.

Hello readers.  I know I haven't been posting so much lately, but I feel excused seeing as how my new country kicked me out, re-accepted me and told me to get the hell back all in a matter of weeks. (And for those of you not following me on Facebook yes, they approved my application! So I am flying BACK to Sweden this Saturday.)

When I was thinking of topics to discuss/entries to write on the 2013 Self Love theme, I knew this one would eventually come up, and I think I'm finally ready to talk about it.  This is no easy feat, because try as I might to forget it exists, my past still causes me a lot of pain.  I had to take photos of these old photos to post for this entry and even looking at them long enough to copy made my hands shaky and I had to pause.  Sometimes I loathe being so heavy-handed in a space where I want to be inspiring and artistic, but heavy is also a huge part of who I am.  And I hope that publicly broadcasting how awesome my past made me helps me to love myself.

I have never had an opportunity to be normal
This, I think, is the coolest thing about me.  I wasn't normal even in kindergarten.  Children who live in abused homes tend to act differently or 'stick out' in just about every social situation that exists.  I can't say I was always happy about this, and I got bullied a lot for being different, but I never adapted to be what I now call 'normies' or Muggles. (heh heh.)  Things were always special for me.  I never had a bed to sleep in, I never went to church.  Any facade of normalcy was always wrenched away from me, usually with a slap in the face or someone destroying my toys/artwork/happiness.   The good thing about this is that it was easier for me to accept my uniqueness as I got older.  The whole 'trying to fit in' thing never happened.  I know I get anxious at holiday time, but at least I've never had a "normal" Thanksgiving or a "normal" Christmas to compare my adventures to.  All in all I don't think that the best people in the world are anywhere near normal, so maybe one day I will be one of the greats as well.

I am brave and independent 
Sometimes I wonder how much of the abuse my father dished on me was with the intention of helping me learn.  It was like a part of him wanted to be tough on me so that I would fight back.  I don't know if he even realizes this, or if it's in my head...it's just a feeling I get sometimes.   I don't know if Dad intended for me to be brave enough to leave home and tell him to kiss my ass....but it happened.  And now, every single time I travel alone, every time I do something awesome and risky and fulfilling, I can remember the times I was brave because I was forced to be.  

I can go on adventures that most people can't 
I think a mixture of the aforementioned bravery as well as some almost desperate thirst to prove myself   has led me to some pretty far corners of the world, and also allowed me to get a job across the country.  Whenever someone tells me I am brave or awesome for au pairing, I think to myself that I would never be so adventurous if I hadn't grown up so sheltered, and demanded to myself to travel when I got older.

I know that blood isn't everything
A favorite life lesson of mine that I find myself repeating to friends when they need comforting about how their own family sucks.  Blood does have its own individual ties, I'm not arguing that.  There are things you can feel about biological family that are entirely unique.  But they're not everything and they don't have to be.  The wonderful thing about this life is that there are plenty of people out there worth loving, who love the same way, and they aren't family.  I wish more youth in foster care would learn this earlier, because there's a lot of heartbreak we experience in thinking that our family will never be repaired.  Family is what you make it, and I have an amazing blood-free family!

I know what it means to live in poverty
I grew up with no electricity.  No running water in winter.  A house so small and tiny it could be more correctly defined as a shed.  Food stamps, welfare, going hungry a lot of the time.  A lot of animals to take care of.  Hunting and gardening as a means of food.  Used clothes, no worldly possessions.  No bedroom, no BED to sleep on.  I was kind of like those kids you see in the sad commercials.  I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm not.  I lived with lice and worms for years.  I'm not embarrassed by any of this because I was just a kid, I had no control over my living circumstances.  All this means is that I never, ever, ever take anything for granted.  I get disgusted at the waste of modern society, and I never forget where it is I come from.  Even small things like having enough money to buy groceries, are gratifying.  A hot shower never goes unnoticed.  And I still cry a lot because I have a bed.

I know how badly abuse and anger affect children
You can't give me an insult I wasn't called as a child.  Emotional abuse was the worst, but the physical and mental was there as well.  It was constant, it was debilitating, and it no doubt was a control mechanism and a way for my parents to vent their own insecurities.  No parent or mentor is perfect, but I have learned the hard way the damage unchecked anger or words can deal.  I truly believe that my past has made me a better mentor and teacher, and maybe one of these days, it will help make me a great parent.  

I was never allowed to express myself.  Now I can.
I have kind of a reputation, see.  Whether for good or bad, people who encounter me know me as a force.  Abrasive, sometimes a little too much, but just as compassionate as I am cynical.  My ways of expressing myself--writing, art, playing music, even having friends--was completely suppressed when I was growing up.  I wasn't allowed to do anything but schoolwork, and even a "C" in math got all of my reading books burned in a fire when I was eleven.  As soon as I was able, I bought paint, paper, and pencils, and started making art.  A few years later when I realized no one was going to hurt me for it, I started writing again.  Now I'm a lighthouse of creativity and I am thankful every single day for the opportunity to have the freedom of creation.


Afterword.
Again, I have no idea what parts of my parents' brains were working for me, and against me, when I was growing up. Certainly being dragged around the house by my hair by my mother could've served no real learning purpose for me other than what pain was, but the point is, they taught me important lessons for life.  Some of them I actually think are better lessons than kids in "normal" or "happy" households learn.  Not that I condone being a crazy redneck in order to have your kid grow up to be awesome.  I also know that my past is not one hundred percent possible for making me who I am.  I've made my own choices.  Some of them have been terrible.  Some have been worthwhile.  I am me, with or without my past.  And even though thinking about it brings me a lot of pain, I think I hang onto it because I do know how well it's shaped me.  I am afraid of forgetting where I come from, even though I would probably be happier if I did.



10 comments :

  1. Oh wow, Patricia - this was so powerful to read. I am speechless. This sounds so tame, but I really feel privileged to have read this, because it is so deeply personal, and really took my breath away. I think "My Terrible Past Accidentally Made Me Awesome" is an absolutely genius title, because that is exactly how it is. That is the kind of post-series that I could participate in, because I feel it rings so true for me as well. I honestly can't wait to read more of your self love posts... you are an amazing writer.
    And, I am so sorry that all of this happened to you. But I think you are fucking awesome. And thankfully, you can see that as well.

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    1. Thank you sooo much for this comment Sofie, it really means the world to me. I am always grateful for those who appreciate when I go into that extra-deep level of personal (which happens maybe often on this blog hahaa) If you do write about how your terrible past made you awesome PLEASE link me. I would love to read it.

      And I know you must be fucking awesome as well!! :D

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  2. Such wise words. Your experiences did teach you a lot. I am glad to know that you chose not to be a victim of your circumstance, but instead chose to learn from all the hardships that you've been through. I do wish those who have been through the same thing would read this post and be inspired. God bless :-)

    in a different place

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    1. Thank you so much for this sweet comment Irene!! Sometimes I fall back and feel like a victim and those are the rough times, but I think (hope) at the end of the day that I pick myself up and keep going. I tried to link to your blog but the url was down?!

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  3. I think about things like this too, about how I turned out so awesome despite a lot of shitty circumstances. It makes me worried about how my own kid will turn out, since I now live a relatively 'normal' life and will have a much more supportive household! I feel like I need to send them to live in the desert every summer or something so they aren't totally happy haha

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  4. Hey Patricia, I just found your blog but I had to leave a comment, although now I've started I have no idea what to say. Your honesty and frankness is this post is incredible, and your sense of humour is admirable. I'm kind of blown away by how you've manage to look back at your childhood and see how it made you the person you are. I'm looking forward to following along, especially with your life in Sweden, I visited Örebro twice and can't wait to go back xo

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  5. this is a beautiful entry, patricia. i'm so glad i found your site thru #ubp13! i'm also a survivor of childhood abuse and an adult survivor of other things. i love your self-love concept. my site - www.shebecameabutterfly.net - was my visual road map back to self-love from 2007-2010 until my computer died. i just re-opened my site and hope to continue blogging about my journey. I hope you'll stop by my site sometime. I recently shared a post entitled "Letters to my Younger Selves" that is similar to what you wrote here.

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    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment!!! I am sorry that you've had to become a survivor...though in my experience the best people are <3 I will totally go check out your blog, I love reading honest stories from people. Glad to meet you!

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  6. Before i read this post i saw a picture of you (senior portrait?) and the one next to it, which made me giggle as in my senior portrait i have the same neck tie-jewelery thingy (not sure how to call it) as you. I wore it my entire senior year and one on my upper arm as well. Those fashions seem... surprising(?) now :)
    Then i read the actual post, which is sad and inspiring at the same time. I really like your attitude towards your past and the fact that you chose not to dwell on it, but only take away the good and the lessons you learned from it. It's both - inspiring and admirable! You go with your awesome self ;)

    PS. I am a leo too :)

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  7. Interesting to read more about you and your past, and I also love that title "my past accidentally made me awesome". I think people with a troubled past always end up stronger and wiser because they have had to fight for everything that other people took for granted.

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