More Of Heidi’s Backstory
Dh said he got teary eyed when he read my post, “Building You Up Or Tearing You Down.” It’s funny, I feel so matter-of-fact about what I wrote…I was surprised he felt teary. Then again, I try to approach those kinds of memories without feeling…I don’t need to muck it up with yucky feelings!
Dh commented that my mom needs to have things “just so”…Not only her children, but everything, and he commented on how she keeps her house.
Which reminded me….
So, growing up in a family of 4, with both parents working full-time, led to an untidy and chaotic house. If you have a family and work full-time, I am guessing you know exactly what I mean. Heck…you don’t even have to work full-time or have kids, we all get out-numbered and out-gunned by chores and laundry and clutter. It just happens.
However, appearances were/are very important to my mom. For me, having friends over was a nightmare because if I wanted to have a friend over, the house had to be spotlessly, picture-perfect clean. (So much so, that my friends admitted never feeling comfortable when they visited.) And it would be my responsibility to clean it since I was the one wanting to have a friend over. And when I say clean, I mean, to clean all of it. Needless to say, I didn’t have friends over very often…It was too hard to meet the exacting standard and to do all that work to get the house perfect.
Of course, not having friends visit kind of put a damper on relationships. Friendship is a reciprocity, and when you keep not being able to have friends come over to your house, they stop inviting you to theirs. It also means you never get a reprieve from your parents.
Life got so challenging for me at home, that when I was 14 or 15, I had a very clear and very intentional plan to run away. I was saving my babysitting money so that I could buy a plane ticket. This was back in the “olden” days (pre-internet) when there used to be full-page newspaper ads featuring reasonably priced plane tickets. I used to pore over the ads…Watching the prices. My plan was to run away to Florida because Florida was warm and I reasoned that I could survive all the seasons without too much effort.
I tried and tried to convince my best friend to run away with me. She said she would, but she didn’t really mean it. I totally meant it.
In the end, I did not run away. I don’t know what changed my mind…Maybe just lack of confidence that I could actually pull it off. Honestly, it could have gone either way. I could have just as easily decided to do it, though it’s likely a good thing that I didn’t…I am not sure the streets of Orlando were going to be a great choice.
And maybe it was just too much work to run away. This was not a pleasant time in my life and I am sure that I was pretty depressed…especially as I was frequently suicidal and self-harming. That was when I started cutting, and I used to pierce my ears, over and over again. I also used to take handfuls of ibuprofen (literally a handful) because I didn’t care what happened. I was at the end of my rope…And I was totally lost and unsupported.
Well…I suppose my parents tried. One of my friends told my guidance counselor that I was suicidal and my parents sent me to see a psychiatrist. I sat and stared icily at the psychiatrist week after week. I don’t remember doing any actual work with her. (And in an ironic side note: My second therapist, the one I had before the AT, actually worked in the same office at the psychiatrist. I have often wondered what would have happened if I had been hooked up with her instead of the psychiatrist. However, my mom was big on having the “best” of everything and the psychiatrist was really well-known in the area and supposed to be the “best” so I had to see her. Just because someone is the “best” does not mean they are the best fit for everyone….especially and unwilling and surly teenager.)
In the end, I did get back on track…I met my friend, A, when she moved here from New York. Though a somewhat unlikely match, we developed a deep friendship and I started going to church with her. Her conservative church gave me the structure and support I needed to make it through the rest of my teen years unscathed. It is kind of hard to explain the complexities about why/how this worked for me….But her family happily accepted me like I was a daughter, the church was full of caring people, and the structure helped keep my loose ends intact, and my faith gave me something to believe in and focus on.
And A and I are still friends, 29 years later! My association with that church did not last anywhere near as long…And now, as a comfortably established Secular Humanist, I am not affiliated with any church except for some infrequent visits to the Unitarian Universalist meeting house in the City.
Okay…how was that for another trip down memory lane?