Thursday, March 22, 2007


So, my MIL brought me a book about ADHD. I do see Hyperion in the descriptions. But more than than, I see myself.

This is an interesting book, it's 20 Questions to Ask if Your Child has ADHD. It describes the way it stresses your family, which I soooo see in our family. And it describes the dysfunctional way families deal with it.

Trip down memory lane:

I'm 12 and a half. My brother died from injuries from a car accident 6 months before.

I became old enough to be in the youth group of the church at the beginning of the school year. We are at a youth group retreat. This is my first real event as a member of the youth group. My parents are there.

Also there is a boy who has always "teased" me (I'd call it bullying, but the adults insisted it was "teasing").

As part of the opening exercises we are supposed to do a trust building exercise. We are to reveal our biggest secret/fear, etc to the group. Starting with the youngest - me. I was a very vulnerable child, I was picked on constantly - by my family, my classmates, parents of classmates (I wish I was kidding). For me, this was just too much. I'm supposed to lay myself bare in front of EVERYONE, including my bully? I refused to go first. I told them that someone else needed to go first. When my parents intervened (rudely, in my opinion) all I could express was that I could not possibly talk about something like that in front of my bully. My parents had the nerve to take me to task for hurting his feelings.

When I started crying because I couldn't explain myself with my dad yelling at me and my mom griping at me for hurting Bully's feelings and the youth director for telling me that I HAD to follow the rules, my parents packed me up and took me home.

As an adult, I'm really angry and hurt that my parents never seemed to take my side or even listen to me. I'm angry that the adults were too stupid to realize that you NEVER make the weakest person in the group lay themselves bare first. I'm pissed that everyone could excuse outright bullying as teasing.

In my situation, I really think that any child would have a problem in those circumstances, but what I'm sure now is ADD in me (and maybe a slight bit of Aspergers) led me to be more than normally emotional (well that and having lost my brother 6 months before, I mean really - WHAT THE HELL??!!).

I'm so terrified that I will make the same mistakes my parents made. I see myself doing many of the things they did and that made me feel less valued and less loved.


Tanya Brown said...

Your parents sound as though they were horribly insensitive and not particularly self-aware. You are neither of those things.

This sounds like it was a particularly dreadful experience. You should have never been put in that position. Just think of the irony, of adults holding "trust building exercises" who'd already demonstrated that you couldn't fully trust them because they didn't take your being bullied seriously.

I think all parents, at least the ones who aren't asleep at the wheel, go through a phase where they hear their own parents talking through them and they're horrified by it. They may get upset or stressed out and out come the things their parents said, things they found hurtful or unhelpful.

But you aren't your parents, and your sons aren't you. You aren't asleep at the wheel; you're thinking and considering and paying attention. You can do things differently than them. The first step is realizing that you want to, which you've done.

It may be trite of me, but I think things are going to be okay.

Gaia said...

Thanks Tanya. That does help.

I think it was important for the adults there to insist that it was merely teasing and not bullying because they teased too and reduced me to tears often. Clearly this was MY problem, not theirs. They had to believe that way.

Tanya Brown said...

(Forgive my anger as I write this.) I don't know the adults in your family, but from these stories it strikes me that they aren't the most empathetic, sensitive, self-aware people in the world. No one should be teased, tickled, bullied, whatever until they're in tears. There's a sadistic and controlling side to this, particularly given that the adults knew how you'd feel.

My family carries on similar practices. My younger brother was frequently accused of "wearing his heart on his sleeve" throughout his childhood because he found such things hurtful. I don't think he's recovered from it yet, either the "teasing" or the implication that something was wrong with him for being hurt by it.

In my family's case, the "teasing" really masqueraded for doling out insults or cheap shots. It was an excuse for aggressive behavior. If one responded as though insulted, the person doing the "teasing" would act wounded. Couldn't you take a joke? Suddenly the situation was turned around so they were the wounded party, not the person getting teased.

In your case, it wasn't your problem and your family didn't have to believe that way. IMHO, they simply didn't want to acknowledge that there might be a problem with their behavior and they didn't want to change it. Why should they? Children should be seen and not heard, honor their father and mother, and so forth. Children really didn't have rights, especially emotional ones.

Gaia said...

It sounds like our families are very similar. I've stopped attending family events because of the way they act and treat me, and more importantly, treat my kids.

And I haven't recovered from it yet. I've been crying the whole time I read that book, partly because I see myself acting like my parents, but mostly because it brings up soooo many painful memories of the emotional abuse I took from my family.

And like your family, if you showed you were hurt, it was all about you and how you couldn't take a joke and suddenly they were the wounded person. Sigh.

What I meant by "had to believe it" was because if they recognized that he was bullying me with his "teasing" then they'd have to realize they were bullying me as well. And can't have that, it might hurt their fragile egos too much.