- Family and Parenting
GROWING UP WITH A BI-POLAR AND THE EFFECTS ON THE CHILD
The After effects of childhood
I grew up with a bi-polar mother and now I feel that others need to know the after effects of things done to you as a child. The tape we have in our brain that tells us we have to do things like our parents. We can't change recipes or when we clean house and how it makes us feel guilty if we change one thing. I want to break that cycle.
This is a true story
I am a child of what is considered a mental illness parent. My mother was an undiagnosed Bi-Polar. The after effects of the way she raised me made a big difference in my life after she was gone.
The earliest memory that I have was a fight that my mother and my step-sister were having. My sister was mom's as well and ten years older than me. My mother was telling my sister that if she wanted to take care of herself she could get out. I remember my sister threw her piggy bank against the wall and took the money and left. She was sixteen. I was six. I didn't know who was wrong but I missed her. My sister stayed in a Laundromat overnight and then went to my grandparents. I was never allowed to have anything to do with these grandparents because according to my mother they had spoiled my sister and she wasn't going to let that happen to her other daughter.
My mother tried to keep me and my sister apart. I only remember two times that me and my sister were allowed to be together. We went to see a movie together and the other time I got to spend the night with her after she had moved into her own apartment. Mom always compared Sis and I. I was smarter than my sister. After I went to Vocational School, my mother told my sister I had a degree and she had nothing.
Some people would ask why my father didn't step in and stop the abuse. He was gone on his long haul trucking. It was strange and my pediatrician couldn't figure out what caused me to get sick to the point of almost needing to go to the hospital and Mom would get ahold of Dad and he would come home and the fever and everything that was wrong with me would be gone. Some people over the years told me it was my love for my Dad that would make me sick.
I always as a child wanted to stay on my mother's good side because when she got mad, it was awful. Mom had two sides. When she was out in public, everyone thought she was the best mother in the world. When we went in the house, it was war. Someone had done something and they paid for it dearly.
When I wanted to go to Vocational school, my mother told me I couldn't take up working with computer I had to become a secretary. Secretarial was never my choice but I did as Mom wanted. When I couldn't find a job in that field my mother told me I should become a nurse because there would always be sick people. I had absolutely no desire to do this but once again I was the dutiful daughter and did as Mommy said. Remember that I didn't want to get on her bad side so did as she wanted. When I couldn't get a job as a nurse, Mom told me to get a job. She told me that I had to start at the bottom and work my way up.
I found a job in a motel as a housekeeper and enjoyed the time away from Mom. Well she got a job at a different motel. She tried many times to tell me she was a better housekeeper than me and always would be. I believed her. I did work in motels for twenty-eight years and got very good at my job. I tried to get better jobs but if it paid better and was at night, she told me that it wasn't fair to her and dad to worry till I got home from work.
I didn't know anything about low rent apartments or any of the likes so I was stuck at home. My parents as they started to age got sick and needed care. Feeling obligated I stayed and took care of them. It started with high blood pressure. Had to keep track of what meds worked and what didn't. Had to make appointments and after a while with Mom I had to do the driving as she was going blind. I felt like I was trapped.
My mother never let me date because she told me I was ugly and no man would ever want an ugly woman. I was never allowed to have friends because as children playing we would wake Dad up if he was home. Mom always said Dad needed his sleep. I remember that I used to sit on the step leading out of the garage and just look around. When I got to fifth and sixth grade, I was asked if I could come to school earlier and put up the flag. Mother told the school that was an inconvenience. They wanted me to be a crossing guard after school and I couldn't do that either. She never let me walk home from school.
I remember when I was in third grade that in Dell Rapids they had a summer program that was put on by the FHA and I talked my mother into letting me go. One day the program was over and Mom wasn't waiting for me outside. I started to walk home. We lived in Baltic so it was a long walk. No sign of Mom anywhere,. I remember being stopped by a highway patrol officer who asked me if I was running away from home. I told him I was walking home. Healet me continue walking.
I swore that if I ever had children of my own I would never do this to my children. I even thought it would be better to never have children.
When Mom passed away in 2009, I was left to take care of Dad who had Alzheimer's. I still didn't date because I was duty bound to take care of Dad. He was cruel sometimes too. He told me two weeks after Mom passed away that I didn't do a very good job of taking care of her because she died. I cried that night because I felt so guilty. I felt he was right. Mom passed away three days before Christmas and Dad told me he wanted a full holiday dinner. He wanted it the way Mom would make it.
This is where trying to remember everything Mom had done began. I got through Christmas and thought I could handle life. Well Dad started asking for me to cook things I had no idea how to do. That was hard on me mentally.
After Dad ended up in the nursing home, I felt guilty because Dad had made me swear I wouldn't do that to him. I had to get him different clothes because he couldn't have his jeans and western shirts anymore. Thank heaven a friend stepped forward and helped me. She told me that I was like a seventeen year old who was lost. I was so happy to have someone who was there.
When my husband asked me to marry him, I thought I was the luckiest woman in the world. But I had that tape in my head that kept playing that I had to clean our apartment on a certain day. I had to make meals at a certain time. A friend of mine ended up in the hospital and I told Nick I would be gone two hours. I was gone for two and a half and when I got home I thought for sure Nick would be so mad at me. That was what I was raised like. I walked in and apologized over and over again for being gone longer than I said. What he told me was a shock to my thinking. He told me as long as I came home was all that mattered.
Recently I was in the hospital for heart problems. I could hear my mother on that tape telling me I was just trying to be sicker than her. I came home and am so grateful for my friend and to my husband because I couldn't have got through it without them. I also realized while I was in the hospital that Nick had the right to know when I didn't feel good. I was scared he would say the same thing my mother had. I also am getting treatment because I am also bi-polar. I refuse to hide that I need help.
My sister refuses to admit she needs any help for any medical condition because she wants to not be like Mom. I watch as she struggles with high blood pressure, depression, thyroid problems because she told me that Mom went to the doctor with every little ache. Sometimes I feel lately like I too go to the doctor a lot but I guess genetics play a big role in life.
I know many times I still hear that tape that Mom planted in my head. My husband tells me I am beautiful but I still have that ugly message of no man would ever want me. If I cook something different than Mom did I hear her voice telling me that it will not taste right. People don't understand that words are there. Many have said why do I let her rule me yet because she is gone. I just so wish I could get rid of her cruel words.
There is no way that I can get those words out of my mind. I have tried counseling. My mother made me her trophy. I was not allowed to be close to my sister, grandparents or even my father. I had no friends so it is hard for me now to trust people because that tape in my head also tells me that friends always want something out of you. I am lucky that the friends who stepped up when I had to put my father in a nursing home were understanding and knew that I was damaged. Two of the people knew my mother and one is still trying so hard to get me to let go of the damage my mother, the woman who was supposed to love me, did to me.
I thank heaven every day that I survived. I have broken the chain that I wont pass it on but I still deal with the mental problems.
The last few days I have felt like an onion being peeled. I remember more of the pain and abuse. I guess part of the healing is dealing with the long term effects. I can't face either parent as both are deceased.. I haven't figured out how I am to forget them. What do I do put the memories back in storage and try to forget?
Lately my sleep has been disturbing. I hear my parents arguing. I try to shut it out. A friend of mine told me shortly after my husband and I were married that when Mom and I were doing Craft Fairs are
gone; Dad would come to the café she worked at. This was nothing new. She told then that Dad had told her that the only reason he stayed in that loveless marriage was because of me. He told her that he would rather take the being yelled at rather than have her go off on me. She also asked me why I had put up with her telling me that I needed to dress a certain way and I needed to loose weight. She told me that it hurt to see me take the abuse. I couldn't explain at that point why I took it.
I never was able to explain to anyone why I couldn't bring them home or go any place with them. It wasn't until my mother passed away and I was on my own that I swore I would have friends. The lady that had hired me as a caregiver was a lot like my mother. I worked for her for fifteen months. She told me when I moved into my first apartment that in three months I would be living with her. I swore that would never happen. This woman told me I was blind as a bat. After my marriage to my husband, I found out that I had cataracts so that was why I couldn't see very well. I got dentures that didn't fit too well when I worked for this woman and she said it made me look so much better. There was that message again that I was ugly. I counted the months until three months was up and my one friend said to me, "Don't it feel good to not have to ask your boss for a place to stay? You did it!'
My counselor told me it is going to take a long time to get that tape out of my head. Some of the things I have told her about my mother has put her in tears. I still don't understand how Mom got the idea that her words didn't hurt.
I realized lately that I am what is called a people pleaser. I always want to make people happy. That is hard to change. I still find myself trying to stay on the good side of everyone. My sister and I have broken off our relationship because I can't have her doing to me what Mom did.