Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the beginning.... the start of this path I'm on

Since we got back from Holiday break, it has been so hard to find time to write. I want to write every day; I know also that I have to put certain things in top priority in my life. That leads to other things being pushed to the bottom and many times being neglected b/c I run out of time. My life sometimes seems like a world wind. I have so many responsibilities and so many things I try to be faithful at that sometimes what I would like to do never happens. School with Stephen has to be priority number one; then there are things that I do at the school and church activities and mixed in comes cooking, cleaning (not a whole lot of that actually), grocery shopping, etc. I never seem to find time to sew or create; that breaks my heart, b/c I want to grow that area so badly. Writing I get some time to do. I am praying for God to help me order my days and remove the things that use up my time unnecessarily. I strive to see what I can remove and reorder to make time for responsibilities and for creativity and me.

I arose earlier than I have been arising this morning. I was very excited b/c I knew that meant I could get my exercise and prayer done earlier and have a few minutes to write before hitting the school with Stephen. As I pondered what I might like to talk about I settled on starting to tell my story. That is the real reason I actually started this blog. We're going way back to the beginning. Or what I know and remember.

I was born January 19, 1973 to Deborah Lynn Washburn and Jerry ? Ingersoll. I may not have been planned by them, but I was definitely planned by God. He saw every detail and minute of my life before I was ever conceived. From what I remember about what I have been told, they were married so that I would not have illegitimate stamped on my birth certificate. (Did they actually do that back then?) I think my mother was excited. She was a mess, but excited. I have seen pictures of her pregnant and she seems genuinely happy about it. My mother and father did not stay together too very long. By the time my brother came along almost 3 years later it was all but over.

So my mother started the very difficult journey of being a single mother. This is a difficult journey for anyone, but was further complicated for her in that she was carrying some very painful secrets that she would not even be aware of until I became a teenager. Having suffered many terrible and unmentionable things in her life, my mother became different people and locked those painful memories away deep inside of herself. Her denial of and even lack of awareness of her abuse caused her to suffer extreme clinical depression and also caused her to be unaware that her children were suffering similar abuses at the hands of her abusers and others. I can't remember much at all about the early years, but I know they were very dark for her. She was very depressed, overwhelmed and somewhat paranoid. I know that she did the very best she could to try to protect us and take care of us. She was just not well enough to raise us in a healthy environment. When she realized that she was incapable of being in a healthy relationship with a man, she just retreated from having any type of relationship in an effort to protect us. She had been raised by an alcoholic mother who got into abusive relationships. Her mothers boyfriends would beat on her mother and at times abuse my mother. She did not want us to grow up like that so she just avoided relationships. She would later realize to her horror that her family had been the ones we needed protecting from. She suffered under the weight of that guilt until the last year or so.

I can remember being very young in a house we lived in on Green street, somewhere in Fort Worth. It was so filthy that you couldn't see the floors. I can remember my brother playing with her glasses and them getting lost. My mother is blind without her glasses and I think not being able to see evokes a great deal of fear in her. I remember her yelling hysterically at my brother to find her glasses. She needed to go to work; there is no way she could drive anywhere without them. As an adult I can understand to fear and panic of knowing she had to go to work and could not without the glasses. I remember being spanked with the plastic tracks from the race track my brother had. I remember spilling Mercurochrome (Monkey blood) all over our wooden kitchen table. If you don't know what Mercurochrome, it is an antiseptic that we don't really use in the U S anymore. It was red and stained everything for days or even, in the case of the table, forever. I was orangy-pink for a few days. I remember a big white Alaskan Husky my cousin gave us; his name was Kemo. He was beautiful, but one day we let him out and he never came back. I am sure he was stolen; he was a gorgeous dog.

I have very few memories from my early years. I can remember some really key memories that had a part in shaping who I became and who I am today. I can remember a really nice lady who used to babysit us. Her name was Mrs. Miles and she had a daycare in her home. I remember lunch time. She made the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches I have ever tasted. It is so funny the things you remember vividly from child hood. Those grilled cheeses were perfectly golden with perfectly melted cheese; they were cut into triangles. She also made PBJ and fried bologna. I always ordered grilled cheese except for one time I ordered fried bologna. What I did not realize was that she put katsup on those. I have always hated condiments and still do to this day. I had to eat it and I never ordered it again. I also remember Cheetos, the table we ate on and coloring pictures that we would turn into paper airplanes. We would ask her to staple them, to which she would reply, "staples don't grow on trees," but would staple them any way. I went into detail with those memories b/c they are some of the few really good memories I can remember.

In first grade I had a teacher who was not very nice. I don't know why, but she just must have been really unhappy. I can't remember if she was mean to everyone or just me. I remember thinking it was just me, but I can't honestly tell you whether she was mean to me or just mean all around. She impacted my life more than any other teacher all the way until college. She thought that little girls should have their hair up in pony tails and was very vocal about it. Of course, my mother did not take time to put my hair up. As Ms. Watson, an enormous woman who wore a moo moo type dress every day, would pace the room pointing out all the girls who had their hair up like good little girls should, I knew she was talking about me not having my hair up. I can remember that the ruffle on the bottom of her dress would sway back and forth. One of the most devastating blows to my creativity and artistic nature happened in her classroom. We had all colored pictures. She held up my picture and said, "this picture looks like a kinder gardener colored it." She didn't say who's picture it was, but I knew it was mine. Then when I told my mother and she confronted Ms Watson, Ms Watson denied that is was picture. Two major issues in my life can be traced back to that teacher. I am not shirking my responsibility in these issues or passing the blame off on her. What I am saying is that, after praying and digging deep inside myself over some issues, I feel like I traced them back and this was the root from which they grew. The belief that I was not an artist and was not capable of being creative finds its beginnings here. Many other things over the years just confirmed the belief that it was not safe to be creative. The other issue, though silly, still had power over my life. I became obsessed with the appearance my children from their birth. I was especially obsessed with them ALWAYS having their hair neatly done. When the girls didn't even have enough hair to have real pony tails, you better believe they had tiny little pig tails going on. I did not let loose of that drive to protect my kids from being judged unworthy based on their appearance until my youngest was in 2nd grade. I do brush her hair now, but it does not have to be up every day now. She doesn't want it up, so I don't inflict my pain onto her hair choices. And, if you haven't read the blog entitled "I am an Artist??" read that one. It chronicles the journey and where I currently am with art and creativity.

Life was pretty hard in the early years; none of us could really explain, or even remember why things were hard, but I knew we were not like everyone else. I always felt like I had secrets to keep. I never felt like I fit it. I always felt dirty, unloved, unworthy and alone. I felt like no one liked me; I was depressed, empty, and hopeless. I can remember feeling the need to have something to look forward to every day. If I could have something to look forward to everyday then I had a reason to be alive that day. (Gymnastics to days a week, etc.)

We moved a lot. The house was always dirty. There was never enough money; sometimes the electricity and phone would get cut off. My brother was totally out of control; he started being hospitalized and heavily medicated at 8 years old; we got kicked out of apartments constantly due to his behavior. I had been sexually abused by several family members and some others outside of the family, but did not tell anyone. What I remembered was only the tip of the iceberg. Many things far worse were going on that I would not remember til later.

I can't really remember being in 2, 3, or 4th grade. I was at a school called Bishop Elementary, but there is like a veil over my memories of that era in my life. In 5th grade, some good things happened academically. I had always done pretty good in school; it was very easy for me. I didn't have to study; I just remembered things. While in 5th grade I took some kind of Math test that all the 5th and 6th graders took (6th was elementary). I got the highest score on that test of all the 5th and 6th graders in the school. I was also put into the Gifted and Talented program. I was in the first group of students to do the programs; it started in our district that year.

I had always been the good child and got no real recognition for it. My brother kept everything so stirred up that he was the center of attention. Now, that is my perspective. I am pretty sure if you asked him, he would say he was never as good as me and felt like I was perfect and he couldn't measure up to the standard I set academically. Who knows? It just goes to show there are ALWAYS to sides to everything. Our perspective is based on what we see and experience from our side, but on the other side of things it looks different and a different perspective emerges. It is always wise to assume that there are two sides to every story and that standing in the shoes of each side will give you a perspective that you can't see if you only stand on one side of an object.

I am out of time. This is pretty much everything important up to 6th grade. Next time, 7th grade, a turning point in my life.

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