Saturday, April 10, 2010

What fun! Drawings from my abusive childhood!

Hola! Qué tal? Boy do I have a huge art post for you! First, however I must say that I'm back in college this quarter, taking Spanish and am doing really well!
` My life is on track, and it's been two whole months since I've had abusive roommates stressing me out and occupying me constantly, which drastically had interfered with my ability to do school assignments.

Now it is so easy to just live my life! I am so happy now, living in a big house with a beautiful view of the sound, the best fiance ever, who is at this very moment on his way to film a TV show that he STARS IN called Dry Hump City -- and will also star in a hilarious feature film called The Boob, as long as it isn't picked up by Paramount!
` I also have the best cats ever, not to mention some easygoing roommates, and I'm planning going to go to my friend Ananda's Born-Again Trekkie Party tonight and be a huge geek!

It is ironic, then, that this art post takes place during my very first attempt at school -- that is, elementary school -- which only lasted until sixth grade when I had to be removed for 'behavioral problems'.
` These problems were assumed to have come from me, but as I well know, nothing could be farther from the truth.
` Now, having uploaded all the surviving drawings from my childhood, I was struck by how many of them from first grade alone portrayed what had been going on back then.

In this first-grade portrayal of my family and an anthropomorphic dog, can you see who the problem was?

1st grade 40 Who's the abuser?

It's very obvious. That's supposed to be me in the red dress, and it appears my mother and half-brother are protecting me from my dad -- look at their arms! I had heard about this exact thing happening in abused children's drawings, but I thought that might be reading too far into them until I saw this!
` As for the animals in the picture, that is one of our pet birds on my mom's shoulder (either Robby the robin, who loved my mom, or a starling), and what I used to call a 'half dog-half man' apparently being reluctantly pulled away from the rainbow.
` The okapi was evidently added when I found this drawing a few years later in a box, apparently because I would have rather had an okapi around than an anthropomorphic dog.

By the way, other drawings of my family show my mother being all by herself on the side and looking worried. Why was she worried, and why were they protecting me?

I think this says it all:

1st grade 13 The abusive monster himself!

My dad put me through this all the time. He'd give me rules, and regardless of whether I'd follow them or not, he would punish me brutally. Even worse, when I would cry, he would start laughing at me, and finally, I learned to laugh when I was terrified of what was going to happen to me.

Did anyone at school think I was being abused? Well, it's clear I had serious behavioral problems:

1st grade 21 It's more than ADHD, it's AD IN HD!

'Twirling', 'hiding under desk', 'singing', 'bumping head', 'difficulty following directions', 'not paying attention', 'don't want to do it'... not only did I have ADHD, but it was ten times more difficult to function because I was terrified to follow anyone's directions since at home that always led to punishment that I couldn't escape!

I remember once being in the principal's office and I was so afraid of what my dad was going to do to me later that I started looking up at the ceiling and laughing. The principal, Mr. Leher, was so angry that he slapped me in the face!

I just wanted to be left alone!

1st grade 34 Go awey! (inside cover)

I could not stand to see people who were happy to be with one another. Most people didn't like me and I was jealous of their happiness with other people, and constantly felt abandoned.

1st grade 14 Vary sad sun!

I wanted to kill other people who were happy and doing well. After my own family birthday party (I wasn't allowed to have anyone unrelated to me over), I was treated like garbage.

1st grade 36 Tragic end to the birthday snake

I just wanted to destroy everyone and everything.

1st grade 27 He is the killer!

I remember years ago reading Mrs. Padais' comments about me in first grade, which included the phrase; "Baby thunderbird crying because a monster ate parents." It must have been referring to this drawing:

1st grade 37 Monster eats thunderbird's parents!

What can I say? I saw other families being portrayed as having the parents being there for the kids. Not so for me -- my dad found every excuse in the world to punish me, and my mom seemed to agree with him, though sometimes she would protect me instead.

I was pretty suicidal as well -- I remember contemplating trying to kill myself by throwing myself down the stairs when my dad walked by. I told him I felt like I wanted to kill myself and he said everyone feels that way sometimes.
` I said, "Well, I feel that way all the time!" I thought if he was really my 'parent' he would ask why, but instead he called me a liar!

Nevertheless, my 'thunderbird' tried pretty hard to kill himself.

1st grade 43 Thunderbird under car

Needless to say, I felt trapped. Unfortunately, other people didn't seem to notice.

1st grade 46 Bird in a cage

Also, I stopped using color in my drawings around this time. Why? I really didn't see the point in it.

It was a sad time, and it only got worse when I was moved into Special Ed, where the principal, Mr. Leher (who ironically followed me from 'normal school'), would also play a role in more physical abuse, i.e. helping Mr. Peterson drag me down the stairs on my knees, and then blaming me for getting hurt.

In fact, my life just got worse and worse over the years, between being abused at home and at school, and I had no real friends. Then, I was taken out of school and abused at home, full-time, and by then my dad was a psychotic mess.
` During the day, my parents would go to work and I would be alone, obsessing over whether my dad would kill me as he often threatened to when he got back home from work.
` At night, he would often keep me at the dining room table, sometimes until sunrise, telling me how awful the world was and how everybody was out to kill him, including me and my mom, but that I didn't remember trying to kill him because I was crazy.
` He told me that my mom killed her own father, and all kinds of other terrible things, so I grew to hate her until I was seventeen and she told me that my dad was crazy. I didn't have anyone to compare him to, but I somehow knew she was right, so I stopped believing him and started trusting her.

Was that the end of my problems? Far from it. In a way, my life still got worse from other things, especially being literally tortured and locked up in a place I thought I would die in.
` I was treated like an idiot for needing emotional support and abandoned by almost everyone, including 'therapists', my mother and my so-called boyfriend, who was utterly unaware of what I was going through, but still bought me an elaborate engagement ring despite my refusal to have a physical relationship with him.

So, for needing to straighten myself out, I was treated like I was weak and stupid and for years I just shut down. I felt that I wasn't tough enough for 'the real world' when really, those other people had no idea what I had been through and what it was like for me to have chaotic terrible thoughts racing uncontrollably through my head and no happy memories to fall back on.

I finally started to care about myself and taking control of my own brain in late 2005, and since then I have been working very hard to construct, for the first time ever, some happiness and order in my own thoughts.
` Since my crazy roommates (and other low-lifes) are finally gone as of this year, this is the first time my life's struggle seems to have entirely paid off.

It has been a very long journey. And now I live in a wonderful house, with a wonderful man, who is driving off to shoot a TV show as I type this. Probably next spring I will be attending the University of Washington to become a science writer.

Who knew this could happen? I would never have guessed.

There are more of these drawings, including non-depressing ones (which I'll get to next time) in the First and Second Grade Set on my Flickr account.


Middle Ditch said...

No, other people never notice or, if they do, prefer to turn a blind eye.

I have a blog friend on my links who went through things too. Horrendous childhood. She wrote it all down in short stories and put them on her blog. She seems to be a very strong person now, like you.

S E E Quine said...

It's unfortunate how that happens. You know, the neighbor kid's parents looked at me like a freak and wouldn't let me in to play, and were nervous about letting them over to my house, probably because of my dad.
` Finally, they stopped letting their kids play with me after another neighbor volunteered in my classroom and saw what was going on there, with Mr Peterson dragging me around in a laundry bag and stuff.

Indeed, whatever doesn't kill you can only make you stronger... if you let it!

Middle Ditch said...

I will have a look at that website soon but am really busy at the mo. Husband and I will go our separate ways and we are in the process of selling the house after doing it up. Keep in touch and don't worry. We are both very happy at what we are doing and, please, don't talk about this on my blog as no other person apart from my daughters know what is happening.

S E E Quine said...

Well, M.D., I hope that all goes well. Even so, life changes like this are often stressful, so I hope things work out for you both!

And by the way, I should really write another post, shouldn't I?

Middle Ditch said...

Yes you should