Saturday, February 15, 2014

Parenting Through the Triggers: Part 1

*Possible Trigger Warning*

Not that the warning is only a possibility; it's a reality. I'm just not sure if what I'm going to write on this post will be an emotional trigger or not, but I want to have the warning at the beginning of every post in this series anyway. Because I am assuming that just about every person who reads my blog is a parent or wants to be a parent some day and I'm going to be mentioning things that will hurt an empathetic parent's heart. If hearing about child abuse is an emotional trigger for you, you've been warned. I've read things with trigger warnings and sometimes I've stayed away and been grateful for the warning. As I stated last week, these sad posts are not going to take over my blog. They're just something I need to get out, written down and thrown out into the universe so that I can get some distance from them. Okay, enough stalling...

I have wanted a daughter for a very long time. I didn't get to be the girly-girl I secretly wanted to be. In fact, I didn't get to be much of a child at all. I had to grow up and mature really fast. I had to be strong at an age when I should have been protected. Instead, the people who should have been protecting me hurt me. I was taken away from my parents at the age of four and a half by the state, but the damage was already done. You might wonder "how much could she actually remember?" The answer is enough. The answer is plenty. The answer is more than you want to hear. Having to tell police officers and social workers and lawyers and therapists reinforces memories. So does trauma. There was no having a normal childhood after what happened, not for me. My grandparents who took us in tried the best they could. But they were not equipped to give me what I needed. They were, after all, the people who had raised my father. I don't believe they caused him to be what he was. But I do wonder if they had been better parents, if he would have turned out differently. 

I had to be strong. I hate hearing from people how strong I am. It makes me angry. I should never have had to be strong like that. I'm in my late 20's, yet hearing that, even knowing it's intended as a compliment, makes me want to throw a tantrum at the unfairness of it all. I know people are saying that because they can't think of anything else, so I don't throw the tantrum; on the outside. But on the inside, I'm a wreck.

I never wanted to be a victim again. I never wanted to be weak, reliant, or vulnerable. I was never going to let anyone hurt me again. I saw feminity as weekness, so I outwardly rejected it even as I secretly yearned to be a twirly-whirly princess who would be rescued instead of having to rescue herself. But I rarely admitted that to myself. For a long time I rejected anything pink on principle, yet was secretly jealous of my younger sister always getting the pretty version of something while I got the more mature or practical or dull version of something. For example, my sister and I were both given decorative boxes. Hers had pretty purple pansies on it. Mine was brown, with dark and muted teddy bears on it.

Thinking on it now, what I wanted most was a life of beauty. Tea parties, swirly dresses, ribbons and lace, flowers and dollies. I wanted to live in a world where ugliness was impossible. Instead I had to live in a practical, realistic world. One in which I was strong.

I wanted a daughter, I think in part to redeem my lost childhood. I'm too self aware to completely turn her into a surrogate for myself. But if I can give her a childhood full of beauty, and to protect her, it will be something good. Because I look at my daughter now and I remember that I was once a baby girl. How could my father have done that to me? How could my mother have allowed it? How was it not obvious how wrong it was?* I am so strong for my children I can not understand not being strong for them.

I don't want to force what I want on her. I know that will just make her rebel against it or resent it. I have to let my daughter be herself, even if it's nothing that I hoped for. And with two older boys, it's a good chance she's going to end up a tomboy. But I'm hoping that once in a while she'll have a tea party with me. That we can dress up as princesses together and make matching outfits for dolls. I hope I can give her a life full of beauty. Above all, I know I will give her a life where she can develop her own strength at the right age, while being protected.

* I realize this sounds like there was sexual abuse happening. Thankfully, there was not. It was strictly emotional and physical abuse.


  1. Thank You. Every true thing you write is a gift to your readers, your children, and yourself.

  2. I completely understand. I think that's why I'm so admandant that Princess be allowed to wear her Princess gowns anywhere, any time she pleases.


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