Freedom to…

Today the children asked many questions about Buddha. We are not Buddhist, in case you were wondering. I put on ¨Little Buddha¨ and answered whatever questions the film inspired.
I had used Buddha as a teaching tool when we first left.
My boys were so violent in those early days, I had to point to a figure that practiced a radical form of nonviolent living as an example worth following, just so there was another point of view. We spent early mornings, before anyone had a chance at misbehaviour in that chaotic and oppressive shelter, removing snails from drainholes in the lawn, so they would not ¨fall¨ or ¨drown¨ or ¨be crushed¨ by anyone stepping on the grate. While I talked about Buddha and why we should care if the littlest thing is harmed.
I have lately read the ¨One Minute Mother” which is short, but gives positive parenting from a very simple view. It was a nice little refresher.
My goal with my therapist was changed, from integration into Western culture to self acceptance, which has prompted the following recollections.
I had horrible insomnia as a child. I would count how many times I could go around the perimeter of the playground before the bell rang, because most days no one would play with me. I became a bully, beating up on boys larger than myself who looked to be ¨bothering΅ girls. I realize now, it was probably play for them, both genders. I tried to kill myself at age eleven. I really hated myself, and I always had this sense that who I was and what I wanted to do with myself was not acceptable to anyone. I am very careful to embrace my children’s interests as part of them, and not dismiss their passions, because of this experience. I had two pairs of pants, four shirts, and two sweaters one year, and my far wealthier classmates noticed-and made sure I knew they had noticed. I did not learn how to wash my hair properly until I was much older, and I remember my father forcing me in the tub to try to teach me at age eight, and I was so mortified that I remember only the shame and the terror of it, not anything learned.
The flip side was that I was responsible for myself completely at age six. I cooked, cleaned, and etc. My mother claims that I raised myself, to this day. I had no respect for either of my parents as a child, though I was afraid of my father’s displeasure. At age thirteen they kidnapped me and had me committed, because though I obeyed all local laws, such as curfew and doing nothing illegal, I did not obey my mother’s house rules. I left home shortly after I was released from that facility, which was the month it took to eat up my insurance coverage, because returning home and discovering my room had become a storage locker for the lover that my mother had moved into the house in my absence was just too much for me. A session on the streets of the city and a lecture from a juvenile court judge got me home again, though I continued to help homeless youth for years after. I tried to live with my father, made it for a few months, but they sent me back to my mother when they found my cigarettes, which I suppose was illegal, but common where we lived. That summer they sent me to survival camp, and my father informed me that he would never speak to me again if I did not pass with flying colors. I did, and he stopped speaking to me for four years, anyway. I called him shortly before I lost my home at age eighteen, when my mother planned on me being out. I maintained a relationship with him but never took his offers to move in and follow his rules, even when homeless, for fear I would lose my father again through my own mistakes.
For fear of causing them pain, I never talk to them about these things, unless they bring it up. My mother once commented that she was horrified by children fighting, and I asked her why she just walked away when my brother was beating on me as a child-every day. She said she wouldn’t do that now, and the little girl in me just about died from the futility of that statement.
My parents never spoke much about when they were children or even young adults. They did not talk much to me about myself as a child, either. I tell my children many things about themselves, and I tell them about how I grew up, too. I want them to have a sense of place, of continuity, of being wanted, cherished, celebrated, noticed.
I woke up ill today. I still feel awful and I should be asleep. I had reserved a spot for my daughter at a local kid’s play place, for her birthday party, and we went, despite how I felt. It went well. I hope she remembers that she got what she wanted. Someday they will ask me for something that I cannot give them, I am sure.
I was not allowed to take my kids to parties, or outside much at all. I was not allowed to talk about myself. I was not allowed to introduce peaceful concepts to the children. I was not allowed a therapist he had not met and approved of and interrogated me over mercilessly after each session. Not until we left.


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