There comes a point in every child’s life (or so we hope) that they grow into an adult. The wings of youth are spread wide to fly into adulthood, and we exit the nest – some of us more gracefully than others. For me, the flight from the nest was done in a near panic because I lived in a nest full of vipers.
Around the time I was graduating from High School, my entire home situation changed. Instead of living with my Mom and my tyrannical step-father, I was now going to be living with my Mom and her new wife. Yeah, that’s not a typo – at the age of 17 my Mom asked my permission to enter into a relationship with another woman. It seems crazy that a grown-up would ask a teenage child’s permission for something like this, but my mother’s issues weren’t just confined to drugs and alcohol. She also had a very unhealthy relationship with me. It felt as if the role of parent had child had always been reversed with us. When she set me aside for her new relationship, I really didn’t know how to deal with that. I was pretty adrift and feeling alone at that time.
I didn’t want her to marry Lori, but I still stood up as her maid of honor because I didn’t know how to say NO to her. None of the problems improved at all in this new relationship, and the older I got the more I was drawn into the drugs and dysfunction. Her wife also had drug and alcohol problems of her own, which just made things so much worse around the house. I don’t want to go too far into that situation, because that’s not what this blog is about. What is relevant is that I was still taking care of myself in all the ways that counted, without much help from any adults, and now on the verge of adulthood. With so much going on around me, I was hardly focused on the aches and pains. That’s not to say the pain wasn’t a constant, just that I wasn’t constantly able to focus on it.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I had been learning to suppress my complaints about the pain I was experiencing. I wish I understood how this happened, how I got ‘tough’, if that’s even what it is. If I knew how it happened I’d gladly share my secrets with you. I think that I learned to focus on everything around me that wasn’t me, everyone around me who wasn’t me, and only talked about things that really weren’t important to me. All of the skills I learned growing up in a dysfunctional household also served me well in hiding what was really going on with me and how much pain I was in. I had mostly given up on any sort of real treatment or help, any cure or answer, and would just happily take whatever pill I could obtain from a doctor or my mother that dulled the pain – and the pain was not just physical, of course.
I was still clumsy as ever and really accident prone. I remember jumping down from the back of the pickup truck once at their house, spraining my ankle. I know that it went completely sideways – and in retrospect I realize that being so flexible saved me from a greater injury that day. This was celebrated as another occasion to see a doctor to get some ‘good meds’, and of course these were shared with everyone in the house. I was learning to self-medicate from a master, my mother, who had been at it all her life.