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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the way i was parented and how it affected how i'm raisin' my kids


Tracey Anne Hallberg is my Monday Guest Contributor.  She is a survivor of Family Crisis, and proof positive that there is light on the other side.  She shares from her heart, leaving very little to the imagination.  

Her story is valid, important, and needs to be shared.  My personal journey is very different from hers, but on my journey, I have come upon many...many...who have had to live through horrors similar to the upbringing Tracey was forced to endure.  

Tracey is one of the most courageous women I have had the privilege to know, and I am honored to share Wings Like Eagles with her every Monday.

Tracey's account is graphic and raw, and is not suitable for young or sensitive readers.  I give her posts a strong PG-13 rating.



THE WAY I WAS PARENTED

I was not really parented.  I was not guided properly, nurtured, or protected.  Heck, I think the stray cat down the street got more attention.

My mom taught me not to steal.  She tried to teach me to tell the truth. Although she’d overreact, and as a result I’d lie more.  I could not confide in her.  She would FREEK out, man.  

She and my sister, Dana, were best friends.  Too bestie, if you ask me.  Not really a mother at all to her.  Buddies.  Mama leaned on Dana too much.  Depended on her to be the parent.  It was backwards.  

I was their burden. The third wheel.

There would be laughter, and cutting up.  I would run into the room, wondering what the funny commotion was all about.  The room would become quiet.  They would be silent as church mice.  Then would come the nickname.  Mama would say, "Big ears and Little Pictures."

I hated that.  Outcast by my own family.  Shunned. Left out.  

ABUSED BY MEN

I had to listen to their country music all day.  Only when they would go out to party, and leave me alone, would I get to listen to my Tom Petty, Led Zeppelin, and ACDC.  I loved Rock.  Daddy listened to it.  I remember from when I was 3.  To this day, I hate sappy Country music.  Makes me want to hurl.

Mama would bring men home.  Dana would too, sometimes.  We were taught the unthinkable.  I hated that.  And sadly, it was so normal.  I don't know what made me want to hurl most.  The unmentionable we were made to do, or that sappy country music.  I reckon it still triggers them bad memories today.

I knew in my heart it was wrong, but I had no control.  I was 8.  I had no opinion, no voice.  Everything I thought, said, or did was considered stupid.

Years later, and even recently, when I spoke to my sister after all the therapy, tears and pain about what mama did to us, and how it affected me, and how it created my fears with my own kids, she would defend mama.  Say that it was ALL she knew.  She loved mama.  But, I did too.  Felt sorry for her mostly.

A SUPPRESSED MEMORY RESURFACES

When Trinity Rayna Hallberg was born, I was 29.  My husband, Jason took me out.  Taught me to drive.  Took me 6 months before I could even leave the parking lot. 

I discovered I was havin' flashbacks of Mama's drunk driving.  How a repressed memory I had of an accident so horrific kept me from gettin' behind tha wheel.

I remembered hidin' her keys at 7 yrs old.  Beggin' her not to make me ride with her.  She would be in a drunken stupor.  Talkin' about how her car was the only thing she owned outright, and how nobody was gonna keep her from it.

Then she killed a mother of 3.  I remember hearing crushing metal.  Taste blood in my mouth.  I could see broken glass.  And a dead baby boy.

It brings tears every time I am triggered in stressful times on the road.
It makes me shake.  And even throw up.

Sometimes Mama was in a blackout.  Didn't remember anything of that night.
Not unlike many nights.  She would not remember much.  When you drink too much alcohol, and take too many pills, your brain goes to sleep.

So when Trinity was born, I had just learned to drive.  I did not want to be that poor lady at the bus stop in the rain with her babies.

HELICOPTER MOM

When people would look at my baby, and say how cute and sweet, I would cringe inside.  Perverts, all of them.  Of course on the outside, I would smile.  Thank them, and walk away.  

The first time I brought myself to be able to leave her with her grandparents, was when I experienced one of the MOST horrible days of my life.  They could NEVER possibly understand.  As a matter of fact, I know I hurt Jason's mom when I shared my fears.  But, I couldn’t help it.  I couldn’t make my fears go away.  Even though I knew that they weren’t rational.

I shook.  I cried.  I threw up.  I shook and I cried some more. 

PTSD.  Full blown affect.

I am a helicopter mom.

Always on edge, worrisome, nervous, neurotic.

Thinkin' of all the worse cases scenarios.

Plannin' out what I would do if someone hurt my babies.  Shotgun.  I got one.

I am the opposite of my mother.

I feel sorry for a son of a bitch who hurts my babies.  I will pray for his soul as I put him down.

Me and Jesus are walkin' with that.

Last summer, my kids wanted to go to Vacation Bible School, a Bible day camp at our church.  Their church.  A place familiar to our whole family, with people we know.  They were so excited.

From the first time they asked, it was HORRIBLE for me, as I feared for them.  Madness.  

I know what people can do.  What so many did to Dana, and to me.  What others I’ve known through the years have done.  I know the evil out there.

I started teaching my kids what appropriate and inappropriate touching was when they were old enough to point.  I told them to tell me and not to be afraid.  Even if the person was a trusted friend or threatened them or me in any way.  Told them that bad people who say and do that are lying and mama would see that they never did it again.

Still.  That day, as I walked to my car in the church parking lot, I cursed God for allowing me to feel so horrible.  Vacation Bible School is supposed to be fun.  Safe.  A happy experience for kids.  But, all I could think about was everything that could happen to them.  And I was mad.  Mad that God allowed all Mama's pain, Dana's pain, and my pain.  Mad that there aren’t any guarantees that my babies won’t get hurt.  My knees shook, I fell to the grass, head in my hands.  Face wet with tears, praying for their safety.

As I picked myself up off the ground, shaking all over, angry, worried, afraid, and sick, I got into my car, shut the door, and pounded my fists on the steering wheel.
"WHY??!!"

I was able to leave.  Jesus worked with me, and I was able to leave.  Leave my babies.  Trust.  Or at least, try to trust.

A few hours later, when it was time, I went to go pick them up.  They could not FIND my son, Jaron Arthur, FOR 23 MINUTES!!!  I had a flippin' FIT!  

He was found.  He was left alone, and was running around loose and free.  When they brought him to me, he could see the worry on my face.  He hugged me, and said, "Mama, I'm OK.”

It was sad.  That poor baby, comforting me.

OFFERS OF HELP AND GOOD INTENTIONS

So many people tell me to relax.  To trust.  Quote Bible verses on being anxious for nothing.  How can you tell someone to relax, when the most horrendous things are real to them?

They criticize.  Tell me I’m not being spiritual because I don’t trust.  But, let me ask you this.  If I had gangrene in my leg, and had to have it amputated, would you criticize me because I walk crooked with my prosthetic?  Or, if I was right-handed, and I broke my arm, would you criticize me for having weak handwriting with my left hand?

I know how big God is.  I know He can heal me of my worry, and anxiety.  I know I can trust Him.  But, He knows what I have been through, and He knows that it is going to take time.  I’ve been broken.  He can fix me, and I wish I was fixed already, but I know He is working on me.  It just takes time.

A lady came to me and told me of a book called "Bad Childhood -- Good Life," by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.  This book has been very helpful to me.  That one, and I think, “Breaking Free,” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, as well.  In these books, I learned things like, emotions aren’t truth, and that it wasn’t my choice what happened to me, but I can choose how to react.  She encourages me that I can live a life free of fear.

It is a daily test, raisin' these kids. I don't tell them details of what happened to me. But one day, they will have questions.  I have to be ready to answer them.  To equip them with the strength I was never given.  Where I have fallen short.

That’s where my walk with Jesus becomes more important than ever.  Not just so that I can learn how to be free, but so that my children can know how to be free.

Children are supposed to be guided properly, nurtured, and protected.  Loved.  Thank God, and I mean that literally, mine are.  They’re not being raised the way I was, and I have to remind myself of that.  They are being guided properly by their daddy and me, nurtured, and protected.  That alone gives them security I never had.

And with each passing day, I grow stronger.  For my kids.  For my family.  For me.  Because of Jesus. 

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