Tuesday, April 9, 2024

My backstory up to age 7: where bizarre neglect and abandonment in my life began

Hello my friends. As you know if you follow this blog, it's become a real-time walk thru of realization about my lifelong experiences of narcissistic abuse, family scapegoating, exploitation, manipulation, parentification, neglect, toxic shaming, abandonment, betrayal trauma and shame dumping and gaslighting about all that by all four parent figures, including two stepparents. Today I'm starting a series exploring the many levels of trauma I've experienced and from decades of abuse emotionally, mentally, physically, sexually and even spiritually. I want to warn you now that this is very raw and may be triggering to you. So read with caution. It's also a bit all over the place. I'm just trying to get it down. 

First a word about why I always list the forms of abuse I suffered separately: narcissistic abuse, family scapegoating, exploitation, manipulation, parentification, neglect, abandonment, toxic shaming, trauma and shame dumping, betrayal and gaslighting. My family situation was complicated and bizarre, much more complicated than most of my agemates or any that I knew of. My mom and dad divorced when I was 7. They each remarried but only after a series of affairs. My mother dated several married men. My dad dated a 17 year old who had not yet graduated, when he was 34. I was 9.  I catalog the different experiences separately because each of them and their children, abused me in different combinations. 

 From My  mother had various boyfriends while still married to my dad (I just realized that) and then lived with one whom she married. In 1970-1974 when this was happening, it was virtually unheard of in any of the neighborhoods or social circles I lived in (which were pretty standard middle America). My dad dated various women after the divorce and possible before. He'd left us in Alaska after they took me on what they called a mission trip to "convert the Indians" when I was 5.   

My mother was onboard with this. He spent most of the ensuing few years wandering around Alaska doing what I have no idea. My mom wasn't around much either and left me to wander around in the many places in which we lived, both in Muskegon, MI where I was born, Newago, MI where we moved and then in Alaska. I played with a dead rabbit thinking I could pet it at age 4 because no parent was around to tell me it was unsafe. At 5, I walked alone to school up a steep rickety staircase. I played alone the park where a known pedophile hung out. My mother's workaround to that was to tell me not to use the bathroom to avoid him. I was terrified by being made to watch "Dark Shadows" at a friend's house where I was sent after school. Neither my mother or father worked that I know of. I don't know why they were unavailable to care for me. I'm told that constitutes neglect. At 5, it was just my life. 

I explored the very dangerous docks in Haines Alaska alone at 6. I was the kid other friends weren't allowed to play with because I was unsupervised. I climbed rocks alone. I don't remember meals except with the Tlinget family with whom I lived. My mother moved us to the island of Metlakatla for a few weeks in summer of 1969 during our year in Alaska. We knew no one. A few weeks after arrival, she left me with strangers to go to Seattle to get treatment for a bladder infection. (This is what I was told. She has since denied that any of this happened). Seattle was 3,000 miles away. And since my mother and father didn't work, we had no money. I have no idea how she afforded that trip. I was terrified the entire time. Also, Ketchikan just across the bay had a good hospital that could have treated a routine bladder infection. I don't know where my dad was during this time. They were "separated" and he was wandering around the Aleutian chain. I don't know why he didn't come back to stay with me. I have never really recovered from that experience.

I lived in at least 15 different places by age 7. They were all "flop" situations meaning we were transient with no fixed abode, address or means of contact. We lived in tents, with people and in and spare rooms. I've slept on people's couches and floors. I understand that this constituted homelessness. 

This kind of life is the only memory I have till age 8. I have no memory of any family meals together, holidays, toys, proper bed, or parent presence. Houses and apartments would come and go in a month's time. My cousin has a better memory than I do, of at least one home I lived in. He and his mom showed it to me a year ago. I did not remember it. It could have been one of  many vague impressions I have of my living space. 

We did not  move around because extended family was unavailable. Quite the opposite. Both my grandparents and various aunts and uncles loved us very much. My dad's brother (who is legendarily unemotional) told me that the day they took me from his was one of the saddest of his life. Extended family helped and reached out. They were exploited by my parents too. Both grandparents' homes are the only homes I remember. It's not that I don't have the ability to remember either. I can tell you, almost 60 years later, the exact floor plan of their  houses, how they smelled of Lake Michigan sand and water, how safe and secure I felt there. 

Things were bad then but when my mom moved back they got infinitely worse. I'll discuss that in upcoming parts in this series.

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