I thought my Grandmother was the Wicked Witch

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Mean Grandmother

I had two grandmothers ~ they were like the Good Witch and the Bad Witch. I would not have thought of them this way if it weren’t for truly thinking that the mean grandma was an honest to goodness fairy tale Witch. I didn’t like the bad Witch. The mean grandmother believed and would say things like “children should be seen and not heard.” She made it very clear that children were nothing she was interested in. And she made that my fault.

There was another odd thing about that statement; the “bad Witch” didn’t want to SEE us either. She made lots of comments about how loud we were and I remember her constantly saying that our laughter got on her nerves. But EVERYTHING got on her nerves.

As a child, when I was told that children should be seen and not heard, or when I felt that communication, I believed that meant I should be seen and not heard. I didn’t think that if only I could grow up so that I could be worth listening to. I was crushed. I was invalid. I was unwanted. AND she made sure that I knew it was MY fault she felt that way.

There was another mixed message with that same grandmother.  (Continued…) She also said that I was sullen and withdrawn. So now I am too loud and too quiet.  Not allowed to cry, not allowed to laugh. What is a child supposed to do with that information? Children do not have the maturity to realize that this is about THEM.  I thought it was about me.

And just when, at what age was I supposed to realize that this was about her?

My mean grandmother would take a look at me and then tell my mother (her daughter) what was wrong with everything about me. She especially didn’t like my hair, which was long, thick, beautiful and very well taken care of.  She would examine me, she narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips and then she turned to my mother and said things like “I don’t like her hair that way”. Sometimes she would say “I don’t like her hair, dear”. “It’s too long, dear”. It seemed to be worse when she added that endearment on the end. From the time I was four all I wanted was long hair; most of my positive identity was about my hair, and it was as if she knew that.  Her comments were very hurtful and very destructive. She was an emotionally and psychologically abusive grandmother.

She put me down this way from my earliest memory of her.  And while she was putting me down, she was also putting my mother down because of course my mother was responsible for whatever my grandmother didn’t like about me, so my guess is that she was getting two digs for the price of one. (again, this is emotional abuse) I remember when I was in my twenties my grandmother looked at me and turned to my mother and said “I don’t like her lipstick”. Another time she turned to my mother and said “I don’t like her hair”. And with that same sneer as before, she said things directly to me too; “why are you wearing that color?” “I think you should wear a dress”.

I drew my own conclusions. I didn’t really love my mean grandmother; I mean what was there to love? I was afraid of her even though I never disrespected her. But that doesn’t mean that her constant disapproval of me didn’t take a toll.  And I had questions too. Why did she feel this way about me? What was wrong with me? I still remember her nasty face when she made those hurtful assessments of me and my appearance, looking down on me as though I were a mere bug to be squashed. And my mother didn’t say a word in my defense. My mean grandmother had plenty of critical things to say about my mother too and my mother sat and took it also. I guess my mother didn’t know that as an adult, she had a choice.  

I actually shuddered as I wrote this, remembering the way that my grandmother was towards me. I disgusted her. I felt disgusting in her presence. I felt like something was wrong with me; I felt the sting of rejection. She made sure that I knew that I was unworthy. I was just a child; a sullen and disgusting, noisy and bothersome child with nasty hair and unflattering outfits. But I had been raised to try harder; to accept that it must be about me, my fault and my shortcoming and raised to try harder. And so I did.

Oh and I forgot to mention; my mean grandmother was married to a drunken child molester, which is a whole other story for a whole other blog post but in light of all the evidence, my parents knew that he was a child molester, and a drunk, and her mother was a mean Witch so why were they still taking ME there in the first place?

Realizing how things were for me as a child has gone such a long way towards the emotional healing that I have experienced. I had to uncover the lies that I had accepted about myself, before I could override them with the truth.  I would like to welcome you to share your own stories, thoughts, feelings, discoveries or the ways that you were invalidated and subscribe to the comments or check back; we always have great discussions here.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from the people that have bought my book. Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

related posts ~ Mom and Grandma had a dysfunctional mother daughter relationship

How Blame, Guilt, and Shame get misapplied to self

Mother Daughter Relationship ~ my poor mom

72 response to "I thought my Grandmother was the Wicked Witch"

  1. By: Julia Fry Posted: 15th March

    Thank you, Darlene. Even as I write this comment I feel some worry as my Grandma is dead now and there is some kind of family taboo about speaking ill of her. I remember a time about fifteen years ago when I lost lots of weight. I was very skinny. I visited my family. My Grandma said to me, “you look too thin. You look horrible.” She looked me up and down as one might at an animal and turned away, disgusted. I got upset and said “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all!” and my mum told me off! There was a minor row about it but I remember the whole thing leaving a horrible taste in my mouth. I wasn’t supported. My Grandma’s view was the acceptable one and because she was older she needed to be placated in my mum’s eyes. Cold, rigid. That’s how she was. And on Facebook my cousin recently wrote how much she misses her and loves her. Sometimes I feel like a freak for seemingly being the only one in the family that sees how dysfunctional it is.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Hi Julia
      Oh I know that “taboo feeling!” OH yes… and thank you for posting anyway! I had to reassure myself a million times that I was an adult and no one could punish me in any way that I could not stand up to and take care of myself today in order to get this stuff out. When I was in my twenties, I formed a new relationship with this grandma… and oh I thought I loved her ~ what a mess! She picked on me and I kept going back! I realize that I was just so stuck in the whole dysfunctional system. Today I realize just how awful she was to me and to all the children (even her own grown children) that she had ever been around. She ruled with critical judgement.
      I felt like a freak for a couple of years when I first started to come out of the fog, but today I don’t care if they all band together and say I am the crazy one! They are still being picked on and I am free! I think I got the better deal!
      Hugs, Darlene

  2. By: Karen Ranes Posted: 15th March

    My fathers mother “Nana” was a mean nasty person too. She never smiled and NEVER had anything nice to say to or about me or my brother. We were the only grandchildren. We never got a present at Christmas or birthdays or graduation or marriage. We were to be seen and not heard. Actually we were given a magazine to read on our monthly visits as my grandparents didn’t interact when my Dad brought us there. My mother was not allowed to visit even Christmas she was left alone while we were dragged to their house to see people who didn’t want to see us anyway. I now know Nana was a narcissist and my Dad, the only child
    became one too from being told all his life that he was special above everyone else.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Hi Karen
      That is what I am talking about ~ and it was in realizing the message those actions communicated to me, that I began to realize the damage it did to me. That is exactly what I am talking about when I write about how the belief system forms. These kinds of messages that were GIVEN to us by our elders. Your mother was not allowed to visit?? And your parents went along with that! See how the cycle goes? This stuff just makes me cringe!
      Thank you for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Libby Posted: 15th March

    Oh wow – do you think our grandmothers were related???
    My fathers mother was a nasty piece of work – and only recently I learned that she was extrememly violent towards her whole family – my grandfather included. My father loathed her. I certainly didn’t like her, and I had very little contact with her as I grew up. When I did, though, it was prety horrible. There was nothing about me that was right. My hair, wahtever the ength was always wrong. She hated the fact that I was a red-head – the only one in the whole family. I was never dressed properly – she would buy lots of frilly numbers – I was a tom boy. Once, just to shut her up, my mother sent me out to play in one of her purchases – I came home with it grey and in tatters. You can imagine what the reaction was.
    We were at their house once, over Christmas and I got the measles – she thought it was a deliberate act of rebellion in order to spoil her plans.
    I was sassy, and she hated that. But when I went to stay with her one summer (I was just 13) she complained that I never spoke. I had nothing to say; why would I say anyting when she was only going to criticise or mock me? I was a fish out of water – being made to do the social rounds of her elderly and horribly ailing “friends”, no-one of my own age to mix with.
    She really was an evil witch – she created the inadequate narcissist who my father became; she taught him the emotionally abusive way of being. She crippled his emotional development – and her teaching spilled over into my chidlhood, she paved the way for my abuse.
    By contrast my other grandmother was lovely – sweet, gentle and warm. I know 100% that she loved ME, not some fantasy child, and the same with my Grandad. They kept my little inner child alive, as well as the outer child, during the years when I was secretly dying in spirit from the other stuff that was going on.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Libby
      There are days when I am still shocked to realize how many hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of people can relate to this awful stuff.
      That is the thing that I realized in the process of waking up; that no matter what I was not “right” in the eyes of most adults. And my mother stuck up for HER abusive mother. To a child, it is so confusing when an adult gives such mixed messages about what would be acceptable!
      Thank you for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: FoggedIn Posted: 28th December

    Ouch reading that one hurt. “Children should be seen and not heard” along with “why don’t you go play on the road” were both strong mantras of both my parents as I grew up.

  5. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 17th March

    Thanks, Sheryl. I love fish! I will eat a lot more fish and see if that will help my carbohydrate craving, which is BAD. I crave sweets and carbs daily. I haven’t had an alcoholic drink in 21 years, because back when I drank alcohol, I craved that, too, and it got me in trouble. Loss of judgment, loss of inhibitions, and, while under the influence of alcohol, my ability to fake being normal depsite my severe PTSD was totally gone.

    Interesting theory, about the Diet Cure and Mood Cure. I’ll look into that.

  6. By: Sheryl Posted: 17th March

    Lynda,
    Julia Ross wrote The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure. She worked in addictions for 15 years and discovered four categories of addictions (substances) and the amino acids that wil counter those cravings withing 24 hours to get a person on the road to recovery quickly.
    In the Mood Cure, she writes about people who are from coastal plain areas, such as Ireland, Scotland (I have some of this in my genetics) and if you have only 25% of this in your make-up, you need a certain kind of protein (sardine, salmon, tuna) in your diet on a regular basis to off-set the carbohydrate craving, the worst of which, is alcohol. When you actually li ve on the coastal plain, you eat more of these foods than we do in this country. From what you said about your ancestry and the health issues, the bronzing of the skin (my grandfather did this with his adrenal failure) I wonder if this protein source would help. Tuna, sardines, and salmon is what she reccommends. MY voice teacher’s husband is Irish and has digestion issues. He had to have his tonsils removed, maybe twice, but is wrecked his singing voice, and he is a full-time musician. I may be calling her soon and will try to remember to ask about his health.

  7. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 16th March

    Thanks, Sheryl! And, to answer your earlier question re how my dad died, he had type 1, or Juvenile, Diabetes, starting from when he was in his teens. His blood sugar was very hard to control, and that ultimately caused damage to his cardiac system, resulting in a fatal heart attack at age 53.

    With regards to what Darlene said in an earlier comment, about my dad’s diagnosed Multiple Personality Disorder (diagnosed in the 1960s), as not sounding like her understanding of DID… I don’t know much about Dissociative Identity Disorder, but I’ve been thinking about what Darlene said, and I believe she has a valid point there.

    I also agree wholeheartedly with Darlene’s reasons for not focusing on “diagnosis labels,” and I particularly like her emphaisis on keeping the focus on on own healing, rather than focusing on what may have been wrong with our abusers. However, I think it doesn’t hurt to speculate a little, on what I have learned in recent years about the little-known genetic disorder I inherited, from BOTH parents~

    I was diagnosed in 2003 with Hereditary Hemochromatosis. Until recent years, little was known about HH, and in fact it was rarely diagnosed until the autopsy! My dad did not have an autopsy, because it was assumed that his type 1 diabetes caused his fatal heart attack, so, what was there to look for in an autopsy?

    After reading everything I could on my diagnosed HH, I strongly suspect that my dad had HH, too. I know for certain that both my father and my mother had to be carriers of HH, because in 2004 I had genetic testing done, and was told that I inherited the defective gene which causes hereditary hemochromatosis, from both parents.

    HH is a metabolic disorder that causes the body to store up highly toxic levels of iron, from an ordinary diet. Over time… usually over many years… the increasingly toxic levels of iron slowly attacks EVERY SINGLE ORGAN IN THE BODY. It starts off so slowly and insiduously that, until recent years, the damage resulting from the toxic iron was all that was normally diagnosed, while the underlying cause, the high iron, went unnoticed: for example, diabetes is a typical result of having HH, due to the high iron destroying the pancreas; various heart problems are typical also, due to the high iron attacking the cardiac system; arthritis is also typical with HH, due to the high iron attacking the joints; fibromyalgia is also common, due to the high iron attacking the muscles and soft connective tissue; cirrhosis of the liver, and even liver cancer, happens very frequently, due to the high iron attacking and concentrating in the liver, and….. the highly toxic levels of iron in the blood also crosses the blood-brain barrier and can therefore cause depression, confusion, memory loss, and, in the most severe cases, something called Brain Failure… which can manifest in various ways, for example it can appear as paranoid schizophrenia, due to the toxicity in the brain caused by the high levels of iron.

    SO… I strongly suspect that my dad actually had full-blown HH, and wasn’t simply a carrier of one defective gene. If so, perhaps that caused a lot of his mental problems, in addition to being the cause of his type 1 diabetes, and cardiac problems. My dad’s skin darkened considerably over the years, although he had very fair skin as a young adult. Toxic levels of iron in the body can cause ‘brownzing” of the skin; I have some areas of that now, myself. I remember, too, that my dad was frequently rubbing his upper right side, right under the rib cage, where the liver is located…. back when my HH was diagnosed, my liver was inflamed and enlarged and painful, due to the deposits of iron that had accumulated over the years in my liver, and I often rubbed that area, to try to soothe the pain.

    HH is typically much harder on men than on women, because most women lose blood ever month, due to menstruation, which helps keep their iron levels lower. My iron got so high when I stopped having a monthly period, for about 2 years, in my late 40s. Oddly, now I am almost 58, but having very heavy ones again… which is good for keeping my iron level low, but it can be a sign of uterine cancer… I have an appointment with my dr. tomorrow, Thursday, to learn the results of my recent uterine biopsy. I’m a little nervous about that!

    HH is found in every nationality, but is most prevalent in the Irish. Some call it the Celtic Curse. My dad’s maternal grandmother came from Ireland, and she died very young. I look pure Irish. So did my dad’s mother. She was also a mess, mentally. Who knows how much, if any, of my crazy family history, may have ultimately been caused by a little-known genetic metabolic disorder? My mother is a carrier, and there are some reports of carriers also being affected by HH symptoms. And who knows how far back, on both sides of my family tree, hereditary hemochromatosis has been causing physical, and possibly mental, problems?

    When my iron levels were very high, I had a lot of trouble thinking. My moods were all over the place, and I got easily confused and forgot things a lot, despite having a high iq. When my iron levels got back down to normal, I felt mentally like I had come out of a thick fog. Suddenly I could THINK again! The chemistry symbol for iron is “Fe.” There is an online group of HH sufferers who call themselves the “Fe-Brains” because of the brain fog that toxic levels of iron in the blood can cause.

    I have a younger brother who looks just like our dad, who was diagnosed in his teens with schizophrenia, and has never been able to function normally in life. He’s in his late 40s and had never been able to hold down a job, never been married, and he has to live in a group home. My brother was also very fair-skinned like our dad was, but over the years his skin has gotten very dark. BUT… no one in our family will listen to me when I say that he needs to be tested for HH, because, after all, he has doctors, and what do I know, I’m just the “weird one” in the family.

    OK, that’s more than enough about me…. sorry! Like I said earlier, I get on a roll…..!

    Lynda

  8. By: Sheryl Posted: 16th March

    Lynda,
    Don’t apologize, unless you want to. That is why we are here. It is good to unfold it all and hang it out to dry!

  9. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 16th March

    Hi Everyone,
    I’m sorry if I’m sharing too many details about my life… sometimes I get on a roll and don’t know where to stop. My life ~ my childhood especially ~ was REALLY CRAZY & ABUSIVE, from both parents, both sides of the family. Then, I went straight from my childhood into crazy and abusive adult relationships, because dysfunction and abuse was my “normal,” it was what I had been taught that I “deserved.” It’s only been in these past 8 years since just before I turned 50, that my eyes have been opened to how terribly WRONG my childhood was, and I have come to understand how my crazy, abusive childhood caused me to believe LIES about myself…

    You’re so right, Darlene: the LIES, the faulty-belief system, the totally screwed up sense of my own self-worth, or really I should say, the utter lack of my self-worth, that grew out of the foundation of my crazy abusive childhood… THAT is what made me “sick,” those lies and that faulty belief system is what caused me to be “broken.” This is the bottom line, the one thing we all seem to have in common, regardless of how different the personal details of our childhood may have been. I learned from my dad, from my mother, and from my grandmothers, that I didn’t have the right to be born. I learned that I was more trouble than I was worth. I learned that my feelings, my needs, my wants, did not matter. I learned that I wasn’t good enough for my feelings, my needs, and my wants, to matter. I learned that everyone else had value, everyone else had rights, everyone else deserved to be here ~ but not me. I learned that I was crazy. I learned that I would not be believed when I spoke my truth. I learned that my opinions and beliefs did not matter.

    I learned that I had NO VALUE, except for my looks, and for sex. But when the makeup came off, and all my freckles and my naturally thin, short blonde eyelashes and too-small eyes came into view, when my naturally frizzy hair frizzed out like a wild afro in the humidity, and when the clothes came off and my many stretch marks from 3 childbirths showed, THEN my looks and my body wasn’t even good enough for sex.

    I learned from the way I was treated from babyhood on, to not like myself. I learned, as I got into adulterous affairs in my desperate search to be loved, to HATE myself. NOTHING HURTS WORSE THAN HATING YOURSELF. I was broken by my family as a child, and then, I was rejected and put down even more by the world/society, for being broken.

    It was only when I learned, at the ripe old age of 50, that I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t “less than,” but that I was in fact amazingly strong to have survived all that I did, and that my brokenness was in fact NORMAL in someone who has gone through a lot of terrible traumas, just as it is NORMAL for a person to BLEED if they are STABBED ~ it was only then, as I began to learn the simple truth that: I HAVE EQUAL VALUE TO EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING WHO HAS EVER BEEN BORN, AND I HAVE AS MUCH OF A RIGHT TO BE HERE, TAKING UP SPACE ON THIS PLANET, AS DOES ANYONE ELSE… then, and only then, did I begin to heal from being so horribly broken.

    I had tried countless self-help books, therapies, and religions in that past, but nothing had helped me in any significant way, until, like Darlene, I began to take my life back, to take my pride back, to stand up for myself and say NO, you may not judge me, you may not abuse me, you may not disrespect me, and still be a part of my life in any way… It was only when I learned that I am FAR BETTER OFF being totally ALONE WITH ME, even if I’m living in a hovel or under a bridge, I am still far better off than living in the grandest palace, in the company of someone who doesn’t respect and value me as an equal…. only THEN did I begin to heal from my lifetime of broken-neediness.

    I am still healing, and this great blog community of Darlene’s is a big part of my continued healing today.

    Thank you, Everyone, who is a part of my healing on this blog. Thank you, Darlene, most of all.

    With Love,
    Lynda

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Lynda,
      Wow, Great work! Thank you so much for sharing it here. This is how I found myself, by looking at what I had come to believe about myself, what I had been TOLD and taught about my value, just like this. Just like you just did here.
      Thank you,
      It is an honour to have your work on my blog.
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Sheryl Posted: 16th March

    Darlene,

    Just an attepmt to restate what you said, which is SO good, in my own words. Help me out if I am missing something, because this should be a little “liturgy” that we all memorize to bring us back…

    Chaos outwardly resulted from the power and control that were used against me, and how I was devalued and silenced (not given equality). Inwardly, what resulted in my belief system regarding myself, God, and the world, were lies, so that I continued operating under that bad power and control, not realizing my value or using my voice.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Sheryl,
      Yes, that is very very true! I think it is excellent to re phrase in your own words! Helps so much to cement it!
      Thanks for posting this!!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  11. By: Sheryl Posted: 15th March

    I found in the records back about 7 generations where a great-grandpa disowned a female (daughter?) for marrying the wrong (color?) perhaps?
    It was painful, to say the least, to read this…
    family owned church/s

  12. By: Susa (Art Cathartic on FB) Posted: 15th March

    Susa> Lynda

    Wow…. this sounds so very familiar. We were only allowed to listen to “approved” music which consisted of mostly classical, religious, and the old crooners. I was almost disowned for buying the Beatles Rubber Soul record. This was when dad was the Methodist Church choir director. Then, when dad was in his fifties, he started listening to heavy metal rock groups. He also did the alcohol, drugs and sex, but his was mostly with his male yard boys and their friends after mother would go to bed. I often suspected MPD with dad too… Drastic changes in personality.

  13. By: Sheryl Posted: 15th March

    Lynda,
    How extreme! How did he die?
    A lot of rules to keep track of.
    I have seen family clans go through some of these outward changes, yet something about them seems the same as before, so I think it was all about, in this case, getting better control over their social groups.
    What a time, and thank you for sharing it!

  14. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out of the cRaZy Closet Posted: 15th March

    Thanks, Sheryl, I will look for that book.

    My dad had multiple personality disorder. When I was 12, the higly moral, extremely strict, but loving “good daddy/minister” left forever… at least, I never saw him again. He had been the primary personality while I was growing up.

    After that, my dad became a Buddhist, something the “old daddy” would have preached that you would go to hell for. He started living and dressing really wild, from his conservative minister’s dark business suits he was dressing almost like a hippie, riding a motorcycle, playing rock and roll music, running around with women closer to my age than his, drinking, smoking, even smoking pot… again, doing all the things that had been so strictly forbidden before. The minister daddy didn’t allow tv, or movies, or card games, not even the kids’ card games Authors or Go Fish or Mother Goose, because it could lead to gambling… women couldn’t wear makeup or jeans or pants at all, they weren’t supposed to cut their hair, altho my mother did. He was so strict that we couldn’t even say gosh or golly, as it was a disguised way of taking the Lord’s name in vain, we could’t say heck or darn or son of a gun, or shoot. In fact we could NEVER be angry…. OH, but DAD could!!! We couldn’t listen to secular music and dancing of course was EVIL.

    Then suddenly this new personality took over my dad, and all of that changed. There were people who believed my dad was demon possessed.

    I kept waiting for the scary-indifferent-stranger-dad to leave, and the good, loving, caring but strict daddy to come back… but he never did. Other personalities came along, in fact he left Buddhism and became a Catholic shortly before his unexpected death at the age of 53. When dad was a Pentecostal-type minister, he preached that the Pope was the anti-Christ!

    It was… a weird way to grow up, Sheryl, to say the least!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th March

      Hi Lynda and everyone,
      I am not sure that your Dad actually fits the description of DID the way that I understand it but what was wrong with him is not exactly the point. (and I had to try to resist the temptation to figure out the others in my life so that I could stick to what happened to ME) In healing, it is always about how this effected YOU. The way that your father changed is a huge transition for a kid to live through. I am really glad that you are sharing the details of your past, this is so helpful for everyone here but I want to encourage everyone to remember as we go through this process, the bottom line is what this did to your belief system, so that we can find those lies that are still in there and change them to the truth. That is the freedom producing part of the process.
      There is often a religious connection, but there are many other connections too and it is all about the misuse of power and control, and the way that we were not given any value or equality as children. I had to see that part of it in order to heal.
      Hope this makes sense!
      Love Darlene

  15. By: Sheryl Posted: 15th March

    Lynda,
    I did not know your father’s occupation until now! Have you read Randall Arthur’s Brotherhood of Betrayal? We could not put these down! Especially that title. It is a “must read”. Relaistic fiction, based on the author’s experiences in fundie circles. I found it extremely moving and my son read it while I went through a divorce and it was moving for him and I saw him really grieve. I think the book helped.

  16. By: Susa (Art Cathartic on FB) Posted: 15th March

    Such interesting, but sad histories shared here. Many seem to have a religious connection, as my family of origin did including grandmothers. I have learned much from comparing the behaviors of grandparents, to the behaviors of their children – my parents, and how their behaviors manifested themselves in my parents.

    Susa> Sheryl

    Isn’t it “amazing” how a child’s mind can interpret meanings including those of songs? We did hear that song a lot (with dad being a Methodist choir director), but in my child’s mind, we didn’t associate it in a religious context at all… “Amazing Grace” was simply a song about our inside nurturer and guide, “Grace”. It makes total sense now. We even did a painting of what our “Grace” looked like during the 60s in art school. Here is a link to that painting of “Grace”: http://s934.photobucket.com/albums/ad188/Susashushan/?action=view&current=grace.jpg
    .

  17. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    Dear Jeanette, in reading your comment, I could just FEEL how crushing your step-grandmother’s harsh attitude would be to a little girl who considered her step-grandmother’s words and attitude to come from God himself. My dad was a church minister too, so I have a real idea of what that must have done to your as a child.

    Remember the chapter in the Bible where Christ’s disciples were telling the little children who were flocking around the Lord to leave him alone, and Jesus said, in the old King James version, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not. For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Suffer, in the old English sense, meant “allow” the little children to come unto me… I remember there is also a verse about a curse that will come to anyone who ”causes one of these little ones to stumble~”

    Even in well-meaning innocence, young children can be given the WRONG idea about Christianity. When my eldest child was 8 or 9, he came home from his Christian school in tears one day. He poured out his tale of woe, then ended his sad story by saying, “Well, I guess that’s what God wants. God wants me to suffer.”

    I told him that NO, God absolutely does NOT want him to suffer ~ God loves him and wsnts him to be happy. My son shook his head in disagreement and said, “But the Bible says, Suffer the little children…”

    A funny story, but sad, too. I’m glad I was able to explain to him what the Old English definition of the word “suffer” meant, in that context.

    In my case though, as I was growing up, according to my very strict, fundamentalist father, I could never be perfect enough to please God. I tried so hard to be! But it was never enough. Oh, I could write volumes on the Bible-guilt-trips my minister dad put on me when I was a kid.

    But now, we are learning the truth about our childhood abuses and misperceptions, and the truth really is setting us free.
    Lynda

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 15th March

      Hi Lynda,
      You are so sweet! We are a special kind of sisters!
      Hugs!

      Hi Jeanette,
      I often think of the layers as we figure this stuff out; I picture unearthing the truth a layer at a time on the way down to the roots. This kind of stuff, (being treated like this, with such total disregard for the soul and spirit of the child) in so many ways set the stage for the rest of it. We have no defence as children. We have no way to cope with those kinds of words, and so often there is other abuse heaped on too, and these kinds of words act as affirmations, that we are indeed, no good.
      Thank you for sharing ~ what you have shared is very profound and represents what happens to so many of us.
      hugs, Darlene

      I want to answer the other comments too! I am on my way to the city for the day so it will have to wait till I get back!!
      Hugs, Darlene

  18. By: Jeanette Lepley Posted: 14th March

    I had a step grandmother who used to insult me and treat me with great disdain and impatience. And in my mind, my memory, I thought she was the least abusive family/authority figure in my childhood; it wasn’t until reading this blog post that I realized how damaging her words were to me, especially in light of what I was already going through. She was also a church minister, so her words carried significant weight in my soul, as everyone thought she was so wise and holy, ‘spirit filled’. I absorbed her words and attitude toward me as if they were coming from God himself, it crushed me deeply to think that God felt these things about me and was speaking through her. Amazing the layers of wounds you discover in this process.

  19. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    I’m sorry, Darlene, for posting so much here, but I just have to say one more thing… writing earlier about my paternal grandmother telling me to “Be a Good Grandmother,” got me to thinking. AM I a good grandmother?

    Sadly, in all honesty, no, I am not. I am not a mean or abusive grandmother or anything like that, not at all, I absolutely love and adore my three living grandchildren, and the one in heaven…. I would never hurt any of them in any way, not emotionally or physically. I would in fact give up my own life in a heartbeat, if that were needed to save the life of any one of them. That is the God’s truth.

    BUT… I am not really in their lives. I moved 2,000 miles away from them, 8 years ago, and have only had the funds to go back to see them once in all these years, and then had to borrow the money, it was to go to my baby grandson’s funeral, one of the saddest days of my life. I do communicate with my 2 teenaged granddaughter via facebook, on my family fb, but my precious 13-year-old grandson is far too cognitively handicapped to get on facebook. I adore him too, he is pure love.

    I feel guilty for living so far away… I left to flee a terribly abusvie and addictive relationship, and also the bullying that I was going thru in that area in the 12-step group I had gone to for HELP in getting through my last divorce, but I ended up being so badly ostracized and bullied instead, it was crazy and literally almost drove me to suicide. After I moved to New Mexico where I now live, I met the man who is now my best-friend-husband, the love and light of my life. We also have the best next-door neighbors in the world, they are our best friends, we have so much in common it is amazing.

    But I feel so guilty for not being a much bigger part of my grandchildren’s lives. We don’t have money to buy them nice things… we are still fighting the VA for my husband’s full disability, he has not been able to work since March 2005 due to his injuries, both physical and mental, from Vietnam. If/when we get that, then we can go visit the grandkids and grown kids often, and pay to have them come here too, and send them lovely gifts. But right now… with my complex-ptsd, I don’t mean it as an excuse, it is just the reality, I feel like I can barely manage our day-to-day lives, just me and my best-friend-hubby and our sweet little fur-baby Cattle Dog, and sometimes a get-together with our neighbors, but that is it, I don’t seem to have the emotional or physical energy for reaching out to anyone else, almost never. And I feel very guilty about that. I hope that as I continue to heal, as I speak my truth on this blog and on my blog, that I will be like Darlene, and heal completely from my brokenness, so that I can start from NOW being the kind of mother, and grandmother, that I wish I could have been my whole life long.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 14th March

      Hi everyone!

      Thanks for all the great sharing!
      Please don’t apologize for writing a lot Lynda, I don’t mind at all. I just can’t answer every comment all the time or I have no time to write more blog posts!

      Lynda, a good grandmother is not about how often you see them, or about gifts you give them. It is about your heart towards them. You sound wonderful.
      Hugs,Darlene

  20. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    Sheryl, what sweet memories of your great-grandmother Laura.

    I remember that my great-grandmother Dollie, my mother’s mother’s mother, was the best cook EVER. We were at her house, along with lots of other uncles and aunts and cousins, for at least 2 Thanksgiving dinners that I remember, and oh they were the BEST. Her real name was Susan Rachael, but she was called Dollie, after Dollie Madison, who was famous for her great cooking. “Dollie” is the name on her tombstone, in fact, instead of her real first and middle names.

    I remember we went to church with her one time, and she sang the old hymns with gusto, in her sweet, cracking, old-lady’s voice. Afterward, her daughgter, my grammie, complained to my mother, that when a woman reached a certain age she ought not to sing, that it was too embarrassing to hear her wavering old voice. But I had LOVED hearing it, especially loved the sweet, joyful expression on her face as she sang the old hymns.

    She bought me a doll once, when she was traveling somewhere with me, my mother, and grammie. We had stopped at a truck stop, and my great-grandmother saw this little doll and asked me if I would like to have her. I said yes, of course, I LOVED dolls when I was little, I was very maternal. So then my great-grandmother asked the sales clerk the price, told her it was too high, and said she would give her… I don’t remember, this was in the late 1950s, but anyway, she offered the clerk less. I don’t know if the clerk agreed to take less or not, I only know that she did buy the doll for me. Later, her daughter, my grammie, complained about how embarrassing that was to her, hearing her mother haggle over the price of my doll. Grammie…. didn’t seem to like her mother very much. She certainly didn’t like my own mother, her daughter, AT ALL, not according to her actions. Grim and resentful, that’s how I remember her, even when she was spending so much money on us and sewing my clothes for me, I NEVER got the feeling that she was doing it out of LOVE, but only OBLIGATION. I could be wrong, no one can really know the motives and feelings inside another person’s heart, I’m just saying that’s what her tone of voice, her facial expressions, and her body language conveyed to me… that, and telling me so many times not to do what my mother had done, not to marry too young and have a baby too soon… that baby being ME.

    I have just one item left from my childhood. I was one of those kids who carefully saved everything, all my toys, beginning with my baby rattles and teething rings, all my school papers, I wanted to keep it all forever. My mother threw every single thing that I owned away, when I was 14. But she overlooked one thing… a little tin of cheek rouge that had belonged to my great-grandmother Dollie. It was given to me by her husband, my step-great-grandfather, shortly after my great-grandmother Dollie’s death when I was 8 years old. I still have that old tin of rouge it as a keepsake of my dear grandmother… who, I recently learned, was a direct descendant from Ralph and Joyce Wallen, who arrived at Plymouth Rock on the second ship, not the Mayflower, in 1623 I believe it was…. and that was the occasion of the very first American Thanksgiving, to celebrate that ship’s arrival, with new settlers and much needed supplies!

    So, half of my mother’s side of the family came from the Pilgrims. Which explains a lot, I think.

    As for my other great-grandmother, the one who died when I was 19, she was sort of funny. She was my mother’s dad’s mother, and, although she didn’t look it, she was half-Indian, her dad, she told me, was either Cherokee or Choctaw, I’m not sure which. Her maiden name was Beaver. She was married at age 13, and had 9 children. Her husband, my great-granddad, who died when I was 6, was both a farmer and a city bus driver, to feed that large family. I remember after he died, my great-grandmother Willie… that was her actual first name… told me that the HUGE trees that were standing all in a row in the front yard of their old farmhouse, had been planted 50 years before my my great-grandfather, when they were just little twigs. I couldn’t have felt more thunderstruck if she had told me that great-granddaddy had been with God at the beginning of time, helping to carve the huge Rocky MOuntains, that’s how impossibly big those trees looked to my 6-year-old mind… and, 50 years ago! That was FOREVER!!

    One thing my great-grandmother Willie did that frightened the heck out of me, although I know she didn’t intend it that way… she told me that I was the favorite of all her grandchildren, because: I LOOKED JUST LIKE SHE DID WHEN SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL. Hearing that literally gave me nightmares, because she was UG-LY!!! Hunchbacked and all wrinkled with a huge misshapen nose and big old flappy ears… eeek! For years I feared that as I got older, I would one day look like her! LOL

  21. By: Sheryl Posted: 14th March

    Lynda,
    I was just thinking the other day about my great-grandmother, Laura, who died when I was eight. I remember visiting her at some point, and she was about as tall as I was! She looked so happy to see me, she reached out her hands and put them on my face. I remember seeing those hard-working hands reach out for my face. She was later in the nursing home and asked us, in her feeble voice, if we had been to the county fair that day; it was summer time.
    What do you remember about yours?

  22. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    PS~ My paternal grandmother, who had a daughter, my half-aunt, two days after I was born… she told me to call her “Nell,” because she didn’t want people to know that she was old enough to have granddaughter the same age as her daughter. But then, when I was a teenager, she cried one day and asked me why I had never loved and respected her enough to call her “grandmother,” why had I always been so disrespectful as to call her by her first name? She apparently had totally forgotten that she was the one who told me to call her “Nell!”

    Then, when my first grandchild was born 19 years ago, my paternal grandmother sent me a letter telling me, “SO, now YOU are a grandmother. BE A GOOD ONE.” !?! She teased me in a mean way every time I was around her, because her spoiled-brat bully of a daughter was so extremely jealous of me. She allowed her daughter to bully me unmercifully, while I tried so hard to make her like me so we could be friends, she put me down for everything… my hair, how skinny I was (her daughter was too plump and had straight hair, mine was naturally curly), on and on and on the teasing/put-downs went… and then when I was 24 she touched me in a disgusting, sexual way… and she had the nerve to tell me to “BE A GOOD GRANDMOTHER”? Like, how am I supposed to even know what that is?

    Sorry for the rant…. thinking about all this is making me mad. I want to end on a GOOD note: two of my great-grandmothers were living when I was born, one lived until I was 19, the other died when I was 8. They treated me pretty good, especially my Great-grandmother Dollie, she was exactly what a grandmother should be. She died when I was 8, but I still remember her love and sweetness.

  23. By: Lynda ~ Coming Out Of The cRaZy Closet Posted: 14th March

    Krissy, I can relate to your situation about needing your mother’s financial help, although she apparently uses it as a way to ensure her “right” to treat your children, her grandchildren, in a harsh way, while demanding love and respect from them.

    I have very mixed emotions about my maternal grandmother. While I was hurt by her attitude toward me, as I stated in post #1, on the other hand she wasn’t ever HALF as mean and abusive as my really weird paternal grandmother. My maternal grandmother, with the help of my wonder aunt, my mother’s only sibling, used to make me a whole new wardrobe of beautiful dresses for the start of every school year: seven lovely handmade dresses, one for every day of the week. I was so grateful for that yearly gift, which I got from first grade through the sixth grade. My parents never wanted to spend money on me, so I don’t know what I would have been wearing, if it hadn’t been for my maternal grandmother. For my 7th grade year, the first year that grammie didn’t send me any dresses, she said it was because she had arthritis in her hands and couldn’t do it anymore. So I wore hand-me-downs that a friend of my mother’s gave me, the clothes that her older teenage daughter had outgrown from the previous school year. They were lovely dresses, but they were all too tight and too short, because that was the summer that I shot up in height and my chest developed. So the kids in the new school we moved to that year teased me, calling me a slut because my clothes were all so tight and so short… but it wasn’t of my choosing. Then the following year, for the 8th grade, I had to hock my precious flute to a pawn shop, to have money for clothes. I got just enough money to buy 2 cheap dresses at Kmart, and a pair of shoes that looked lovely, but they fell apart the first time I walked home from the bustop in the rain. Apparently they were put together with water soluble glue!

    SO… sorry, I digressed, I’m just saying that if it weren’t for my Grammie’s caring, I would have been dressed in rags all through grade school.

    But the biggest thing that my maternal grandparents did, was when my parents’ marriage ended when I was 12, when dad came so close to killing my mother that I thought she was dead, and then he was arrested, and then put in a psychiatric ward, we lost our house, the house my parents had built when I was 6. We also lost our only car, and we got so broke that there was nothing left for the 5 of us kids and our mother to eat, but a little bit of peanut butter in the bottom of a jar, and a few slices of bread. And there was no more money. I didn’t know that there was such a thing as welfare, so I truly believed that we were all going to starve to death!

    Then my mother swallowed her pride and called her parents, who were living a couple of thousand miles away, and let them know what was happening. She hadn’t wanted them to know about the violent failure of her marriage to my dad, because they had been so opposed to their marriage from the very beginning.

    Well, my grammie and granddad saved the day. Grammie got on a plane, flew out to where we lived, bought us a decent running older car, bought a house in a nearby town, where she and granddad intended to retire to someday, and got us all packed up and moved out before we were forceably thrown out of our house. Grammie also did the work needed to get us all signed up for welfare, and food commodities, the precursor to food stamps. She got me enrolled in my new Junior High, she bought me a new bed, because I was still sleeping on an old army cot…. grammie literally saved our lives. And we lived in that house rent-free for 2 years, until my mother remarried and we moved out.

    So, I felt/feel guilty for “complaining” about my grammie, after all she did for us! Yet…. it hurt to learn from my aunt that, behind our backs, my grammie always referred to my mother, and my siblings and me, as “Barbara and her brood” ~ my mother had 5 kids from her first marriage, then 2 during her second marriage, while my aunt, mom’s lovely brilliant kind younger sister, had 2 children. It also hurt to learn that, while I, as the eldest grandchild (and only grandchild for nearly 7 years), was taught to call my maternal grandparents “Grammie” and “Granddad,” when my aunt’s two children were born, the woman I always knew as “Grammie” insisted that they call her “Grandmother” and call Granddad “Grandfather.” My aunt’s two children weren’t born until I was a teenager, they were born around the time that I was 14 and committed by my mother to a mental institution, immediately after her marriage to my stepdad. From that time on I felt very much like I had become a “non-person” in my maternal grandparents eyes. I was the “bad seed” that my dad, whom they had never liked, had produced. And they took all their grandparents’ love and pride and hope in the next generation, away from me and my siblings, and poured it all on my two young cousins. That’s how it seemed to me, anyway.

    SO…. I have mixed, and guilty feelings, for saying, or writing, anything bad about them. My maternal grandfather retired as the Associate Warden of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. I am very proud of him, and remember him fondly.

    Lynda

  24. By: Sheryl Posted: 14th March

    From John Gatto Taylor’s Grandpa’s Letter to a 17-year-old

    a few points I thought could apply to us here on this blog

    5. Mirroring: Have you learned to be everyone as well as yourself? Can you be a chameleon at will? Or are you trapped in your own tight skin the way little people are? Can you fit into every group, even a group of your enemies, opting in and out as you please, yet remaining yourself?

    6. Expression: Do you have a voice that’s your own? Can you deliver that voice with clarity, style, and force in writing and speaking? Without that, your ability to recruit allies will be feeble, and you will likely be swallowed up by someone whose expressiveness is superior to your own.

    7. Judgement: Can you evaluate dispassionately? Can you see through falsehood? The society you are entering is a house of mirrors; little of what you see and few of those you meet will be what they appear. The most attractive personalities are invariably dishonest. How much chance did you have to develop judgement and test it?

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