The Fine Artwork of Carolyn McFann
This entry may be disturbing for those with parents who are healthy, because you thankfully won't relate with what I write here. Just know that this is all real, and it is what abuse is. The person doing 99% of the abuse was my mother, a (now retired) teacher of small children. My dad has abusive moments but was himself a victim of child abuse as a child, and in general used to be a sweet and caring dad. He just didn't stand up for me much. Anyone can be an abuser, and look so sweet and innocent. They behave during the day, and become monsters at night. Then they can be "nice" later. There is no consistency, no stability. One day they are trustworthy, the next they aren't. Be glad you weren't raised in the atmosphere of terrorism, anger and attacks. The experts say that there is healing in expressing old secrets, in letting it out. Well, here goes. I used to stuff all of this deep down inside, keeping the secrets..not anymore. Others can learn to spot abuse from reading this. If you know anyone who is being abused, call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
As a young girl of around 3 years old, I loved butterflies, bugs and just about anything that moved in the world of nature. My parents and I would take walks in the park and they would show me the flowers, bugs and other things as we went. It was educational. Usually all was fine. But mom had a twisted sense of humor and one time there was a big, fresh pile of horse sh_t on the ground covered with butterflies. Mom told me, "Look, Carolyn, butterflies!", knowing I'd run over and try to catch them. I did what I usually did, ran over and clamped down on them, on the horse poo. Mom and dad laughed heartily as I then realized what it was and desperately tried to clean the stuff off of my hands. It was humiliating and gross. Mom and dad didn't think anything of it. To them, it was funny. In the coming years, there were many more instances here and there of public humiliation. Many. I'll leave it at that.
At 16 years old, I had to go to the doctor, so I got off from school and mom was driving me back from my appointment. The doctor had perscribed a few expensive medicines for my acne, with made mom very mad. She then wanted to go to Heinen's to get food, I told her I needed some apples at the store while we were there as we drove on Green Rd, about to go to Heinen's. She then exploded, "I will be so happy when you're grown and out of the house, I'm SO SICK of you wanting things" (I was not a demanding child, not at all). "You need to get your fat a$$ a real job and stop being a lazy slob(I had a job, working at a nearby country club as a buffet girl, was maybe 20 lbs overweight and I was anything BUT lazy or a slob). Logic, in her mind, didn't exist, she just said whatever. She then punched me. It was a small car and her arms were flailing in every which way as I tried to block the punches. I got out of the car and though it was raining, she zoomed off, angry, not looking back. Home was at least 5 miles away. I didn't care, just wanted to be safe and away from her. I started the long walk..a friend (who was cutting study hall to go to the nearby deli we all liked) saw me and picked me up in her car, brought me back to school. I had been crying and was all wet from walking in the rain. I immediately went up to the art room, my sanctuary when upset. My art teacher took one look at me and looking horrified, without my telling her the details, said "What did she do to you??!". Mrs.Biehle knew, she'd heard me mention problems in the past and had been there for me all along.
That night, Mrs.Biehle took me to her house, made me dinner and told me to relax, she said I wasn't going to be going back home but not to worry. She had a meeting at school to go to, she said, and would return shortly. It turns out that that night, Mrs.Biehle, the school counselor, my Diaries teacher Mrs.Beesley and maybe others (I forget) got together and compared notes all the signs they had seen in the past of abuse. I had come to school red-eyed from crying a few times, trying desperately to hide it. My mother would scream her angry rants at me during the 45 minute drive to school, and terrorize me like crazy, so much that I would shake and feel numb. I felt hostage, captive and terrified underneath it all. I was told that in my Diaries class that what I'd written about daily home life was anything but "normal", due to the abusive behavior of my mother. They had to protect me now. All the clues added up to the teachers for them to reach this decision..
It was decided in the meeting that I would go live with the headmistress of my school, Barbara Barnes, who lived next to Laurel School at Lyman house (a lovely, big house on loan to the head of school during their tenure there). The teachers went to my parents house and got my belongings for me, they told me for my safety not to visit or talk to my mother and father. I found it very hard because I loved them and was programmed to worry about them and their wellbeing all of the time. I stayed at Lyman House with Mrs.Barnes for the remainder of my time at Laurel School. Went to prom from there, even. They kept warning me to not go home. I didn't listen and decided to move back in the summer before college.
Bad idea. The day I moved back, mom screamed, carried on and threw a huge, scary temper tantrum at me, blaming me for everything and calling ME "sick, crazy," etc. She told me "THEY don't have to live with you..", yada, yada, yada. I was feeling unsafe and locked myself in my bedroom. Mom didn't like that so she called my childhood pediatrician (!) to try and get me committed or something. He came, talked to me and I told him the truth. He checked my arms for any signs of drug abuse. I never did drugs, or even a cigarette, in my life. I was (and still am) pretty "square". He could see that I was being abused and I listend through the door as he scolded my mother for her bad behavior. When he left, she continued her hysterical rant again..furious at being "humiliated", and dragged me to University Hospital to try and get me committed. They looked me over and said I'm not crazy, and immediately contacted law enforcement. A police detective and a psychiatrist sat with me, away from my parents, and told me that they were there for me. The detective told me that he would not let her hurt me anymore, and asked if I wanted to go someplace else instead of home. I insisted on going home because I was scared of going to a foster home, having heard horror stories of those before. They begged me to reconsider but I told them that I am going to leave for college soon, and that I would promise to contact them if I felt the least bit in danger. They were so very nice to me, and it felt good to be respected and listened to.
They then put me in another room as they talked to my parents. The walls were thin and I could hear the conversation. They strongly warned and scolded both my parents that this kind of behavior was against the law and not permitted, and the next time there would be severe consequences towards them if this happened again. Mom whined "But you don't have to live with HER!".. and tried to manipulate them but they wouldn't have it, they knew better, and understood what she was trying to do. They gave her a particularly harsh scolding. I was wide-eyed, amazed on the other side of the wall. Wow, they were saying things I only had hoped of saying. If I'd said them, I'd be dead!
When they emerged from the room, mom was a bawling, hystericallly crying pile of mush. Not so big, swaggering and tough anymore. She was milking dad for as much sympathy as possible as he led her away, stuck in the middle from protecting me and appeasing her. She had absolutely no shred of remorse, and never did. She never apologized (though dad did to me away from her). We ate lunch at the hospital restaurant before going home. She just cried and couldn't even look at me..not out of guilt but total disgust. She felt wronged and knew I carried the business card of the detective..and if she got out of line again, I was to call him. Not being able to control this was eating her on the inside, no, jabbing hot pokers into her..how she wanted to attack..but couldn't.
Time goes on. I'm in college. Mom begged dad to take me out of school. She hated that they were spending soooo much money on me and my education. Times were hard for them and instead of caring about my wellbeing, I was cut off. I was in a private, expensive school, with no money of my own, left to fend for myself with absolutely nothing to my name. Mom "won", and thoroughly enjoyed my suffering. She told me NOT to come home, that when I was 18 I was an adult and she never would have me live under her roof again because she wanted privacy with her husband. She suggested I go live at the YWCA (where poor people go when there's noplace to go). I lived with my ex-boyfriend's lovely family in Rochester. I went back to school on my own later but at that time had to drop out since there was no money to go there with. My parents didn't care, just turned their heads as I floundered and had noplace to go. I lost my nice campus apartment, due to not being a student anymore. I'd been homeless for two weeks before moving in with Dave's family. They were nice, and staying there, I could see what a "normal" family was. They listened to one another, they didn't try to attack, belittle, scream at or criticize eachother. It was a huge revelation to me. I'm grateful to the Frankunas family to this day. Oh, and my parents tried to get my student loan for THEIR bills. I luckily found a lawyer to wrangle the check into my hands first, so they couldn't take it for their own use. I still couldn't afford to go back, so I bought a car and got a menial job to support myself.
Years later, as I struggled to finish school on my own, mom gloated when her school paid for her to take an art class here and there. She relished me not being able to afford them and how she was going to be an artist too. One time she spilled coffee on artwork I did, then blamed it on ME! She was always jealous of my art abilities and the attention I got from them, yet contradicted herself and would brag about me to her friends. Yet, she secretly despised not being the center of attention. She never became an artist, and no amount of education given to her could teach her to do the artwork that I do. She just wanted to feel superior.
So, this is only a tiny portion of many, many instances of what it is like to live with abuse. It is terrorism, plain and simple. I have had to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Major Depression through years of counseling. These stories have caused my former therapists to cry, and to despise my parents. I have learned from this whole experience, and only discuss it now to heal more, and inform others of what NOT to do as a parent. Rageaholics shouldn't be parents. If you rage and continuously bully your child, that adrenaline rush stays with them, they then naturally end up with anxiety problems because of it. I am a calm person now, but only after years and years of therapy to undo the mountain of garbage she heaped onto me. I was a good kid. Never in trouble with the law, never done drugs, never violent or mean. Her attempts to discredit/belittle/label me have gone in vain. Mother is a product of her own past. She cannot stand peace, and has to stir things up. She loves drama. I don't, and will avoid it at all costs. This is why now, at 47 years old, I am giving up on being her daughter. I love my dad but he nearly never stood up for me. I used to protect HIM from her rants. All the screaming, blaming, shaming, all her unqualified diagnoses of my being "crazy, psycho, selfish, etc" are her trying to cut me down so she can look big and tough. I go by what the REAL experts say, and they say that I am an incredibly strong survivor. They respect me and tell me that I have overcome so much, that I'm anything but crazy or psycho. And that mom is accusing me of what she is guilty of.
There is health in getting help. I have sought it out and continue to do so. If you have a cruel parent or parents, seek help. Not for them but for you. It does help and does work. I know, I'm alive when I shouldn't be. I'm a survivor. Maybe now, the world will understand me just a little bit better by my opening up about this. Maybe not. All I know is, life is beautiful. And it's more beautiful when not under the control of people who cannot love.