Note: This post is scattered and unedited
# Are you a glad mommy or a mad mommy?
## The Air Force Years.
Deconstructing the archeology of our personalities is difficult. There is a “forrest for the trees” problem, made worse by us being the trees. How our experiences mold our genetic wiring is hard to deconstruct and harder still when considering how we may have effected those experiences. Figuring out how that fits together when we’re very young adds another level of complexity and yet, I remember much and some sense can objectively be made of it all.
I’ve rewritten this opening several times. The first 4 years of my life, before moving to Connecticut certainly had an impact on me and I have a long memory. I recall much before I reached my second birthday. Much was strange and unusal about that time but I want to avoid retroactively imposing the emotional atmosphere of the later, nightmare years of my youth. As would be expected of someone that young, I was less certain of what was going on and my ideas of right/wrong or good/bad were still being formed.
All my memories of Brigid then weren’t bad. I remember lying to her once, when I said that a coloring book that my older friend had colored had been colored by me. She was understanding that I’d wanted her to think I’d done something well. I recall her telling me that I couldn’t have ice cream when the truck came down the street. I cried and she comforted me. She told me it was OK and that I could have some the next day. She read to me often. I know that I was brought to swimming and violin lessons. She also took me to a gym occassionaly, where I’d jump on a trampoline.
I remember my dad as a pleasant but occassional figure. This is why I struggle with this time period. Was he distant or do I only remember it that way? I’m not sure. I remember him taking me to see Slim Goodbody in town. I remember enjoying his company before even moving to Omaha. When we lived in Minot (where, coincidentally I begin writing this) I remember him picking me up and playing with me. I remember being in the snow with him. He was a b-52 pilot in S.A.C at the time and I remember him in his green flight suit and aviator sunglasses
“Are you a glad mommy or are you a mad mommy” was something I’d ask when I’d had an “accident.” I’d hide somewhere, afraid my mother would be angry. I only know of this because it’s something Brigid enjoyed telling well into my adult years. Telling stories of her kids in weak and vulnerable positions is something she’s always enjoyed doing. I was obviously afraid of her moods and continued to be throughout my childhood. Her moods dominated the landscape of our home. I was scared that she might be angry. I DO remember that.
I don’t recall how my toilet training went during this time period but I’ve been told often that it didn’t go well. I dont’ remember having problems until kindergarten and I wonder why I don’t remember. I’m not a big fan of Freud but there was likely truth in his thoughts on potty training. It’s the first pass/fail obstacle a child must overcome and they must do it on their own. Apparently, I was remedial.
I also remember being alone often. Several years ago I digitalized a number of photographs for my parents and they seemed to confirm this. I’d be on the bed or in a chair watching T.V. Photo moments of playing with Brigid or being held were close to nonexistent and I suspect such moments were rare beyond the camera’s lens. That was certainly not part of her parenting later and I can’t recall it being part of things then. I was often in the care of an older girl. We’d play together outside. The practice of allowing older kids to look after me unsupervised, was a big part of my childhood that I’ll discuss more later.
My oldest sister and I would ride big wheels and other riding toys outside our house on the sidewalk. By ourselves. I would have been 3-4 years old and she would have been 1-2. I think back on that. Parenting likely tended less towards hyper-vigilant safety in the late 1970’s than it does today but……..still. I bet that was unusual even then. Even in Omaha Nebraska.
The first hysterical fit that I remember Brigid throwing was in Omaha. It was after she’d stepped on a bee. I was with my sister. We all began walking back to the house and she told us she might die. I remember the horror of that moment and the crazy look on her face. Upon returning home, the hysterics continued until she got her shot and all was well. Hyesterical tragic doomsdaying was a constant with Brigid then and all throughout the time I knew her.. Unfortunate things didn’t happen and we got throught them. Things were HORRIBLE and likely to get worse. People might die and terrible horrible awful things either were happening or were about to.
During that time, dad got hit by a semi in his Fiat and I saw him on T.V. Brigid told us how he almost died over and over and over. I heard that story well into my teen years. He almost died then. It was a miracle he didn’t. Shocking her kids in that kind of way was a regular thing. Tragedy was always upon us or just around the corner.
I remember being scared often in Omaha but not only of Brigid. I was scared of other things. I was scared to get into the back of a helicopter during an air show on base. I was scared to ride a horse the neighbors had brought for the kids. I was scared to swim without my arm floaties *and* the ring floatie I’d pull over myself. I was scared to get out of the car when my friend M and his dad went hunting. He had a gun. I was scared to go on the trampoline. I was scared often. I was more scared than other kids but I wonder if that’s because they were often older than me. I was timid. This is interesting to think back on because later in life and to this day, I’m less timid than most about basic things: heights, water, physical altercations, standing up for myself, spiders, planes, public speaking etc etc. I’d say my level of timidity is a standard deviation or so below average but not then. I was always scared.
## And on to Connecticut
in 1979/1980, Dad got a job with Eastern Airlines that moved us to Connecticut, but we first spent 5 months living with our grandparents (Brigid’s parents) in LeMars Iowa while he got things settled in CT. I remember that very well. We later spent three weeks per summer there through most of my elementary school years. It was always peaceful and I always felt safe. There was a park across the street and downtown was a mile away. Brigid was always on her best behavior when relatives were around. There were no fits and craziness. She’d do things with us kids in the presense of others that she never did otherwise. She’d sometimes say nice things to us. She’d take us for walks and smile at us. When Princess Diana got married, she dressed my sisters up in wedding dresses and let them stay up late to watch. Once for my birthday, she took me out to eat. It was just her and I. These types of things never happened when other adults weren’t around but they’d happen in Iowa
Small town Iowa had a very communal feel to it. Everybody knew everybody and I picked up a sense of that even at a young age. It was safe and I always felt a part of something. Our grandparents would buy us toys and help us assemble them. Iowa was a great part of my childhood but lookking back, the main reason for this was probably that Brigid’s raging fits weren’t a part of things. Basic A.B.C parenting took place. We had adults around us who smiled and seemed at least moderately happy that we were there. Us kids rarely fought with each other.
My sense of self as a child was always that I was very, very insufficient and bothersome to my mother. In retrospect, this isn’t surprising. It would have been hard for a kid in our household to feel otherswise. There was also an ever present sense that “Things are wrong.” Things were not how they should be and not how they should be in an extreme way. Things were BAD, but I can only first recall a conscious sense of this after moving to Connecticut. At first, we lived in a big yellow house. I started kindergarten halfway through the year and had some problems. I recall my first “accident” in the bathroom. Brigid had to come get me and wasn’t pleased. I didn’t know how to stand in line for awhile. I was an awkward kid.
What I write next, I do so hesitantly. There are parts of my early childhood that I”ve only recently come to grips with and this is such a part:
We lived next door to several older boys. I was 5/6 at the time and they were 8-10 years old or so, with an even older figure who’d be with us ocassionaly. This crowd was tasked with walking me to the bus stop daily and I was encouraged to go play outside with them as much as possible. Brigid’s practice of having older kids look after me unattended continued.
Before going any further, I want to note something: I had two seperate instances of abuse by older boys between the ages of 5 and 8. That might seem unusual but less so when I consider the circumstances. I was a very timid, awkward and submissive kid who was eager to please, and I was looked after unattended for very long periods of time by whoever was up for the task.
This group of boys weren’t as bad as abuser number two a few years later. What happened was that one of them would tell me to take my clothes off, then the other boys would laugh. One of them would bite my naked rear end. I came home in tears several times. I suspect I was too ashamed to tell what happened but I only remember crying while running away from them. In a strange display of youthful bravery, I once started throwing rocks at them and chased them into their house, where I continued throwing rocks at their garage door. Brigid knew they made me cry. She saw this on several occasions and yet, she kept sending me outside to be with them and letting them walk me to the busstop. I even remember trying to clue my dad in on this once. I remember walking him to the busstop and trying to tell him that something was wrong but I forgot what I said. I’m sure I was too ashamed to tell anyone that these kids were making me take my clothes off and doing odd things to me. Well up through my teens, older boys and groups of boys terrified me. Absolutely terrified me.
I suspect that their mother knew something of what was happening. Maybe, but maybe not. Before we moved down the street, she gave me a chest full of comic books and classic G.I. Joes figures.
That period of time is something to think back on. When we lived in the yellow house, I was 5 years old and was allowed to wander around by myself all over the place. There was a friend who lived almost a mile away and completely out of site who I’d walk to go see. i had other friends who lived a half a mile in the other directed and I’d walk to see them also. These days, I try to imagine a 5 year old kid walking down the street by himself. That was me. It certainly wasn’t a dangerous neighborhood but that still seems to odd when I think back on it. At the time however, it seemed normal to me.
It was at the yellow house that I remember forgetting things. I’m not sure if I had been absent minded previously but I started forgetting clothing items at school. And it was in Newtown at the yellow house, that I first remember Brigid being truly horrible. I don’t know if her insanity began there or if I just don’t remember it previously. I suspect it just increased.
I forgot my stocking cap at school once. When I came home and told Brigid, she screamed at me. SCREAMED. I was told my siblings would be unable to eat now because we were so poor. She took me in the car and drove 10 miles to school, where she got angry with the women at the front desk. She was furious with me. I was 5 years old and had lost a hat.
Brigid’s hysterical, screaming fits were a regular feature in our home and I’ll pause here.
I don’t know how to “build” into the extreme insanity that engulfed our home. I was too young to remember the exact stages where it developed so I’ll outline the issue now and add a second digression about her feuding with everyone else, then I’ll return to the 1980-1982 years. Throwing these two sub-narratives together towards the beginning feels a little clumsy but oh well.
**BRIGID’S FITS AND GENERAL AVERSION TO US KIDS**
Starting around this time, I remember Brigid’s fits being a regular thing in our home. “Fits” is the best word I can think of to describe them. The were insane. When dad wasn’t home, Brigid would often scream at us kids so loudly that her voice would crack and for very long periods of time..
There are a few reason’s why I dispise my mother as a human. On the top of that list ia that she is a bully of the worst imaginable kind. Of the 300 most horrific, unhinged, emotionally violent fits that I have ever seen anyone throw in my life, Brigid gets all 300 spots and likely many more than that. These were fits she’d only throw when no adults were around to stop her. They were never thrown when my dad was around (Although he got to witness quite a bit) and never, ever thrown when friends or relatives were watching. They were screaming, raging hysterical fits that she’d throw at us kids multiple times per week but sometimes, multiple times per day, depending on her mood. I try to think back on what her justification for these outbursts was and can only recall two things. One, was her ocassionally screaming at us for causing her and our dad to fight. The primary and most common reason for her raing outburst however was……………..that us kids fought with one another.
Brigid showed hardly any affection torwards us. Hugs, compliments etc were almost never happened. For all practical purposes, those kinds of things only happened when other adults were watching. They essentially didn’t exist when friends and relatives weren’t around. Teaching, helping, encouraging, assistance with homework, etc. were not part of our relationships with Brigid. Positive, nurturing time with our mother, when nobody was watching, wasn’t less than it should of been. It was nonexistent. When projects had to be done at school or trips to the library were necessary, she’d help but not otherwise.
Unsurprisingly, us kids fought with one another. We were rarely kind to one another and fought constantly.
We were treated to regular, foot stomping, teeth bearing , raging fits from Brigid with ocassional hitting, because we fought with one another and weren’t kind.
Her fits were certainly not her only negative means of communication with us. As I’ll describe in more detail later, put-downs were a part of most conversations and she would regularly tell us how bad we were for hours at a time. She’d stand in our doorways and describe what she thought was wrong with us for most of entire afternoons. Displeasing Brigid wasn’t just a matter of having something problematic pointed out. It usually led to very long discussions about everything she thought was wrong with us and how much grief this caused her.
But back to her raging fits….
For those who might read this and don’t know Brigid personally, I’ll now offer a glimpse into her unusual personality:
I was 6 years old when I first remember these fits, making her other children 4, 3 and 1 or so. She would throw these fits at us for fighting and getting angry at one another. Then she would often cry and scream “I never thought I would have such NASTY SIRLY NASTY children who are so CRUEL to one another” The volume an intensity of her voice cannot be communicated with written words. She would often cry “I can’t TAKE IT ANMOOOOOOOORE!!!” at a volume that caused her voice to crack and this would often be followed by tears of grief.
I hesitate to even point out the obvious insanity in of all this. Here were us kids, being screamed at for treating one another exactly the way we were treated by the primary adult figure in our life. We had very little idea what kindness and affection were because it was rarely shown to us. We experienced the raging anger of our mother, then fought with one another. Raging and feuding were what we witnessed and experienced. Kindness and bonding weren’t.
She would even call friends and relatives to talk about how her kids fought so much. She claimed she couldn’t figure it out. We were told how our cousin’s and friends got along with their brother’s and sisters’ well. We were told how disappointed the people she talked to on the phone were with us. (Making up things that others have said to her is another lifelong habit of Brigid’s that I’ll discuss later) We were made to feel that our fighting was a personal faillure and a constant source of stress to her……who’d fight and scream and shout at us for fighting and screaming and shouting at one another. Making it all the more insane, Brigid was able to posit herself as the victim in this vortex of rage and feuding. I remember feeling very bad and very guilty for how our fighting caused Brigid so much woe.
Attempting to unravel Brigid’s thought process here is difficult but very illustrative in understanding what makes her and our familiy so unique and toxic. In her “I can’t TAKE IT ANYMOOOORE!!!!” and “I never thought I’d have such NASTY SIRLY NASTY CHILDREN!!” fits, followed by the tears of self pity, there was something genuine going on I think. At some fundemental level, Brigid really, truly felt sorry for herself. She really, truly felt as though she was being victimized. As I’ll later discuss in “Brigid, D and the narrative life,” like her late brother, self reflection or considering how her actions may have negatively effected a situation isn’t something she’s capable of. Any problems someone might have with her are irrelevant because the problems she has with them are way more significant.
An overwhelming majority of people would have SOME idea that their screaming and fighting was leading to their kids screaming and fighting; that not giving affection and kindness had something to do with their kids not being affectionate and kind. At the very least, this same overwhelming majority of people would realize that they werent victims here. There’s probably people out there who just live in rage and angst and require the world around them to be raging and angsty, and this certainly applies to Brigid, but there’s another level to this with her. Aside from creating angst and rage, she was able to see herself as the victim of rage and angst….to the point of sobbing in puddles of “woa is me” tears.
She very carefully avoided showing this side of herself to others. Her awfulness toned down by 90% when dad was around. Around friends and relatives, it all but ceased and there were displays of motherly affection. So, what does one make of this? I ask this question genuinely if anyone would like to offer an idea. Total self deception is an incomplete answer because she was clearly aware that others would no approve if they observed.
At some level, she knew very well how unacceptable her behavior was. At the very least, she knew that others would see it as wildly unacceptable. Here’s my best guess and I think it’s a pretty solid best guess:
Brigid’s tears of self pity were tears of frustration. I’m sure she knew that she was the center of the rage and didn’t really care. She had clearly objectified her children early on. The fact that the emotional atmosphere of our home was anger and rage didn’t bother her in the least. That’s how she liked things. As I’ll describe later, her intense aversion to family therapy is pretty solid evidence that the insanity in our house was something she craved and actively cultivated. It was what she needed, the way she needs feuding and anger in the rest of her life.
We were things, who’s value was in making her look good but who bothered her with our needs as children. As happens when someone is thought of as an adversary, everything they do is seen through a dark lens. Every time she had to drive us somewhere or pack a lunch or fill out a permission slip or change a diaper, she registered it as one more grievance against us; one more unpleasant thing she was being forced to do and her rage fits were her release from the pains of mothering. The self pity cries were cries of having to be a mother.
How she was affecting her children just didn’t play into her thoughts. How her anger, rage and lack of affection were causing anger, rage and lack of affection in her kids didn’t matter to her or she was unable to imagine it. Anger, rage and lack of kindness in others was something justifying her anger and rage. This would be abject hypocrisy of an etxreme kind between adults. When adding to this, the effect of this on her own kids, it takes on another level of sadism and insanity and then…..topping it all off, she was able to see herself as the victim in this mess, but I’m repeating myself now and will move on.
Into our adult years, when the topic of her behavior torwards us as kids was brought up, she’d respond with a blend of anger “I don’t want to hear it!” and repeating the narrative that she had “so much to deal with” which brings me to part two of this. How Brigid spent her time. For awhile, she got very into “my truth and you’re truth” as though, these vents were a schrodinger’s cats type of thing with alternate realities. She never denied doing this stuff because it’s the truth and denying what you have done to someone who experienced it is pretty hard. I suppose that would be to her credit. Her deception couldn’t go quite that far.
As this was the only parenting experience I had, I struggle to gauge how unusual what I have described was. My read on Brigid’s motivations are obviously my opinion but the instances I have described are entirely accurate. They really happened.
How abnormal was this? I’ve done lots of reading. I’ve talked to many grownups who experienced childhood abuse (I hate the term “survivors”) and have tried to get a handle on what “normal” is. My best estimation is that maybe 20% of mothers don’t develop normal, nurturing bonds with their children but even among that crowd, I’m convinced that Brigid’s insanity and rage were and are very unusual. Trying to gauge how abnormal my experience was at this time is difficult and I’d welcome feedback or thoughts from others.
When Brigid discusses her behavior during this period of time it’s usually in vague terms. Brigid avoids this topic fervently but to the degree it is discussed, a common refrain is that Brigid was “Busy” and “frustrated” We were told how difficult it was for her to have an airline pilot for a husband. (He’d be gone for three or four days, then home for 2-3.)
Help with homework was between rare and nonexistent. Time with her kids when she wasn’t driving us somewhere was also rare unless she was screaming at us. Fun outside or motherly talks and affection weren’t part of the atmosphere in our house. Apparently, she was busy and overwhelmed.
Brigid had lots of time for some activities however…..
# BrigFeuding Incorporated.
As I’ve described already, feuding and chastising was the primary vehicle of communication Brigid had with us kids. This is still the case. If she wasn’t badmouthing us or throwing a fit, she was normally badmouthing others. Connecting with our mother on a (I struggle for the right description here) positive, happy or nurturing level (<< best I could come up with) didn’t happen. The surest way to have bonding time with her was to talk badly about people she didn’t like or share negative information.
Brigid spent an enormous amount of time feuding with other people and gossiping.
I hesitate to guess how much time she spent on the phone, prosecuting her feuds with whomever. She’d occassionally feud openly with someone but mostly, it was badmouthing them to others and she spent staggering amounts of time doing this. . I’m tempted to say that from the early 1980’s, it was dozens of hours per week but that is only a “hunch.” It was something she did whenever the opportunity presented itself. Brigid, on the phone, complaining about someone (including her children) was a constant thing. It was as common as the television being on. When our father wasn’t there, she was more likely to be doing that during waking hours than anything else.
Brigid spent hours per week feuding with her kids, many more hours per week prosecuting her feuds on the phone and then fighting with people occasionally in person. But this didn’t satiate the appetite of the Brigid feuding beast. She made many, many hours of audio recordings on cassettes and sent them to people.
Full disclosure: She did this mostly when we weren’t home so I only caught some of her many hours of recorded monologues. It’s possible that all the boxes with 10-12 or so audio cassettes that I’d see before they were mailed, contained positive, uplifting and spiritual messages to those she sent them to. The few hours of audio cassette making that I was privy to overhearing were more of the same psychoanalyzing and gossiping that she did on the phone but anything is possible. I can’t say for sure what 99%+ of her audio recordings consisted of but more of the same feuding seems about as likely as the sun rising in the east tomorrow. I’d call it a pretty safe bet.
More of my best guessing would say that she took to making these because our phone bills got too high and my dad limited her long distance calls. In the 1980’s, I’ll guess that a 2 hour audio cassette cost $1 and shipping was another 50 cents per. Whatever it was, it was likely cheaper than 10 cents per minute on the phone.
When Brigid begins talking about people she has issues with, she’ll keep going until someone or something stops her. Like her late brother, she’ll often begin badmouthing whoever is on her mind, immediately after meeting someone; often for the first time. It’s possible that an additional benefit of the BrigTown Recording division of BrigFeud inc. was that she didn’t have to worry about someone on the other end of the line changing the subject or hanging up. This his was a big issue for D when he’d call up his friends and try gossiping for hours. They’d wait for a brake in the monologues, then have to get going. I can’t say for sure how big of an issue that was for Brigid, but I’ll guess it happened more than she would have liked. With audio recordings, she could just talk and imagine the other person listening to it all and joining in her righteous indignation about whomever she was raging mad at.
I want to address this idea that Brigid was overwhelmed and “busy” from a logical, unemotional perspective. It’s complete nonsense. She spent staggering amounts of time feuding and gossipping. She spent huge amounts of time fighting with her kidss and engaging in direct or indirect fights with many other people.
Engaging in hostile relations with her children was something she CHOSE to do. Not spending quality time with her kids was a result of her not wanting to spend quality time with her kids. It had nothing to do with being busy or a lack of available time.
Brigid spent her time doing the absolute minimal A,B,C’s necessary to keep things functioning and avoid calls from the school but even that took awhile. She had to get organized in around 1982, just to make sure permission slips were handed in on time and appointments were kept.
Basic house cleaning, driving where necessary, watching tons of soap operas and phone time for telling weird stories to whomever would listen and feuding was the life of Brigid. Busy was never her problem. An overwhelming majority of mothers in the world have had to deal with far more trying circumstances than she did and have worked through it with far greater dignity.
Let me pause here for a moment and reflect: For those not intimately familiar with Brigid, this must sound so bitter and over-the-top. For those who know her but aren’t familiar with how she behaves when she isn’t putting on a show, this probably seems exaggagerated.
Perhaps you’re thinking “You mean, she NEVER helped with homework, or was affectionate to her kids or said kind things? That sounds like such an exageration!” I know it does. No. She really, truly did not. The entirety of her relationship with her kids was hostile. The only breaks in hostility were when others were around watching. She was kind so rarely it is hardly worth mentioning. She was never encouraging and never affectionate, save for holidays and events, when she’d ocassionaly smile and give off a little happiness. When family or friends were around who she was trying to impress, she would smile at her kids, hug us and occasionally say kind things. If you”d like to count that, feel free but otherwise no. When interacting with her kids, it was either anger and berating. or distant contempt. Asking her for help or trying to talk to her would be responded to with hostility.
“You sure you’re not exaggerating how intense her anger was?” I’m not exaggerting in the least. At all. Brigid would rage at the top of her lungs at her kids when we were toddlers. No joke. No exaggeration.
But back to life in the early 1980’s..
In the first grade, something interesting happened to me. Every year, there was an annual play that all three classrooms would do together. I was picked by the three teachers as “king” of the play, meaning that I sat on a chair on the stage, above all the other kids, and sang a solo. I remember the “tryouts” for this. All the boys were asked to sing a song and one of the teachers shuffled through us and came to me. Apparently, I was able to sing on key and she liked my voice. I could perform. My memory of my relationships with my peers and everyone else at this time was that I was very distanct, awkward and disliked. I was “apart.” Never part of the crowd of boys who’d wander the playground (groups of boys/men terrified me through my late teens) I don’t recall being liked much by teachers either but apparently, I was presentable enough and could perform sufficiently well that I was made the king of the play. I wonder how this related to my performing book recitations for my mother as a toddler. I remember repeating the lines of books back to her and how pleased she was. I’m fairly certain this set something in me that had mostly negative effects on my personality in later years. I was disliked. I was not worthy of attention or affection, but only of being ignored or chastised. I could however, put on a show. There is an element of deception in performance. You’re pretending to be someone you aren’t and it’s something I learned to do. I was the king of the first grade play.
Concerns about my underperforming in school began by the first grade. As already stated, my mother never helped with homework save for projects that required parental asssistance or trips to a library but otherwise, assistance with homework didn’t take place. What *did* take place were parent teacher’s conferences, after which, my parents would come home and sit on the couch with me. My mother would tell me how much better I could do and how unacceptable my performance in school was. My father would normally join in but in a less aggressive way; just restating that I was able to do better in school and should. It was also around this time that I recall the beginning of something I’ll call “The Brigid cult of Dad” My father was an ace student in his youth and went on to the Air Force Academy. Around this time, my mother began telling me how amazing and superior my father was in all ways and how much better in school he’d been than I was. Like most of the interaction I’ve had with my mother throughout my life, it was meant to shame me and did.
Loosing things continued sporadically. Once, I lost a jacket that my grandmother had purchased for me. I remember the how much it cost. $26. I rememeber this because my mother made me pay for it. Twice. I was required to pay $52 dollars and the logic I was was that I had to pay for the loss, plus the cost of buying a new one. I was given an allowance of $2/week and it was withheld for 6 months. I don’t recall what my replacement jacket was, but it was certainly not as “cool” as the polyester, black zip up her mother had given. Irrational and illogical punishments, meant to do nothing other than instill guilt were a regular thing.
Most people who’ve had emotionally abusive childhoods have told me that as adults, they’ve come to better understand their parents. Most abusive parents were themselves abused as children. I suppose I’d have some sympathy for people who were abused as kids and who then went on to abuse their own children as adults.
Here is what I know of Brigid’s childhood….
## Brigid’s childhood
***To almost the same degree that brigid mines and keeps negative information on others – her family especially – she goes to extraordinary lengths to hide information about herself. I only know of her childhood from the bits and pieces she spoke of and what her mother and brother’s told me. Brigid was raised in a small town of about 8,000 in Iowa. LeMars.
***She was raised as an absolute princess. She was dressed to the nines. When dolls, bikes or transistor radios came out, she had the best of everything and had it before anyone else. She never had to do a single chore. Her mother cleaned her room and her clothes were often washed when her father went to the drycleaners. She was never chastized, scholded or disciplined. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, she was given the extraordinary sum of $5/week in allowance. When both of her parents weren’t in the car, she sat in the front seat, 100% of the time. I was told a story of how her younger brother once attempted to sit in the front seat. Apparently, a complete meltdown ensued. There are other stories of meltdowns I’ve heard of but obviously can’t confirm. Someone at school borrowed her dress and didn’t give it back on time. Her youngest brother was allowed to put half and half on his cereal and she wasn’t. Apparently, these things were just cause for hysterical fits.**
***She was a B/C student in school and didn’t play sports. She was popular enough to be on the homecoming court as a sophmore in high school and that’s all I can say for sure about how liked she was by her peers. I’ve heard her claim that she was very popular and I’ve heard two people she went to high school with claim she was disliked by most but had her own “clique”***
***On more than one occassion, I’ve heard her describe her brother’s, growing up as “below me” and “servents,” in an obviously figurative way but I’m fairly sure she saw herself and her wishes as primary and above those of everyone else in her household.***
***Her nickname in high school was “Frigid Brigid” She was never known to be a party girl, a big drinker, someone who used drugs of slept around. She was whatever you might call the polar opposite of a slut. I’ll describe the commmon quirks that run through our family later and in more depth, but a very limited sexuality is one of them (I managed to miss that one….to put it mildly)***
Knowing what I know, it’s difficult to have much sympathy for her. She treated her children the opposite of how she was treated. Brigid seems to think that she is entitled to live by an entirely different set of rules than others. (which is really something, considering what a person of mediocre talent she is)
She was never yelled at or abused, unless you’d consider spoiling to be abuse. I’ve researched how spoiled kids tend to do as parents. For several months this was something I tried to find data on. The best I could find was a correlation between spoiled children and later lazy parenting. I’ve seen nothing to suggest a link between a spoiled childhood and becoming a raging, angry parent.
Spoiled child syndrome describes Brigid to a T. The universe is about them. Others are there to please them and for little else. To the spoiled child, their job is to complain and it’s up to those around them to make things as they like.
What’s most interesting about Brigid is that her parenting is something like the exact opposite of the parenting she received. She was NEVER chastised or disciplined as a child. Chastising and berating her children were essentially all that did when interacting with them. She was given everything she wanted, from clothes to toys to everything else. Brigid gave her children about as little as she had to, without it seeming overly weird.
Brigid was given the nicest clothes but dressed her kids mostly from the clearance rack at the cheapest stores she could find. Brigid was doted over and told how wonderful she was. Brigid did nothing but complain to her children.
I have no psychology degree and only know what I”ve been told about her childhood (although all sources say about the same thing, including her) but here’s what seems to be the case: Brigid was the center of the universe in her childhood home. She had to do nothing and was given everything. When she became a parent, she did all she could to recreate that situation. She was and still is, the spoiled brat toddler in our family and always has been. Her needs and feelings and moods are the responsibility f everyone else. She is responsible for nothing and can be blamed for nothing. Those around her must feed her gargantuan ego gratification needs because that is their job. That’s how she grew up and the only way she is capable of understanding herself or her relationships with those around her, including her children.
That’s my best guess but all that parts fit together with that theory. I can’t think of any other.