Saturday, December 28, 2013

Organization Wars

We are going into our tenth year in this house and that’s longer than I have ever lived anywhere so there is quite a buildup.  We just did deep cleaning right before we went to Vegas last year and I threw out two giant 39 gallon trash bags full of clothes along with several boxes of other assorted stuff from purses to shoes to kitchen stuff, you-name-it.  Now it all needs to be done again, and I am still procrastinating.  Instead of starting on a closet, here I am, writing to you guys.

Another major problem is the amount of paper that comes into this house.  I can’t manage to stay ahead of it.  Every day a ton more comes in the mail and my shredder cannot keep up.  Anyone else have this problem?  It overheats and shuts down and still the paper keeps multiplying.  Some of the crap has our names and address all over it on 5 different places making it impossible to just rip off the name and address and throw it out.  I HATE junk mail!

I have discovered that the first step to organization is to have a notebook with dated pages to put all notes and lists in and to carry it around.  Now there are no more scraps of paper with pertinent information that can no longer be found in the time of need.  It took me long enough to figure it out, but now I always know where my notes and lists and other important info will be.

Hubby is the worst for losing stuff.  He is deliberately unorganized and when I harp at him about it, he purposely throws things all over the place just to show me he can do whatever he wants.  He has deliberately lost things many times just to get in my face.  He definitely has a major attitude about not being told what to do, but then so do I. 

I over analyze most situations and plan for contingencies and try to come up with root cause solutions for problems, but it irritates him that I do that, because he does not want to be inconvenienced, to put things away or to try to prevent things from being lost or wrecked or wasted.  He makes me homicidal with his deliberate irresponsibility. 

He complains that he wants to get organized but when I give him suggestions on how to get started, he does exactly the opposite.  He owns a ridiculously expensive Snap-on Tool box, in addition to four other, very nice roll-away tool boxes.  Yet he will use tools to do a job and then throw them in a bucket and leave them in the garage somewhere for weeks or months, instead of putting them away where they belong.  

Then when they are needed for the next job, he doesn't know where they are.  You don’t know how many times I have asked him to fix something in the house or on the car and he replies that he doesn't know where the particular tool is that’s needed but then he doesn't modify his behavior, he just keeps doing the same thing over and over.  [Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. ~Einstein]

He starts projects in the house and then takes forever to finish them, (just like my dad used to do.)  I have three places where the drywall has been removed to fix or install something and was never replaced and finished, along with a half finished flooring project and multiple automobiles in various stages of disrepair.  He is the procrastination king.

I gave him two drawers to put his wallet and keys and phone and whatever else is in his pockets, so he can find his things at a moments notice.  I put up a hat rack for his hats and there are hangers in the laundry room for coats and baskets for dirty clothes upstairs and downstairs but do ya think he will use them?  Negative.  Clothes and shoes and coats all over the house and it takes an average of 15 or 20 minutes to get ready to go somewhere because he loses his keys and phone at least 3 times a day.

I did not know he was like that before we actually got together.  He portrayed himself as more responsible and organized than that and I really didn't know the truth until we were living together.  I don’t know how to fix him because he is very resistant and stubborn.  Can't live with him, but surely can't live without him either.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Victims are affected differently

My cousin, who was a little younger than me, used to stay the weekend with us when we were little.  She was my mother's sister's child and we were very close friends.

One morning my mom had left us with my dad while she went shopping for groceries and my dad took the opportunity to expose himself to her, in his customary fashion.  She saw him through the open door to the bed room and called my attention to it.  He called us to come into his room and began to touch both of us inappropriately.  My cousin announced that she was going to tell our moms and he threatened to spank her if she did.  Evidently that effectively silenced her.

Nothing more was said about it then, between my cousin and I, but years after we were grown up, she told my grandmother that she had been molested by my father.  My grandmother told my mother and my mother did not believe it even though she already knew I had been abused.  When my mother related this to me, long after my own children were grown up and gone, I set the matter straight and told her it most certainly was true.

My cousin grew up and married a man, but was unable to conceive a child.  They divorced and she was single for another long period of time.  More recently, but still several years ago she declared herself to be a lesbian and now lives with a female partner in a committed relationship. They eventually adopted a teen-aged child.  She mentioned to me that she feels one of the reasons she has turned away from men is because of being molested as a child.

No Escape

I think I must have been about seven or eight years old before I found the words to tell my mom what was happening to me.  I had tried several times before and chickened out because I really did not have the necessary vocabulary to explain.  When I was finally able to make myself understood, she was horrified and confronted my father immediately.  Even though it was nighttime, they called the elders from the church to come over right away.

When the elders got there, they all cried and prayed and read scriptures.  My father minimized what he had done and promised never to do it again.  My mother believed him because she wanted to and they stayed together.  My mom was afraid to have to make a living without a husband for herself and a child.

The abuse continued and I tried to find the courage to tell her again.  Eventually I managed to tell her what was still happening.  Instead of calling the police or leaving him, she decided that the way to protect me was never to let me out of her sight.

That way I ended up being the one punished, by losing any freedom or privacy I may have had.  Now I was never allowed to stay home by myself or go anywhere or do anything without my mother because she thought she was preventing him from trying to do his dastardly deeds that way.

It did not prevent him from finding other ways to torment me.  He would peep into the bathroom windows when I took a bath and then make remarks later to let me know what he had done.  He would wait till she was in another room and make lewd remarks to me or quickly touch me and then laugh about it.  It was all a game to him to try and get away with it.  If I told my mom any of it, she would say it was my fault for being alone in a room with him or for going somewhere with him or even just being in the yard while she was inside.

I struggled mightily with the predicament of needing a father figure, yet being unable to trust him to have my best interest at heart.   I felt guilty and horrible all the time for wanting his attention or attempting to interact with him at all, yet I had to live under the same roof with him day in and day out.  I was a child and children need attention from both their parents.  I was forced to try to juggle that need with the equally important need to protect myself.

I felt there must be something wrong with me for wanting a father.  I simultaneously avoided and needed him. He touched and taunted and made me miserable while she imprisoned and smothered and accused and blamed me.  My situation was an inconvenience for her.  I desperately needed both of them but they were consumed with their own individual agendas and oblivious.

Eventually I just didn't tell her anymore and there was no escape.  The terrible secret smoldered inside me and I developed all sorts of gastric disturbances and other ailments.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hoarding Tendencies

My mother is a hoarder and I inherited tendencies toward being a pack rat from her.  She says it is because she always lived in poverty and is afraid to get rid of anything because she may need it again.  She even keeps broken and worn out things.  My father did the same thing when he was alive.

My mom has so many clothes she doesn't even know what she has or where it is.  She has her clothes in all the closets in the house, in addition there are giant plastic tubs of clothes behind the other furniture and a large storage building in the back yard with closet poles installed and filled with clothes.

Trying to help her organize is frustrating because she wants to keep everything.  Sometimes I bargain with her.  I will buy new things for her if she will promise to let me junk some of the old things.

I have to work hard to avoid collecting stuff we really aren't using.  Ironically there seems to be some truth to her madness, because whenever I clean out closets and get rid of things, we usually end up needing some of it within two weeks.  However in the grand scheme of things it really is liberating when we manage to unburden ourselves of loads of baggage that has been carried around for years and is just taking up space.  

I have heard that clearing the closets of clutter will aid in unburdening the mind.  I think it may be true because it always feels good and helps lift the veil of depression.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Productivity Suffers

I am bipolar and suffer from PTSD, ADD, OCD, an eating disorder and a sleeping disorder.  I believe most of my symptoms are a direct result of childhood trauma.  I never was good at keeping in touch until social media came around.  I was too busy trying to get my head together and figure out what in the world was wrong with me.  It has taken much too long to do all that and now that I can think and see clearly, it feels like time is running out.  

Now I am doing much better with communication. Several forever friends, with whom I had previously lost touch, have been restored to me via Facebook. 

I struggle with procrastination just as most people and I beat myself up over it.  The guilt is overwhelming and it leaves me completely incapacitated. Depression is always good for that. The worse I feel, the less I get done and the worse I feel.  It is a vicious cycle.  

I am a perfectionist and I feel if I can't do it perfectly, then there is no point in trying to do it at all. This comes from childhood as well because nothing I did was ever satisfactory in my parents' eyes.  That type of thinking is very self-defeating.   I get sidetracked and distracted too, when I start on one thing and end up off somewhere doing something else. This is part of Attention Deficit Disorder.  I have learned to break it into baby steps and try to celebrate the feeling of accomplishment because it is a big motivator.  

Our biggest organization problem is that we have too much stuff and our house is big enough to lose things in. I remember being a tiny little girl and constantly cleaning out my drawers and closets and trying to organize everything but with parents who had no skills in organization at all, and weren't capable of guidance, I did not know what I was doing and I really struggled with it for years. 

It took me two years to get all the boxes unpacked after we moved. Then a few years later, I experienced another traumatic setback when I lost my job.  I was unable to deal with the pain of putting away the things that came from my office.  The boxes remained unopened for another year or more. 

At least once every two years, I deep clean all the closets, but I still can’t stay on top of it by myself.  I struggle fanatically to be organized but my husband has NO organizational skills at all. There were things in some of those closets I had forgotten we even had until one of my slash and burn episodes.

I like to take time off work in December and one of the things I schedule for that time is deep cleaning.  This is about to commence, beginning tomorrow.  


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Fanatical Cleaning

The grandmother I was referring to, when I told you about my mother telling me to put paper on the toilet seat at her house, was my mother’s mother.  She was saying that about her OWN mother!  Of course I thought she was a fruitcake and did not do it. 

She was SUCH a maniac about germs and cleaning.  Made me a complete slob, in self defense, for a long time.  After I was on my own, I went through several years of depression fueled rebellion before I came to the conclusion that I actually wanted things organized and clean. 

She actually wore out the arms of the couch vacuuming them so much.  She would vacuum the entire house AND the furniture AND change the beds twice a week.  All dishes had to be done immediately after a meal or a snack.  If there was an emergency and she could not immediately do the dishes, she would hide them in the refrigerator.  She used the excuse of not wanting to encourage bugs.  

She used the carpet cleaning machine so often that she wore out three of them in a short period of time.  She would come in my room while I was sleeping and grab my blue jeans to wash them, after I had only worn them for two hours and hung them up to wear again.  She did it so frequently that my jeans fell apart.  It was during those years when my friends and I were soooo skinny and we could not find pants to fit correctly and I only had two good pairs of jeans to wear.  

My mother used to take the trash out from the inside trash cans and then tell  me not to put anything in the trash can, take it all the way out to the big can on the street because she “just emptied that trash!”

Bad Choices

After being subjected to my mother's bombardment of negativity about everyone on the planet, I was determined to form my own opinions about people based on my own experiences with them rather than blindly hate and distrust them all and fear their horrible germs.  Of course all my open-mindedness did not aid in picking a marriage partner.  

Instead it allowed predators of all kinds to get close to me.  The one protection I still had was a strong instinctual gut reaction but I did not always listen to it.  This is what happened in the case of my second husband.  

After the death of my father, I was "in limbo" so-to-speak, and I allowed myself to be sucked into a long-distance relationship.  We had met as "friends of friends," and he lived in another state.  The alarm bells were going off in my head before I ever moved out there and married him but I dismissed them as jitters because my first marriage was such a disaster and this one was a polar opposite of the lifestyle of my first husband so, of course it MUST be OK.  What a joke that turned out to be.  Shoulda listened to the bells!

Children Crave Structure and Boundaries

We all try to not repeat the specific mistakes our parents made.  The ones that are our own pet peeves.  

I think the over-scheduling of extra-curricular activities and reward charts that today's soccer-moms are fond of would probably be much preferable to an angry mother like mine with ADD who never followed through on anything and used religion as an excuse not to have to provide very much entertainment or material things for her child.  

I sure would have welcomed a little organization and recognizable boundaries to bring sanity to my upbringing.  It was all the senseless, rigid, stupidity with nothing whatsoever to back it up and no reward system of any kind that drove me over the edge and made me a wild, out-of-control twenty-something.

The underlying message in my immediate family seemed to be, that authority is to be defied and tradition is worthless.  My parents philosophy seemed to scream that "NOTHING is as it is advertised," and "the rules do not apply to us, they are only for other people because we are above such things as conforming to society."

To this day, I crave tradition because it was withheld from me.

No Privacy

I was an only child.  (In a manner of speaking)  I grew up in a lonely world of extreme poverty, with parents who bickered constantly and screamed at each other frequently.  My nerves were frayed and tattered from infancy due to the stress of my parents’ relationship.  I longed for escape and loved going to other people’s houses to visit, without my parents, where things seemed more normal.

When I was four, we moved into a house that my father was just beginning to build from scratch.  It was in a rural area far from anyone we knew.  In the beginning it was just two rooms and had no running water or bathroom facilities.  Privacy for bodily functions or bathing was not possible.  After a time it became four rooms but it was six years before we had a functional bathroom.

My mother would go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings sometimes and leave me home to sleep in. Sometimes when I would wake up and go to the door of my room, I could see across the way into my parents bedroom.  My dad would be unclothed and touching himself with the door open so I would be sure to see.

These things had been going on for as long as I could remember and in the beginning I was too young to have a vocabulary capable of explaining what was happening.  I was confused and not sure what it all was about.  There was only a vague sense of something not being right and some underlying guilt that maybe I was doing something wrong, but I didn't know what.

Monday, December 23, 2013


My mother actually apologized to me on the phone yesterday for picking my bio-dad, as a sperm donor … imagine that!  

It came on the heels of a discussion of my daughter's attitude which my mom likes to blame on my dad.  I said, "Well none of us get to pick our relatives so we just roll with it."  As for my parents teaching me what to look for in a mate, that didn't happen. 

 My mom's favorite pass-time was to run my dad’s family down and blame him  for whatever was wrong with her life and talk trash about all her sisters and their husbands and kids and everyone else she knew and the entire world while she was at it.

That habit only served to make me more open minded and accepting and trusting of people because she was so ridiculously out of proportion with her blanket of hate.  Her ideas of morality were warped as well.  My cousins and I were not allowed to pretend that our Barbie dolls had boyfriends, because that was “nasty.”  They were only allowed to have girlfriends.  

Even as a tiny toddler, I recognized something foreign about my mom's attitude toward people.  She especially blew it when she told me that her own mother (whom I idolized at the time) was “not as clean” as she was.  As a four year old, I was told to “put paper” on the toilet seat at my own grandmother’s house.  That was one of the defining moments that clued me in to what she really was.  She drilled me daily that everyone else was “nasty” and we could not expose ourselves to "their germs." 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Innocence was non-existent.

I am an only child of parents who were mentally ill and my father was a pedophile.  My earliest memories were of abuse.  I vividly remember being touched inappropriately under a quilt by my biological father sometime during my second year of life.  Even at that young age, I instinctively could feel something was very wrong.  

Innocence was non-existent.  There was never a time when I did not know the intimate details of my parents sex-life. Separately and unbeknownst to each other, both of them confided their secrets to me, always blaming each other for their individual indiscretions. Escape was impossible. 

Writing keeps the demons at bay

We all have to fight our own demons and I am no exception.  The basic process of recovery is the same for most traumatic experiences and sharing facilitates healing.  After living through years of crippling depression, I see light at the end of the tunnel.  Writing has been a valuable tool, for which I am eternally grateful.

Damaging Secrets

The things that happened to me are not unique.  These things happened to many more children than we will ever know because it was a time when discussing such issues was taboo.  It just wasn't done. 

Everyone hushed it up and children were warned that if they talked about what happened to them, others would shun them and think they were mentally ill.  Parents covered up for each other and themselves. Churches covered up for their members and schools turned a blind eye.

We learned much later that the secrecy and the covering up were some of the most damaging parts of the experience.  It was an excruciating and lonely journey filled with darkness and stumbling confusion.  Coping mechanisms became addictions and long term depression set in. 

I am a Survivor.

My name is Angelina Brighton and I am an adult survivor of child abuse.  

This is my story.  These are memoirs of my childhood and details of my struggle to survive.  Some of the things you will read here will horrify you, others will anger and sadden you but most of all they will enlighten you to the plight of many children growing up in America.