Monday, June 3, 2013


I have been avoiding writing this post for a while now, but after reading this post yesterday, I was reminded once again that when we're going through something tough, we're not the only ones.

There has been so much going through my head lately - about my ability as a parent, and my relationship with my kids, to my relationship with my own parents. For the past few years, I have had an increasingly combative relationship with my dad. My whole life, my dad was the guy that everyone wanted to be around. He was funny and sweet and open-minded and just a great guy. About 10 years ago, I lost an uncle who was like a second father to me, and was probably my dad's closest friend. Shortly after that, I lost a second uncle who was also very close to my dad. Since that time dad has been in a depression that I don't feel he has ever gotten over. He is 76 now, and from a generation that doesn't do things like talk about their feelings, and they certainly don't do things like see a therapist. 

My dad has been a functioning alcoholic all my life, and I didn't realize it until I was an adult when my mom told me. He has never been a slur-your-words, stumble around drunk, which is why I didn't realize it - it is what I had always grown up with. 

Dad and I have very similar personalities - stubborn and explosive. For the past few years, since my kids were born, it has gotten strained, recently to the point where I can hardly stand to be around him. He has become verbally abusive to my mom and me, but for some reason, not to my sister. It could be because she lives so far away, or it could be the difference in their relationship. My mom chooses to live with it, but I find it harder and harder, especially since I was in a physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive relationship with a boyfriend when I was 24. When I left that relationship, I realized I didn't have to live that way, and left. Every time my dad makes another comment to me, I feel like it drains a little more of my love for him. That sounds terrible to say, but it's the only way I know how to say it. Sometimes I wonder if he is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimers, because strangely, those are the easiest diagnoses to stomach. 

My dad has told me I'm white trash, or that I think I'm better than everyone else, or, most recently, accused me of being abusive to my kids (because I disciplined Simon in front of him after he had hit me twice). I will be the first to admit that I yell too much at my kids. I hate that about myself, and wish I didn't do it, but I would never, ever physically harm my kids. I would not tell them that they are worthless. But here is the thing - I DO yell. And then I feel terrible and guilt-ridden and ashamed. I know I am not the only parent to yell at their kids, but I have to figure out a way to be in the moment where, as a parent, you are so frustrated with your kids for doing something that you have repeatedly asked them not to do, and NOT lose my cool. I have decided to start seeing a therapist to figure out a better way to do this. 

The thing that struck me, when dad called me abusive, was this. As a parent I think we each see ourselves in a certain way. I have days when I feel like I have done a pretty good job, and go to bed and sleep soundly. But more often than not, I go to sleep and cry, or feel like I have done a shit job, or wonder how in the hell everyone else seems to be able to keep it together and why can't I? Just once? I have learned in the past 5 years exactly how much GUILT comes along with being a parent, and it is an emotion I feel at least once every single day. I also realize I am harder on myself than anyone else is - I think that's just human nature - but when you lie awake in the middle of the night after a bad day, and wonder if your family wouldn't just be better off if you took off, and you wonder if you're harming your kids by yelling, well, when someone calls you abusive - when they just happen to pick the one word you're most afraid of - and apply it to you, it is heart wrenching. And when the person who applies that word to you is one of the two people who are supposed to be your biggest champions, your biggest encouragers, one of the two people who love you unconditionally, it is like a kick to the gut.


If I have been distant lately, it is because all of this is going through my head. It is because I am trying to rectify the parent I feel like I am with the parent I want to be. I am trying to decide whether to cut ties to my own father or try to make it work, because right now? I don't fucking know if I want to make it work. I lived a life, almost 20 years ago, with someone who used me as a punching bag, literally and figuratively, for 6 short and long months. Someone who kicked me in the stomach while I laid on the ground and screamed. Someone who grabbed me, while I held onto the front door, and physically carried me back into the house so he could continue to beat me. Someone who bruised me and destroyed my things and shredded my clothes and shredded ME, and I decided at midnight, on December 11, 1993, that I did NOT have to live like that ever again, and I left. I drove to my parents' home and knocked on the door and my dad bawled like I had never seen, and the next day, helped me move my things home. And now? I feel like I have cycled back to that same point, in a manner of speaking.

So please forgive me if I am lax in posting, or I cannot make myself be funny, or I slack off. I am trying. Every day I start over, trying to figure out this LIFE. And I wrote this because I know, deep down in my heart, even though I have felt alone on an island of misery for a while now, that I cannot be the only one who is struggling, and maybe by writing this, it will strike a chord with someone else. Maybe, just maybe, these words, and this confession, will help start my own healing. I pray that it will.



Suzanne Carillo Style Files said...

So sorry to hear all of the pain and suffering that you are going through right now Shan.

I'm not a Mom so I can't comment on how it feels to raise a child or how tough it must be.

Life can be tough and unfair but there are also lots of good things that you need to remind yourself of daily and all of the great joys that you bring your children and family.

We are always the hardest on ourselves but it doesn't help if a parent doesn't live up to our expectations. Forgiveness is the only thing that heals deep wounds and allows you to move forward to feeling better.

Sending healing thoughts your way.


heidi said...

solidarity sister. we women are more alike than we know sometimes.

dreamingincashmere said...

I will keep you in my prayers Shannan. I'm glad you were able to share this. I can relate to so much of it. I'm sure many others will too, so thank you for being brave and strong and sharing something that I'm sure was so difficult to express. On another note, I'm sure you are a great mom!! I don't know any moms or dads that never lose their cool with their kiddos.:)

oomph. said...

i have a very controlling mother..even til today, i still feel like she controls everything i do. she's not exactly verbally abusive, but she infers that i'm a terrible parent, that i never to anything right. nothing i do is ever good enough. i'm a single, working parent of'd think i could take some time to myself, to recharge, but even more so she makes me feel guilty and selfish for needing some me time.

i think we all kind of deal with something/someone in our life. glad you took the step to talk to a therapist. talking (to anyone) is a huge will feel a lot better getting it all out. hope you find comfort in that.

stay strong. i'm sure you are a wonderful parent.

MerciBlahBlah said...

All - thank you for writing. Your comments mean more to me than I can properly say.

Becks - I didn't go into it in this post, but my mom sounds a lot like your mom. It's another whole issue which I'm not yet ready to tackle. Suffice it to say there is a lot of judgement there, and the really sad thing is - I hear from BOTH my parents all the time what a GREAT dad my husband is, unprompted, but I NEVER hear that about myself. I fully admit, my husband IS a great dad, but it's pretty hurtful after a while.

Karrin said...

It is a brave thing to be so honest and open in such a public place. My heart hurts for what you are going through now and what you had to endure at such a young and vulnerable age. I have been in therapy for almost 5 years now for my own demons and I can say that it does help you learn how to deal with life--some of us were born with the curse of taking everything personally and letting hurtful people affect us deeply. I will be sending some powerful positive thoughts your way!

Anonymous said...

A brave post. Thank you.

Renee said...

Our family dynamics shape who we are. My family dysfunction runs so deep that we are literally part of the McCoy Family. When our family fights it was true to our blood of the Hatfields and McCoys. My Mom one day after spanking me for something stupid dropped the belt and asked God for direction. She went to a therapist specializing in family therapy. She realized the dysfunction was going to be spread to my sister and I and then our kids. We learned that spanking is counter productive and it was. I behaved horribly whenever I was spanked (some days it would be considered abuse. When she talked to us though we started to listen.

Her Mom was abusive to her and she was the oldest. I am the oldest and she was repeating the cycle with me. Her Mom, brother and sisters said they would NOT go to therapy with her and that there were no issues. I do not know how many times I saw screaming matches, whippings and abuse. I hated going to Sunday dinners at Grandmas and would not eat because the dysfunction was so bad it made my stomach hurt. I remember to this day (39 years old now) the fights and I was only 2 and I can remember them clear as day. Children exposed to hate, violence and screaming will remember the bad times more than the good.

She cut off all ties with her family, including her mother, 18 years ago. We have been a stronger, more loving and giving family since then. We have found friends who are better family then our blood family. Just because someone gave birth to you or had involvement in "making you" does not make them a true family.

It was the hardest thing my Mom ever did to stop talking to her sisters, brother and Mom. She grieved them so hard but in the end she is so much better. She no longer has chest pains, skin issues or hair falling out. Stress can kill you and to be completely honest so not worth it. We love her so much for breaking the cycle and respect her more now. She is my best friend and I am so glad she sacrificed for us and made that hard decision. When I got married my husband and I bought the house next to my parents, because we have that good of a relationship now. My cousins who continued to live in the dysfunction most are living horribly. One in jail, one is a drug addict, one is dead and the other two have had horrible relationships and marriages. My sister and I are happily married and have had a WONDERFUL life.

Sorry for the long response. LOL

pyjammy pam said...

you are so brave for sharing. i wish you didn't say "confession" like you are owning up to something bad. i don't see anything bad in what you posted. i'm glad you're getting some help, though, to come to terms with everything. you are a wonderful mom. please know that.

whitley hamlin said...

Precious woman, lady I call my friend, I am so sorry to hear of this past of yours and the present. I can relate on a few levels. I will save it all for our face to face meeting. I read it all though, I want you to know. Also, please know I am thinking about you and praying for you. Parenting is HARD. I can't image triplets. Hang in there. You are not alone. You are awesome, gorgeous, courageous, hot, fun, funny as hell, witty, super cool hot mom chick and the list goes on. Hugs from sunny NC!! xx Whitley

Paula said...

Shannan, you are stronger than you realize and this post only further demonstrates how brave you are as a mother, daughter, and a woman. As parents, we so often forget that we need to take care of ourselves and occasionally need to put our needs first in order to be a better parent. I applaud for your strength in taken the steps necessary to heal yourself. The bottom line, only you can decide when enough is enough with your father and seek closure for a failed parental relationship or attempt to heal it. Regardless, all of us here reading your blog love your wit, sarcasm, Shanannisms, and your courage. Thinking of you and stay strong. Paula

Trixie Bang Bang said...

I think you seem nice, funny, and a proud mom. Everyone yells. I recommend (in addition to therapy), The Power of Now, and Return to Love. Both have helped me keep calm(er) and carry on, and not be quite as bitchy all the time.
And sometimes you just have to walk away from people who aren't enriching your spirit. Family included (speaking from experience).

Zahra Sandberg said...

Oh man, I'm giving you a cyber hug right now! From what I know - which isn't much but I feel I should still share- If someone is draining you with their toxic behavior - whether it is verbal or physical, you shouldn't feel guilty at ALL for keeping your distance. Since he is your father, I'd say you can and should be cordial, but you do not need to take any more abuse. It is funny about abuse - abusers choose their victims sometimes at random and sometimes by whomever will take their abuse- I'm thinking of how your sister doesn't have to deal with this - that is actually very common. Another common thing is for an abused person to seek out that abuse in their future relationships - like your abusive relationship at 24- but the great thing is you acknowledge this is happening - so you have the power to stay away and not let it affect you.

And about the kiddos - you have enough children where if yelling is your biggest worry - you are doing just fine! Seriously, I have one and I'm wondering how in the hell anyone has any more! You need to give yourself so much more credit - you are a wonderful mom from what I've seen and read on this blog - your kids are so lucky to have you! Maybe one day your dad will realize he is lucky to have you too.



Molly said...

You hit the nail on the head with mama guilt. I yell at my kids too. I try so hard not to but sometimes I just blow up. And then I lay awake in bed at night and cry and think the same thing - that my family might be better off without me. Well, I think you and I both know it's not true. Our kiddos love us even when we make mistakes!

I'm so sorry for the turmoil with your father. I hope you come to a decision. I could not deal with such a toxic relationship in my life. I was in abusive relationships in my teens and early twenties and one day I just decided NO, I'm not going to do this anymore!

Hugs, S. I don't know if you remember me or not but I was on the KC Knot and then The Nest and then remember when you were pregnant with the trips. I still read your blog just don't comment because I am the least fashionable person there is on this planet.