Maelstrom143, By Sun or Candlelight
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2017-09-04 18:46:38 (UTC)

Pondering old memories maybe better off forgotten...

I have wide empty spaces in my childhood memories, but what I remember is still a lot, it seems...

I was a quiet child, mostly. Raised by my Mami (paternal grandmother) for the first few years of life, spoke Quechua dialect and English. We were alike, she and I. I remember our home was usually dimly lit whenever possible (except in the kitchen), we lived in companionable silence, she doing her crafts and sewing, me silently doing my own thing in the corner or on the bed as her shadow loomed on the walls. We'd read (I was a precocious reader, learning by age 4, liked puzzles). She'd sometimes keep me from school so she could take me places. When at school, she befriended the staff so she could make sure I was doing ok and eating (I had food jags, sometimes would not eat, fell off the growth chart, vomiting was normal for me; I was also severely lactose intolerant...something my family did not know. I figured it out when I was an adult and no longer force-fed the milk). We enjoyed silent places, parks, cemeteries...we'd sometimes take the buses and keep going until they were empty, to see where we ended up, then go back. She seldom received visitors and would ask them why they were there if they visited unannounced, maybe not even let them in. (I am that way, as well. Seeing her do it gave me the freedom to know it was ok to not let people in the house simply because they showed up, that it was ok to be the way we were/are).

My mother sent her away when I was 6 or 7 and so I lost use of the native language and my good life. My siblings are younger than I by 6 and 8 years. They used to say was the illegitimate child of the laundry mat man (Chinese guy) because I had slanted eyes, yellow skin tones, and was so very different from them and they felt I was standoffish. They still loved me.

My mother is a paranoid schizophrenic who seemed to derive pleasure from seeing me cry, so I stopped crying, developed a tolerance for pain, depending on the situation (I can tolerate pain when a goal is in sight. However, I feel extreme pain when touched by surprise or if I am emotionally hurting).

I have always had hypersensitivity to foods, smells, some fabrics (may feel ill or as if the foods smell like feces, may feel as if my mouth is raw or burning, certain textures or repetitive motion against my skin causes burning sensation). Have always suffered from migraines (so do my kids).

I like rules and routines. My biological mother was/is chaos, doing whatever she felt like doing, a pathological liar, forger, and opportunistic thief. She had a habit of dumpster diving, a habit which horrified me since I was/am the opposite. She'd beat me severely when I washed dishes because I invariably finished a bottle of dish detergent rather quickly (if the plates are not squeaky and feel just right, then they are not clean!).

She was/is also a hoarder, which horrified me and made me feel as if I could not breathe, so even as a child I'd fight. She let dishes lay in the kitchen until they would overflow and it drove me nuts. As I got older, I got a job, worked, then came home to dirt and filth and felt severe anxiety, so I once took bags and separated her kitchen stuff among the neighborhood garbage cans so she could not retrieve it.

I had meltdowns. As a small child, I would beat myself against the walls while inconsolable, I thought maybe because I was scared. As an older child and teen, I would lay there screaming for hours (I heard some kids say I was crazy, which made me realize they could hear me and maybe I needed to find other ways to cope). And I progressed to breaking glass items on the street and destroying things when upset. (I stopped hitting my siblings early on, but since I functionally raised them and was 6 years older (they called me mom), I was who punished until I was in my late teens, early 20s.

I moved out of my mother's home as soon as I could. Went back twice (2nd time, when returning from PR; found my own place as soon as feasibly possible. The fighting, filth, and insanity in her home were more than I could handle). Biological father is mostly irrelevant since absentee most of my life. When he was there, he was abusive to us. He beat her, locked us out of the home when she deigned to go to church with us, so I'd have to break into the house and let her and my siblings in.

I was scared of him. Together, they were dangerous. I remember feeling relief when she threw him out at the end. I remember thinking that now they would probably not end up killing each other.

I have always loved books, lost my words, sometimes words sound like white noise. It is like a switch that flicks off and then on again. I like routines. I like for things to make sense. I have trouble understanding regular people and the way they speak, sometimes. I seem to have an accent in any language I use, even my own native English. Maybe because most of my words were only heard in my head when I was younger, not usually voiced.

I do not think I was a friendly child. I remember overhearing some say I had no personality, maybe because I did not just start conversations, maybe because I did not know how to start/end conversations (with my husband, who I am comfortable with, I am honest and just tell him I am done talking or "Ok, now you talk..." Of course he tells me, "you are aware that is not how normal people communicate, right?!" I find it amusing, especially since he is a lot like me, just more functional.

My mom would bring kids over so I would not get lonely. I don't remember enjoying it. I did not like them touching my things. I did enjoy telling on them so their parent would take them back home. I learned to be friendly later on as a survival skill (books on body language, behaviors, behavioral therapy to stop from doing certain things, being aware of myself). The work environment is easier when people see you as friendly/happy, even naive. Unfortunately, my childhood stripped "naive" from me early on.