We left Albuquerque yesterday to drive up to Santa Fe, where we’ll be staying until Sunday and traveling in the surrounds. When we checked into our hotel, which is basically like a lot of little apartments surrounding a pool and common seating area, I thought about all the hotels and motels I’ve stayed at over the course of my life, and how in the last 10 years, I’ve been really lucky to stay at some very beautiful, well-appointed hotel rooms and suites. Somehow, this triggered the thought of all the crappy motels I stayed at during short travels around California with my parents. For my parents, they didn’t understand why anyone would want to pay more than $30-50/night for a hotel room; “it’s just there for you to sleep,” my mom would insist. So each stay, they’d search for the cheapest possible motel, most with peeling plaster or paint, stains on the carpet and walls, and one even had a massive hole in the wall (that hotel was $30/night; my mom apparently drew the line there, and after seeing this, she demanded a refund and we left). Ed refused to go on “family trips” once he was a teenager; for him, being away from our parents was vacation enough. The first trip I vividly remember taking when he refused to go, I was 8 years old, which meant he was about 15, and early that morning when we were packing up the car to leave, Ed started crying, insisting he didn’t want to go. I was too young and unaware to understand his strong feelings of hate and rejection. My grandma sided with him, telling my parents that they shouldn’t force him. So we let him stay behind.
This evening, when I was showering, I also washed my hair, and well, when you wash your hair, you shed hair that needs to get cleaned up. So after my shower, I cleaned up all the hair from the drain and disposed of it in the trash. And yet again, this was yet another triggering moment, making me remember the time when I was in college back home at some point, and I accidentally left hair in the bathtub drain. I had always been pretty thorough with cleaning; I was basically trained to be that way because anything less than perfect (splashed water on the kitchen counter, stains on the stove, dust on the shelves, sponges left unsqueezed of excess water) would be constantly nitpicked by our mother.
I was always good about cleaning my hair out of the drain, except for this one, single time. And I distinctly remember my dad getting so angry and worked up about it (because all the little things are made into big deals in that house). He barged into my bedroom by violently opening up the door (you’d know a violent door opening when you heard it), and yelled, “You know, you need to remember to clean the drain when you wash your hair! You don’t need to be told! USE YOUR BRAIN!” And then without wanting or expecting a response, he left and slammed the door.
Leaving hair in the drain once is really not a big deal, but as he and my mom always did, he made it into one. Everything was explosive and angry in that house, and unnecessarily so. His reaction was such an over-reaction, but sadly, it was not unexpected from them. A reasonable father or human being would have just walked over to me and said, “Hey, can you remember to clean the drain after washing your hair next time?” and maybe even acknowledged that I NORMALLY ALWAYS DID THAT ANYWAY, AND THIS ONE TIME THAT I FORGOT WAS NOT A FUCKING BIG DEAL AND WAS AN ANOMALY.
And if you thought that was it, well, that unfortunately was not the end. Later that day, I may have accidentally slammed a kitchen cabinet. And my mom came out of nowhere and said angrily with her face all scrunched up, “I know why you’re making all this noise. You don’t like it when your father disciplines you. Well, all children need to be disciplined and told when they are wrong. Kids need to listen to their parents, and those who go against their parents will be punished BY GOD!” With each word, her volume rose. And with each word, I counted down the days until I could be free of their financial support, graduated from college, and far away from their constant unfair treatment and tyranny of me.
According to the Bible, children must honor their parents. But what the Bible (and I’m sure every other religious text out there) never outlines is that parents are NOT always right, and when they choose to be physically, verbally, or psychologically abusive towards their children, that is not okay with whatever higher power you believe in. Parents are not gods, whether they want to believe that or not. I frequently have yelled back at my mom and told her that she believes she is God, but not because she thinks she is always right. Her response is the usual, “God hears everything you say, and you will be punished for being disobedient.” Rather, I say that to her because she literally criticizes and judges every single person as though she has zero flaws herself. She most recently criticized someone who is supposed to be her “best friend” because her daughter is recently going through a divorce (my mom thinks divorce is unacceptable) and her son just had a baby out of wedlock. I wanted to remind her that maybe, just maybe she shouldn’t criticize her friend, because at least both of her friend’s children she gave birth to… ARE STILL ALIVE. Some of her criticisms or judgments are based on “facts” that she has actually made up, which only makes her seem even more delusional and mentally demented.
This past week, for whatever reason, has been extremely triggering for me. Everything seems to remind me of something stupid my parents have done. Oh, and I just looked in the mirror and realized that what I thought was just a “bloated” look is actually my stomach starting to “show.” I hope all these triggers can go away so I can just move forward and stop remembering the stupidity of my family’s past.