Facebook suggested Pat as a possible friend today; for all the sophistication of that platform, it does not comprehend Complicated or Estranged.
Per the meme above, I have often felt like a refugee from childhood; my childhood was definitely something I had to endure, then overcome. But until I saw Pat’s picture this morning as Facebook suggested I might Friend her, I hadn’t much considered how she may feel about her own childhood.
I was never close to Pat, so we didn’t discuss her relationship with her parents, and I actually know very little about it. I know a few facts, for example; her parents wouldn’t speak to her for months after she became pregnant and “had to” marry Ed, whom they despised. But even as she told me this story, she never indicated how it made it her feel – in retelling she was cold and detached, as though it had happened to someone else.
Looking at it through my now fifty four year old eyes – with the heart and mind of a man who has gently raised three children, not speaking to your daughter because she got pregnant is a cruel, brutal and cold thing to do. At a time when she needed them more than she ever had before, they turned away.
She HAS to feel something about this – retrospectively, as well as in the moment, but she didn’t express feeling of any kind to me – not anger, betrayal, pain or outrage … nothing. No. Emotion. At. All.
Was she an abused child? I know Ed was, but was Pat? My mother’s parents were always good to me, but that doesn’t mean they were always good to their children. Case in point, I’m told my mother is a good grandmother to my niece – and my aunt tells me her mother was a good grandmother to her children, but Pat was a terrible mother, and my aunt says her mother wasn’t always the best most nurturing mother either.
My mother’s grasp on reality has always been tenuous, my aunt’s has always been razor sharp …
From what I recall, Pat was the dutiful daughter, and she thought highly – at least she behaved as though she thought highly, of her mother. My supposition is that the relationship – my mother for her mother, may have been based in a form of Stockholm Syndrome … very much like my sister and Pat.
Something had to be amiss in Pat’s life for her to be able to do to her own children all the cruel and terrible things she did.
- Abuse is [almost always] generational
- Abusers aren’t born, they are made
Why Pat is as she is doesn’t matter to me now – it can’t, because I’m in touch with my own why and you can’t ever go back to what made you sick.
But maybe her answers don’t lie only in what she did to me, but in what someone else did to her …
she won’t look, and she’ll never question; she just isn’t built to think critically or in complex ways, so her answers will always elude her;
It’s so much easier to blame than it is to understand.
No Facebook, Pat Shaw and I can never be Friends.