Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 06:12 pm
If this belongs in a different forum, by all means, move it.

By age four I was a member of a step family. I never saw my father again after the age of two or three. My step father was a wicked tyrant toward myself and my two full brothers. He was much more loving and lenient to his children, my half brothers and sisters, but he never took a hand to supporting any of us. We all subsisted on a mothly welfare check given for the support of myself and my full brothers, while my step father took all of his paychecks and stayed out drinking and running around for days at a time. As we became teen age his abuse became ever more violent. My mother would eventually secretly buy tickets on a train and we slipped away and returned to her family in Texas.
I wonder if there are other step children on a2k and if their experiences were any better than mine?
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safecracker
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 06:22 pm
My sister was a step child but my father excepted her as his own (even though he was never around anyway) my wife on the other hand is a stepchild and her step father used to hit her.....then i came into the picture......now hes scared to hit anyone (my wife is 18 now but was younger when we met)
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 06:24 pm
I have read that the popularity of the Cinderella fairy tale is rooted in the truth of essential details....
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LibertyD
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 08:18 pm
Edgar, I'm so sorry that you and your family went through so much hell for so long...it sounds like it would be a tough thing to get over.

I'm a step kid, and had it better than you did as a kid, but it wasn't fun. The problems with my dad's wife weren't physical, but she did some pretty severe emotional damage. I didn't talk to my dad for almost ten years, through the entirety of my teen-age years, because of her.

But, my story is slowly but surely getting a happy ending. After more than twenty years, she and I are finally able to speak to each other warmly, rather than just politely. I'm lucky.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 08:37 pm
Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse, in my book. My step father used his position and his size to keep me intimidated for ten years. He singled me out to be the stupid one in the family and worked on me for several years, trying to make it stick. He nicknamed me Snurd after an Edgar Bergen puppet and never called me by my rightful name after that. He would spend hours ridiculing me and trying to trip me up in every way imagineable. It took me almost thirty years to quit being too withdrawn to make any friends and make myself attractive enough to the opposite sex to build a relationship.
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LibertyD
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 09:02 pm
How did you overcome your emotional scars? Did you have to consciously make yourself behave more confidently or was it something like your writing that gave you the confidence?

It would be interesting to know the percentage of abusive step-families vs non-abusive ones, and why it's so.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 09:16 pm
I just kept myself out there, in the face of humiliating experiences, and tried to be a patient, interested person. I was generally considered a dummy because I could not give and take in conversation - mostly I responded to the other's initiatives with one or two words at a time. One day while serving in the Navy I discovered I could argue and do it very well. For about three years I argued with anyone who would take the bait. Over a long time it got so I could speak with others rather than try to talk them down. When I worked, if told to tell someone else something to do, I had to apologize to the person first, then suggest in the most timid way what needed to be done. I had plenty of chances to get married, but I knew the girls did not understand my problems enough to cope with it and always ran away. Even today, at age 61 (in Sept) I sometimes get tonge tied around authority figures.
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LibertyD
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 09:32 pm
Well, it certainly says a lot about your character that you were able to keep at it like that, after all you had been through.

From what I've read of you here, it's funny to me that you and "stupid" were ever used in the same sentence. Smile

Glad that you're who you are.
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Rae
 
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Reply Wed 27 Aug, 2003 09:57 pm
Will second LibertyD, edgarblythe. You're pretty cool in my book!

My sister and I both survived the step-child syndrome. Not without earning lots of battle wounds though.

During the marriage, I could easily spit the word 'hate' if asked how I felt about my stepdad. After the divorce, we seemed to meet somewhere in the middle and years later, when he suffered and died from Alzheimer's, my sister and I grieved as if we'd lost our own Dad.

Niether one of us would be who we are today had it not been for him. Even with the bad stuff that happened. The good stuff was an unexpected bonus.
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Tex-Star
 
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Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 12:02 am
Edgarblyth, I want you to know that whatever happened to you has turned you into a very strong sensitive person with lots of soul.

I had a stepmother who perfunctorily cleaned the house, cooked the meals for my sister and me. But, God, she was like a block of wood. No matter what I said, trying to tell her things about my teen life, she'd just grunt. She and dad were only interested in each other. Weird. It was just odd, but I had great friends and spent most of my life in their homes. This lady was jealous of our dead mother, and destroyed the only really clear picture we had of her. I don't think the two of them knew they were parents. Dumb.

Funny, but I seem to always feel rather sorry for people like your stepdad. He knows what he did.
To my knowledge, abusive parents never admit what they did - not in any book or movie I've seen on the subject. They couldn't handle knowing it.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 05:22 am
My step father finally cornered my sixteen year old brother in the kitchen. "We are going to fight it out," he said, unwrapping his prized butcher knives. My Mom, seven months pregnant with her twelfth child, got in between. She caused him to delay his plan or possibly not carry it through for about twenty minutes, when the police came to arrest him. He moved out after that and then spent months trying to get permission to move back in. When the new baby died one night he tried to put guilt and blame on Mom and threatened to use his sister's considerable money to take away her children. During this time he took my youngest full brother and I to the Fresno yearly parade, where we saw Hopalong Cassidy, my favorite film star. As we prepared to go home, my step father asked me a question three times. Each time he asked, my mind refused to hear him. I finally answered, "I don't know." But I had no idea what I was answering to. Later my brother said he was asking if I wanted him to come home.
About ten years later he had a stroke. He lay on the floor for three days before anyone found him. He stayed in a hospital for many months, paralyzed on one side, eventually losing a limb or two. Then he died. I knew he was there, but did not go see him.
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Tex-Star
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 11:48 am
Edgar, good grief you're making me cry. Hey, you must know what had to be going through that man's mind in that hospital bed. He was no father.

I left home at 18 and didn't visit for 16 years, then only 4 times. What was odd is he was the sweetest dad until he remarried, very lovable. So, that is how I remember him. All a parent has to do is love the kids.

We four kids spent some years of our childhood in a children's home. Never heard of anyone abusing anybody there. We were kept very busy and were NEVER alone with any of the people running the place. Had our own school, church, cows chickens pigs, etc. and many of the teachers, maintenance people, office workers, lived in apartments or houses on the premises - even the minister. This place is the only children's home I've ever heard of or seen that actually worked. It is still in Quinlan, TX and now takes in single parent families but just until they are "repaired." It's also complete with psychologists and social workers. Still attend reunions. Love those brothers & sisters.

Hugs to you, Edgar. You should write a book, or are you doing that? I talked my life to hell and back in all those 1980s support groups. Heard some incredible stories so didn't think mine was so bad.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 11:58 am
I do work occasionally on an autobiographical novel, but it is a low priority endeaver. A lot of it involves the Okie migration west and that is not a hot topic in literature these days.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 12:17 pm
Heck, edgar, You and I are brothers under the skin. My life mirrors your's so closely, it'a almost frightening, but I think most step-children go through the same experience. However, I never felt that people in high places were ever better than me. I have always treated everybody in the same way they treat me; I'm very reactive. My stepfather used to give me haircuts with those manual clippers, and if you know about them, they always seem to pull your hair out by the roots. My stepfather ran the clipper from front to back once, and told me he was finished. I was in my early teens, and very conscious of my 'appearance,' especially to girls. I was mentally devastated. What I remember most about my childhood was how food was distributed in our house. while our younger brother ate steak, we ate 'cheaper' foods. When chicken was served, I always got the neck. What is ironic is that our older son loves the chicken neck by choice. ha, ha, ha..... But he is able to eat other parts of the chicken too. We don't pre-allocate chicken in our family; everybody eats anything they want. My older brother has always resented our stepfather, because he never supported us as a 'father.' He claims that our lives would have been dramatically more happy. I was angry at my stepfather for the longest time, but also of my mother for not 'protecting' us from all the abuse. I've learned that not forgiving them only hurt me, so I forgave them early in my adulthood. I also left home at 17, because I could no longer handle the mental abuse. I finished high school in Oakland, California, went to Chicago for less than two years, then volunteered into the US Air Force. That was the beginning of turning around my life for the better. Even though I barely graduated from high school, I was able to earn my BS degree in Accounting after leaving military service, and the rest is history - as they say. I married a kind, intelligent, woman, and we've now been married for almost forty years. What is most amazing is how our dysfunctional family has accomplished so much later in life. My older brother was a Administrative Judge in California, my younger brother a ophthalmologist with an MBA, and now a legislator in California, and my younger sister is a nurse. I often wonder how sad it is when youngsters commit suicide, and not realize their potential for a longer, happy life. c.i.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Aug, 2003 06:02 pm
CI
Parallell is about right. I recall lying in bed at night after a meal of beans and fried potatoes and smelling the steaks my step father brought in for himself. I love beans and fried potatoes to this day, but, to have never tasted a steak after smelling them cooking for years is maddening. No matter what circumstances I found myself in while raising my own children, we all always ate the exact same food.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2003 06:23 am
I see that all or most of you came to some sort of accommodation with the step parent and have thereby gained closure. I have not. Just as the Jews cannot forgive the Nazis, so I cannot forgive my step father. I will always see this grinning three hundred pound man sitting on a child who's inside a cardboard box, a water hose running in the child's face; that, among thousands of similar images.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2003 10:14 am
edgar, I still remember the dastardly deeds of my stepfather, but will not let it fester in my soul. Rather, forgiving him and moving on is the best remedy for oneself - it brings peace of mind. c.i.
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2003 11:05 am
I plan to urinate on his grave next time I get to California, CI.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2003 11:25 am
If that'll bring you peace of mind, go for it. c.i.
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Fri 29 Aug, 2003 02:34 pm
Edgar--

Wouldn't your stepfather be outraged to know that in spite of him you have led a full and satisfying life? Also, because of his monumental unfairness you have worked to become a superior father?

Every moment of happiness that you have had since leaving his roof is a direct slap at him and his child rearing techniques.

Living well is truly the best revenge.
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