Negative Aspects of Childhood

These are the memories that I can remember being negative though I’m sure there’s more, but here are the most readily accessible ones. The majority happened in the second half of my childhood more in my teen years as those are easier to remember, but I don’t know if that’s technically considered childhood. I’ll probably think of more things right after I send this of course.

As I write this and go back through my memories of my childhood, I am shaking from the realization that I was often told, by both my parents and my siblings, I was lazy, a slob, an absolute slob, disobedient, ungrateful, irresponsible, etc. forgetful – how much parents sacrificed for us kids and we couldn’t even show gratitude etc. …I can’t remember everything they said I was when they were angry with me or just in general. Maybe I’ve just blocked it out of my memory, but it’s really difficult as I search for those memories. My mom would often say I wasn’t trying hard enough in school or clubs. She often lectured about how incompetent (she didn’t use these exact words) I was about doing the things I needed to do that I wasn’t doing. I never felt like I was good enough for her; I always felt like I had to be doing more, but now that she knows about my mental health struggles, she’s not as harsh, or at least she better understands.

For as long as I can remember, we were always busy and doing something. And if we weren’t out doing something, we were home doing school or cleaning because my family can’t keep the house clean, myself included. We were always cleaning because none of us kids cleaned up after ourselves. It’s still like this to this day. My mom has finally accepted the fact that she’s not going to have a clean house until all the kids are out of the house. My mom can function in clutter and chaos, but my dad can’t, so when he gets home from work, he gets irritable if the house isn’t clean because he can’t there’s too many things everywhere and his brain gets caught up and focused on every little thing. I inherited both of those aspects, so I live in a constant state of organized chaos. My living space is usually a disaster, but I know exactly where everything is and if someone tries to clean up or move things around on me, I can’t find anything, and then everything becomes a disaster once again as I search for the lost item. Even when I try to straighten up and put things away, I’ll forget that I moved things and I’ll have to try to put myself back into whatever mindset I was in when I was cleaning up. While all this is chaotic, I can’t function well when I’m in a messy area. If the space is clean and free of clutter, I can think better and focus on whatever it is that I’m doing or should be focused on. Other times, a completely clean room will not aid me in thinking better because there’s nothing for my mind to focus on to keep the wandering parts of my brain occupied as I’m trying think. It’s confusing and very inconvenient. I remember so many times, my room would get so messy, to the point where you couldn’t even see the floor, and my sister (we shared a room because our house is tiny, literally. There’s three bedrooms for seven people; a total of 1800sqft) doesn’t do well in mess, so if our room was messy then she would become increasingly grumpy and irritable (now that she’s a teenager, it doesn’t bother her quite as much anymore, or she’s just accepted the fact that there’s no room for anything and it’s always going to be cluttered). My parents would tell us to straighten up our room, but then we’d forget or just not do it because we were lazy, and so the room would slowly(ish) get messier and messier until my parents would get mad at us and make us clean it. They’d send us up there, and after a few hours and minimal progress, they’d check on us and see that we’d barely made a dent, so then my mom would come up and sit in our room as direct us in what to clean and where to put things. This always made me feel extremely nervous and on edge, because she’d see just how lazy we were, or she’d find things ruined or damaged that we should have taken better care of, then we’d get an irritated sigh and a short lecture about how that thing was expensive or that we were irresponsible and should have been more responsible. She would also make us donate or throw away things because “we had too much stuff, and something needed to go.” It doesn’t help that we were just following by example (not that that’s an excuse); my parents’ room was ALWAYS a mess, and one can barely walk through it. They would address that, that there room was a mess, but their reasoning was that it was only because they didn’t have time to clean it, because they were too busy cleaning up our messes, and the majority of the stuff in their room was ours because there was nowhere else for it to go. My mind took that to mean that it was all my/our fault.

My parents fought(argued) occasionally, though it has gotten a bit worse in the past few years as things have gotten more difficult with so many family matters. I remember when I was younger, I was always scared that they would end up getting a divorce because of the times I saw them fight, but they tried not to argue in front of us kids. One time when I was maybe eight or nine; I don’t quite remember; they were arguing, and the argument got to the point where my mother packed a bag and was going to leave for night. At the time, I was so scared that my mom wasn’t going to come back. She ended up not leaving, and the argument ended sometime later. This I think might be the first memory I have of worrying someone I was close to was going to leave and not come back. Most of the time, their arguments would involve my dad not doing something that my mom had asked him to do for weeks, and my dad would say that she didn’t because he couldn’t remember her asking (my mother says his ADD causes this) even though she did. Normally, my mother would end up crying, and my dad would be silent and want to walk off and ignore the issue. Lately, they haven’t been getting along too well, at least when I’m around them.

Finances have always been a worry, as is with many people, but these worries became more and more critical for my family as the years have gone by. My parents are always stressed about finances and time management because they are always so busy, and it’s been like this for the past five years or so. It really started going downhill after the adoption of my second youngest brother when my dad’s job sort of tanked which he then lost because ownership changed, and he was forced to go to a lesser paying job. When he had to switch jobs, he also picked up a second job delivering for Dominos about half an hour away from home. He would go in to his normal job from 8am-6pm or 7am-5pm depending on the day, and once he got off work, he would drive to his second job and work until midnight then make his drive home afterwards. I think he would do this most of the week with one or two days to recover, but on those days he would go in to the job I worked at and help out there. He started his second job about three years ago and the third a little bit after that. After about six months or so, he dropped the job at Dominos but continued to work with me on the weekends at my job. Every day, when he would get home from work, he was so exhausted, and I constantly worried about his health and how he was managing such long hours. My dad also got/had cancer maybe four years ago, but I didn’t find out about it until a little bit before he had the operation to remove/get rid of it. I don’t know much about it, but I know he’s fine for now. He doesn’t like discussing his health with anyone, and he really hates doctors and medical facilities.

For as long as I can remember, I have been horrible at receiving gifts. I never showed much of a reaction when someone gave me a gift because I was too anxious to show emotion, I guess. This happened often enough that it was a noticeable occurrence and my parents would comment on it at times. I felt bad for not showing emotion, but I didn’t want to be made fun of or anything for being too excited, and I didn’t want attention to be drawn to my excitement. This backfired and caused my parents to comment on my lack of reaction more, so then I wanted to try to show excitement and make whoever gave me the gift feel appreciated, but then that would just cause them to comment on how I was actually showing how excited I was, so I really couldn’t avoid it either way.

Since I was so quiet and didn’t talk or participate in most social environments as a child/teen, my parents were always trying to get me to talk in class at our homeschool group and with my peers, as well as in public places like talking to cashiers at grocery stores or restaurants. Nothing they ever tried worked, one of their strategies being bribery. They would try bribing me with money to just say one thing in class, but even that was too much for me, so it never worked, except for one occasion. My mom and my director were/are really good friends and they talked all the time back then so when my mom tried bribing me, she would tell my director/tutor/teacher that she was doing so. My director would then do what she could to help me succeed and even tried directly asking me questions so I could speak in class and receive my five dollars. I succeeded once in this exchange, which was when I was thirteen (eighth grade, 2011). After that participation quickly became an even rarer event and my mom gave up on bribing me to speak in class. I soon began to see my quiet nature as something undesirable and my inability to speak and talk as a bad, unacceptable, wrong, unbecoming, improper, inadmissible, inconvenient, bothersome, loathsome, impolite, rude, annoying; pick a word like these, and that’s how I viewed it as.

My sensitivity to loud noises seemed to also be something that was looked down upon – for example, balloons popping, guns firing, fireworks, alarms, sirens, loud music, concerts, crowds of people, etc. –  It was always an inconvenience for those around me because I suffered when around those things, and because I suffered and complained about these things bothering me, it would bother those around me because they had to listen to my complaining and would either feel bad or annoyed causing them unnecessary negativity. If I was just not sensitive to these things, then it wouldn’t be a problem; it wouldn’t bother anyone, or if I just kept it to myself, then I wouldn’t bother anyone. My sensitivity was almost always a burden to those around me. My inability to speak was also a burden to everyone. Some people, authority figures, said it was a good quality to have, a good ability to be able to be quiet because so many people are too loud, or some just don’t know when/won’t shut up. I was unlike most other children/teens/young adults, but I always burdened others in some way because I couldn’t speak which would make the situation awkward because the other person/people wouldn’t know how to handle the situation. They didn’t know what to say to me, and I wouldn’t know what to say to them, so basically, it was like talking to a brick wall whenever someone tried to engage me in a conversation.

In Challenge A (seventh grade, age 12, 2010) one of the classes we did was a Latin class. I wasn’t technically taking the class because I was working at a higher level in a different book, but we were still paying for this class and I had to sit in class anyways because there was nowhere else for me to go since all of the classes basically blended into one from another. Towards the beginning of the school year, when the tutor/director asked a question during this class, I would always raise my hand to answer. I knew all of the answers since this was a beginner’s Latin book, so it was super simple, and because no one else was volunteering to answer. After a few classes, the tutor would say, “does anyone besides Everleigh know the answer” or “does anyone else know the answer?” After that happened a few times, I stopped answering/raising my hand, and soon stopped talking and participating altogether. During my other years of Challenge when I would get a split second of courage and try to answer a question or something, I would always get it wrong and embarrass myself, causing me to clam up again and return to the safety of my silence.

Around the age of twelve to about seventeen or eighteen (seventh-gap year, 2010-2017), my mother would often tell me that I needed to workout in order to pass the physical fitness test in Young Marines and that I needed to lose weight. She told me this often enough that around thirteen, I eventually came to the conclusion that I was ugly because I was fat, and I began to actively hate my body and how I looked. I didn’t want to do anything about it though because I really didn’t have the mental energy to deal with it or turn that distorted thinking around and fight it. It didn’t help that the oldest of my younger brothers reinforced my view of myself by telling me I was ugly and fat almost daily, sometimes multiple times every day. When I was a bit older, age sixteen or so (2014), my sister started occasionally calling me a whale, which only confirmed my beliefs. I know my mom was just trying to get me to be healthy and succeed in Young Marines, but it just ended up with me hating myself, which I think may have been inevitable because “every” teenage girl has issues with their self-image, but who knows.

My mother has struggled with her weight since she was about my age. She used food as coping mechanism for her anxiety and depression when she was younger and soon developed an irregular meal schedule. She’d wake up, not feeling hungry, so she wouldn’t eat. When 11:30/12 hit, she’d be starving to the point that she’d feel sick and need to immediately eat something, so she’d eat whatever was immediately available and accessible and often too much of it. Later, she would have a normal dinner or more often than not would have a very small dinner consisting of little nutritional value. Usually, she’d binge on something else later in the night. I followed her example without realizing and fell into this same meal pattern with the exception of when I’d be home alone with my siblings or something, I would binge on whatever sounded appealing because I was too scared about her judging my poor eating habits when she was home. Later, this developed into me actively trying to make up for the binging by starving myself because I was so disgusted by how I looked and weighed. It didn’t help that my mom was often telling me I had to lose weight. In my attempts to starve, I’d end up getting so hungry that I felt sick, and my thinking would be impaired, so my desires to starve would be overruled by hunger, causing me to eat something, ultimately leading to a loss of control over myself and eating too much. The cycle would repeat again and again with the occasional binging of food I’d buy for myself. It has continued and progressively gotten worse from probably the age of eleven or twelve to the present. (Here at school I do a bit better being on a schedule for the most part, so I don’t necessarily have the time or the access, but going back home, it gets bad)

Around the age of fifteen or sixteen (2013-2014), I remember I noticed for the first time my mom saying that I had ADD, and I took that to be a bad thing, that it made me negatively different than other people and weird. It felt like it was a sort of secret or a topic you don’t discuss with anyone except in strict confidence or something. As I noticed this more and as she tried doing things “fix” it or make it better, like giving me oils to rub on the back of my neck or making me do homework in an empty room and other things, I began to feel bad about myself because all the “symptoms” made me a dysfunctional person that needed to be “fixed.” My mother would often complain about my dad’s symptoms, so I took on the belief that since I showed those same symptoms, I was worth being complained about as well, and for all I knew she complained about me the same way she complained about my dad to us kids to other people without my knowledge.

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