Sunday, August 05, 2007

My World, According to Harry Potter; Part I

This has been a week of soul-searching for me.

Wednesday, my mother once again goaded me into a political fight. I try, at all costs, to avoid discussing politics with her. SME has wisely taught me that nodding, while interjecting an occasional "Uh-huh", is the best way to cope with my mother's venomous hatred of all things "Damncrat"( Democrat). BUT...there are times when her irrational rants get to me, and my brain refuses to override my mouth!

I also finished the final Harry Potter book this week. It was a bittersweet experience.

These two events got me to thinking about why I am so different from my mother. The whole "nature vs. nurture" debate began to rattle through my brain. I began to sort through the good and bad traits on both sides of my family. SORTING....hmmmm....where would the Sorting Hat place ME?

Here are the major traits of the Hogwarts houses:

, values hard work, loyalty, teamwork, patience, friendship, and fair play above all else. According to Rowling, Hufflepuff corresponds roughly to the element of earth.

Slytherin values ambition, cunning, resourcefulness and pure blood heritage. The book also suggests that power-hunger is a characteristic of Slytherins.

Ravenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, wit, and wisdom. "Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure" is an oft-repeated Ravenclaw proverb

Gryffindor values courage, chivalry, and boldness above all else.

How do these traits fit my family?

My Mother's Heritage:
Her father was 100% Slytherin!
Bink, his family's pet name for him, was militantly proud of his 100% Norwegian heritage. He made sure that he married a girl from fine Norwegian stock. My mother's family disowned her, for a time, when she married my Dad, a lowly German farmer.

Bink was mentally abusive to his entire family.
He managed to destroy my grandmother's will to live by the time her children left home.
He would visit each of his 3 children's families for extended periods. During these visits, he did everything in his power to destroy relationships between the families. He constantly told me how stupid and ugly I was, and how gifted my cousins were. I later found out that he said the same horrid things to my cousins, who thought I was the gifted one.

Bink sexually molested my mother.
I've had suspicions about this for the last 20 years or so. This past year, my mother finally admitted this fact to me. When I was little, my mother forbade me from driving alone with Bink. He would constantly want to take me to the store to buy me treats. Mom said he was a terrible driver, which he was, and didn't want him to get in an accident with me. However, Mom would allow Bink to drive if she was along. This, and other red flags in my mother's behavior, always made me wonder...

Bink always believed he was meant for better things and NEVER soiled his hands with manual labor. He continually moved his family around the midwest, searching for the good life he was entitled to.

Bink was extraordinarily charming and witty to anyone outside the family. His acquaintances always told us how lucky we were to have him in our family. Manipulative old bastard!!

Bink's father was a Lutheran minister. My mother adored her grandfather. Anyone who knew him claimed he was the salt of the earth. I don't know....where did all of Bink's perverse behaviors come from?

The maternal side of my mother's family were more genteel. Mom's grandfather was a well-to-do banker. His two daughters were raised to be kind, gentle wives and mothers. Her family was happy when my grandmother kept the bloodlines pure by marrying my Norwegian grandfather. My grandmother's sister never married. She became a career woman and had a lifelong extramarital affair with Bink. Nice, huh? I'd say that this side of the family was 75% Slytherin.

How did all of this affect my mother?

Mom's low self-esteem has caused numerous depressions in her life. Dad doesn't believe in psychotherapy, so the two of us spent a LOT of time walking on tiptoes around my Mom. Dad felt that the best way to make up for Mom's childhood was to cater to her every whim, no matter how unreasonable.

The only time my Dad has ever crossed my Mom, is during her 16 year bout with menopause. Every 4-6 weeks, Dad would drag Mom, literally kicking and screaming, to the doctor for a hormone shot. From a very young age, SME learned to recognize when Grandma was due for a "happy shot". I love my Mom, BUT, she was the biggest hormonal bitch I've ever met in my life! She's always been prone to tantrums, but menopause increased her tantrums, depressions, and delusions tenfold!

Mom tries to hold everything dear to her under a tight rein. She's very loving, as long as it occurs within her own parameters. Mom's obsessive over maintaining a spotlessly clean, orderly home. She always expected immediate, unconditional obedience from me.

Mom carries lifelong grudges against anyone who has made the smallest slight to her psyche. To this day, she brings up things I said as a toddler when she's upset with me. While in the throes of menopause, Mom took an instant dislike to L the first time she met him. A couple of his mannerisms reminded her of Bink, so she insisted that I could never have a happy relationship with a man who was just like my grandfather. She wouldn't believe me when I told her that L is NOTHING like Bink! After 30 years of being a wonderful father and husband, L still can't gain my mother's respect.

Mom is also militantly opinionated, with very little logic, about EVERYTHING! There are no shades of gray with her, only black and white. In politics, there are only Republicans and "Damncrats". There are NO 3rd parties, even though I rattled off a list of 10, 3rd parties to her during our argument. I am proud of the fact that, after a lifetime of argument, I have finally got my Mom to admit that "maybe some" gays are born that way, instead of consciously choosing their sexual orientation. I should have quit arguing with her while I was ahead!

At this point, I'm sure you're all thinking the Sorting Hat would send me to the house of Slytherin. Part II of my rambling thoughts will deal with my Hufflepuff side of the family.


At 8/05/2007 1:39 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

I quite enjoy reading your ramblings. LOL... I am glad I dont have your mother as my mother or grandmother. She would shoot me for how I was as a child or even part of my adult life. I was a very naughty child. I never listened to reasoning and it hurt me as I became an adult but I have calmed down as the years have went by. More ramblings please.

At 8/05/2007 1:52 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Wow Tshsmom, poor you and your poor Mother! I would have been a raving screaming lunatic in her shoes. Or an alcoholic, or both.

Hufflepuff sure fits you but so do the other two.

I hope that Hell has special places in it reserved for people who turn children into monsters or hurt them in other ways. Thank God your mom protected you from him.

My mom and I just can't talk politics. We're divided as you and your mom are.

At 8/05/2007 2:03 PM, Blogger Courtney said...

Our moms sound very similar. There's no doubt that mine would have been in Slytherin. Vile, cruel bitch that she was.

But I'm not bitter! ;)

At 8/05/2007 2:32 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, my ramblings are good therapy for me.

Bridg, I hope he's in hell too! I hate to think that my poor Grandma would have to put up with his shit in heaven too.

Courtney, much of my my Mom's behavior has taught me to be the exact opposite of her in many respects.

At 8/05/2007 5:31 PM, Blogger Cherie said...

Holy smokes, tshs, you must feel a little bit better after getting all of that off your chest. I know it makes me feel better when I do.

You know I have a certain in-law who shall remain nameless who is quite like your mumsy. It's torturous.

Wouldn't it be nice to have one of those Avonlea type families? Sigh.....just imagine.

BUT, we don't, so, as Tweety says, "More ramblings please."

At 8/05/2007 6:17 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

Ouch. My mom sounds like Bink. I wonder what makes people like that?

At 8/05/2007 6:30 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Cherie, I DO feel better. This has been rolling around in my head all week.
My parents did a lot of things right too. But, I think I learned more about parenting from their mistakes.

Hammer, that question has bugged me for a long time. I think some people just have loose wiring in their brains. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hereditary. :(

At 8/05/2007 8:17 PM, Blogger SME said...

Grandma has a lot of baggage. Sometimes I remind myself that she has dealt with this stuff on her own her entire life; she doesn't discuss it with anyone except in very general terms, and there are things probably we don't even know about. When you stuff a lifetime of trauma inside yourself for decades, things get weird.

The big mystery to me is how two such apolotical people could become rabid Republicans overnight. Will this happen to us someday?!

At 8/06/2007 10:52 AM, Blogger Sonja said...

I'm impressed your mother protected you from Bink. From what you wrote, I wouldn't have thought she'd be able to do that.

At 8/06/2007 1:34 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

SME, I know. I wish she would have gotten some quality counseling, but back then those things just weren't discussed. :(

If I get that way, you and Z can stick me on an ice floe.
You're the one I'm worried about. You could easily become a rabid Liberal, since you live with one. heehee

Sonja, living with my Dad did a lot to empower my Mom to stand up to Bink. She was always nervous when Bink was around, but she stood her ground when he started bullying anyone, including our dog!

At 8/06/2007 4:17 PM, Blogger SME said...

Nah, I'll never be a rabid liberal. I've always been dead center and I'll probably stay there...I HOPE.

Grandma's dealt the best she could with this stuff, considering. She could have ended up sooo much worse!

At 8/06/2007 7:12 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

SME, you warm my heart! This whole thing is a "nature vs nurture" debate that's rattling around in my head. I keep wondering why I'm ME!
Then you say something that makes me see myself in you. You're a lot like BOTH Dad and I.
You're a good mixture kid!

At 8/06/2007 9:13 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

So that's how we're related! The same mother and the horribleness of the various grandparents! I knew we were alike for a reason. Although I think your mom is probably a "little" worse than mine. :-) We need to share over a cuppa some day.

At 8/06/2007 9:36 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

VV, I'm just happy that my Mom saw through the evil of her childhood and advanced as far as she did! Like SME said; she could have been a LOT worse. I'm certain that my Dad's influence had a lot to do with that.

It looks like it was our evil ancestors who were the ones swapping genes across the fjord. ;)

If I have anything to say about it, we WILL be having that cuppa someday!

At 8/06/2007 10:32 PM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

Hmm... interesting post. I don't follow Harry Potter much - I've not read the books. But I like your explanation of the different "houses". Your mother reminds me a little bit of my grandmother on my mom's side. I loved her dearly and I miss her, but I think it's sad that that generation thought of psychiatric help as taboo. As far as political arguments, I try to avoid them with certain people. I usually use SME's approach.

At 8/07/2007 1:32 AM, Blogger SME said...

Whew, it's so good to not be the only person who hasn't read the Harry Potter books yet!

I think I'm definitely a mixture of all sides of the family, which means I've got a good dose of Grandma too. Watch out! Heh heh heh.

At 8/07/2007 9:08 AM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Excellent post. I loved the way you described the different "houses" in Harry Potter and then compared them. I think this could be a new personality tool!!!

Let me tell ya, honey, so many of us have grown up in insane households. In fact sometimes I wonder if it isn't the order of humankind. The best we can do is evaluate how we are going to deal with our ancestors and work hard on getting rid of the awful traits that would love to take us over as well, so our descendents can have better lives! It sounds as if you are doing exactly that! That is the best of mankind.

LOL, the security word is creaplu!

At 8/07/2007 10:47 AM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

It's always a good idea to take some time to understand the context in which our parents were raised, because, like us, they are products of a history, a family, and an era. However, that being said, it would very useful if they would examine it themselves so that they could gain insight and not pass on any of the shit. They are still responsible for their actions/inactions. I struggle with this a lot. My mom has tons of baggage she's always trying to unload on me, and I've had to accept that she's a product of her own upbringing BUT she's also unwilling to look deeper to see where all this stuff is coming from.

At 8/07/2007 4:33 PM, Blogger SME said...

Hufflepuff is my favorite.

At 8/07/2007 4:38 PM, Blogger SME said...

I hear ya, WC. My grandparents are so busy being outwardly critical of everyone else's niggling flaws (or perceived niggling flaws) that they don't take any time out for self-examination. You'd think, if they have so many problems with how my mother turned out, they would be asking themselves where they went wrong as parents? Ah well. They're old, they're set in their ways, and there's not much we can do but be patient with them and love them anyway.

At 8/07/2007 5:07 PM, Blogger Pam said...

Your post makes me think of my grandparents...


Keep venting. I appreciate knowing I'm not the only one with insane relatives!

At 8/07/2007 5:23 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Notta, we still have a LONG way to go, but our society has lightened up a bit on the stigma of needing psychological help.
I know better than to argue politics with my Mom, but there are times when her needling gets to me. :(

SME, you're right. You have more of Grandma than I do. You may be the one on the ice flow. ;)

Gardenia, you're right; that's exactly what I'm doing!
I want to pass on the good my mother has done, and eliminate the behaviors that can poison a family.

LOL, I think a creaplu is one of Hagrid's magical creatures. ;)

We ALL need to sort the good from the bad in our ancestries. We can never move forward, if we're imprisoned by our past. It's just like the Eagle's song...Get Over It!

SME, we're definitely Hufflepuffs!

Your grandparents HAVE figured out why I turned out the way I's your Dad's fault! I was the perfect daughter until I met Dad and refused to marry R.

At 8/07/2007 7:26 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Pam, I think we ALL have a few insane relatives in our closets. ;)

At 8/08/2007 11:08 AM, Blogger Cherie said...

Did I hear someone mention SME on an ice floe? And Get Over It? :-D

You 'met Dad and refused to marry R.' I smell a post!

WC did nail it, didn't she. Perfect what she said.

And you are right, tshs, EVERYONE has those types of relatives lurking about, even if they don't want to admit it.

This is a particularly fun (and thoughtful) comment column. Nice to know I run with this bunch who understand these day to day annoyances.

At 8/08/2007 1:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Cherie,it seems that our fine bunch here have all decided to cull the bad from the good in their pasts, instead of staying in the endless cycle of abuse and hopelessness. Rather encouraging, isn't it?

Ice floe? Heehee, what's sauce for the goose CAN be sauce for the gosling!
I told you that Get Over It was our theme song for whiny people. ;)

I do have a post planned on R. I've avoided this issue in the past, as L was always a bit insecure about R. I think he's over it now....after 30 years, he SHOULD be over it.

At 8/08/2007 3:05 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

I have to say I think R is happy with SME from what I saw while they were here. And like you said after 30 years and plenty more years to come I think he is very happy with you. You are right from what I have read from these people that we have pulled through loads and come out on top of where our parents were and are. I think of my childhood once in a while like I posted but I also realize I am stronger now and a much better adult than I thought I ever would be. When first starting out I wondered about myself as an adult but now with my girls I realize how much better off I am. I dont do the things mom has done to me but I also tell the girls what grandma has done and tell them that I will never let her do that to them. My mom wants to take the girls for a month during the summer when Bri's older and I said no way. I dont trust her.

At 8/08/2007 3:30 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, I'm not talking about Doug. I'm talking about an R who thought I was going to marry him.

You've done a FANTASTIC job of sorting through your past and coming out stronger and wiser than your parents!!

I wouldn't let the girls spend a month with your mother either.

At 8/08/2007 5:32 PM, Blogger tweetey30 said...

Mom sorry. For some reason I thought you were talking about Doug. Sorry for the confusion. LOL.. Oh brother I bet if he reads that he is going to think I am a quack. LOL...Well maybe I am in my own ways.

At 8/08/2007 8:06 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, that would be WAY too freaky!! ;)

At 8/08/2007 10:37 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Oh wow! I definitely can't be Slytherin, although I do like ambition, cunning, and resourcefulness. I think I may like Ravenclaw best, but I'm a little of each.

As for your mother, I'm really glad she had the foresight to never let you alone with Bink. At least she did something right.

That's really sad. Knowing that, I can't feel anything negative other than pity. I can't imagine going through that.

Too proud for manual labor, huh? Knowing how handy you are probably pissed him off. Handy people rule, and manual labor builds character.

Well, good thing you turned out good. That's proof that we have free will, no matter how bad our circumstances are. :)

At 8/09/2007 11:06 AM, Blogger Diesel said...

I'm a die hard conservative/libertarian, and I find people like that extremely tiresome.

At 8/09/2007 7:03 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ZS, Bink loved to tell me that I was doing it wrong, whether I was mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, or building a tree fort. I used to ignore him. As I got older, Mom started sharing stories of her childhood with me. From then on, I would tell Bink "How would YOU know?!" whenever he criticized me.

My Mom did a lot of things right while raising me. It's just that she was never quite stable. :(

Diesel, are you sure that's not Libertine? ;)

At 8/11/2007 9:39 AM, Blogger Gardenia said...

tshsmom, well I've found there are two kinds of folks in the world - those that work their brains out to get healing and be sane, and those that REFUSE to do any work and expect us to accept that. IN fact they would like us to play along. (Which does not work at all!)

My mother will not make changes either - she does some really wierd things - I just have to distance from those periods of time when she is being wacked out....I know she was raised in a bad situation, but once you recognize its bad, why perpetuate it? I just don't get it sometimes, but if I try to analyze it then I get unhealthy....ah, life!

At 8/11/2007 12:35 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

tshsmom, my mom's mom was quite hard on her and her sister--very cruel (making an 8 year old pack her bags, telling her that she was going to an orphanage and never see her father again? Trying to give my mother away to her relatives to raise?). Both of them turned out to be truly good, spectacular human beings--the kind that every single person who meets them loves. Mom married an abusive husband, raised us four kids, outlived the abusive husband (and mother of course) and is still good and loveable.

It can happen.

At 8/11/2007 9:02 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Tshsmom - That was awesome! (how would you know?)

I bet that really stung, because he knew it was true. Truth hurts.

At 8/12/2007 7:02 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Gardenia and Bridg, Mom and her siblings all managed to overcome their upbringing enough to raise THEIR kids outside the cycle of abuse.
Unfortunately, my Mom didn't search her soul enough to realize how badly her psyche had been damaged, and get help for it. She's 75, and still dealing with her demons.

"Distancing" works the best for us too, Gardenia. Z and I stayed away for a week. When we visited this week, the situation was all sunshine and roses.
Life with my Mom has always been a crazy roller coaster ride. :(

ZS, deep down, it MIGHT have stung, but I doubt it. His retorts were always about how I was too much like my German father, who was too stupid to realize that manual labor was demeaning.
Saying that always made ME feel better though. ;)

At 8/13/2007 10:22 AM, Blogger Squirl said...

It's too bad your mother didn't get therapy. She did quite well considering that she didn't get any.

I am happy to say that I didn't have the same situation. My mother would definitely been in Ravenclaw. I probably would've, too, as would most of my family.

The Hufflepuffs always seem like the most decent folks, though.

At 8/13/2007 4:59 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, SME and I were discussing this yesterday. We came to the conclusion that Mom was probably better off not getting help in the 50s and 60s. Mom had several friends who wound up addicted to some pretty nasty prescription drugs as a result of participating in that era's version of psychotherapy.

Yeah, us Hufflepuffs are boring, but reliable. ;)


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