My parents pushed so hard for me to go to Ball State that they actually crippled my ability to earn money for said college by forcing me to visit my grandparents every. single. month from my sophomore year of high school on. Because their parenting style combined with the grandparenting style was to treat me like a prisoner who would have sex with a tree if allowed five minutes of freedom or privacy, not only did I not form a connection to the school or area, I actually formed a rather deep aversion to it. That and my mom’s relatives were jerks. I’m not sure a single one actually looked at my face – they probably don’t even know what color my eyes are. There was that little effort made to humanize me. I was just the dishwashing, table setting and cooking servant to them.
Even worse, my parents expected to TELL me where to go to school – WHILE I PAID FOR IT. I had happened to inherit some money from my father’s mother when she passed – what wasn’t stolen by her sister – and for some reason (a reason I’m sure my mother actually knows) my sister was merely gifted a life insurance policy (perhaps because of her tendency to try to risk mine, so maybe Bucza was placing bets on my one day losing patience and just strangling my sister) while I received an annuity timed to disburse JUST as the long arm of my increasingly disturbing one-woman cult member of a mother was going to grab me by a throat and drag me back to her home, where I would be forced to wear her clothing to painfully boring DAR meetings and consider dating men she approved (and that I really am WAY too good for) that were all members of a deeply offensive to any woman that’s paying attention Baptist church.
This expectation that I would submit to blind authoritarianism came, I think, from my sister’s laziness. It also came down to my parents, collectively, being not that bright when it came to observing their own children. While I will always have massive issues with my Aunt Nancy and her invasive body-shaming, I think the ONE thing she did that was actually intended as helpful and not as abusive female trolling was when she would repeatedly comment, “You can’t compare [my sister] and Diana. You can only contrast them.”
My aunt died the beginning of my senior year of high school. My mother’s grief was of course more important than anything else going on – and given her truly shitty attitude towards my grief over the friends of mine that died every year from age 14 on, I will never be able to respect, honor, trust, or believe her grief. I’m pretty sure she’s milking the widow Rajchel act over my dad’s death and doesn’t feel a goddamn thing. The boyfriend happened awfully fast after Dad passed.
It’s all just one big show. I don’t think she feels anything but smugness when someone she wants to target gets hurt. I could actually see she got high from slapping me in the face, and she slapped me a LOT – more than she ever hit my sister.
When my sister got pregnant about two months after Nancy died, it’s like my mother and my grandparents forgot that I had never, under ANY circumstances, done as my sister did – EVER. My grandmother tried to drag me off for a lecture about how getting knocked up was not a “catch a man strategy.” That was insulting by itself. My parents developed an attitude that since Kris was now on the Mommy track, my college ambitions – and ambitions for a happy life – were completely irrelevant, and not going to happen. My mother actually encouraged my sister’s in-laws to say shitty things to me at her baby shower about how I shouldn’t be jealous of Kris as “I’d be next” (in that situation, jealousy is SO FAR from what I was feeling… now disgust, on the other hand…) and when I explained I was going to college, her mother-in-law chortled and commented how “plans changed,” as though I just didn’t have the capacity for something as HARD as college.
Part of me hopes that I am not genetically related to the walking WASP hive nightmare side of the family. Scratch that. I really want to know I’m not genetically related to the creature I was forced to call Mom.
My sister’s laziness was a factor in this. She did no college hunting, and only applied at the last possible minute – and made sure she selected schools where she could commute. Because she continued to live in my parents house at an age where most people start developing their adulthood, she was also able to hide it for longer when she dropped out and quit going to class. It was her signature body flop. She’s brilliant at the physical and metaphorical body flop. When I still lived in that hole, she would get out of nearly any actual housework while we were growing up by plugging herself into her indestructible boom box and literally cutting out of all reality, out of any relationship with me (and what relationship there was consisted of her being creepy, invasive, inappropriate and quite consciously endangering my life – the forced car rides where she scrapes off a four inch patch of snow on the windshield were not cute, funny, charming and did NOT make her cool.) As the child not plugged in to an avoidance device, my mother would only call on me to do housework – and then it would only occur to her to ask me for something, and then if I asked to defer her demand for things like need of sleep or finishing homework, she would rain down abusive words and sometimes hands because I was so “lazy.”
The skillful inertia in my sister continues to this day. You should see the inert shit she pulled at both my weddings, while wanting something, never voicing it – and then bitching when I didn’t bend over backwards to guess it. My sister didn’t really like school, and didn’t want to go to college, because in college you can’t really get by on charm, flattery, or well-placed lies. So she managed to inert her way out of it, all while scamming my parents for room, board, insurance, a car, and money – and this went on right until she moved out because she was in her 20s, pregnant – and about to get married. My sister tells it that she “got thrown out of the house while she was pregnant.” And if she were 16, or even 18, she’s have a valid point. If the father had not been present in her life, she’d have a valid point. As it is, her inertia is probably now screwing her daughter out of a decent future, in part because I would not allow her to screw me out of mine as she has screwed me out of so many things that are rightfully mine (and has sometimes used her daughter to do it.)
Oh, my family made noises about how “proud” they were I was college bound, but given the things said to me – including really creepy and barely disguised approving shit about how “hopeful” my sister’s in-laws were I might hit it off with one of her brothers-in-law – I knew that they were undermining me any way they could. I even told my junior year boyfriend about it, because as bitterly as things ended with us, he was willing to throw me a rope right up until he met the woman he married. I never needed the rope, but he’d met my family – and he knew why I might need one.
My mother’s claim “we’ll help you get through college any way we can,” was one that I knew was a lie, because she made sure there was an audience for it. She only pretended to be a good mother when there was someone watching. As it turned out, a private school offered me a better deal than Ball State did by a few thousand dollars – and it managed to keep hidden its 3% job placement rate after graduation until I found out said school damn near lost its accreditation, forcing me at the beginning of my junior year of college to seriously consider a transfer to Ball State.
But after a spectacularly abusive Christmas break at the hands of my mother, I also applied to a Mankato State, a relatively unknown school in Minnesota. I’d dated a guy from there, and it had ended in drama on his part but not on mine, and the school ranking wasn’t terrible. Both accepted me. Mankato State, even with its out of state fees, cost $1000 less per semester than Ball State would have charged me as an Indiana resident. Also, its regional rating is #70 – Ball State’s is 183.
I had blackmailed my mother into ponying up around $6K for school by embarrassing her about the promise she had made to me by telling my friends truthfully about my financial situation when I got stuck at her home the one summer I couldn’t escape it. Compared to the around $20K she had spent on my sister between ages 18 and 22, I didn’t feel terribly compelled to feel bad about blackmailing her. Her response to my sister starting college had been to suffer through a really shitty job. Her response to my starting college had been to quit the job and go on one DAR-themed tour after the other, and then to call me and bore me to death with the minutiae of the trips and the minutiae of my sister’s new baby – and how I should REALLY be thinking about having children, instead of finishing the college I was working my ass off in. When this behavior pattern continued after I finished my first year with a 3.833 GPA and increased academic scholarships, I knew she didn’t give a shit what was actually happening in my life. She decided she was going to get what she wanted from me, whether she had a right to it or not. Because of that, I knew that that the pittance of support she gave me wasn’t going to happen twice. On the few occasions I allowed friends to push me into asking for money, both mother and sister behaved as though I’d asked them to spot me $500 for my drug dealer. I even got a snide note about how one cash infusion (that I paid back as soon as I could) was “not discretionary.” Shortly after that my friends took my parents aside and shamed them into buying me shoes – my mother made a big point of asking in front of them why I hadn’t used the money to buy shoes, and got nasty in private when I reminded her in front of them of the snotty “not discretionary” note.
My mother insisted on behaving like I was going to drop out at any time, get knocked up, and behaved like I was stealing or about to steal her money. My sister did do those things. My mother continued to act like I did those things even when the commendation letters to my parents put it right in front of her that not only was my college behavior completely different from my sister’s, my college experience was completely different from hers. There was one phone call where I was having real trouble with college administration, and my mother actually dismissed my concerns saying, “It was just like that when I was in college.” She went to collegei n 1963. I went in 1994. I think there are plenty of people around who can attest quite well that college in the 90s – or in 2012 – is NOTHING like college in the 1960s. I just hope someone tells my mother what an asshole she is for trying to make it out like my life has ever in any way been like hers, and worse, that it SHOULD BE.
During my father’s funeral period, my mother’s bestie asked me why I had NOT gone to Ball State. This made me realize two things: 1)my not going had fucked up some master plan that no one had had the common decency to explain to me and 2)these assholes thought I owed them something – and frankly, the electric blanket the woman gave me for graduation did NOT warrant a say in where I PAID ON MY OWN to go to college. Also, her kids were assholes to me, and it was pretty evident when she started the manipulative guilt tripping about not visiting the hell hole of my mother’s house enough that a)my mother lied about how she behaves when I’m involved and b)that no one had told her a thing about my actual life – and that she didn’t give enough of a shit to actually know. I was deeply irritated when her son asked me about my life AT MY FATHER’S FUNERAL. DEAD MAN I’M RELATED TO IN A BOX IS NOT THE TIME TO PLAY “LET’S CATCH UP, EVEN THOUGH I’VE NEVER GIVEN A FLYING FUCK ABOUT YOU BEFORE.”
So, in answer to the entitled and frankly abusive demand/inquiry about why I didn’t go to Ball State, if the above is not enough of an explanation, here is a list:
- Because I was the one who had to pay for it, and Ball State did not offer me a decent bottom line.
- Because my grandmother had been getting increasingly creepy as I became a teenager, and this did include inappropriate touching. My family members refused to believe me, but damn it, I know the difference between “bad touch” and “good touch.” Creepy grandma living right across the street from my college campus was NOT appealing. Especially after creepy grandma wanted to know why I wasn’t bringing any of my college boyfriends to visit – that I did not have a car (my parents refused to help me get one with some excuse – lie – about my “first job being school”, despite giving one to my sister who in theory also worked through school. Between body flops, lying to my parents about her counseling sessions, and fucking around.)
- Because I did NOT want to go to college with ANYONE I attended high school with. That shit’s how inbreeding begins. And the class of Crown Point 1994 consisted of people who were – and from the maddening banality of their Facebook pages ARE – just plain horrible people. I did NOT want to end up swapping DNA with ANY of them.
- Because there was a significant risk that I might accidentally date a cousin. Indiana requires a blood test in order to obtain a marriage license because inbreeding really is that much of a problem. The HIV/Ryan White thing came way after that.
- There was an equal risk that, given creepy invasive Grandma and parents that loved to drop in on their alma mater, that I would not be able to date at all. Given my mother’s campaign to “encourage” me to have children that ignored I WAS IN COLLEGE, I’m pretty sure she was ready to shotgun me down the aisle at the first wife-beating Baptist condom piercer she could fine for me.
- Because Ball State had had a huge drop in its college ratings between 1994-1998. My parents rolled their eyes and tried to dismiss protests that I never actually spoke about it being a “party school.” I like party schools. I partied in college – and got a good education. What concerned me was how few of their journalism graduates were actually getting any real experience in the field during that time. But of course, my parents wanted me to get knocked up and locked up rather than have a career and something that would make me happy, so they pushed for the school they felt they could most control my life at.
- Because my mother had taken to appearing at my dorm room in Wisconsin while I was out, and pretending to find debris on the floor (I had just vacuumed, so I knew she was being an asshole), deciding to move my vibrator and slut shame me for opting for solo sex rather than the riskier stuff, and saying things to my friends about me that angered them deeply – and that they would not repeat to me, because they got tired of seeing how hurt and beaten I was every time I returned from spending time with her and my sister.
- Actual quote from my mother: “There are certain values I expect you to keep to, and if you live in Minnesota, I won’t be able to make sure of that.” THIS IS WHAT CULT LEADERS SAY. Translation: “I have made plans for your life, and your feelings don’t matter to me. It doesn’t even matter to me that you are a human being – because I still think that the slave owner mentality is the right way to go, and since I can’t own slaves, I’ll just pick a child to abuse. I have chosen you as my favorite abuse target. I want you to stay here, become financially and emotionally crippled, so you will always be around when I need a house servant. I will even try to rewrite the past so that in my stories YOU are the lazy, mean-tempered child, and I will bitch that you won’t “just forget it” when you point out where you actually wrote down times, dates, and incidents in your journals that prove I am lying to you about things you were actually present for and what actually happened, especially when I included your sister in abusive actions towards you.” Despite my mother’s best efforts, I’m a very smart adult in my right mind – why on God’s green earth would I go where the most abusive person in my life could stay overnight for free anytime?
- It was way too close to my uncle, who also seemed to have plans for me, also despite not paying for a single goddamn thing involving my education. He seemed to think that his title as penis-bearer was enough to give him an authoritarian voice in my life, despite a)my father still being alive at the time and b)his doing absolutely NOTHING for me, ever. If there was an organ transplant or blood transfusion I don’t know about, somebody should tell me – because there’s a lot of people running around my mother’s family who act like I owe them something, and I haven’t seen a goddamn thing from them, not even basic courtesy, a “thanks for washing the dishes,” or a birthday card. ONLY my uncle sent something for my first wedding, and all graduations, weddings, and life events of mine have been totally ignored. My cousins couldn’t even write happy birthday on my Facebook wall.
- Ball jars are fashionable now. But do you really want to graduate from a school nicknamed “Testicle Tech?”
So that’s why. What I want to know is this: why the fuck do you people think it’s my job to support your egos by giving up something as important as the autonomy to decide how, where, and when I complete my education?
Oh, and here’s something that happened that would not have if I’d let you jerks force me to go.
I GRADUATED FROM MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY, MANKATO – WITH HONORS. I also paid for nearly all of it myself, even as my mother would call and whine about the money she forked over to support my sister, her ex, and her baby. I did it with her doing everything she could to force me to drop out. I did it despite her persuading herself I was fucking everything that moved – because if I was, unlike my sister, I DID IT AND KEPT MY GRADES UP.
My mother actually told me once, when I tried to tell her exactly how bad the bullying had gotten for me at Crown Point, “Oh, every teenager thinks they’re different and special. You aren’t special, Diana.”
Maybe I’m not, maybe I am. But for someone who “isn’t special” I’ve done more with my life, more with my intellect, and yes, more with my body than anyone she might consider special.
And maybe one day she’ll get it – IT IS NOT MY JOB TO LIVE HER LIFE, and demanding I live MY life the way she wants is an abusive act. Especially since I’ve witnessed her screaming temper tantrums at every broken dish, over the lousy kitchen, over all the things she thinks she’s entitled to have an doesn’t. She thought it was my job to make this shit happen for her by forcing me to be her. It wasn’t. Besides, someone who has that many screaming temper tantrums is NOT someone I want to be. Ball State seems to be a big part of shaping who my mother is – and that is NOT who I want to be, ever. I’d rather be a good person that everyone thinks is going to hell, than be like my mother – a horrible person that everyone thinks is “just lovely.”
- Ball State settles ex-coach’s lawsuit for $710,000 (sfgate.com)
- Teen Dating Violence (politicalsocialworker.wordpress.com)
- The Influence of Parenting Styles on the Relationship Formation of Adolescents (ivythesis.typepad.com)