Saturday, March 5, 2016

Nobody Loves Me

Over the next few months, I hope to explore the concept of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how they relate to resilience into adulthood. I started with the ACE test in a post I called The Gambler, I moved on to the resilience test in a post I called My Father's Eyes because my dad showed me love.

Today, we're going to get into the nitty gritty specifics of how resilience turned an ACE into a mere past experience. Since the mitigating effects of coping with adversity don't match in a one to one ration, there are 10 ACE questions and 14 resilient aspects, I intend to combine them with what I see as their likely counterparts. More than one ACE may may relate to more than one helpful strategy.

Starting with ACE number 4. Did you often or very often feel that … No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn't look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

My father did indeed love me as I've said many times. His own demons took him out of my life for far too much of it. He raised me until I turned five and then I went to live with a babysitter for a couple of years. It took 10 years before he spent any regular time in my life. After that brief time, about a year off and on, my mother and oldest sister made him stay away.

I understand their reasoning now. Though at the time, I felt quite hurt by the sparse contact. My dad could be a mooch. My sister, Cokie, and I were living on our own and my mother and sister didn't want him to take advantage. So much deep irony in that with my mother and her selfish ways.

Though I spoke to him on the phone, I didn't see my father in person from 1980 to 2000. My family wasn't very big on the holiday thing and so we just drifted on the river of disconnect all those years.

These factors helped me figure out how to overcome that sense of neglect and abandonment:

2. I believe that my father loved me when I was little.
    1. Definitely True
6. When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.
    1. Definitely True
7. When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.
    1. Definitely True
12. As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.
    1. Definitely True
13. I was independent and a go-getter.
    1. Definitely True

My friend Jessie's mom let me play her piano. They also as a family would play Scrabble and encouraged everyone to try their hand. Her mom helped ferry us to school events and treated me like an extended member of the family. No, I wasn't like a kid, but definitely like a cousin. 

I did well in grade school academics and only once had my ability to learn questioned. One grade school adult listened when I had ideas and we did several projects based on my suggestions. In high school one teacher traded vocabulary words with me for fun, not an English teacher too, and another would talk about every subject in a broad assortment. 

I decided to graduate from high school early and took a summer school class to accomplish this goal. When the school registrar heard this, she ordered my diploma before I even started the class. She knew I'd pass and wanted to be prepared. She even ordered my tassel. I was kind of bummed that they wouldn't let me walk to stage because my grade hadn't posted in time and I didn't get an extra gold tassel for having a higher than 3.0 GPA. OH WELL. 

All these little things add up to an amazing array of different kinds of confidence boosters. 

How about your life? What ACE jumps out at you? What factors helped you survive? Kind comments encouraged.

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