Monday, February 01, 2010

Growin' Up

A couple of new readers recently asked a few questions about my past and how I got on this crazy road I'm traveling now. Well, some of that is my words not theirs but anyway...I thought I'd take the time to answer one of those questions but don't worry long-time readers, I'll go back to posting about the house. I just thought I'd intersperse some of these new questions amongst the regular topics.
As would be expected, I guess, I did grow up in a rural area, a little farther north of the town I now live in. It was a small family farm where we grew a lot of our own food and raised an assortment of animals. In a lot of ways, it was an idyllic childhood full of long, lazy summer days spent swimming in the creeks and fishing. Running barefoot through the cool, freshly plowed soil making a game of gathering up the potatoes before Daddy could make the next pass with Pepper, the plow horse. I especially remember Christmases and Halloween. We always seemed to have plenty on all the holidays and they were full of all the quintessential elements. Lots of family, treats of all sorts and back then, kids could dress up in handmade costumes and roam up and down the country roads after dark without fear of real-life terrors. We only had to worry about the older boys jumping out from behind the bushes and then we'd scream and laugh and it was all in good fun.

We had a lot of good fun when we were kids but there was unfortunately, an aspect of my childhood that I was happy to leave behind and I did so, the same as my siblings, just as soon as I was old enough. We were not abused and were always fed and clothed but I did witness a lot of abuse, mostly of women and animals. My two best friends were sisters that lived about a half mile away, so we were very close, like family. Their step-father was one of the most truly evil men I have ever known. In fact, most of the men I grew up around were real sonsabitches. It's a wonder I have such affection for men now. But that's another story. My own father was fairly humorless, strict and paranoid. We were looked upon as indentured servants basically. Free labor for him until we turned 18 and could go to college. He made the most of his time but in return it did strengthen my back and my resolve. I have seen many older people grow up to adapt the 'habits' of their parents; to just continue the cycle of abuse and ignorance in which they were raised. Thank God there was something in me that vowed I would use every ounce of my strength to be just the opposite of what I saw growing up. I saw how my mother was treated and I said I would die before I would let any man hold me back or sit and tell me I had no business trying to be someone.
When I finally got to college, one of my first classes was drawing (I knew I wanted to major in something art related) and that professor was absolutely a Godsend. He was the first person to ever encourage me and tell me that he thought I could be a success. Because I was very quite when I was little much of my family, and some teachers, decided that there was something wrong with me. They told my parents that I was autistic. Everyone knew I was different and they took any opportunity to point that out to me. I never understood what was so unusual about myself but I did understand that many of them pretty much wrote me off. I would never amount to anything in their minds and to this day, none of my remaining cousins will have anything to do with me.
At any rate, this professor helped me, gave me a scholarship and with his assistance I received a full academic scholarship to the University of Montevallo, where I completed my degree. From there I went to work and eventually found employment with the company I'm with now. That's all in the archives though.
I hesitate to tell many people about much of what I've experienced because I always imagine that they will think I'm making it up but the sad thing is that I have actual written proof in some cases. One of the last things my father did before he died was write a letter to me to express his sorrow and sympathy over my 'situation'. I was divorced see, and you know, a woman can never have anything in life without a man there to give it to her and I guess I had blown my one chance in his eyes. When I graduated with honors from college, one of my oldest cousins actually attended my senior art show. She made sure to tell me that she was really shocked that I was able to do such work. 'I just can't believe you had it in you', she said. A couple of my close 'friends' at the church I grew up going to, would literally not speak to me anymore after I went off to college. I have been told that I was flat-out stupid, would just wind up pregnant, have ruined my life and cursed myself to a life of solitude for choosing to work construction. And that's the encouraging stuff! lol! just kidding.
So many people, especially women, have told me "I wish I could do what you do!" or how do you do all that stuff by yourself? "I wish I had your skills!" and all that. Well, I'll let you in on my secret...and to quote a new favorite song of mine...
I think there’s one thing I will say to you
That there is nothing that you can’t do
Cause it’s all about your attitude
Don’t let them get to you

I guess that's sort of an old cliche' by now but it is all about your attitude. And maybe part of it was just damn Scotch-Irish stubbornness but I chose not to listen to everyone that told me I would never be anything. And you know what? I eventually met some people that encouraged and helped me. You see why I love my guys so much. Most of the men I work with have been my biggest cheering section. Guys that a lot of society wouldn't piss on if their head was on fire but they have stood by me for years and helped me. Of course, there are times when I get discouraged as my long-time readers know. I can piss and moan with the best of them! And I can be too independent sometimes. You have to be careful not to let hateful events from your past get too tight a grip on you or you can become relentless and miss the joys in life. You have to want to be successful (whatever that means to you) for yourself, not to prove somebody else wrong.

*Bruce Springsteen


Ed said...

One of the reasons I love reading your blog is that your speech reminds me of home. I don't hear very many people use the phrases "piss and moan" or a "real sonofabitch" very often.

Terria Fleming said...

Bravo for making a good life for yourself. It justs shows how strong, determined, and creative you are. Our past may be past, but the echoes live in us for a good long while.

Anonymous said...

Well written, and very inspirational to young women who dare to be different!
I grew up with an abusive father, who told me every day I’d never amount to anything.
He died a lonely old man, living in a camper. I tried reaching out to him in his old age, but he was as mean as he ever was.
I swore I’d never live the way my mom lived too, and I got lucky and found a gem of a guy when I was in my early 20’s, and 30 yrs. later, here we are.
I worked in factories all my adult life and it toughened me up and taught me to hold my own.
Like you, I’m a little rough around the edges, but I haven’t heard any complaints and I’m happy with who I am.
You sound like a well rounded person to me, artistic, hardworking, good-hearted and self-reliant.
Thanks for sharing.

Frugal Canadian Hermit said...

Well said Annie. Gave me a warm tingly feeling deep down inside.

edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! Ha! you know, i would think that, due to such geographical differences, our speech or vernacular would be very different.

Hey Terria! well, thanks a bunch! and yes, they do.

Hey V.! thank you very much; I appreciate all of your kind words. Yes, you are very lucky to have found your man. I am envious of that.

Hey Mark! thanks! well, anytime I can give a man that feeling it's a good thing!

Anonymous said...

"Attitude determines Altitude" long held, all time favourite quote:)

Ed said...

I think it has more to do with the farming background and living in a rural area than geographical location.

edifice rex said...

Hey Molly! that's right!

Hey Ed! yeah, you're probably right.