Love doesn’t destroy families

by Craig on November 11, 2011


It’s a Brady Bunch story – but not.

I’m all share-ish lately.
And so while I’m sharing…
Here’s my family…
I’ve never been married so for me family is all sibs and parents.

And to help tell the story I’ve added professionally hand drawn diagrams.

The story begins with my mom marrying a sailor who was out of the picture before I was born. So she was a single mom with two sons in the 60’s. To be a single mom in the 60’s came with all sorts of stigma – she was so brave and strong. And we had a great extended family in Brooklyn – aunts and uncles and cousins galore. It had to be tough for her – but for her two boys it was all clear sailing.

Here’s the professional diagram of that time.

Oh, and to get it you might need the color code…

Then she began dating my new father. She thought she was adding stability for her boys. The man had good income potential and seemed like good father material. She married him never knowing that he beat me. It was a secret I kept because to keep it meant she would be happy. (more of that story here).

Then she married said man.

This is where things got messed up permanently.
The once secret “discipline” became not so secret.
She tried to stop him – and thankfully did on many occasions…
and the beating wasn’t all the time…
just when he needed to release whatever was pent up inside of him.

And here is the professionally drawn diagram of that…

My brother was safe from beating…
he knew how to stay out of the line of fire.
But it still affected him.

He was the best big brother ever – but after the marriage became increasingly mean and also decided that wrestling me to the ground and physically asserting dominance was ok.

My mom was also safe from at least the physical abuse.

But if a mom sees her baby hurt –even though she tries to stop it – she’s affected.

A few years later twins were added to the mix.

That’s tomorrow.

This is stuff I’ve never really shared with anyone.

Now it’s just between you and me…

and the internets I guess…

I’m sure you’ll all keep mum about it…

though I’m not so sure of the internets…

and as I finish writing this…I feel…

well I don’t quite know how I feel…

it’s a new feeling…

it makes me need to take deep breaths – and my eyes are a little watery…

more of the not so Brady Bunch story next time…

please come back.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

A. November 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

Craig, to say thank you for sharing seems to put the focus on us the readers and recipients, while it is you, YOU, who are putting yourself out there for all to see, vulnerable. I appreciate that you are taking the time to do this, and even more, the courage to do so, the vulnerability to do so. We(read me) are learning and growing as we read this, and my prayer is that you, Craig, will reap huge dividends from this sharing that you are doing.

(and I heart your professional drawings.:)


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

No more masks – if what I am on the outside is not the same as what I am on the inside – if I’m hiding the real me in the hopes that people will accept fake me – what good does the acceptance do. Learning more all the time. Thank you – professional drawings don’t come cheaply! ツ


Kris November 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Such a story, Craig. Such a terrible terrible story. Bless your heart for sharing this, for recounting this pain and praying that God smooths the scars and releases you from the hurt that NO child should have to experience. ever. Bless you, Brother.


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Such a responsibility it is to raise a child – the things that happen early shape for life. And that’s one reason I’m glad your babies have such a mama. God bless you Kris.


Victoria Jenkins November 11, 2011 at 2:04 pm

We have a lot in common Craig. Once again…I get you. I always thought the word dysfunctional was incorrect. There needs to be another word…something that means, “it’s a miracle that anyone could function in such disfunctionality.”
There are so many variation too as to how people handle their situations. Look how full the prisons are. Look at how many psycologists and counselors of all types there are. Look at how many children there are out there walking around in adult bodies.
No matter the condition… abuse or Brady Bunch… we all have our paths to choose. I chose to stay out of victimstance and it seems you did too. Don’t get me wrong…it’s obvious we were victims, it’s just that we seem to have chosen not to wallow in it. I’m glad you are sharing…glad you’ve gotten to the point in your life where you want to be open and honest about the inner you. That’s bound to increase your healing.


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Honestlty, Victoria, I stayed out of the victim game for a long time – not really by choice – but by not understanding. To acknowledge that so many of the errors, mistakes, bad choices, came as a result of really bad early imprinting – that’s a good thing to do. Not to stay in “victim status” but to understand – and begin to fix. I blamed myself for every mistake, either that or I looked for excuses – everywhere except at the root cause. It’s like translating a Greek word from the Bible – who find the root – then you look at the endings and the prefixes and the context – and you have your translation. I think maybe life is like that. Still figuring… Still processing… God bless you, Victoria.


A. November 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Victoria and Craig, thinking about Victoria’s comment and ‘victimstance’, the trend now for a while has been to refer to people as survivors rather than as victims, for the reason that Victoria mentioned. I like that, because as survivors of trauma-whatever kind it may be-we HAVE somehow survived, and in that survival is a unique story that contains strategies and choices that helped us survive, however imperfect they may seem in retrospect. I think it kind of gives recognition to that within us which seeks to live and to cling to life, no matter how dim things may seem at times.


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

A. I actually think I might like the word “adjusters.” even better – at least for me. I really didn’t survive the trauma – it defined way too much of my life to consider it surviving. It’s like having a forest and clearcutting swaths of miles – and covering them with concrete – the damage is done – now for the adjusting – and the good thing about concrete – it lasts a while – and isn’t a bad foundation. God bless you A.


A. November 13, 2011 at 11:20 am

Yes, yes, yes! Craig, I really like the term ‘adjusters’ (or adapters) for the reason you gave. That is so true…what has happened does have a permanent affect on each of us, you-in this case-and there is no getting around that. And your comment about concrete, and its value…i think that is a post or series just in itself. In fact, the whole concept and process of adjusting, after a trauma like this would be a very valuable series-especially since you have the refreshing gift of leaving out the jargon and the trite phrases. All the things that go into healthy, effective adjusting are so important to learn, and all of us end up needing to adjusting to things in life, so we all can learn from this. i really heart the ‘adjusters’ label. I am taking that one with me today as I face into what the day holds for me today.

Your description of a ‘swath being cut through the forest of your life’ reminds me of the recent devastation I saw in a place that had been swathed by a tornado (I will leave the place unnamed) but it was horrific, and the effect was permanent in the lives of the people, like the concrete you described. You had a childhood tornado that was huge and lasted a very long time; it wasn’t a tornado that just blitzed through once, which would have been bad enough. You had daily or near daily tornadoes. That is a horrific way to live, when I think of it that way. And you never knew exactly when your tornado was going to ‘hit’, so to speak, at least not in a pinpoint predictable kind of way.


Tracie November 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Craig. I’m so very sorry that you had to live in abuse as a child.

Thank you for sharing your story. It is hard, and it can be scary…but it is also huge and empowering and touches lives. I’m sending love your way tonight.


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Tracy, first of all, thank you. I’ve never shared this with many people – so it’s nice to share it and get a nod or two. It’s not so scary – the sharing – and it’s not so hard – admitting it happened in public – that’s what’s hard. But maybe that’s what you meant. So thank you Traie, and God bless and keep you.


Tracie November 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

That is exactly what I meant! Stepping out and sharing your story publicly.


Cora November 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

So much of what was said above me is my heart, too. And I can say I understand because my childhood was dark and rough and sad. I liked what was said about “victims.” I think of victims as dead, lying on the side of the road with buzzards picking at them. The trouble is, we have to PICK what we want to be — victims or survivors. We don’t pick what happens to us in this broken world full of broken people. But we do choose how we will respond, what we will become, and how we will live the rest of our lives. Sometimes that takes a while to sort out — we don’t even know we are doing the sorting, choosing, etc. Those of us who have found Christ as our Savior are well on the road to survivorship because it is the first step of the soul on the road to change, and He takes it from there. Yes, we still make choices as to our responses and reactions and what we will become, but His Spirit seems to give us the “want to.” I always see two choices for me — a dark, well protected hole, or living above my past circumstances by seeing myself as God sees me.

Craig, here I am talking about ME, when really, this is about YOU. Over the past months, I’ve heard that little boy in you wishing so many times that he could change and fix things. We can’t do that. We can only embrace it, as hard and scary as that is — almost more so than going through it as a child. Tracie is so right — it is huge and empowering, and it touches so many out here in blogland. And this is called, “ministry.” Your sharing is ministering to me and so many others and I thank you for that. Praying for you, Craig!


Craig November 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm

embrace it – but make it better – bring God into it – and let him make it better – I think I get it Cora – processing. And thank you. I can’t do a regular ministry with the sleep thing – and we all have ministry to do – thank you for – well = – just thank you. God Bless.


Lisa Maria November 13, 2011 at 6:09 am

Craig.. the little girl in me is crying for the little boy in you. My background is not exactly the same, but similar enough. There are times in my motherhood when I find myself echoing those abusive and harsh voices and I have to stop and reflect. Its not easy to discard the difficult and dark parts of your childhood. It took some deep introspection to realise that the little girl inside doesn’t know how to give what she never got and she reacts to her own children the way she was treated. You can imagine the inner turmoil over this! I guess we have to face those dark demons down.. and sharing the stories helps to give them less power over us. As usual, Cora’s answer is just perfect. Bringing God into it and letting Him make it better. Thank you for sharing.. and ministering, as Cora says. It does help to know others are battling the same demons.. and conquering them.


Craig November 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

I’m finding more of us came from this background than one would think. And I heart how you are breaking the chain with your children. And amen – we need bring God into EVERYTHING – and make EVERYTHING better – including this. God bless you, Lisa Maria


Carrie November 13, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Oh, Craig. My heart breaks for your young self. I’m proud of you for breaking the silence because keeping things locked away only bottles up emotions like a pressure cooker. I lost my father before I turned four, so I have no recollection of him. I’d like to think he was a kind, gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor. My mother remarried, less than a year later. Unfortunately she married a raging alcoholic who was physically abusive to her and my older brother and horribly verbally abusive to my older sister. He’s deceased now and I’m left to repair the past wounds. It can be done! Little by little, with patience, courage and of course, with God’s Hands. I’ll say a prayer for you tonight. You’ll be in my thoughts.


Craig November 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Carrie, I’m really sorry that we share some of this same history. When my father stopped with his hands – he continued with the verbal abuse. I know how hard that is. I’m not going to claim any victim status here – my decisions were all my decisions – but they make much more sense when I look back to see how I learned to make those decisions. I always blamed only me – it wasn’t only me. Anyway, thank you, and God bless you Carrie.


Debbie November 14, 2011 at 8:05 am

Thank you so much for sharing about love and about families that are suppose to be about love . . .but sometimes aren’t. You are helping so many. Praying that He continue to use your sharing in wonderful ways and continue to heal anything that needs healed along the way. God bless you!


Craig November 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm

thank you Debbie – those are nice words. This is hard to write – almost embarrassing in a way – I wonder why it feels embarrassing? Anyway – thank you – I think I’m a lot more “healed” then I sound – and this is all leading somewhere – this is background to a sad moment with my sister – that’s coming up – but first – the background. God bless you my friend – do you realize that next week is my one year blog anniversary? A year – and you were there from the very beginning – you, along with A, our charter members! Actually – you were around a little before I started weren’t you ツ


Katie November 15, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Oh Craig. I get it, you know for what I have shared with you before. Thank you for sharing your story. Keep talking and sharing, it brings healing to you and to others knowing they are not alone.
And keep remembering Hagar’s story – The God who sees.


Craig November 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I’m replying to this comment after I already replied to your other comment – and in your other comment I wrote of remembering your story – so yes – I know you get it. You know, you can probably answer the question why the sharing of something like this feels kind of embarrassing – it’s not like it’s a big release for me – and thank you, but I can hardly see how this could benefit anyone else – but it’s embarrassing to talk about. I wonder why? God bless you. Katie.


Katie November 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Embarrassing… because often something that is NOT our fault – in our child’s mind – or at least my mind as a child — blamed myself and what I did wrong, so I am embarrassed to admit what happened. OR maybe I am off base here. To me to even talk about it at first felt like a deep deep betrayal of what I had stuffed and stuffed for years of my feelings, hiding them from even myself denying that they were even there, so even in counseling and support groups it took a long time for me to even admit anything happened.

It is benefit to someone else because each time you talk about it someone else gets to know the REAL Craig deep down. It benefits someone else because maybe someone else hearing your story will open up the first time. It took someone else sharing there broken heart for me to begin to share about mine.


Craig November 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

(⌣˛⌣) and (◠‿◠) that is all – God bless!


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