Hell Hath no Fury Like a Woman with a Fucked-Up Childhood



I have been thinking about my childhood lately. Honestly, it’s never too far from my mind. That’s because my childhood is what fundamentally fucked me up and permanently altered who I became as an adult. My upbringing (if I can even call it that) produced an alcoholic, drug addicted, heartsick-love addicted, attention-seeking, codependent, anxiety-riddled bipolar shit show who still to this day struggles to eat a complete meal, especially if it is front of someone else.

Substance abuse and mental illness are a nefarious juxtaposition spawned in Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell — they dance with one another like two lovers who hate each other, yet they stay together.

Dante’s Circle 9, the Circle of Treachery — defined in Inferno as fraudulent acts between individuals who share special bonds of love and trust. Still journeying toward the center of the Ninth Circle of Hell, Dante becomes aware of a great shape in the distance, hidden by the fog. Right under his feet, however, he notices sinners completely covered in ice, sometimes several feet deep, contorted into various positions. These souls constitute the most evil of all sinners, and are frozen in an icy lake. Those who committed more severe sin are deeper within the ice, stuck for all eternity…

Welcome to the party in hell. I thought for decades that I was one of those damned souls, stuck and mired in my own grave sins that I could not stop committing. Alcohol, drugs, men, repeat.

The very first fraudulent act in my life was committed by the female adoptive provider of food, clothing, and shelter.

This person technically was my adoptive “mother.” I never, ever, EVER refer to her as “mother” because she does not deserve any title with the word “mother” in it. She adopted me in 1978 when I was three years old with her emasculated, ineffectual husband because she was barren and he wanted a child. I do not ever refer to him as “father” either (*see below*).

She didn’t want a child. She grew to resent me because the male provider of food, clothing and shelter actually grew to love me at one point. This was of course when I was still tiny and cute. It was akin to when someone adopts a puppy because it is so irresistibly adorable, and then it grows into an adult and they no longer want it. I was the throwaway dog, left to be euthanized on the side of the road. Over time, I ended up being severely neglected by both because they didn’t even want each other due to her increasing, searing resentment — how could they ever possibly want me? I had somehow, in my nascent innocence, come between them. She made sure that I knew about her wrath over it all.

This is a screen shot from the movie Mommie Dearest (1981). For those of you who are not familiar with Mommie Dearest, it is a true story. It is based upon Christina Crawford’s memoir about her callous and abusive adoptive mother, who was the famous Hollywood movie star Joan Crawford. This still captures so perfectly what my life was like. I wasn’t blonde, but I was definitely physically attacked, just like Christina, countless times. This picture is particularly disturbing and creepy to me because my abuser looked exactly like Joan Crawford.

She verbally, emotionally, physically, and mentally abused me until the day I left home when I was 17. I was a week away from turning 18. He had abandoned me long ago, and left me to grow up as just another young woman desperately seeking love and attention from men (*Daddy Issues*). A father is a little girl’s first love, and he is supposed to role model for her the type of love and nurturing a man should always give to her. A father’s job is to keep his daughter safe, to protect her, and to send her out into the world knowing she deserves that and should never accept anything less.

I didn’t get any of that. All I got was silence, and puking up my dinner each night as a way to try and grasp some sort of control over my life.

Ahhh disordered eating, my old friend. You were my first “coping skill,” and to this day you remain my last demon I cannot seem to fully purge. (Pun intended).

Hell hath no fury like a woman who has Daddy Issues…

“Dante’s Circle 9, The Circle of Treachery — defined in Inferno as fraudulent acts between individuals who share special bonds of love and trust.”

I trusted them and loved them when I came to live with them at the age of three. Of course I did, that’s what little children do because they are still innocent and pure, unfettered by the horrific ugliness some people are capable of inflicting upon other human beings. Even tiny ones.

The unfettered state of childhood did not last very long for me.

By age four, after a harsh beating on my bare backside with a wooden spoon, I knew from that point forward that I was going to be on my own. No one was going to love me or protect me. They were frauds. They were treacherous. And I was doomed to get stuck in the icy lake where the worst and lowest of all humanity go to suffer ad infinitum…

Me at age four. The photographer could not get me to stop crying and finally gave up and just took the picture. My abuser had beat me over the head with a brush because my hair would not cooperate with her. A picture tells a thousand words. This was my life.

I did my first drug on my 18th birthday, a week after I had left “home” in the middle of the night to finally, once and for all, escape the abuse. I dropped a shit ton of LSD at a rave and finally found rapture, bliss, the home I had been searching for my entire life. The only other substance I had ever tried up to this point was keg beer at a high school party I attended when I was 17. Someone handed me a giant plastic cup full of cataclysmic proportions of both foam and that boozy nectar that forever bound me to sex and drinking and desperate pleas to be wanted, loved, paid attention to, anything, even rape. Yes, rape. After ingesting the entire cup, (I had no idea what alcohol would do to me, especially THAT much alcohol) I woke up hours later in some guy’s car with my pants undone and around my ankles. I had no memory of how I got there.

A woman knows when she’s been violated, you just know…even if you are not awake for it and someone steals your sex and your dignity and your integrity, you fucking know. BASTARD.

I sneaked out of the car without waking the passed-out rapist and walked through the neighborhood where the car was parked, back to the house where I lived. I went straight to my room. No one noticed me or the hot, blistering tears streaming down my face.

I never told another soul for years what happened to me that night. There was no way I could tell the adoptive providers, I would have been punished severely for being a slut, a whore, a sinner.

No wonder I got alcohol and attention and love and sex all fucked up.

Age 18 was also when I began to sleep with any boy who would walk in front me. I became the succubus every boy loved to have sex with but hated to talk to ever again after it was over. I allowed them to temporarily fill me up and then throw me out like I was garbage. I just did not know any better. I was recklessly seeking that elusive fatherly love I was so unfairly denied. I was not a slut, or a whore, or garbage, or unlovable. I finally gathered some wits about me in my early 30s and stopped engaging in such heartbreaking and pointless behavior. But I wouldn’t know of my true worth and value as a woman until I was 40 years old.

I would eventually fall deeper and deeper into the lake of ice. I had been a resident of the lake for so long that I became its Ice Queen. The Ice Queen of 9, who ironically, was selling her soul to the devil just to get a taste of what love might feel like.

Decades later, after suffering through god knows how many alcohol poisonings, three drug overdoses, a few hospitalizations for mental breakdowns, depression, mania, and a suicide attempt, I began to thaw out.

The suicide attempt was because a guy I had been sleeping with and thought really cared about me ended up cruelly rejecting me. I was 23, and I wanted desperately for him to love me. I am sure that I was too needy, too clingy, too desperate, too fucked up. He just stopped talking to me and disappeared. I was broken. Left. I was abandoned and emotionally battered yet again by yet another man. I was too heartsick and too broken to go on. I had sunk as low into the lake of ice as a worthless sinner like me could go.

I swallowed a bottle of Tylenol over a guy whose name I can’t even remember now.

Obviously I survived because you, my dear reader, are reading the story I am alive to tell.

My survival means that I am not a victim. I am a survivor. I have survived 100% of everything that life has thrown at me. Each and every time, without fail, I have survived.

This means that nothing in my life has been a failure, but rather a victory over extreme adversity. My survivals are my victories.

My victories brought me out of hell and into the light where hope began to shine, where the ice began to melt.

I am no longer the Ice Queen of 9. I am just Kari.

I am glad I survived. I am glad I’m here to tell you my story. I’m glad I suffered and I agonized and I cried tears of blood for years, because it all made me the woman I am today.

I have forgiven the people who could not, for whatever reason, love me when I needed it the most. I came to them as an abandoned child, left by my birth mother to wither away in foster care. I came to them a broken child who just needed love. Instead, they broke me further. But that’s okay, because I have put all those broken parts back into a whole with no more hole to have to fill. I rearranged my broken parts back into something I like. Okay, something I love…and because I love who I am, I have been able to forgive them and let it go…

Learning to let go was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to try to learn how to do in my life. We cling to what we know, because that is our comfort zone. If all you know is chaos, then you cling to chaos and you keep attracting more chaos into your life. It’s a vicious cycle, and it is what keeps so many of us trapped in addiction and dysfunction and codependency.

Learning to let go breaks that cycle and gets us out of our comfort zones. Learning to just let it all go is what ultimately frees us from that which keeps us trapped, stuck and mired in that god-forsaken Circle of Hell.

Letting go fractured all that ice and unbound me from the frozen lake of my demons.

The process of putting my broken parts back together is another chapter for another day. It did not happen overnight, in fact it was a years-long process. For now, I’m just glad to be here.

Thank you kindly for reading my work. I appreciate it with everything that I am. Follow me on Twitter

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