Originally published May 25, 2013.
Updated and republished September 21, 2015 after a web host transfer.
Online comments, tweets, interviews, and overheard conversations reveal misconceptions about people, success, and failure. One misconception stems from the tendency of some people to label other people “losers” using only limited information.
Is someone who turns down a chance to attend college a loser?
Is someone who can’t keep a full time job a loser?
Is someone who drifts from one low paying job to another a loser?
At age 18 I turned down the chance to attend college even though my parents would have paid for it. For years I couldn’t keep a full time job for more than six months. During one year I worked at 10 or more low paying jobs. Was I a loser?
The information other people didn’t have was that my mother tried to kill me twice when I was very young. I spent my entire childhood in terror of my mother killing me. I felt safe only on Christmas Day. Every other day of the year I woke up fearing my mother would kill me that day. No one else knew because my mother was accomplished at hiding cruel words and actions behind her image of a “good mother”. My father loved me but became an alcoholic to dull the cruel words my mother used to batter him emotionally.
I never consciously said to myself, “Mom might kill me today.” That kind of conscious awareness would have made me insane. I buried my murder memories. At age 14 I began overeating compulsively to bury my feelings. I turned down the chance to attend college because I did not want my mother controlling my life any longer. I couldn’t keep a full time job for more than six months because I was suicidally depressed. I drifted from one low paying job to another because the buried memories of my mother murdering me hindered my ability to function.
My turbulent subconscious kept reminding me of the murder attempts with several recurring clues. After 3 years of heart-shredding therapy I finally said to myself at age 42, “Mom did try to kill me.” Today I have two college degrees, am writing several books, have done professional talks, have made a documentary, and have helped other people.
My parents had six children. Daughter, daughter (me), son, daughter, son, daughter. When I was 34, the brother who was born third told me that the reason I had problems with our mother was that I was female instead of male. He said that our mother expected him to be her “knight in shining armor”. My mother needed a son to prove her worth as a woman. In the words of my psychologist brother-in-law, my mother treated my brother like “a god”. Because she needed a knight in shining armor, my mother saw me as a threat. The crime that sentenced me to death was being female.
To protect herself from anything I might eventually say about her, my mother taught relatives and neighbors to ignore what I said and discount what I did. It worked. My siblings and relatives (including my psychologist brother-in-law) think I exaggerate everything and am irresponsible. My siblings treated me like a trespasser in their lives because they considered me a loser.
When I had increasing problems earning money because of a childhood injury to my spine, they decided I couldn’t be feeling physical pain. My older sister asked, “Are you sure it isn’t emotional?’ I told her that when I wore a belt too tightly, my spine hurt. When I loosened the belt, my spine stopped hurting. My sister didn’t believe me. The physical injury to my spine meant nothing in the face of my siblings’ need to stereotype me as a loser.
If I had allowed myself to remember enough to say something as a child, no one would have believed me. My father taught at Northwestern University. My mother had attended a year of college herself. Who would have believed that a college educated married woman would try to kill her own child?
A series of nightmares put the pieces of my murder memories together at age 42. My father was the only family member who had loved me for who I was, and he died when I was 30. I knew that if I talked about my mother trying to kill me, no one in my family or circle of friends and relatives would believe me. Knowing the outcome, I finally wrote letters stating that my mother had tried to kill me. No one believed me. It was much easier for everyone else to see me as a loser.
I have met five other women who remember one or both of their parents trying to kill them. One of them remembers her police detective father pointing a loaded gun at her head. Some of them escaped the loser label, some of them did not. Were any of us losers? No. We were survivors forced to cope with trauma by ourselves because other people labeled us losers.
My family is what I call a “murder secret family” When parents kill or attempt to kill their children and hide the crimes successfully, the entire family learns to keep the crimes a secret. Many family members keep the secret without knowing they are keeping that kind of secret. My mother manipulated everyone else to participate in keeping the secret, but only she and I knew what the secret was. Sometimes other children will know there is a secret, even if parents successfully kill one or more of their children. A child disappears, never spoken of again. But the siblings remember there used to be more of them.
Sometimes other siblings blame all sibling relationship problems on the sibling who survived attempted murder. My siblings absolved themselves of treating me like a member of their family by deciding I had caused all my own problems with my emotional, irresponsible behavior. Everyone else considered themselves innocent of everything. My surviving siblings probably still see me as a loser. To see me as I really am, they would have to see themselves as they really are. Murder secret family members keep secrets from themselves about their own loser behaviors. I left all of my relatives behind because they were all losers to me.
My mother hasn’t been able to completely hide her secret from herself. She has repeatedly told people what a “good mother” she is. I’ve never heard any other mother repeatedly describe herself as a “good mother”. I don’t. My mother keeps describing herself as a “good mother” to other people to convince herself that she couldn’t have possibly tried to kill her own baby twice.
The next time you see someone society labels a loser, remember my story.
Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)
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Updated October 9, 2016
Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.
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