I ran across this blog post today and appreciated the two questions she poses to homeschoolers at the end. I decided I wanted to answer them too.

As a former homeschooler, I am noticeably capable and mature because:
I grew up with a lot of responsibility that by necessity taught me many practical skills. I read copious amounts of books. I quickly learned to read another’s emotional state and intuitively guess what they need as a necessary survival skill. My performance level is high in most sorts of pressured or crisis circumstances. My communication skills, mostly verbal, were sharpened by constant high -pressure communication through my growing up years.

What I wish people really knew about me was:
I can find almost no motivation to do anything without a crisis. My health and current emotional weakness (Panic attacks, PTSD symptoms) are proof of the many years that I was strong in extreme circumstances. In spite of how it may look on the outside, I am unsure and insecure in all my social interactions. My ability to read and respond to someone else’s emotional state is almost to the level of compulsion; sometimes, I don’t know if I’m doing it out of care for the person, or to protect myself, or only out of habit. The only relationships I feel I have a good grasp on are ones with authorities or subordinates. I don’t understand people who don’t have a strong survival instinct, or don’t seem to think about survival one way or the other. If I dropped you as a friend, it isn’t because I didn’t like you; it’s because I literally do not understand how people are supposed to make, keep, or interact with friends.This is one of my greatest regrets and it constantly haunts me.
I remember once, when Avery was about eight, I was standing with him at the door of his closet. I was trying to make him do something. I think it was about getting ready to go somewhere or possibly about picking up. I never seem to be able to get the details straight because so many memories are similar that they intrude on each other. I just know that he was not listening to me, at all. I was bending over, holding him by the shoulders, speaking as earnestly as I could, and he would not listen. It’s not like he was arguing; he wasn’t even bothering to let my words into his ears.

I remember feeling frazzled, pressured, and impatient. Whatever I was trying to get him to do, I felt like I would be in trouble if he didn’t do it. So, in an effort to get his attention, since speaking face to face wasn’t working, I slapped him. He slapped me right back. It was one of the biggest shocks I have ever had. I would never have had the gall to slap an “authority” at his age, no matter how unjust they were being. No matter whether they had slapped me too.

I was so shocked, and offended, that I slapped him again. I don’t remember if he got in a second slap, I imagine he did. By that time I came to my senses. I apologized immediately. Being slapped by him was one of the most humiliating things that has ever happened to me, because I very much deserved it. I knew that he was in the right, defending himself against my anger. I don’t think I really got his attention, but he definitely got mine.
In my memories, I can rarely place exactly where Mom was. In spite of being a stay at home mom, she was never around. When I try to place her, there are a few things that come to mind. She was often in her room, on the phone, crying for hours. We were not allowed to interrupt her when she was in her room on the phone.

When I was little I would go to get my schoolwork checked, but it usually didn’t get checked because Mom was on the phone. If I did manage to interrupt her, she would curtly tell me to leave her alone, not to interrupt, and she would “deal with it later.” I quickly learned not to try.

I also remember her being out of the house a lot with one or more of us with her, running errands.

She also took a lot of long naps. Now I realize that she was probably struggling with untreated, undiagnosed depression, for my entire life.We were not allowed to wake her up unless someone was “dying or bleeding,” or she would give us a time when we were supposed to wake her up.

I don’t know why she never set an alarm. If we forgot or didn’t keep close watch on the time, she would berate us for not getting her up in time to do what she needed to. If we accidentally woke her up by being loud, she would also berate us. We all hated to wake her up even when she told us to, because she always woke with a strong startle response. She would jump out of her skin, and it would make us jump out of our skin too. Now I can't help but connect this to her own trauma and PTSD.
I remember that while we lived at Miriam Court Julia, who was 10 or 11, was put in charge of the laundry. The entire family’s laundry. I was supposed to be her helper, so she was also in charge of me. At the same time, Ellen, who was 7 or 8, was put in charge of the dishes. Eventually, (I’m not sure when) Gracie was the one who helped her. I think, before Gracie was bigger, when I was 4 or 5, I was supposed to help Julia sort the laundry and help Ellen unload the dishwasher.
A few weeks ago, I got a speeding ticket. I was speeding because I was late, and I felt invincible to the law. I shouldn’t have been doing it, especially since Jon has already been understandably stressed over our dwindling money and job situation.

When I told him about the ticket he gave me a very uncomfortable and totally useless lecture. He calls it yelling, though I’ve never heard such quiet yelling before. He was venting his anger on me, though.

I already felt terrible for costing us a significant (to us) amount of money that could have easily been avoided with some good sense. It was even worse that he has tried to both warn me and not nag me about my speeding habit.

Overall, the whole thing, including both of us sincerely apologizing, was done in about 15 minutes. Except, it wasn’t. I continued to feel terrible, both emotionally and physically. As usual, I explained it to Jon to process it myself.

My PTSD flashbacks are not of one particular traumatic event. They are not of one memory or even one person. They are not well defined, but I was experiencing one as he lectured me. I was re-experiencing people I love telling me I’m wrong. Even more specifically, I was experiencing the feeling that I am useless, burdensome, an embarrassment.

I realized that it is normal when I feel upset with myself, for me to frantically try to come up with ways to take myself out of my family’s life without them noticing. I have never been suicidal because killing myself would definitely burden people I love and I’m trying NOT to be that. To add insult to injury, I have never found a way to cut myself out of my loved ones’ lives without them being hurt by it, and this makes me feel helpless and doomed.

Last night, I told Jon I wanted to crawl into a corner and tell him to run. I’m assuming this is not a natural or healthy response to someone being upset with you.

After about an hour, and some crying, my stomach finally relaxed and I no longer felt on high-alert emotionally. Jon points out that “only an hour” is a huge improvement for me and he is right. When we first got married, much smaller and less real issues would trigger me and send me into deep depression and avoidance for days or weeks.
I remember Ellen being the force behind some of the best birthday parties. Gracie’s birthday party where we all played in a kiddie pool in the front yard was mostly imagined and done by Ellen. One of my birthdays, that had themed and matching decorations of tulips, was done largely by Ellen.

I remember one birthday when I had a few friends over, opened all of my presents in the dining room, and then moved into the living room to play. I was called back into the dining room by Mom and Dad because, “You missed a little present!” When I came back, there was a box on the dining table almost as big as I was. It was my Molly doll’s clothes trunk that I had never thought I would actually get. I was shocked that they got me such an expensive toy. It was one of the most complete surprises I have ever experienced.

Unfortunately, I also remember feeling guilty for owning it for years afterwards, since I didn’t really play with such an expensive toy that much.

When we got older it was always Gracie that made sure my birthday was celebrated.
I remember that bruising after spanking was considered an unfortunate accident and often blamed on the child. “Your poor little legs! If only you wouldn’t have danced like that, the switch wouldn’t have hit them.”

Bruising was a fairly often occurrence, more so for some kids than others. Ellen and Gracie were “easy bruisers.” I had no idea until this week, as a 25 year old woman, that it was possible to spank and never bruise. I thought it was a random reaction that was basically uncontrollable. I thought all parents that spanked sometimes bruised their children. I had no idea that it was considered proof of abuse.