More homework I got: list the things you never had as a child. And try to feel it, too.
1) I didn't have a strong, supportive, gentle mother. I didn't have a mother who really loved me or liked me or seemed interested in me or talked to me or supported me emotionally in any way. Instead, I had an absence, a weak woman who might have had some feelings for me at some point, but I'll never know because she betrayed me and sacrificed me to her extremely narcissistic husband for the sake of peace.
I didn't have a mother I could trust or feel safe around or look up to or feel warm about.
I can now imagine people like my aunt or Ruth or Tundra Woman in this role and tear up at the recognized difference. Now I don't have a mother who might talk to me and offer advice, wisdom, support; who might be a good grandmother to my kids and babysit and help out sometimes. I don't know if this would have happened had she stayed alive, but somehow I just can't really imagine it.
2) I didn't have a kind, understanding, wise father. I didn't have a father who really loved me for who I was or was interested in finding out who that might be. Instead, first I had an insanely controlling father who demanded nothing short of worship from me while appropriating all my achievements, and then I had a totally rejecting father who had had enough of me and couldn't show me off any more and discarded me before I could reject him. Now I don't have a father I can count on to want me good and not harm me or my family if it should happen to suit him. He will sometimes give us money or material things.
I didn't have a father I could trust to love and protect me and be proud of me and one I could be proud of.
I now allow myself to imagine all the older men I've liked and respected over the years in the role of my father. Crazily enough, I sometimes even "accused" myself of having a crush on them - although it wasn't actually true - because that was safer than realizing I was looking for a good father figure because the original sucked.
3) I didn't have unconditional love from my parents - the safe knowledge that whoever I was and whatever I did, my parents wouldn't stop loving me. In fact, withholding love was my father's favorite weapon, and I never even thought my mother loved me. My mother had many problems with how different and unladylike and awkward I was, while my father had problems whenever I wasn't interesting, original, or smart enough to impress the commoners all around us. Either way, I couldn't win and the pressure was high, but I still chose my father's rules because it meant I could be dark and eccentric and drink.
4) I didn't have ownership over my own body and possessions. And no right to privacy, if they didn't feel like it. My diaries were read, my room searched. If they felt like it, however, I could be alone in my room reading for hours every day. Or out until 5AM drinking. Bliss. It depended on their current mood.
5) I didn't have permission to express or even feel my own feelings. I was forbidden to cry as a child because it a) showed their parenting in a bad light and b) bothered and irritated them. If I cried, I'd be given something to cry for, and then I a) again wasn't allowed to cry and b) realized the only way to "win" and find a semblance of peace and freedom would be to never react to anything in any emotional or "weak" way. I believe my father stopped beating me with a belt when I stopped showing any reaction to it.
6) I didn't have unconditional support for any good thing I might choose to do with my life. I had lots of open "support" in public places where my father could show off (taking me to classes, being at recitals, school board, thesis defense) and little outside of that.
7) I didn't have permission to attach to other, sane people. My father, who was utterly incapable of even faking closeness and love, was insanely jealous of me loving anyone else. Luckily, while he was at work, my mother's stepfather often took me out to tag along with him, at the behest of my grandma, who was the one officially babysitting me - but she was also quite narcissistic and grew tired of me quickly. He didn't. He kind of liked me. And I adored him. I even had the courage to list him as the person I loved best when people asked that silly question. I seem to recall my father shooting a look of hatred at my grandpa on one such occasion.
8) I didn't have warmth growing up. From anyone. Those who could have given it to me weren't allowed to.
9) I didn't have permission to share anything negative about my family with anyone. Including myself. This made me detach from myself. This prevented forming actual honest relationships with others.
10) I didn't have the right to be myself. Not only were they unable to love me for who I was, but, as they had no idea who I really was, I was constantly treated and talked to as someone else - weird, inexplicable characters accused of weird, inexplicable flaws, thoughts, and feelings. I remember constantly feeling shocked at who they seemed to think I was - and this changed in a matter of seconds.