The Hell Of Growing Up Like The Turpin Family: Narcissistic Parenting In The Extreme

***Trauma Trigger Warning***

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A photoshopped image of the house I lived in as a child.

Ever since the nightmarish story about the thirteen Turpin children hit the news, I have been trying to write a post about it. But until this morning, I was too emotionally paralyzed by the horror of it all, to write anything.

In many ways, the reports about the Turpin family hits me very close to home. I am the eldest of seven children — the eldest of thirteen children, including my step sisters and step brothers. The neglect and abuse in my childhood home was different, but in some ways similar, to the Turpin family, particularly during the two years between my mother’s first and second marriages.

There were just five of us children during my mother’s two years alone, as she had her last two children with her second husband, the man who already had six children from his first marriage.

I was twelve when my parents’ marriage came to a violent end, when my dad was arrested for trying to murder my mother. The four siblings I had at that time ranged in age from one and a half, to five years old. I was the only one enrolled in school during this time.

Every day while I was in school, from the time I was twelve until I was fourteen years old, my mother locked my little siblings in one small bedroom all day, with nothing to eat or drink. She did not even let them out to go to the bathroom, so they used the closet floor as a toilet.

At the end of every school day during this time, as I walked home from the bus stop, I would hear my two sisters and two brothers screaming and crying, before I even stepped up on the porch. I would walk into the house and see my mother lying on the sofa, crying about how she couldn’t take all the noise the kids were making. Either that, or she would be hiding out in her room, behind a closed door.

Every day when I came home, regardless of where my mother was, I went straight to the locked back bedroom, let my brothers and sisters out, let them go to the bathroom, washed them up, and gave them water to drink and food to eat.

But we had so little food. Like the Turpin parents, our plump mother was eating almost all of the food that came into the house, and every one of us kids were much too skinny. I did not get any school lunches during those years, either. There was “no money” for me to buy the hot lunches at school, my mother said. And there was never anything in the house that I could pack into a lunch bag, either.

Many times during those nightmarish years, my mother would grab a butcher knife out of the kitchen drawer and stand in front of the five of us kids, with the knife’s tip pressing into her belly, and scream that she was going to stab herself in the gut if my noisy, crying, playing, squabbling sisters and brothers wouldn’t be quiet. We all always cried and begged our mother not to stab herself. We told her we were sorry for being too loud and getting on her nerves. We promised to be quiet, we promised to be good. We always did this, every time, except that last time…. Oh my God. Oh my God….

The very last time that our mother pulled her butcher knife drama, we did not say a word to her. We did not cry, we did not beg “please momma, no, don’t do it!” We did not say we were sorry for getting on her nerves, we did not do any of that… instead, we just kept sitting on the living room floor like five skinny mannequin dolls and stared at the TV, as if our mother wasn’t standing right in front of us with a big steel knife in her hand, screaming that she was going to kill herself and it would be our fault….

I did not plan my silence ahead of time, as a strategy to try to stop her craziness. I certainly had not stopped caring, either. It’s just that, suddenly, I was too numb to say or do anything. I did not react, because I could not react. After so many years it is hard to be sure, but I think I may have been coming down with a flu at the time. I do remember that I had just gotten home from a really bad day at school, where I was constantly being bullied and teased for being so skinny, for being addle-brained and emotionally “weird,” and for wearing last year’s worn-out school clothes that were way too short and tight for me, especially as my body had begun to develop womanly features between my sixth and seventh grades.

As for why my little sisters and brothers also ignored our mother’s butcher knife drama that time, although they had always followed my lead before, crying and begging her not to stab herself — I did not understand it then, but looking back, I suppose they were once again following my lead. Either that, or all five of us had simply reached the critical mass of emotional exhaustion, at the same time.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw how our mother reacted to our non-response. I saw at first shock, and then rage, wash over her face. Suddenly she shut her screeching mouth, she walked back to the kitchen and flung the butcher knife into the drawer, then she went to her bedroom and locked herself inside. And she never pulled the “I’m going to stab myself!” act again.

Instead of a butcher knife, the next time our mother felt suicidal, she attempted to take us all out with her, by trying to gas us all to death.

“I brought you kids into the world,” she told me afterward. “So I have the right to take you out of it. And I would be doing you all a favor by killing you, because life is so hard.”

Today I am in my mid-sixties and my momster is in her eighties. But even after more than half a century, and a lot of therapy, I have never completely gotten over the many neglectful and abusive things that BOTH of my parents did.

Of all the things that I don’t understand about neglectful and abusive parents, the number one thing I don’t understand is this: WHY, when birth control is readily available, do some women who don’t have even one maternal bone in their body, keep popping out so many babies???? My mother married a man who already had six kids, and together they had two more children. And this was AFTER my momster had already tried to gas the five children that she already had, to death! My youngest half-sister was born after I was married and pregnant with my first child. WHY????

You would think that a woman who has chosen to have seven or thirteen children must really love kids a lot, wouldn’t you? But no… No… NO! My mother did not love children At All. She said she did, but her actions said she did not!

I remember, though, how my mother loved all the attention she got for being pregnant! She loved being waited on, catered to, pampered, and babied, all because she was having a baby. Later, she loved having a bunch of little slaves to order around like she was Queen of the world. And, once her oldest child — me — reached a certain age, she no longer had to do all the work of diapering and feeding and watching babies. Oh no, I did that!

However, unlike the amazing seventeen year old girl who escaped from the Turpin house of horrors and called 911 for help, I was no hero. It was as if I had no tongue with which to speak — I could not tell anyone about the nightmare that was my childhood, until years after I was grown and gone.

By then, don’t you know, nobody wanted to believe anything I said about my childhood. Just like the Turpin’s fake Facebook images of a big happy family, my mother is an expert at portraying a sweet liitle old grandmotherly image, a precious Christian lady who wants nothing more than to save everyone’s soul from hell.

Can you imagine the disbelief that would surely have happened, if the evil in the Turpin family had never come to light until the parents were dead and the kids were all out of the house, and no evidence remained of their years of torture?

But why, Why, WHY do “parents” like these keep having so many babies???? Also, what are the odds of two people this evil and abusive and crazy, meeting each other and getting married and having a family together, so that together, they can perpetuate this unthinkable horror on their helpless, dependent children? Like the Turpin husband and wife team of evil, both of my parents were extremely abusive and neglectful.

My heart aches so much for the thirteen Turpin children. My siblings and I had it bad growing up. For me, things got really bad when I was twelve and my mother made me her number one scapegoat and target of hate, because I had dared to disagree with her idea about having the “right” to kill us all. My mother has never forgiven me for that gross insubordination.

But, as bad as we had it, by all accounts, the Turpin children have suffered much worse. And my heart aches….

Comments are allowed, but it may take me awhile to moderate or reply. Rude or disbelieving comments will not be posted or answered.

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32 thoughts on “The Hell Of Growing Up Like The Turpin Family: Narcissistic Parenting In The Extreme

  1. Alexis Rose January 21, 2018 / 7:27 am

    Thank you for sharing, my brave friend! You have come so far on your healing journey, and I totally understand how this event in the news is triggering. Sending love and supportive hugs. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Doctor Jonathan January 21, 2018 / 10:19 am

    The “WHY” question for all abusive situations remains a mystery to me. We are born with innate goodness. What trauma must we experience to revert to behaviors causing so much harm to ourselves and others. It seems to me a common response is, “it’s not my business!” Turning and looking away perpetuates known harm, but many of us seem to do it anyway. Are our lives so filled with misery, we lose our ability or desire to reach out and help those we see in need?

    We talk about a “broken world” and are ready to point fingers, but what are we doing (to the best of our ability) to reverse this situation? Do we recognize mental imbalances and compassionately offer help? Do we assist people in a manner to help them find self value, self confidence and self worth?

    It seems economic growth and increasing stock market values remain the focus of our concerns. Politics, in general, doesn’t seek honest solutions. We acknowledge a problem and then choose to live with it because it doesn’t seem to directly affect the quality of our individual lives.

    The best we typically see is an acknowledgement in a phrase like, “how unfortunate” or “how horrible.” Words like these without ACTIONS to back them give these “criminals of basic decency” the courage to carry out these cowardly acts of horror.

    Until we better understand the difference between, “turn the other cheek,” and “turn the other way” this inhumane behavior will continue to plague us in SILENCE.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 11:02 am

      Yes, yes, yes. “Until we better understand the difference between, “turn the other cheek,” and “turn the other way” this inhumane behavior will continue to plague us in SILENCE.”

      Thank you so much, Dr. Jonathan.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Little Shepherd Girl January 21, 2018 / 11:08 am

    One can see even in your abilities as a writer, the many compensatory gifts with which God has blessed you. I feel blessed in life just to have run across your blog, and I mean that so emphatically just writing it makes me weep. You now take part in the *saving* of the world.

    And perhaps that’s part of the synchronicity of survivoring, how, when we think we are alone, how no one can understand our pain or point of view as a scapegoat, the universe conspires so that we will find someone who actually had it even worse, but fills us with hope and inspiration, because they are such a beautiful and inspiring person, with a clear mission to help others.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sharing.

    If there’s a good thing about abusive parents’ lack of birth control, it’s the innocents that result from it – like yourself.

    You are so needed in the world.

    Even Jesus Christ came from a shithole country, with garbage in the streets.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 11:42 am

      You just gave me chills and made me cry grateful tears. Thank you! Thank you so much!

      I just want to say, about some people having it “worse” than others: of all the traumatic and painful things that I have gone through in my life, the one thing that has hurt me by far the most, is simply this: not being loved, not being accepted, not being cherished, shown no empathy, given no compassion, and accorded no respect for my personhood, by the people in my family of origin, especially my mother.

      If this has been your experience, I am so sorry — because, in my view, you have suffered the most hurtful trauma of all.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Nyssa The Hobbit January 21, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    One reason people keep having babies who shouldn’t: being told it’s a sin (akin to murder) to use birth control. Or societal pressure, saying that everyone should have kids, and if you don’t you’re selfish, self-centered, just want to be rich and take vacations. I used to see plenty of that on a religious forum years ago. Though it sounds like, in your mother’s case, there were fringe benefits that she wanted to milk for all she could.

    Apparently the Turpins registered their house as a private school (homeschool), so nobody checked up on them or had a clue. The neighbors saw weird stuff going on, but never outright incidents of identifiable abuse, so the usual response is to MYOB. Would CPS or the police even bother to investigate just because the kids were walking in a circle?

    It’s part of what makes abuse so horrible: The abusers can have the victims under such control that they can’t tell anyone, and nobody else knows what’s going on. Or maybe other people suspect, but are also terrified of the abuser.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 5:12 pm

      You’re right, some people have more children than they want or can afford, because they think birth control is a sin, or they feel pressured to have children. Neither of those issues was at play in my mother’s life, however. She saw nothing wrong with birth control and did use it occasionally. And nobody pressured her to do what she did not want to do, she is too narcissistic. She pressures others to do her bidding.

      One thing I keep wondering about the Turpin parents — with all the horrible details coming out in the news, how are they going to find an “impartial jury” for a fair trial? (I am editing this comment to add this: my ONLY reason for wondering about a fair trial for the abusers, is because I have heard of convictions being overturned by a higher court, on the basis of the jury having been prejudiced and tainted by news reports of the crime. I hope these evil “parents” go to prison for life. And after they are convicted, I want their convictions to stick!)

      More than anything, I pray for healing for these children!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Nyssa The Hobbit January 21, 2018 / 7:06 pm

        I wonder how they get an impartial jury for any trial that hits the news. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • Marie Abanga January 22, 2018 / 4:04 am

        Oh Linda, there you go again, victims are often always so full of empathy/sympathy for their abusers. Why care if they’ll have fair trial at all? Which other Evidence than even just one shackled child should any jury need?
        I was so disgusted with the Turpin saga and I was sick too, I didn’t know how or what or why I should write. I thought of you and prayed for you. I thought of the several brave ones who have written memoirs to share their horrors of child abuse. Am fed up with asking why WHY??? Maybe Dr Jonathan’s comment could prick something? Maybe the Turpin case itself and all the ‘damaged’ children could prick some consciences? Or will this just sadly be another media sensation?
        Above all, whenever I read about anyone trying to invalidate a victim’s trauma or narrative, I am extremely distraught.
        I must appreciate and encourage you for being the mother and grandmother you are

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 22, 2018 / 8:16 am

          Thank you, Marie, my friend! I am sorry, I failed to make it clear that I have ZERO empathy for the evil parents of these horribly abused and tortured children! I hope their abusers go to prison for life!!

          No, my concern about a fair trial is because I have heard of jury convictions being overturned by a higher court, on the basis of it not being a fair trial because the jury was prejudiced. I am not a lawyer like you are, Marie, so perhaps I am mistaken about this? Or maybe the laws concerning a “fair trial” are different in Cambodia, where you are?

          My ONLY reason for wondering about a fair trial for the Turpin parents, is so that when they are convicted and sentenced, it will stick!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Marie Abanga January 24, 2018 / 4:11 am

            Dear linda, that case has pushed me back to resume reading child abuse horrors but more with wanting to find Why somehow. I am currently reading one written by a psychiatrist specialized in child psychiatrist hoping in all the cases he writes of, he’ll tell of the why or how to salvage…am beyond trying to understand on my own…

            That said, seriously any superior court which overturns a conviction of such people, definitely doesn’t mean the world any good. Well, even if their conviction is ever overturned, they stay in jail while a new trial goes on and the trial this time will be ‘fair’ lol.
            Indeed ‘fair trial’ laws are different from state to state and country to country.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. atimetoshare.me January 21, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Your story breaks my heart, Linda. There is no way I could begin to understand this kind of behavior. No child should be subjected to any kind of abuse, but the kind that gives the children no self worth or value, in my opinion, is the worst. Healing can only come from God, because there isn’t a human being that can make any sense out of it. I don’t know how the Turpin children will survive their nightmare, but you did and that may be an inspiration to them. God has a purpose for us to be here. Your story will most likely help another to get through their pain. We are merely instruments of His divine hand. I am constantly amazed at the burdens you bore as a child. My heart goes out to you. I’m so glad you have moved ahead as you have and pray that God will continue to give you healing. Love you, my friend

    Liked by 2 people

      • atimetoshare.me January 21, 2018 / 5:03 pm

        Tears on this end too!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Anna Waldherr January 21, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    This is heart wrenching. It is amazing that you survived at all. You were certainly pivotal to the survival of your siblings. May God surround you with love today. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 5:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Anna. It was your post that broke the emotional ice dam inside my heart this morning, so I could write this.

      Thank you, yes, my life is filled with love today. My best-friend-husband of almost 14 years, my wonderful 45 year old stepdaughter, who lives next door to us, my wonderful adult children and grandchildren, I am so blessed. I have a daughter who is working toward her degree in psychology at Whitworth University, and her daughter, my oldest granddaughter, will graduate from Harvard this May, with a master’s in social anthropology. So I am blessed beyond meas and rich in love! I pray that you are richly blessed, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Cherilyn Clough January 21, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    I’m not on WordPress yet today, but read this through my email. What a brave act to tell your story! I can’t wait to read your memoir. I’m still writing mine too.

    I shared your link on my FB Page for Little Red Survivor. Hope that was okay. It was extremely well written!

    Peace and freedom to you, Linda Lee!

    Cherilyn Clough

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 5:40 pm

      Oh, wow, thank you for sharing the link on your page. Yes, it is certainly more than ok. I so appreciate what you said about my writing. It means a lot, coming from an excellent writer like yourself!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. bethanyk January 21, 2018 / 10:09 pm

    I simply adore you. Everything about you. How you took care of your young siblings when you got home. How you gave when you had nothing to give. You amaze me with your compassion and your wisdom. You always have. The more I learn about your life and what happened to me the more I love the depth of your heart and how you can see the truth and the light in things and keep giving to those in need even though you had been at the hands of monsters and abusers , you still give. You still love people like me who otherwise would not have support. I cannot thank youeven the tiniest bit of enough as I wish I could. I wish I could give you the world in thanks of all of your comments to me giving me understanding while not even knowing the hell you have gone through. My heart hurts for the little girl in you and the adult you are that endured that. All my love, bethany

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 21, 2018 / 10:47 pm

      Oh, Bethany! Oh my gosh, now I am all teary eyed again. Thank you so very much. You are a wonderful encouragement and a beautiful survivor!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. adamjasonp January 22, 2018 / 12:24 am

    The reproductive face of malignant narcissism: to make trophy children. At the least, individuality in is punished, whereas pets— the Turpin family dog, for instance as source of unconditional love— are treated better. At its worst, the kids live in a prison of a home. The amount of psychological harm done to a child is significant even without systemic abuse and neglect— the traits of the parasitic parent(s) can get passed on.

    These cases are downright horrific. I’m sorry you had to go through all that… and thankful you survived.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 22, 2018 / 7:30 am

      Thank you, Adam.

      I am smiling, thinking of the picture you posted on your blog, with the caption “Forgive me, for I have selfied.” I love it! Thank you for starting my day off with a smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) January 22, 2018 / 6:15 am

    Linda, I have had a hard time to give you a ‘like’ on this post that describes such an indescribable horror you had to go through. 😦 How can someone survive hell and behave somehow normally afterwards?`:roll: You are a very courageous woman, indeed! ⭐

    Nonetheless, I was glad to read that you have been blessed with an own family that might give you back some strength in the aftermath.

    May God keep you, bless you, and protect your precious soul and body!

    Susanne from Bavaria ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee January 22, 2018 / 8:48 am

      Hello, Susanne. Thank you so very much!

      I haven’t been a perfect angel in my life. I did some very wrong and selfish things, as a younger woman, in my desperate search for someone to love me. I also made many mistakes as a mother, because I was far too broken by PTSD to even know how to be a parent. I do not take credit for anything that my adult children and grandchildren have achieved, they have done it in spite of me, not because of me. If I could turn back time and re-parent my children all over again, with the healing and knowledge that I have now, I would do many things differently.

      But I thank God that I am where I am in my life today. Yes, there was a lot of trauma and pain in my past. But others have suffered much worse. In many ways, I am lucky.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Susanne Schuberth (Germany) January 22, 2018 / 9:44 am

        Linda,

        You are very welcome. Looking back, I would change a lot, too. I have always wondered about worldly people who, when asked, would say that they would have never changed a jota as to their former decisions in life. I think it is maturity to more and more see the limits of our human nature which forced us to act as we did and to finally transcend our limitations more and more by God’s grace.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. dividinguplife January 22, 2018 / 12:25 pm

    Reading things like this make me ache inside. I always presumed I had a horrible childhood, but really it was a cakewalk in comparison to what you and your siblings went through. To what these poor children have gone through. I can’t imagine ever doing anything like that to my daughter.

    It’s easy to blame this on mental illness. For me it’s easier to say “there is evil in their hearts”. I can’t come up with any other plausible reason to do the things that have been done. Even then, none of it seems like a good enough excuse.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. touched2mysoul January 22, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing! You show that we are not alone in our survival thank you for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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