Updated: Jun 4, 2019
I started watching the cable tv show Shameless from Season 1, in part as preparation for the new season. I love this series for its fast pace, bizarre storyline, exploration of current issues, and because it reminds me of some of the people I grew up with.
In the event that you are not familiar with the show, it is about a family of children who work to bring in money while their parents do little more than get in their way. I never realized before how many of the situations depicted in the show resemble my own experience growing up largely without adult support.
They say little when their parents drop in to take food, and sometimes money, out of the house. While watching, I catch myself wondering why no one stops or at least confronts them. Today, I recognized myself in those situations. I've often wished I had said something all those decades ago, yet couldn't believe this underage family suffering from learned helplessness would not.
They might have more strength and autonomy, but they are also weary and like me then, lacking skills to negotiate something a wee bit more fair. And even normal.
When I was twelve, I took in ironing at our tiny one bedroom fourplex to raise money for shoes. I can't say I turned out quality work, but the prices sure made up for it.
One time, as a woman was leaving with her stacks of clothing, I realized my mother was sprawled out on the couch after falling asleep with a male friend. They had not then or ever gone into her bedroom, but the scene was, well...shameless. At least for my mother.