Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Legacy of Abuse

For a moment I am going to step away from our government and what it learned from prohibition and I am going to talk about abuse for a moment. So many times this problem is not only overlooked, but also misunderstood. I am no expert in this either. I will only speak from my perspective on this. But instead of dealing with it as an adult, for a moment I am going to give voice to that child that experienced it all those long years ago.

Let's start with one of my earliest memories. It was late one night, I really don't know what time it was, all I know is that I was awaken from my sleep by my mom screaming for help. I am only 4 or 5. I really can't do anything, but I have to try. I can see the fury filling his punches, hear the anger imbuing his words as they spilled from his mouth. Spittle spraying from his mouth as he tells her to shut up and the malice that glinted in his eyes. My heart falls to my feet. What's going on?" I think. And before I know it, my body is responding. I am hurling anything that I can get my hand on at him. Screaming at him to get off my mama. Finally, I connect with one of those platform shoes they wore in the '70s. It wasn't thrown with enough force to do any real damage, but it caught his attention. Before I knew it, he was charging toward me. After that, I remember very little. I can't really say what happened.

There were other instances, too many to detail here, and too many for any child to have to go through. And that brings me to this point. Growing up in a home rife with animosity, anger, hatred, malice, vengeance, rage, and fear is one of the most difficult things you can imagine. Don't get me wrong it wasn't all bad all the time, but when it was bad, it outweighed all the good. Because it came unbidden. All of a sudden you are caught in a maelstrom of what can only be described as bitter hatred. Fueled by thoughts only known by my drunken, philandering father. Spurred on by the demons of his subconsciousness. The viciousness and venom that spewed from him with every smack from his hand, belt, or switch. A foul aura seemed to envelop him and in that place, in the center of this malicious storm, I could see the joy that peeked out from behind the malice. He absolutely enjoyed it. And I am pretty sure that is why when he completed his most foul deeds, he would run off to see his whore.

Upon his inevitable return, never a word would be spoken. I was told to just do what he tells me and say nothing more and do nothing more. You see in my home, I was a prisoner and he the warden. For weeks the house would be silent. No one talking, everyone walking around on eggshells. My physical wounds healing. My world shrunken down to the room I shared with my sister until I was six. And when I finally got my own room, things were only moderately better, now I did not have to deal with her and her attitude when things were over. Now I didn't have to listen as I was blamed for everything that went wrong. When I had nothing to do with it.

Being alone, made me question a lot of things. I want to know why me? What have I done to be the one that draws the ire of He On Most High? Why have I become the target of not only his wrath, but my sister's as well? All I wanted was a normal family. All I want is for my parents to get along and my sister to be just that, my sister. I don't t need any more enemies. I just want to be a kid. Enjoy playing outside with my friends. Ride my bike. You know kid stuff.

By the time I was actually able to do all of that stuff, the physical abuse had stopped. The emotional neglect began. (Now I know you all are asking where is my mother. She was there. She was a great mom, but I truly believe that only a man can teach a boy to be a man. And I had a piss poor example.) But in the meantime, my problems with anger really began. I would just be in a rage and it was almost a constant. Venting was not an option, that would result in a beating. So all of that was turned inward. The results of that are still with me as an adult.

Physical abuse is devastating. Emotional neglect is horrifying. As a child you do everything that you can to appease your parents and occasionally please them, but when you have one that nothing you do is ever good enough and that same one fails to recognize your existence, you are crushed. Burdened with the idea that you are not good enough to gain his attention. Even worse that you have done something terribly wrong and you are being punished. The latter makes you edgy, careful, and if you are lucky invisible, but being invisible is the exact opposite of what you want. You want to be seen, heard, loved, and held by that one person that refuses to give you anything that you need emotionally.

Now all these many years later, I struggle to maintain that fragile peace that I brokered with myself many years ago. And for those of you that don't know, peace comes at a price. For a long while, I was emotionally unavailable because I realized that it was emotion that caused all the turmoil I experienced. It was emotion that set him off. It was emotion that soothe him. I had no emotion but anger and that I had to keep buried. But it was and has been my constant companion. The price I had to pay, well that's between me and my Peacemaker, but I will tell you this, it's not such a bad price to pay. I can now sleep nights without the nightmares. But the anger, I keep on a tight leash. It's been flaring lately. I hate when it does, because it saps all of my energy. But I've come this far and I still have quite a ways to go. My journey has not ended.

Mike Ransom

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