“Only when we are no longer afraid, do we begin to live.” – Dorothy Thompson
Throughout our lives so many types of memories are created. Good, bad, fun, scary, some indifferent. I have memories of laughing harder than I have ever laughed before and I have memories of nightmare moments that many would never believe actually happened. We have all experienced those moments, right? Just some to other extents than others. I believe that these assist in creating who we are as adults. We turn out to be the product of our environment combined with things inherent within us. Some people go through little and come out a mess and some live a life of hell and come out on top. Things affect people in different ways and drive them to different abilities. I am thankful today, that while I am one that went through hell growing up, a lot of abuse and contrary to that, I am a pretty OK adult! I am full of strength I sometimes forget I have, I have a good work ethic and I have intelligence that got me where I am today; all while being a loving and compassionate person, (despite what some might say). I love my fellow man and woman, although am often afraid to show it for fear of rejection. I am in love with you, I am especially in love with me these days. I am in love with the less fortunate who are trying to put food in their bellies or the bellies of their hungry children, and with their children who are struggling and hungry and don’t know any different. I am in love with love, despite abuse; and in fact I crave it and don’t function well without it. I think that would be exact reason I have made myself a priority lately and have focused so much on getting myself right. I have learned that I cannot depend on anybody other than myself and my God to fulfill that hole in my heart that needs the love. I am blessed to have the support system that I have now; but years ago, I didn’t have that.
I lived most of my formative years in fear. Something that most people cannot fathom. Fear of what was coming next, what was lurking around the corner. Do you know what living in fear feels like? Let me give you insight into what my world felt like, as I dealt with the fear and pain in silence and hid it. It’s paralyzing. Was there a punch to the face coming from my brother? Will there be a black eye, will my jaw open wide enough to eat after he hits me across the face? Will there be a bat to my ribs and will I be able to stand upright? How long until I catch my breath? Is there a 2×4 being swung at my head? Will I be woken up inappropriately in the night and have to fight for my innocence?
Do any of you have claustrophobia? Do you know where it came from? I have it so bad I have to be pulled from the MRI tube 2 or 3 times crying because it terrifies me so badly. How about fear of heights? That’s my biggest one. Fears all come from somewhere, you’re not born with them, they’re learned. From the age of 3 or 4, (I’m not sure which age, but I know that was my age when I lived in the house where it started) we lived on a farm in Missouri. Southern Missouri is filled with mountainous cliff hillsides, beautiful lush green trees and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. As a 10-11 year old boy, my brother loved the snakes, toads, lizards – basically anything he could find to scare the daylights out of a 4 year old child. He also was a good builder. He build tree houses all over our property, one in particular that I was mortified to go up because that is where he kept his “pets”. His pets being all of the creepy crawly things that I mentioned before. I would be easily coerced into going up the tree house at 3-4 years old because I believed him that he wouldn’t do anything to scare or hurt me. We are quite gullible at that age! As a child you see the good in everyone, you don’t think they’re out to hurt or scare you and ultimately damage you for life. So as I climbed the rickety boards nailed into the tree to the house portion, I would immediately see that he had NOT, in fact, gotten rid of any of his creepy crawlies and they he would lock the gate so I was stuck. Stuck in the air, with him and his disgusting mind and jars of snakes, frogs and lizards. (I was really only scared of the snakes because they were huge and scary; frogs and lizards I played with on the ground all the time.) Here I am trapped with him as my commander to do as he says or he puts snakes on me. Kind of like “it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose”. Sick analogy, right? But that’s what I think of every time, that’s how it felt. So without further details, I tell you this is why today, I am mortified of snakes and I don’t like heights. Now the claustrophobia, that’s a different story. I suppose some of that came from him trapping me in a small space, but mostly from him holding me down. Remember he is 7 years older than me and quite big. He would be over top of me with my arms and legs pinned with his and first I would just get mad, then I would panic and scream and cry. Eventually, he would be satisfied with his torture and let me up. To this day, I cannot stand to be held down. Not that this happens a lot as an adult, but in my younger years I found some superhuman strength if I got into a scrap and was on bottom, I quickly made it out of there and back on top. Even playing around, wrestling, I feel trapped and will almost immediately freak out and start yelling. I already told you how I react to the MRI tube and that is something I have to do several times a year.
Then there was my mom…what awful names will she call me today? What would I do wrong today? How would I displease or disappoint her? What awful things would I be accused of when I was still very much innocent? Will she grab me by the back of the head and slap me back and forth until her hand is tired? How high will my anxiety be today? Will my stomach hurt from the stress? Will I need a pill to control my “nervous stomach” as they called it then. Will I survive another day in this house? How quickly can I get out and how late can I stay? These were the thoughts that went through my head on a daily basis. Utter fear brought all of these feelings to me every single day that I had to live in that house. Put yourself in that mindset for just a moment. Can you imagine that these are the people that you depend on, every single day of your life, yet you’re mortified of them? Will they protect you or hurt you that day? AND THEY CHOSE TO ADOPT ME!!! WHY?? I’m not saying my life would have been any better anywhere else, but that question will always be there. My life was hell and did it really have to be? As a mother myself, I know I have not been perfect; in fact far from it. I can guarantee you one thing though, if you ask my daughter if I love her she’ll say yes. If you ask her if I would die protecting her, she’ll say yes. I’ve had plenty of fails as a parent, but ultimately my child knows I would and DO, do anything in the world for her. So please be clear, I am making no claims to being a perfect mom, but my daughter does not live in fear of me nor does she question my faith and love in her; and that is all I ever wanted from my mom. Faith and love. And protection. I never got any of it before she died. I will live with that nightmare for the rest of my life.
Then there was Dad…he was the closest thing to a hero I ever had in the house. My dad was the best, although looking back now I don’t understand why or how he let everything happen. He wasn’t a large stature man. He was only 5’9″, retired from the military on disability with a very bad back and just not physically able to do a lot in the realm of protection for me. He couldn’t fight off my brother by any means and hadn’t been able to for many years. My brother is 6’3″ and weighed about 300 lbs. Dad was no match for him and he couldn’t physically protect me. He couldn’t protect himself or Mom either, as my brother often turned on them as well. I will never understand why he didn’t get me out of there though. Call the cops, do something!! I know my dad loved me more than anything and I believe that to be the reason Mom hated me, jealousy. She never worked. He didn’t work. So my entire life they were both home and Mom didn’t drive. It was a very old fashioned home. Mom and Dad cooked dinner together every night. They went to the store together. They hung laundry on the clothes line together. They differed on my treatment. Dad was never ok with it, but didn’t stop it. So on one hand he was my hero but on the other hand he was the enabler. I feel guilt when I say this, because I loved him so much, but it made him as guilty as the abusers by not putting a stop to it. Silence is as bad as performing the act yourself. Remember that people. If you see abuse – DO SOMETHING!!!! If you aren’t sure, find out. Call somebody to have it checked out. Could you live your life knowing that YOU allowed ME to go through what I’ve just described to you? I couldn’t. If I could stop all abuse I would, but I’ll take it one at a time as I can for now.
This brother is now in prison for the rest of his life, where he belongs, but the nightmares will never stop. In fact, the first thing for me to do today was write because I woke up screaming at 6:30am over a nightmare of him and Mom. The nightmare took place in our old house where I lived in high school. He was in his 20’s by then and I had learned to stand up to him. He would come and go when he pleased, not really living there, but showing up to stay whenever he wanted and the hell would ensue. Most of my dreams, or nightmares, are a real depiction of what took place. We are both home, I try to be calm, but the fear wells up and it’s as if he is an animal that can smell it. The fear triggers his reaction and the hunt and fight are on. In this particular dream last night (remember how crazy dreams can be), the fight began and several pieces I don’t remember of me trying to get away and scream but nothing came out; he ended up holding me down as described before, shoving paper into my mouth so I couldn’t breathe. All the while, Mom was in the next room not hearing my cries. This was a much more intense dream than usual and I didn’t know where I was but I knew it was a dream I needed to wake up from. I didn’t know how old I was for instance or that I was in my bedroom or where the door was, because I was looking for it as I tried to wake myself from the screaming cries with tears rolling down my face. When I finally woke, I couldn’t stop crying. It’s a horrible realization that these things happen and not just to me, but to thousands of children and much worse than what I went through. It absolutely breaks my heart. It takes me back to a time I don’t like to remember, but I am thankful somehow that I have these memories because it gives me empathy and understanding for those that have also endured this type of life. It also gives me the satisfaction of knowing I survived it, I have strength most don’t have because of it and unfortunately I have insecurities and fears most don’t have as well. So in everything there is good and bad. I ignored for so long…I focused on the bad…now I learn from it and focus on the good.
Thanks for coming back, more to come! Love.