Entertain me for a moment while I take this opportunity to clarify a little bit of my abuser’s story. Not for any other reason than to have a more clear picture of who I had married. It took me years to get the entire picture, for you…minutes.
The oldest of four children. Living in a poverty striken neighborhood in the 1960’s. His parents came to the US in hopes of a better life. His father, an alcoholic, was a constant provider for the family, and immediately landed a city job which he held for over 30 years. His mother, for most of their early years, was a stay at home mother who maintained the house and took care of her growing brood. Good, decent people. Hard working, yet struggling family. The children were born one year after the next, and due to circumstance, shared from the same jar of baby food, the same can of spaghetti, the same bag of potato chips, and maybe once a month, the same Hershey bar.
As the oldest, he was always by his father’s side. He craved the affection and attention a son should automatically get from a father, instead he was told to go run and play while his father sat and drank. They were no more together than he was with a stranger crossing the street. Always with a sense of responsibility for his siblings he helped to take care of them and be alert to their needs. He was their protector. Their second parent. Their young mother, who most likely suffered from some sort of postpartum depression, dealt with being in a new place, with four kids and an alcoholic husband the best way she could. Aggressively and with a short fuse. The children got beat for not keeping things neat and clean, behaving badly, and for crying for getting beat. The father got beat for coming home drunk from work yet again. And when bringing home something special for the family on payday, no matter how squashed the cake may have been, or how upside down the pie was held, it wasn’t even slightly appreciate and was immediately thrown out and he was scolded for bringing it home in such a condition – due to his condition.
With such a relaxing and nurturing home life, you’d think school was no problem for the oldest child. On entering the public school system, grades were just as they should be. Until second grade. I don’t know what happened. Heck, he doesn’t even know what happened. Whether or not something went on that has been stored away deep in the crevices of his mind which caused him to get left back or whether it was actually getting left back in and of itself, he became damaged. With getting left back, his reading basically ceased (teachers passed him on to the next grade straight through high school). Simultaneously, a skin disorder developed. He started to get picked on and teased by other children. His mother’s answer to this dilemma…if they hit you…hit them back. So. He did.
That my dear readers…is the beginning of the end.
Aside from internal issues and familial issues, there was the neighborhood. Like I said, it was not the best. One day (age 8-9) when he was going to throw out the garbage, in the shared area that all of the occupants of the apartment complex used, he lifted the lid only to find a head staring back at him. When he screamed the superintendent came to see what was the matter and found that the rest of the body pieces filled the can. This should be a traumatic experience for a child. Any child. No one at any age in my opinion would be immune to having some sort of psychological reaction to seeing that. Moving along a few years later (age 11-12), he was fishing with his best friend in a local pond. He went to dig for worms in the wooded section and found a girl who had been murdered and buried in the bushes. Ever the tough guy, even in childhood, the images were filed away.
He moved past it. With time, the neighborhood changed. Drugs and drug dealers were the every day. If you didn’t want to be on the wrong side, you stayed neutral, which he did well. He made friends easily. Always showed respect for the thugs and in turn they gave the respect right back. On the streets, that is the number one thing. The only thing that means something. Along with the drug dealers came drug wars. With war came death. As a teenager standing in front of his building, one of the dealers came out looking for their target, who he happened to be standing next to. With a shot to the head, the victim’s blood splattered on his face. He wiped it off and went about his business. A few years after that, his best friend, who had been there for him during family quarrels, during educational problems, and all the other goings on, fell to his death from the roof of their building.
Even in understanding the type of person he would one day become, you would have to agree, this is too much for any one person to handle. There is so much more to add to this list of unfortunate, and for the most normal person, psychologically crippling events. The list almost warrants it’s own blog. What other way to act out but to become a neighborhood thug? The resident bad boy.
Eventually, the family moved and left that crime filled neighborhood behind. The four children were now young adults just exiting their teenage years. Their parents wanted to move to a better neighborhood. And they did. My neighborhood.
Luckily, we eventually met. A quick passerby on his bicycle as I was walking to the store with my friend. I was a young teenager and thought…who is this cute guy? He’s new. I eventually found out who he was. Yep. Lucky me.
Don’t get me wrong. In no way, shape or form am I giving excuses for his future actions. I’m just breaking down the monster. No matter how scarred he was as a child it does not excuse him for becoming the adult he did. Eventually, you know better. You know you are doing wrong to your wife. But, there are reasons why we all have become who we are. Everyone has a story. And this is his.