Sunday, September 04, 2005

Arguing is not one of my strong points like it used to be when I was younger. In my youth I had been told that I could argue about anything. The fact is, I get bored in arguments especially when a simple comment or suggestion becomes one. They usually don't resolve anything in reality. Some peoples minds are just closed to any idea that is not their own. Me, I find that I can actually learn something new from another's opinion with out them yelling it out at the top of their lungs. Shouting at me just makes my brain shut down to anything.

I remember back in my youth, my father sitting me down to talk. Well, really, it was he that would do all the talking while I had to sit and listen. Often it was something that was making him angry about, perhaps, something that I had or had not done. It was not very clear as to which. He would let things build up for a long time and then unleash it all at once. You only spoke to answer when you were told to do so. Speaking up only got you more grief. Of course in later years, he said he always wondered why we wouldn't speak up. Because Dad, we were told to sit there and just listen and not to interrupt.

Most of the time we had one of these talks, he actually had a point to make but couldn't really seem to connect and get it across he felt. So, he would say the same thing over and over only in different ways for hours. Truth be told, I got it in the first few minutes of the talking to. The rest of the time his anger would just make my brain go into neutral as my eyes would glaze over and wander to other things. I could actually tune out completely and go to another place in my mind far away. Only coming back when I realized that he wanted some kind of response to a question. Your answer had to be short as in, yes or no. Sometimes the saving grace of I guess so. That one would cover most questions being asked.

Years of these types of conversations just killed any ideal of arguing or speaking up for myself. I decided early on that it was better to just agree. I got into the mode of trying to please everyone and just go along rather than rock the boat as they say. Most everything that I did or said was wrong anyway so why argue the point.

My parents had divorced and the experience of living with a Mother, a few years earlier, who had had a nervous breakdown had conditioned me to stay clear of confrontation at all costs. She had forced my father to leave and I had no idea what was going on at all. I was only twelve at the time. The house was a big Colonial style two story brick with five bedrooms and two and a half baths. All of the rooms were pretty good size with the exception of what had once been one of my brothers rooms at the back. A full basement where I could play and stay away from mom when it was cold outside. She rarely ever came down there. The garage was large and deep, able to hold six cars easy. The property backed up to a huge forest of trees that you could get lost in if not careful.
She had put my father and everyone else through total hell but it had all been pretty much kept from me. I was mostly on my own living in a house of darkness and despair. She was so full of anger and hatred and my only way to self survival was to steer clear, or withdraw into what was like a bubble.

Its weird looking back now. But this bubble was real and extended all around me for about three feet. Anything outside of it was more of a blurry foggy scene. I was so afraid of someone else leaving my life that I put most everyone at a safe distance so I wouldn't have to deal with the rejection. I was to afraid to let anyone get close to me because I just knew that they were going to leave me. So it became easier to just not let anyone in to be saved from the hurt.
My mother only came out at night, so I would stay up most of the night, keeping my door locked to my room with my dog, waiting for her to go back in her room. I was afraid of her and behind the locked door with Rex made me feel safer.
She had started reading about and trying to discuss witchcraft with me.
I can't recall all of the times that I had heard her talking and laughing and having conversations with people who were not there. Sitting in the dark and sometimes just staring at the wall or out the window blankly. She was consumed with anger and it came out often. One time she smacked me so hard that I fell back into the kitchen onto the floor. She accused me of putting a black heal mark on the kitchen floor. When I said that I hadn't done it, she hit me hard knocking me back. I wore keds tennis shoes.

Food was not something you found much of in our house. Mostly it was junk candy and sweet stuff. I had to scrounge up bits of things to eat. No really, I did. She didn't keep hardly anything in the house at all. I got creative with what I could find between her minimal grocery runs. We always had eggs and milk and oatmeal. Peanut butter and raisins we had plenty of, as well as macaroni. Not the macaroni like nowadays. This was just the dried noodles in the box alone. We had flour and butter and just a few other things around there. I taught my self to cook pancakes and egg sandwiches or noodle this or noodle that. I have eaten a ton of peanut butter and pickle sandwiches and tomato ones too. I got so disgusted with the sight of the kitchen that I took on the enormous task of trying to get it all washed. When we did have food, mom would sometimes cook but leave all the mess. It would be there for days or weeks on end. I even tried to clean the house a few times but it was such a daunting task that I quit. Even my room was a total wreck. None of that stuff seemed to matter anymore. She didn't care about anything at all but her anger and blaming my Father for all of her problems.

( I got so sick and tired of her putting my Father down to me. I understand now why he was hardly around when they were married still. But, it kept him from having anytime for me either. Later on he still didn't do anything with me except for the talks. I would get angry and he would be angry at me. All I wanted from him was for us to have some time together for anything one on one. We used to go fishing once in awhile when I was a lot younger. And we went on camping trips too with my brothers. Some times just a dinner out and a movie. I missed all of that.)

I even had to figure out how to do my own laundry as all the dirty clothes were in a big heap on the floor beside the washer. The house had a smell of ...... It had a rotten smell. It, to me ,was the smell of the Devil himself. I have smelled that same smell at another house when I was in High School in later years. I could tell that the kid living there was going through almost exactly what I had been through years before.

In school I was jeered at by the others so one day I just didn't go back. Everything was a nightmare except for the three animals that we had. We had two dogs and a cat. Strangely enough I felt that they new something was terribly wrong in the house. They were the only beings that seemed to show me any affection at all. I was happy to see them when I was still in school and would come home. All three of them would meet me, so happy that I was there again. Its like they just connected with me in a way to tell me they understood and it was just us. They were scared of mother too and I understood that. Trying to explain it here is tough to get across.

Then one by one...They left. Mother gave away the cat, then Pepe ,our poodle, got run over while I was playing with some kids down the street. I was devastated by the loss. Pepe used to ride on the floor of my go-cart my mother had given me to try and win me over I guess. Then she gave away my protector and constant companion, Rex, to my sister in another town.
One day when I was in the den watching television while she was upstairs asleep I thought, a man came to the back door. She came down and let him in. She walked him into the den where I was watching the set. He said hi, then turned off, unplugged the set and left with it. Without a word, Mom went back up to her room leaving me sitting there confused and lost.
Luck would have it that my Father had left an old black and white Admiral set in a closet. I took it up to my room that night after finding it. I would stay up and watch Jonathan Winters until the National anthem came on because the station was going off the air. The show was done in an Attic scene set up. Anyone remember that show?

My Father had moved into a small apartment and my brother had moved in with him shortly after at some point. My recollection of when is hazy. It wasn't to long though after they had divorced. My brother was old enough to decide with whom he wanted to live with. I was not so lucky as the court system dictated to my Father about my living arrangements. I was not privy to the information at the time. But, the court said my Father couldn't see me or contact me without Mom's permission. Therefore, he could be arrested if he came to see me at school or home without her knowing it. His hands were tied in that respect back then.

I didn't know then about all of that. Many were the times that I stayed up all night waiting so it would just be getting light. I would then hop on my bicycle, actually the bike my brother had left cause he was driving now, and ride for miles to my Fathers office or apartment to see him. I missed him a lot and wanted to be with him. Sometimes after getting to his apartment, he would cook me some breakfast before heading off to work and I would crash on his couch.

(I don't know why I'm typing all of this. I'll have to finish later. Its a bit much)

After some time of not having much food in the house, I began to go around the neighborhood to drum up some lawn jobs. I'd never had to work before for a meal. But, I was wanting something good to eat instead of the garbage junk mom was getting mostly at the store.
I didn't always go without because my friends parents had started to invite me to eat with them at times. I remember my friend coming over to my house on a couple of occasions. He was probably on a scouting mission actually to see how crappy my situation was looking back on it. I was to embarrassed to ask anyone over to my house and inside. Out in the yard was fine but not inside.
It crosses my mind also that my father was in contact with my friends parents who were quite concerned about the whole thing.
that's when the offers of "oh dear. We cooked up to much again. Would you like to join us for supper?"
I think maybe my Dad was giving them something so I could eat better meals.

But back to cutting lawns, I went around and drummed up some yard work from neighbors who lived close by. One old gent, Col. Jones, gave me work to cut his grass. Another couple next to him also let me work in their garden and such. Seems like I was getting two dollars an hour. That was the price that I gave them but I believe that they always gave me some extra.
When I got paid, I'd ride my bike for miles over to the closest place to get a good meal. It was a cafeteria at the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta. Man they had everything you could want to eat. Good things to, not fast food crap. It was more of the kind of meals that I'd been brought up on eating at home before. I would stuff myself because I knew it'd be awhile before I'd get to eat there again. But ohhhh. It was so good.

Strange how things are sometimes. Another boy in school was going through some bad stuff at home as well. I'll just call him Don. Dons mother was dying and was pretty much bedridden when I found out. Like me, not many knew of our situations. I only met her once when we were over there. She called to him for something and wanted to meet me. She was not very old but was lying in the bed and she asked him to be strong for his Dad and stuff. I wasn't sure what to make of all that. It was just so unreal like something I'd only ever seen on the Television.

He had a Honda CT70 and would come over sometimes. I'm not even sure how it all got started with he and I hanging out a bit. Not much mind you. But just a bit.
He invited me over to his house one day so we could play. His mother had died and he hadn't even said a word about it. I didn't even know. He was at home all alone and just wanted company. I remember him not really being there really. We played some board games down in the den and then set up the Hot Wheels track.

It began to get late and we heard a ruckus upstairs. His Dad had been out drinking with some friends and was very drunk. ( I never had to experience my Father like that ) He began hollering in that drunken way for Don. Don called back to him and his father stumbled down the stairs with two of his friends trying to calm him down. They weren't drunk and looked scared for him and concerned.
His Father got to the den and was going off on Don like a madman before he noticed me there. He stopped for a moment and slurring his words wanted to know who in the hell I was was. Don told him and his Father tried to be nice for a moment speaking briefly to me. Then he turned to go back upstairs and stumbled on the first step. Then he got all pissed off again and came back at Don ranting and yelling at him. Don backed up some and had a terrified look on his face. The other two men got his Dad and began to help him upstairs. A minute later one of them came back down and in a calm voice Spoke to Don. Then the man calmly suggested that I go on home.

I left but was scared for Don but I didn't want to go home either. I had no choice.
Seems like that was the last time Don and I ever hung out.

No comments: