This will be the first post in a series that tell my story from early on until now. This is mostly a cathartic exercise, so I’ve no expectations as to replies or even reading any of it. These entries are more for me than anything.
Memory is such an odd thing, and is a subject of debate in the scientific realm – (Psychology Today Article, TED Talk, The British Psychological Society and A ton of scholarly articles via Google search). What I’m going to write here is a mixture of what I remember rather starkly, as well as other things that I remember that have been corroborated by those close to the situation(s) at the time. As someone who’s suffered from trauma from early on, I know I’m not the only one who questions their own recollection of events. I also know that this too is hotly debated. I had a psychologist once tell me that the accuracy of the memory, or even if something happened or not isn’t as relevant as how we’re left to feel relating to it within the context of our daily lives now. After all, if we’re the total sum of our experiences leading to this moment in our lives, what if our history is partly flawed? All that said, I am who I am now, and the events in my story are the things that I do hold to be truths and ultimately have great influences on the truths in my own life today. My orientation to the world around me is experience based and usually after some reflection, lest something is painfully obvious and doesn’t need further exploration.
I was born in the summer of 1977 into a family of 5 in a small town and farming community with a population of roughly 15,000 at the time. I have three older siblings, all boys, 7, 8 and 10 years older than me, respectively. My parents were still married and my brothers were home-schooled. We lived far enough out in the countryside that we were somewhat isolated from other children, so our life experiences mostly derived from our own home life and that of the church that my parents belonged to. I too, would be home-schooled up until the 2nd grade and completely isolated from other children my age.
What I remember from those very early years are a bit blurry, but I do remember my father being a very violent alcoholic any my mother having a rather explosive temper. I know that one of my brothers, the middle of the older brothers, often put himself between my father and I when he’d go into one of his rages. That particular brother took some rather severe beatings on my behalf. I remember witnessing a lot of beatings of all three of my brothers, but don’t recall many times where I was beaten, and our mother never had a hand laid upon her. My parents would argue from time to time, but I don’t recall what about.
My father worked in the auto industry, almost immediately after high school he started in a skills trades apprenticeship and worked his way up through the ranks earning every bit of his advancements. My mother was a stay at home mother, but sometime in my early childhood she went to beauty school and obtained her certification as a beautician. My brothers worked at a somewhat local farm and earned their own pocket money that way. They had farm driver’s permits, which allowed them to drive to and from work, but they would often go into town and do whatever they did with other teenagers. I know that two of the three had many girlfriends and they all ran with a rather unruly lot who often found themselves in trouble with the local police for fighting, underage drinking and the like.
Our property was 20 acres of land, mostly wooded and arranged 2 acres wide by 10 acres deep, about 18 of which was wooded. We had some farm animals, usually at least one dog and several barn cats. We chopped our own firewood for heating the house and campfires, grew our own vegetables and canned the excess. My brothers all played instruments, mostly bluegrass with guitars and banjos. We also had a number of ATV’s – motorcycles, three-wheelers and a four-wheeler.
My brothers and I had all learned to shoot guns around the age of 5. My father had many guns and a rather large stockpile of ammunition to go with them. The church that he belonged to was near Joplin, Missouri, even though we lived in southeast Michigan. My father and the church were rather convinced that the government was against the people and they had some rather severe opinions of people of different races. We’d go to the church for 1-2 weeks at a time, but for the most part, I don’t remember much about the visits there. I remember being baptized there, which at the time I was utterly terrified of, a lot of sermons where the pastor would yell, scream and lead rather intense prayer sessions. My father had bought a second home not too far from the church, but there was a gas leak in the house that started a fire when my mother had lit the stove to prepare for dinner. The flames sucked into the wall and my mother, brothers and I made for the door. I don’t remember where my father was. Either way, the house burned down quickly and we were back in Michigan within a few days.
With the second house having burned down, my father didn’t have the money he once had to donate to the church. In turn, they didn’t offer any help with the loss of the second home and the money that had been sunk into it. I don’t know if it was my father who left the church, or if with the lack of finances that they exiled him, but there were no further trips to Missouri, nor was there mention of the church. We’d later get affiliated with a local Baptist church which was very “fire and brimstone” in nature, but I don’t recall us going there for very long. I think it was at that point that my father lost his taste for religion. My brothers started going to public schools and all had problems there, be it academic, fighting, having issues with teachers or truancy, there always seemed to be something.