My mother and I moved into an apartment in a nearby town with a man whom pumped our gas for years. In hindsight, they had always seemed friendly, but really, it was flirtation. I don’t remember if he was around much, but I wasn’t allowed to see my father, nor tell him where we were. I missed my father, my grandfather, brothers and my grandmother. My grandfather dying and the layoff all happened within a couple of week span with my father’s birthday falling in the middle of it. Since his birthday is in early August, Two of my brothers never returned home after the day of the split, the third, the youngest of my older brothers, tried to stay for a few months. He had sided with my father in the whole mix. I’d be told in my early 30’s of the things that happened at that house during that time. My brother left there, never to return a few months after the split. None of my brothers would graduate high school, the older two joined the navy.
I remember the apartment didn’t have much of an outside area to play. This was pretty distressing for me – being outside – the woods, specifically, was my safe haven.
Months passed and my parents officially had filed for divorce, or my mother had, I should say. I’d eventually get to see my father every other weekend, but there were many times when he’d just not show up. I’d be ready to go, waiting on the porch with some clothes or toys until well after dark, waiting. It’s possible that he may have called and my mother didn’t tell me, just to pit me against him, or maybe he didn’t call. All I do remember is being a pawn in what would end up being a 5 year battle in the courts. I learned to play the game well, though. On weekends when I would see my father, I’d basically lay a guilt trip on him to get me toys or games. My mother’s boyfriend had bought me a Nintendo, so I’d get my father to buy a game and I’d spend as much time playing that as I could versus spending actual time with him. That was generally ok as he had whatever woman he was dating at the time. Yeah.. I was quiet and shy, but manipulative at the same time. I had good role models for that.
My memory has significant gaps at this point. Not hazy – just completely gone. The next few memories I have are at roughly 8, and those aren’t pleasant to say the least. Given the flashbacks that I get from that time, I’m nearly certain that there was sexual abuse going on, but the flashbacks cut off right before whatever happened, happened. I don’t think there was any other type of abuse then. I never really connected with the guy my mother had been dating, and I frankly don’t even know what led to them splitting. The abuse wouldn’t/didn’t involve him, though. It would have been my mother. The flashes of memory I have from that time make my skin crawl.
The divorce would be finalized sometime shortly before I turned 9. My mother was awarded the house and the property and we promptly moved in. I was in the actual school system by this time and had failed 4th grade. Apparently, I wasn’t mature enough to continue. My academic performance in grade and high school was always poor. If anything, I’d be given mercy D-‘s that allowed me to pass a class rather than continually having to repeat them. I had other things to focus on; school not being at the top of that list.
One night my mother came home and told me that she had met someone really nice at a singles dance and that they were going to get married. Apparently, this entire courtship was all of a month was sufficient to bet on, and they married at our house. The house, by the way, was completely paid off at this point. Child support had been set at $120/week. This was in the early 80’s, mind you. The checks came in on Fridays, and as far back as I can remember, Friday night was shopping night. She’d go through each child support check purchasing mostly clothes for her, or stuff to remodel rooms in the house, or whatever. I’d get drug along for these expeditions to the mall, but hated it. I wouldn’t come to appreciate that the child support went to an adult child whom had no business in having children of her own, but more that I was bored shitless.
On the day of the wedding, the second day that I had ever met the man whom would be my stepfather for the entirety of the rest of my time living at home, he leaned in and whispered into my ear “We’re going to get some discipline into you, boy.” He was a terrifying figure.. 6’1″, a lean 195lb and a harsh demeanor.
I was what psychologists would call a pleaser. I was also the peacekeeper type.. Ever the scapegoat. Whatever had happened to my stepfather in his life that made him miserable and angry was taken out on me. He was as bad as my father prior to the divorce, minus the alcohol. The blind rages, the relentless verbal and emotional abuse and sadistic, and frequent shaming punishments wore on me after only a few weeks. I was a good kid. I really was.. Quiet, soft-spoken, well-behaved, never threw temper tantrums or anything. I’d beg my mother for help with him, but she’d just defend him. She’d downplay how bad it was, or even state that he had a point on some things. Sure, I wasn’t perfect, but I sure as hell didn’t deserve the treatment I received from this man on a daily basis. I was also kind of an outcast at school. A nerdy/artsy type that didn’t fit in, mixed with a very unique name, I was picked on relentlessly there from early on up until around the middle of 9th grade. I’ll get into school in a later post, though.
I think this is enough for today.