The Thing About Me
As I grew older, I could see how hard my mom had to work. She worked graveyard shifts at a local hospital. Often this meant that she'd pick me up off the floor of my babysitter's house at odd hours of the morning. She worked hard to keep a roof over our heads. It truly was us against the world. She struggled mightily to provide for us. There was no help that came from my father, neither emotionally nor financially or otherwise. But that's okay. We didn't need those things…
But… We did.
I remember my mom often crying when there were men around. I remember her boyfriend Danny. At first, he was a nice enough guy. I was still young and I had it in my mind at that age not to trust anyone who was nice… You see, I had learned that even nice people will hurt you without reason… Just because. I learned this in kindergarten. We had teachers that hit their students… Literally, truly, hit their students; slaps, swats with switches. Just a mean bunch of bitches at that place; the school was shut down by the state for that very reason… Nearly ten years later. My point, though, is that the people you trust are shitty. To survive you don't trust so much. This is who I was as a small child, already.
So when mom brought home this Danny character, he was nice; he was funny. He made my mom laugh. But I remember waiting for him to do something shitty. The first instance was that he tickled my mom until she cried; he held her down and tickled her until she just couldn't take it anymore. He was unrelenting; he did that with me as well. Who the fuck does that? Then, often when my mom worked, he was there watching me. Commanding me to come downstairs and watch TV. “Don't move,” he'd often grumble. He would also hit me, punches, slaps, shoves… I remember being spanked by him and wondering if he was wearing some special glove that made it hurt so much more… After one punishment where he spanked me he said: “You want another one, boy? I'll fucking give you more.” He said this to me. I was crying… Shivering. I said: “Go ahead. Do it.” He shoved me to the floor and gave me what for. Just spanks. It literally hurt to sit. By this time I was attending Bush School, in Salem. That would have put me in 1st grade.
Eventually I told my mom and she broke up with him. But not before he'd hurt her more, too. We'd both grown scared of him.
I don't remember too many other men that my mom dated… But they all made her cry at some point. I recall telling her “When you hurt, I hurt, too.” I was sappy shit head of a kid… I guess I still am. =) But it was true.
All the while, as a kid, I never gave one thought to having a family. I wanted to be an artist. “What about a wife and kids?” Meh. I could have taken them or left them.
My mom also had her own issues with depression, among other things. I won't get into all that, but it made her a scary person more times than not. I truly feared her as I got older. If not for the friends on my street, my grandparents and cousin, I'd be a much worse off person today than the jackass writing this post you're reading. But I bring this up because of the fear. I feared my parent. The one person you should never have to fear, or worry about… And I lived with her. This was my primary point of reference for parenting. I mention my grandparents as being a point of sanity; but I've learned that they were less than stellar parents, too. It's a vicious fucking cycle, y'all. But this was my world; my reference and my truth. This was my reference for what parenting was.
I hadn't thought much of my father, though. I wasn't mad; I wasn't anything. At least that's what I thought. How I could I miss out on something I didn't know about? I learned, later, that he was a drug dealer; an abusive husband, alcoholic, deadbeat dad and more… All of these things I could do without. But this is where I come from. These are the footsteps left ahead of me. I had choices to make and it was pretty easy to decide to take a far different path than the one forged before me. Time went on and I forgot about these things. I hadn't had a father and I didn't need a father…
But… I did.
Now I'm dating myself. The year was 1994, when I graduated high school. I worked as a prep cook at Red Robin. Many of my friends worked so they could have the money for themselves… I worked because I had to. My mom made $4.75 an hour at a photography shop in town. I made $5.75… We both needed to work to have things like electricity and food, but not much else. We often didn't have heat. This is where I came from. So it goes.
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