This one is difficult.
Living with our parents’ alcoholism and drug use was a real drag (definitely pulling my punches). The end result was a whole lot of abuse and neglect. I read somewhere that children of abuse grow up with a hypersensitive awareness of justice. I know this is true for me. It was the unfairness of the situation that was always the most difficult to accept and is probably why my life has always been governed by deep sense of social, political and personal justice. It’s why I am a punk.
With neglect, it’s an injustice that a young kid would have to negotiate life issues beyond their time. That my mother would not come home for days at a time or that we rarely had food beyond a quick run to the 7-11 was common. Neglect is a mixed bag, however. I welcomed the fact that no one was messing with me and basked in the moment when my power was my own, but it came at the cost of growing up quickly and learning to do the things most kids don’t have to worry about; acquiring food, getting to school, keeping clean clothes and making sure all siblings were cared for. Neglect makes life a bitch because, although we learned to tend for ourselves, so much was still out of our own control. For example, the money still came from an adult, and if the money ain’t there, the food ain’t there. I watch The Wire and think, shit those kids have it worse than we did, but rarely have I said that otherwise.
With the physical abuse, it’s injustice of one being overpowered, but physical abuse you get used to, it reminds that you’re alive and teaches you to be angry. There’s no dismissing a hard smack to the face or a bent metal hanger across your legs. Hot blood rushing to the surface of the skin, tingles and burns, and ignites an awareness of the injustice of an adult physically overpowering a kid. My brothers and I have had many conversations trying to understand why the hell we were getting hit. What exactly prompted dad to remove his belt or mom to reach for the Hot Wheels racecar track. The fucking racecar track, it would leave welts like a 1st degree burn. Nothing has come close to explaining it. Hitting me never accomplished what the abuser intended, to change my “ill” behavior, but rather created a focus to overcome and even the score. Each time I’d ask myself, “Can I take her, is today the day?”
The day I finally took my mom out was priceless, a day that she had had coming for a long time. It’s not that I felt good about the event, I actually felt quite bad about grabbing my mom by the back of her hair and pummeling her, but the surge of poetic justice mixed with the adrenaline in my veins was undeniable. I didn’t want to have to do it again, but at least she knew that I could.
It was the start of my eighth grade year and we were living in drug and crime infested apartment complex in a shitty suburb of Portland, Rockwood. Today my social worker friend calls it “Meth City.” Mom’s boyfriend, a large Native American, who always reminded me of Chief from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was living with us as well. He was another drunken scumbag that mom had brought into our lives who liked to grab my ass as I walked by or hit my mother when she got out of line. On this particular day, I had had enough of his shit and Mom and I gotten into a huge fight as to why she stayed with this creep. Mom, of course, took Clayton’s side and the scene escalated to her slapping me in the face and calling me a “little bitch.” The unfairness of the situation was too much for me to handle. Here I was trying to shake some sense into her, to get her to join us in reality and she had the gall to try and put me in my place to keep her fucked up fantasy world in tact. A child was in charge of my destiny.
I grabbed my mom by both wrists, shook them in front of her face and yelled, “YOU WILL NOT HIT ME AGAIN,” and pushed her backward so that she fell on my bed. The look of surprise could not mask her indignation and she, behaving in her typical manner, searched for a weapon to assist in the beating that I had coming. There was a faux old fashion phone sitting at the side of my bed on a box. It was the type with a chocolate chip shaped based that held a J shaped arm on a raised metal holster. Mom lunged for the phone, swung its clunky arm at my head and the hard plastic nicked my skull. As I dabbed the small trickle of blood from my hairline I decided, this would be the last time my mother would ever hit me. I had bought into, “Honor Your Mother and Father” long enough and today God would have to hold His tongue. It was a huge barrier to actually raise my hand against my mother, I don’t know why, she had certainly fueled my anger long enough, but I knew it was a line that I would cross. The ethics of her beating your own kids had never entered my mother’s mind and I’m certain it was due to her own upbringing and her alcoholism. It was a lesson she should’ve learned years earlier, but I had never been big enough to do anything about it. On this day she was 5’1” and I was a fucking giant.
I grabbed her by the back of her hair and slammed her to the ground. I remember jumping on top of her and wailing away like Jerry had done to me many times and I in turn had done to Jason. Mom tried to block my blows but I wasn’t having it, each time placing a fist past her wimpy makeshift barriers and landing it hard on her face. It felt good taking my power back but I also felt like I wanted to vomit. How could someone do this to someone they loved, I thought, as her jaw crunched beneath my fist.
The onslaught ended with us both crying and mom screaming, “Get out!” It was a pivotal moment in our relationship. Her lip was bleeding as she stumbled to her feet and pointed to the door. Once mom realized that she couldn’t overpower me any longer and that I would actually fight back, she decided I was too much to handle and dropped me from her life. I left the apartment, sliding past mom and the fucking abuser she once again chose over me. It was the last time I lived with my mother. I had nowhere to go and where I landed is a different story.
My comment got deleted. In short, I know that adrenaline, and I was also kicked out – a few times. The difference is my dad always asked me back in after time.
Terrible. Looking forward to the next story.
My heart hurts that you’ve felt this too. Thanks for the encouragement Leah!
Reblogged this on Raised By Wolves (I Wish) and commented:
This story is in line with the timeframe of my latest posts. This is what unfolded after I returned from my failed visit to my grandparents in Deer Lodge.
Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to your posts partly bcos I can relate to them & feel a sort of kinship to your up bringing or lack of up bringing. So many of your stories resonate with me. I understand the neglect all too well. Recently when my Mom was saying how independent I was as a child & that I never wanted to be a child. I corrected her by saying I didn’t have a choice. I had to be that way to maintain some kind of consistency & stability in my life. That no 4 year old wants to wake up by themselves, feed themselves, dress themselves then take themselves to school (which I started early bcos it was more convenient for my Mom than waiting until I was 5) & come home to an empty house & wait. I could see that hurt her & that she didn’t want to believe it. Which is very common in my relationship with my Mom. She believes & holds on to her version of events & I hold on to mine. If I challenge her version, I am trying to hurt her rather than my truth of being angry & hurting that she doesn’t acknowledge what was my reality. It has always been perplexing to me that two people could experience the same time & event & see it so differently. As I have grown older I have stopped trying to be the one that was right bcos regardless my Mom was not going to be able to understand what my life was like at as a child. I know what my truth is & that’s what matters to me.
I fortunately don’t have an understanding of the physical abuse. I understand emotional abuse & considered my Mom to have been a rage alcoholic for many years until she sought counseling. My Mom’s rage was always verbal & every once in a while she throw or break something & on rare occasions she’d slap me just show how angry she really was. Her rage was very complex in that not only was her anger completely out of control but she viewed herself as a martyr. She was the victim that’s why she had to get so angry. Luckily my Mom has learned a lot about herself & has made huge steps in managing her anger which stems from growing up with parents that were alcoholics & who would be considered abusive by today’s standards. As well as having had drug dependency issues at one point in her life.
When I look at my child’s life today at 4 versus my life at 4, I am happy I am not repeating the cycle & have learned what not to do.
Many Thanks, Geo
Oh Geo! You’re a lovely inspiration! You are a wonderful mom w/ a beautiful family! Many thanks to you, my dear!
Those match box racetracks were and are the worst my wife and I both had abusive up bringings .and those were terrible . I’m real proud of your brother by the way as of late he seems to have beat his demons (maybe he used one of those hot wheels tracks ). I couldn’t be happier for him . I look forward to this blog everytime I get the email tn at there is new material .its also helped me and my wife talk about some of the abuse we both were on the recieving end of . Thank you , this gives people hope. And so many of us have kids now and have broken the cycle of abuse and its a wonderful thing
Thanks Daniel! I agree- moving fwd and keeping this in the rearview mirror feels good. Many congrats to you for creating a better space for you and your kids!
I’m glad you made it too . I look forward to your blog every week I hope writing this helps . There a generation afrad of match box race tracks