Way back when in my ‘it’s all about me’ phase. I would never, ever have given a thought to those who suffered familiar abuse. For that matter, as a pungent New Hampshir-ite, I scoffed at those who wrote of their neglectful childhood. Those who wrote journals. Kept notes. Reflected upon the devious behavior of those deemed ‘adult’ enough to provide protection.
I would in honesty have to say, there had been fear posted along side my cynicism of others and their plight.
Fear in knowing. Fear in delving too deep into the woods of my own destructive childhood. As stated before, No One Dare…inquire with any persistence about my mother or father’s backgrounds.
I realize now. The repression of truth from both parents…had only been another means of abusive control. With all the violence swirling around. My brother, my sister or I would on rare occasion ask about our histories. Usually it was met with…
Why does it matter?
Go ask your father!
It’s none of your business.
Still the doors on South Main street remained forever locked. The shades pulled down tight. We (as the children) were not allowed to have friends over without a parent around. There had been little interaction above and beyond parental duty…when it came to school or social contact.
If the dishwasher had been filled without properly placing dishes inside…A threat of beatings would be aroused. If my brother (Bud) dare bicker with my father (his stepfather) about privileges…He was met with the slamming of his body against a wall. If my sister needed consoling over being bullied in school? She was met with a night alone in her room without supper.
Our house was indeed loud. Loud with screams and cries. And, come the next morning, the children would go about their outside business…as though, nothing happened.
After life became life in the Bowley family. When both parents were released from the State Hospital. We became a dysfunctional family. A dysfunctional family…before the word became popular.
There had been times where I would find myself tossed down the basement stairs for allowing one of our dogs to ‘piss’ on a wood pile.
‘Don’t you know that shit stinks up the whole house when you burn it? Are you as stupid as…you look?’
And, if any of the children turned to our mother for back up? None would be found. Janice had been as abusive in her lack of protection and neglectful love…As, Harold, in his verbal and physical assaults.
I suppose my brother get sick and tired of defending her.
My sister turned her neglect into broken bouts of love.
I had turned to addiction and detachment.
For my part, essentially the only child left behind at the age of eleven, I continued on. Continued to question why my father would come home and assault my mother with a cowardly hit to the back of the head. Why he would continue to call her a ‘fat, lazy’ woman…because the chicken had not been cooked perfectly.
It had been a chilly Christmas Eve. Begrudgingly, my parents left me alone. Left me alone with a box of micro-wav-ableSwedish Meatballs and bad 80’s television. They had left in the midst of a subzero, snow squall, night…to attend a Blue Cross/Blue Shield employee Christmas party. Somehow, in her timid ways, my mother had found herself a manager. Found herself the ‘family’ bread winner. Found herself suffering in silence…because she made more money than my father.
I remember hearing the door to the Dodge Colt slamming…slamming loudly. Enough so that it echoed through the swirling winds and the sounds of neighborhood dogs responding to the weather. It had been in or around ten at night.
The next day would be Christmas. A day of joy, ten o’clock service at St. John’s Roman Catholic church…and, a day filled with my parents arguing. Arguing all the way down to Waltham. Arguing about the doorstop fruitcake my grandmother would hand over. Arguing about the way my grandfather spoke down…to my father.
We have always had animals. Ever since I can remember, at least one dog, at least one cat. I do not recall my father being overtly abusive to any animal. However, he treated them, as he did the rest of the family, heavy swats to the head, coercive reprimands, loud threats. No animal from my childhood liked my father. They, like the rest of us, both hated and feared him.
With our dogs barking at his slamming of the basement door. A vocal,
‘Get the fuck away! Fuckin’ stupid dogs!’
Then a whimper or scurry from the dogs, quickly, up the stairs. They always ran and hid when Harold came home…in a mood.
But where was my mother? He would not have left her. Harold dare not leave his wife alone…among friends. She might say something like…’I’m not happy!’
After what seemed like hours. My father managed to shut himself in their bedroom. Once the parent’s door was shut…it was rarely opened. And, none of us, dare wander into the ‘parent’s bedroom’ alone. Doing so would require him to trust us.
My mother? Well, after slipping my shoes on (we were not allowed to wear footwear in the house) I found her passed out in vomit. Actually, covered in her vomit, passed out next to the car and snow embankment.
She had actually had a fun night!
She had actually let her hair down and got drunk.
by doing so, Harold was not in control.
That Christmas was barren of all the joy and promise…the Bible spoke of.