I have read many, many, despondent writers, poets, etc. Persons who, now in adulthood, have come through some depressing, harrowing, childhood situations. On occasion, I have run across documentaries, news item, etc. About pre-teen, teen, and young adult suicide. All due to having lived at the violent hands and words of parents that outwardly appeared ‘normal.’ That inwardly, were the devil’s hand puppets.
Back in or around the early 80’s: Our house had burned down. Down to the ground. Standing stoic were the scant charred…2 by 4’s, abandoned ashen table ware and counters. For all intensive purposes, my fifteen year old eyes witnessed nothing but a shell.
As I have said before, some memories blare at me such like the horn of an irritated driver. Loud, clear, vibrant. Other memories, due to my need to persevere, are faded and clouded. Such like a watercolor painting you once adored but can, now, barely remember.
My siblings had long since been kicked out of the house. It seemed to be a rite of passage.
‘You’re eighteen. You did something to piss me off. You are now no longer allowed on the land of misfits.”
Generally speaking, both, Bud and Sybil, were conversatinally gone…Way before being physically excommunicated. My sister enjoyed the company of questionable boyfriends. A habit I firmly believe was thrown upon her by my father’s physical abuse. And, my mother’s lack of emotional attachment.
My brother had his friends. He partied. He defied. He had tired of protecting his mother. And, at one point or another, during a physical altercation with my father. There had been threats of guns and severe violence. Best guess would be that was the point of no return.
After our house became a photo source for neighbors. After the smoke cleared, clothes of creosote were tossed and generations of knick knacks were tossed into the trash. After the chaos of destruction became nothing more than local gossip…I was assigned the task of cleaning pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters.
In other words, our small but precious gallon jug of empty Riunite…that had been filled to the max with change; had succumbed to being spare change among broken glass. And, it had been my assigned duty to clean each and every piece of current currency…metal.
“Scrub it clean! Here’s the toothbrush! Now get at it.”
Had been the order barked out by both my father and my mother.
Sitting there between the lilac bushes and partially singed grass, a stool, a toothbrush and pounds of spare change… lay an endless fall.
With September sun beaming down. I can still recall how sweat would douse the corners of my mouth and then, splash upon the tainted dime or penny.
My depression ran deep. And, I had been fully aware of it. Not knowing at the time about my father’s thirst for killing or psychosis. Not being fully aware of the how and why of my mother’s terminal sadness. Not being aware of much. I knew that life in the Bowley household was not like the pretty white houses with laughter…that dotted the rest of the street.
My brother had since joined the Air Force. And, my sister had married. Still there had not been much connection between us. It seems to me, that had been a scenario my parent had derived. Either consciously or not.
Indeed, I had been my father’s favorite. Which meant sports, sports and more sports. Which meant teaching CCD, being active in youth group and singing in the church folk group. Which meant I received far more than my share of…
“You can do better than that! Are you stupid? I don’t give a flying fuck what other parents do!”
Either way, I was a lost budding young adult woman. In a lost land. With a bit of house insurance money left over. My mother begged my father to take her to visit her favorite child, Bud! Bud, my half-brother, had begun the pursuit of his second marriage in two years. He had, also been affluent in the use of cocaine. He had joined the Air-force!
Bud had been stationed in Florida. And, my parents believed they deserved a break. A break from the hustle and bustle of rebuilding life after a house fire.
Therefore, it was only reasonable that I should remain behind. Only reasonable to think my best friend, Michael and, most importantly, his mother, would take me in.
This is where Black Beauties, booze, bad behavior and LSD come into play. I had indulged at a very young age in Yukon Jack. But my current course of plaid catholic school skirts, smoke and dope and sex…was in over drive.
Mimi, Michael’s mother, had seen this. She had known what was about to come. My intention had been death by over indulgence. Dropping blotter, smoking weed, playing both sides of addiction against each other.
Mimi in her own hippie way, felt the only need for a deep, profound, change in my behavior…Would be therapy!
It had worked. I met a wonderful woman named, Eileen. We met once a week on the second floor above S n W sports. Her office was filled with Buddha, warm thoughts and reflective flowing waters from an over sized fish tank.
My renewal was instant. The remorse, guilt and shame that was felt became something talked about in open conversation. I had not started the house fire. But my intention on that fateful weekend…was to stay home.
Could I have stopped it?
A kind woman in pastel flowing skirt…told me…
My relief and new-found comfort within my own skin…Quickly dissipated. For as soon as my parents returned. And, even with Mimi’s glowing recommendation. It was apparent that I would not longer be allowed to see Eileen.
My father ranted and raved over and over again…
“No daughter of mine is going to see a shrink…”
And, my mother…
“You heard your father!”
Funny, I was conceived in the tunnels underneath the New Hampshire State Hospital. Or, that my father was once deemed insane. And, my mother a manic-depressive with suicidal tendencies. Yet, snipping possible self harm in the buttocks, while I was still young. Seemed out of the question.
Looking back on my vivid with gray strands of depression, as a child and teen. I think how fortunate I am to have survived. To be able to function.
Course, there is much more to my parent’s love story. Much more to the dysfunction. Starting a few years before my birth and flourishing years after…My disowning the ‘family.’