Cycle of Abuse: Isn’t It Ironic?

Irony is such a strange word.  I never fully understood it.  Until, I found myself uncovering the trash bin of history that covers my blood.  And, until, I found myself needing to look long and hard at my own ‘hate crimes.’

The irony of my parent’s sharing the same psychiatrist…Dr. Koutras, the hand who filled the bottles.  Until the, irony of shared psychosis…Forty five minutes with my father (the wife killer.)  Forty five minutes with my mother (depressed ex nun looking for abusive father figure.)

Until, until, until…

Dr. Koutras became a stone pillar within a graveyard.  Not until, the doctor’s death, did I  understand how the sharing of time together…can become a pebble that lay the pavement.  The pavement that cover the path…to their children’s own bouts with depression, anger…addiction.

My mother had told me shortly before she passed away.  Informed me that both she, and my father did not reside well.  Did not perform well, as parents should, after Dr. Koutras passed away.

Gee!  Do you think so?

After all, the good Dr Koutras and Mr. John Hawkins, had lay the ground work for my father’s quick dismissal from murder.  After all, both psychiatrist and psychologist, along with many of those with power, knew Janice and Harold had created a child…under the hospital’s not…watchful eye.

The irony that struck me?sps-5

It had not been my mother’s discourse on loosing a psychiatrist of good faith.  The irony struck me that…many abuses of doctor/patient professional relationship…had occurred.

My father, essentially, lived weekends, at John Hawkin’s home.  Lived not as the killer he had been…less than two years before.  My parents shared the same confidant for over twenty years, Dr. Koutras.  He had allowed them to visit, have sex, get married and give birth.  Give birth…to me.  Give birth to an addict with OCD and generalized anxiety disorder.

The humor?  Years later…had been that I became a counselor.  Receiving a degree and psychology and working as, a mental health worker.  Going even further than that…a master’s degree in social work.

Paradoxically, I had worked with adults, dual diagnosed, at a private psych hospital.  Still, I found the bowel’s of addiction held me close at night.  Still, I had bouts of anger that would only be semi controlled by destructive and risky sexual behavior.  Still, with papered degree in hand…I did not know of my history.  A history that possibly could have helped explain my abhorrent…after work…behavior.

Nothing from my childhood to my thirties seemed cohesive!  Would it have helped to know?  Could I have changed?

I took so many friends, lovers hostage…as they say, in AA.  I ran and hid.  Ran and hid.  Ran and hid.

If I took the time, depression would set in.

Being gay appeared to be yet, another personal flaw to be ashamed of.  Growing up catholic, living among adults who did not hold the tools to console and reflect.  Having siblings much older, I found no comfort there.

I lay no blame on my own homophobia.  Lay it nowhere and it no one’s feet.

However, when dressed in my best gray wool skirt, green polyester blazer and pastel button down shirt.  Reading of family values…one man, one woman, two and a half children.  Beholding a ceramic blood infused man hanging from a cross.  And, being scolded for inquiring about a couple, two women (Maryanne and Dawn), that seemed closer to one another than most…

It, the Bible, the Scriptures, distances placed between myself and two, possible role models…  IT all instilled in me feelings of insecurity, remorse, guilt.  And, the unspoken words of

being gay…was not okay!

…fear…resonated.  stand alone 4

When I did eventually come out.  Come out… and running with ‘freak’ flag, flying.  Closet doors not only splintered but knocked off it’s hinges.

My mother spoke few words…

‘I am ashamed of your choice.  But I’ll get over it.’

Criticism began my adolescence.  My mother and father did not want me to have anything to do with Maryanne and Dawn, the not gay, but gay couple.  I had been told to pray for them.  My sister with baggage of her own, slipped birth control pamphlets under my bedroom door.  I had been dressed in gray wool skirts with pastel button down shirts and green blazers.  I had been dressed in the Good News Bible!

Whether any of us knew it or had the ability to understand!?  Slowly, the encouragement to shun gays…rooted and grew in my subconscious.

In school, I used with frequency the words…

fag, dyke, queer…

With friends, I did not confide my inner turmoil.   My wanting to play with GI Joe and not, Barbie.

I hid deep within me, self abusive and risky sexual behavior with men (starting at the age of 14.)   Hurtful scars for my teenage mind to own.  And, own alone.

A sore that was deeper than a chasm of  my leftover souls.  Souls that held no reality.  Or, at least, in my young mind…a life I could live not live with any certainty.

That is…until, irony brought me to a woman with her own demons.  Another graduate of New Hampshire Hospital.  A woman whom… with her innocence and love, rescued me from all the turmoil that stir inside my defunct and dysfunctional persona.

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Cycle of Abuse: Any Given Christmas

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.

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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.

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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.

And,

by doing so, Harold was not in control.

That Christmas was barren of all the joy and promise…the Bible spoke of.


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Cycle of Abuse: Out of Wedlock

There are a sundry of reasons we ourselves from neglect.  Pretend to face the violence but turn a deaf ear….Reasons and excuses, self proclaimed…about abuse and, therefore, life wasn’t that bad.  That during the most prolific and cognitive years.  Verbal, emotional and physical abuse appeared…but ‘things could have been worse.’

As a victim of child abuse, I often wanted to believe that my mother was loving.  My father responsive and caring.  That in the 70’s and 80’s when I played softball or sang in folk group…my friend’s parents were akin to my own.

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That the love and comfort, other parents, provided in the split ranch homes up on the hill…rang true and similar to our little white house on South Main street.

As previously written my father’s incarceration at New Hampshire Hospital…held little recourse for him.  That he (in many ways) lived, interacted and became one,  with life, society…outside the fences of a psychiatric facility for the criminally insane.  His psychologist, Mr. Hawkins, with little regard for the future, allowed my father to farm the land, sow the row, and make acquaintances…during weekend passes in Warner.  Even though my father had just savagely killed his first wife.

Mr. Hawkins had been my father’s new best friend, and roommate.  As well as, Mr. Hawkin’s family and his farmhouse being his only form of punishment.  That a certain, Mrs. Elizabeth Tynan Bowley’s death; In some ways, seemed unimportant.  Harold, in all his abusive, compulsive, violent ways, had been allowed to walk free.

Had this been the only untruth I had to discover on my own…age, 45?  Had this been a good enough explanation for the beatings with a belt, the smack down with wire brushes and the constant threat of ‘there’s more where that came from…’  Perhaps, I could learn to let go.  To forgive.  To live in the bubble that my sister lives in.

However, Sybil is my half-sister, and her story is not mine.  My story is not simple.  Being the product of two severely challenged state hospital patients.  Being conceived behind the walls of lobotomies, deep down in the tunnels of regret, down in the depths of the water treatment passages.  Passages that many psych patients found and, used for one nightstands.

Being in the constant state of…not being. Harold and Janice, rendevousing with white coated workers politely looking the other way. Had this been the only deception…I could relent.

So, I had been born out-of-wedlock!  Indeed, who really cares?

So, my parents needed a weekend pass from the hospital to wed.  So, Harold and Janice, stole away one Saturday to Vermont…under the watchful eye of Mr. Hawkins, to make my up coming birth seem more or less…innocent.  Innocent and free of sin.

But exemption on my part as an adult…had begun to turn to bitterness.wedlock 3

I could understand my mother’s wanting to pay homage to the catholic church.  After all, not more than four years before, she had been studying to be a nun.  And, though, their wedding was more shotgun and less bible…Janice could at least say, she was married at the moment of my conception.  Which of course…is a complete fabrication!

Understand, forgive, forget….Come on.

Sitting in the dark, current day 2012, fuming over ancestry.com.  Knowing the next day, I would return to the log cabin house in Canterbury.  Return and care for aging parents.  Return to the child I was decades before.  Return and watch the abuse and the despondency.  Knowing more…understanding less…

The long and sordid tale just kept rolling on.

My mother once told me of how frightened my father had been when I had been born.

You see…I had been deathly ill at birth.  Born with many extra parts that were dysfunctional, I had emergency exploratory surgery, one month after being hatched.  One month of ICU.  One month of knocking on, in an infantile manner, heaven’s door.  Many of my intestines were rebuked.  Had been rescinded.  Should have been returned to…sender.  Bile clogged my veins and my blood.

Doctors in and out of desperation, and, quite ahead of their time, could make only one provocative decision.   I received a nephrectomy!  Born with 3 kidneys, 1 3/4 were silently…killing me.  The little bile buggers were removed!

The scars, physically, remain with me to this day.  From the sternum to the pubic area.  But the story of an emotional Harold.  Lingering over me.  Not wanting me to die in his arms?  All lies!  He, in matter of fact, had not been released from New Hampshire Hospital.  He, indeed, had been weaving in and out of psychosis.  While I lay not three blocks away…dying!

Why lie?  Why tell me that my strong parents accompanied my every procedure?

When, in truth…in 1967, my mother was out of the hospital trying to get her other two children out of a orphange.  While my father was fulfilling his narcissism!

Born out-of-wedlock.  Conceived on state hospital grounds.  No parents around during near death experience!

What next?  Nevermind the murderous rampage my father conducted on his first wife.  Excusing the idea that I have a half-sister out there.  Someone unfortunate enough to have my father’s blood.  Excluding my mother’s numerous attempts at suicide.  And, her willingness to offer her children into the hands of a violent man.wedlock 2

What next?  Would my parents try to pull off the greatest trick of all?  Would they rush my father through catholic class?  Have his Baptist upbringing baptized in catholic waters?  Would they really think that by having Harold converted to Catholicism and therefore, baptized, he could change!  Rinsed of sin.  Cleansed of murder!  That being going through the motions in the eyes of ‘their God’…All lies, killings, abuse, would be absolved!

But of course!  For that matter, I am my father’s godmother.  My brother, Bud, is his godfather.  And, all in the eyes of Jesus Christ Superstar…is forgiven!

Cycle of Abuse: Extreme Psychosis

In the early, raw days of March, I had been conceived…within a stone soaked, with no remorse, tunnel.  Both parents were state hospital patients.  My father on the criminally insane ward.  My mother…severely depressed in the Brown building.

Deep within the bowels of the catacombs Janice and Harold sucombed to passion in a girth under the earth, idyllically termed, Lover’s Lane.

Had this been this first and only deceit handed down to me?  Had this been the only piece of fiction…I discovered via my own research?  If push came to shove…as it always did during my childhood; Could or would I have forgiven the shame?

I would like to believe I was stable enough in my mid forties, to allot for the transgression.brown building 3

But divides and lies run far and wide.  From the moment I descended to the earth in my belligerent glory, nothing would be normal.

My brother and sister, had had their own demons to share.  A demon and horned devil that came in the shape of my mother’s first husband.

Where had the New Hampshire State Hospital staff been?  Why wasn’t my father, a criminal and murderer, been more closely monitored?

I can say that is typical of state run facilities.  As is the truth about warehousing those with severe mental illness, things get out of hand.  And, people with minimum wage incomes…just don’t care.

On January 4th, 1963, this court being of the opinion that it will be dangerous that the said, Harold Bowley, should go at large.  Ordered that he be committed to the New Hampshire Hospital and there he shall remain until he is discharged by due course of law.

Due course of law?…

On October, 25th, 1965, the said Acting Superintendent requests the court’s permission for the said, Harold Bowley, make off ground visits to include one overnight visit on weekends.

From there on out, after two short years, my father was allowed to stay, overnight, in the house of his psychologist; Mr. John Hawkins.

How did a man, who continues to this day to be a threat to himself and others, get away with murder?  Court evidence revealed a man that observation and study suggests…

‘suffering from a psychotic depression and a danger to the population.  A disease so profound it affects his mind and judgment…’

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HE fuckin’ stabbed his wife 35 times!

Indeed he had conned his way into the psychologist’s home life.  It was in Warner, New Hampshire, where my father would spend his weekends before his release in late 1967.

Mr. Hawkins not only allowed my father into his home.  He led him by the hand.  Introducing him to his wife…and, eventually, his two children, Naomi and Channing.  This is in my educated opinion the utmost defining characteristic of a narcissist.

Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that the narcissist is someone who has “buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

And, my mother, who held very little esteem.  Held no opinion of self, other than relation to abusive men…My mother fell into the callous and killing hands of my father.  This all took place under the not watchful eye of case workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, district attorneys, judges, etc., etc.

I personally hold Mr. Hawkins, responsible..  And, currently, forty plus years later, refuse to call him a doctor.

Not only did my father enjoy the pleasant views, farm life, non restrictions of living in the wild of Warner…He introduced his whole family to Mr. Hawkins.

I had been taken back.  When first reading Mr. Hawkins name in the court papers.  How he spoke with high recommendation on my father’s behalf.  The name seemed familiar.  How had I known it?

Then a connection…Our families were joined.  Joined at the psychotic hip.

As a child, I could not quite connect, why my parents had been befriended by the Hawkins.  Who were they?  Where did they come from?

The Hawkins family appeared to me, earthy, educated, not mean or aggressive.  Quite different than relatives and others, my family had known.

For that matter, the Hawkin’s and Bowley’s spent many holidays together.  We spent weekends working in John’s small family farm.  Learning of nature.  Speaking on things of importance, politics, religion, life, deep stuff.

Again, I still ask, how does this shit happen?

Mr. Hawkins was later needed to assist my sister, Sybil, in her own ‘breakdown.’

Breech of contract!  Conflict of interest!

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I have long since stopped crying, shaking my head, beating myself up…Over the injustice served to my siblings and I, via the New Hampshire State Hospital.

Course, none of the above could be considered a ‘lie’ per-say.  For in my mother’s chaotic, catholic and dim eyes…Avoiding the truth is not the same as…lying.

Where had my grandparents been?  Wasn’t it strange my mother…was released from the hospital…pregnant?

And, of course, years later, when I asked Janice, my mother, about Harold’s murderous rage…

‘I knew he had killed her.  I didn’t ask him questions.  He seemed upset every time I brought it up…’

 

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I love Lucy…and, AA meetings!

One of the most important amends I had to make…while stumbling my way around early sobriety, had been very personal.

So personal, I continue to not forgive or forget what destructive path…I sent myself down.  Apologizing to others had been difficult.  Yet, forgiving myself for the shit I pulled…years into sobriety, comes with difficulty.

The very first meeting I attended after a month and a half in detox/rehab, had been at Howard Rec., Concord, New Hampshire.

Now, Howard Rec is located right smack dab in the middle of our lovely state’s…state run mental health facility.  New Hampshire Hospital holds many memories for me.  Most of which I cannot comment on until a later date.

However, it could be said that…Howard Rec scared the shit out of me…from childhood to adulthood.  The stories of sociopaths running around with chains…unknowns with gray Johnnies, limping and drooling…chasing down small children such as myself.

These were some of the horror stories I had been told to dismay me from cutting across the State Hospital lawn…to get to school.

Be Still, Canterbury
Be Still, Canterbury

Course, as an early teen in the late 70’s and early 80’s and a budding addict, I went headstrong across the lawn every chance I could.

Current day, Howard Rec., 1995, wet behind the ears with too much coffee and not enough drink…I, deer stuck in headlight’ grappled for the rec., room door.

What I came upon was a scene from a National Lampoon movie.  A not updated gymnasium lay before me.  Warped basketball floors, tilted back nets with strings fraying.  And, a garden variety of alcoholics…in many stages of sobriety.  All dress in black.

My first thought?

‘Is this the Johnny Cash wake?’

Truth be told.  After the confusion and my wanting to tie one on…at the Frosty Mug.  I discovered the meeting had been for a woman who, along with mental impairments, been sober for 25 years.

Her husband, who she had met while being a patient at the state hospital, quickly noticed the look of a newbee…in the halls.

Brushing well wishers aside, he made a bee line for your’s truly.

I had almost made it to the girl’s bathroom, toilets a half a foot off the ground.  But alas, no!

Henry grabbed my shoulder with the strength of several men…though he appeared to be older than dirt.

“Where you going girl?  Norma, would be pissed if she chased away an addict!”

I didn’t really have a response.  I just listened.  And, listened.

Henry told me of his struggles.  Norma problems with major depression.  And, their marriage of sobriety.  What influenced me most?lucille-ball-quote

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. Your really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.  That’s Lucy!  Norma loved watching, I love LUCY!  She believed that laughter…along with Thorazine and AA meetings…were really the best medicine!”

All at once, a vision…

Some woman shuffling along, smile on her face, Big Book in hand…and television set to TV land’s, I Love LUCY!

I broke out into tears, laughter and almost…puked.

Amen, Henry!

Henry, not long after that meeting, went on to see his wife, Norma.  Every couple of months…I take an afternoon and binge watch, LUCY.

Usually, I am renewed shortly there after.