Brown Building

Brown building, will you keep me?

Cage my animosity, as only a mad host would.

Not a one can feel my anger like I do.

And, my venom is all on you.

I have become the biting rain…in an arid room.

Brown building with fenced in stair and bolted doors…

one day you will release me.

Dragging my baggage behind, I demand to be free.

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…’

 

brown building

Cycle of Abuse: 15 in 1982

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.  imageedit_8_8297636672

“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!”imageedit_4_3845432106

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?imageedit_11_5911877311

A kind woman in pastel flowing skirt…told me…

“No!”

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.’imageedit_14_9427699938

 

 

Cycle of Abuse: Lover’s Lane

Several months after my grandmother’s death.  After the discovery of my father’s misdeeds.  My mother who had started becoming more and more incapacitated with delicate bones, infirm lungs, depression, anxiety, domestic abuse…etc, etc.

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I had set into a routine of going every other day to the, little, almost log cabin, in Canterbury.  Cleaning, walking dogs, doing laundry, being transcended back to childhood.  Reliving life as a ten year old.  Witnessing my father forbid my mother from leaving the house, driving a car (when she was capable), talking to her friends, going to church, with holding certain required nutrients, scolding her for not letting the dogs out, scolding her for burning dinner, accusing her of making him out to be the bad guy.  The five or six years I took care of my mother, which in turn meant, keeping an eye on the devil in father’s clothing; most neighbors did not realize my mother had two other adult children.  Those children were rarely seen.  They children were rarely heard from.  That situation arose from my father’s need to control my mother.  Though, I would hazard to guess that it would be easy to forget of the difficult parents in a small New Hampshire town.  Far away from life on life’s terms…In my brother and sister’s life.

My grandmother had been buried in the dead of winter.  Just like my grandfather, before, her…dead trees, solid frozen ground, impenetrable landscape.  It seems that is how the Irish come and go.  Hard times in life.  Hard times in death.

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Sometime in mid May, my wife and I had made arrangements for taking my mother to Waltham.  So she could see her mother’s grave.  So bushes could get planted.  So the rosary could be said.  So the heavenly father would understand my mother’s remorse.

This was not to be an easy trip.

Calvary Cemetery, is filled to the brim with Irish immigrants…Past and not so present.  It also resides in the out skirts of Boston.  Finding the name Quinn among hundreds to perhaps, thousands, of other impregnated with the blood from the motherland…is not simple.

It had been Megan, my spouse and my, chore to play detective.  How much had my mother known about the ‘murder?’  Had my father ever divulged, in between the threats and physical abuse…

What he had actually done to his first wife?
Where had he and my mother first met?

How much of his former indulgent and psychopathic life…did she know about?

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Digging the past out of my mother was never easy.  She always remained guarded about her history.  Her transgressions were meant for the confessional and no where else.

But with this secracy, what had been the cost?  Having driven my brother thousands of miles away.  Having forced my sister into her own form of shallow narcissism.  Having driven me into infidelity, lack of nearness, addiction and anger.  How much the cost of guarding the truth?

‘Did you know he killed his wife?’

‘I knew something.  Your father never liked sharing much about his past!  He didn’t have a good childhood you know.  And, look at where I was at!’

Meaning, she had been in the midst of a nervous breakdown when they met.  Meaning my father was brought up during the depression and his family very poor.

Meaning, to me, WTF!  You married this man.  You were at the state hospital.  You were a victim of abuse.  You needed to get your children out of an orphange…

Meaning, you didn’t ask questions?

Even now, several years later, I can recall the day.  Sybil, my sister declined coming with us.  Having said, she couldn’t get time off from work or, if she did it would cut down on her vacation time.  There seemed always to be an excuse.

You guys always do stuff with Mom during the week.’

‘We always go with just your friends!’

‘I don’t want to see that movie.’

Etc.  Etc.

Sitting adjacent to the graveyard.  Side by curb side with the neighboring flower shop.  Watching trash blow back and forth across a well traveled street.  Finding myself at wit’s end.

My wife, Megan, poked me in the thigh.  She gently patted my leg.  Meaning…calm down, you’ll get nowhere if you push.

She, as always, had been correct.

With this slight interogation, I did not get far.  Very little information came out of my mother.  Her exact words will never escape me…

‘After all, look where I was.  I wasn’t well.’

Laughing to herself…The only other sentence had been seemingly a joke…

We met at Lover’s Lane.

Having been a product of the 50’s and 60’s.  I shunned my mother’s attempt at levity.  Oh, how I wish I had known what the truth had been.

Janice, my mother, gave off such fragility, that one did not push.  If an argument was on the horizon.  Somehow, she appeared as though a light wind would blow her over.  She turned inward.  As if, another question or loud word, would disable her completely.  Janice, had always been this way.

No more questions were asked.  My only statement being…

‘My mother and father met at the New Hampshire State Hospital.  Great.  No wonder I’m fucked up!’

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I cannot convey, in words, what it is like to wish to not have been born.  To sit in awe in my own instability and wonder, what if.

What if I had not been born to a psychopath?  Someone hospitalized due to insanity.  A person who conceived of the act and followed through, with the murder of his wife.

Or, a woman, so distraught.  So saddened by herself that suicide seemed the only option.  I have tried on numerous occasions to explain to others…The saddness provoked by their joining together.  By the severe disappointment in choices they made.  By the decisions I could have made differently…Had I known that from the get go…my life had no chance of productivity.

This year, after some research.  After documentary upon documentary.  Article upon article about psychiatric institutes of the 1960’s.  Pictures, data, recourse, etc.

After much forbearance from my siblings of law suits, insults, threats, etc.  Family secrets must remain secret…after all.

After all I discovered ‘Lover’s Lane.’  The place in which I had been conceived.  Where my parents, with total disregard for repercussions, engaged in producing…me.  Me, the addict, lesbian, wanderer.  Me, the poet with questions…

My mother, had been in the Brown building.  My father, the Kent building.  I was conceived in the catacombs!

The population continued to rise every year until 1955 when over 2,700 patients resided at “the State Hospital”. The crowding was extreme. For some years in the 1940’s and early 1950’s each psychiatrist had an average of more than 250 patients to treat. While kindness was still the philosophy, providing individual care of any type had become impossible. And, for the most part, society had come to view the mentally ill, not as people who needed humane treatment but had consigned the mentally ill to a dark and humiliating corner of American life. State hospitals became the physical reflection of that attitude. Books like “The Shame of the States” and “Asylum” or movies like “The Snake Pit” drew attention to the plight of the mentally ill. The annual reports make clear that despite the best efforts of staff and administration the New Hampshire State Hospital had become quite a different place than the Asylum of the nineteenth century. In New Hampshire as well as nationally, the “problem” of mental illness had become a simmering pot, waiting to boil.