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: New Hampshire State Hospital

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What is neglect?  What is abuse?  What is the depth of someone’s anger?  Crimes of passion…What does that mean?  In the deep frost of a New Hampshire winter.  After the death of a martyr and matriarch, Ruth Quinn; I uncovered some truth.

In February of 2012, a ghastly picture of my father appeared.  On the not so yellowed and stained pages of…ancestry.com.  Just sitting in cyberspace, a framework of devious and malignant persona appeared.

Sitting, squaw style, on a beat beyond recognition, futon, I became overcome with ‘open mouth’ syndrome.

Newspaper clippings from the day showcased my father’s fury!  Yet, I denied every letter, every word, every sentence.  No matter the amount of hurt my father inflicted on myself and others…during my time with him; I could not bring myself to believe he had stabbed his wife 35 times.

Yet, there is sat!  Not just one newspaper article, not just two…several!

I started out in 1967 as a newborn near death due to kidney problems and…a budding angry, hateful person.

Of these facts?  I do not deny.

Did I shoot out of my mother’s womb with complete disdain?  Maybe not.  However, the toil and trouble of misappropriated genes…would soon beset me.

In relationships, until recently, I abused women.  Not physically!  Not with observed premeditation!  However, with a dark crevice buried deep inside…I discovered new and profound ways in which to keep love as distant…as…remorse.

How much of this complete and utter breakdown of faith in self…had been related to my upbringing?

Odd enough, I did not really sleep that night.  Laying awake in a self-imposed punishment via deep sips of iced coffee and two Sudafed, I wanted to remain, induced by the scene of horror.

Every article I read on my father’s horrible deed…revealed nothing new.  Estranged husband stabs wife to death and leaves child behind to witness.

What I wanted…needed to know…Were the answers to one or two simple questions…

Am I lovable?  Will I end up an exact mold of the…Father?

My wife, bless her hungry heart and beautiful soul, knows/knew of my bouts with hate…and the female sex.concord state hospital 3

As a young adult often I would have been described as a…predator…a vulture.  Only after one thing…sex!

Through a Higher Power and deep, deep, soul-searching, I unhitched my ride.  Made the only decision I could…

‘Love now…or, never!’

However, no wheels turned back the hand of time.  No sky parted…open…revealing…my revelations.  An ambiance of, this and that amends…took time, meditation, awareness and the truest of love…I could find.

Waiting, walking, pacing, putting the dogs out…letting the dogs in.

Morning had finally arrived at our little house of misfits.

Similar to when I came out to my mother…decades and fistful of affairs, earlier; I sat across from the knock off dinner table/office desk.  Stumbling down in her Winnie the Pooh pajama bottoms.  Salt and pepper hair tussles like Cindy Lou Who.  I gently pushed a mug of full strength coffee toward her chair.

Years earlier, when showing the rainbow to my mother…a similar situation occurred.  However, at that time, it had been a six-pack of Coor’s light.

Would I be Megan’s ‘favorite’ mistake?  Had I been not much different from the ‘Father’?  Someone who continues to take little bits and pieces of love and…flushes it like shards of not remarkable mistakes?writers 1

No one with four paws or two feet…in our house…receives the morning light with vim and vigor.

And, even now, as I undertake the chore of retrieving my father’s court records, his hospitalization, his vain and repugnant behavior; I get chills.

Megan, my wife, laughed at me. And, my sincere and worried questions.

But back in the day?  She seemed very perplexed: What do you mean?  Your father did what?  Well, that explains things…

‘You aren’t your father!  He’s evil.  No matter what…you’ve always kept me in mind!’

She was and still is…always on my side.

How refreshing?

Yet, down deep with all the sin, transgressions; How could someone…something so alluring, want a killer’s daughter…in her life?

There have moments when Megan required my hand up.  Times where her health seemed in question.  Seconds in our married life to which…there had been no doubt…

I had been on her side.KODAK Digital Still Camera

And, here she sat, holding down my proverbial…fort.

Lo and behold.  After over 30 years, love made sense.  Love and it’s need.  It’s wants.

Megan sat across from the table.  More mystified by my need for reassurance…than, my father, and eventually, my mother’s misdeeds.

How fascinating…love, beauty and the freedom to be who you are meant to be…

On January 4th, 1963, Harold Bowley (my father) became the ward, patient, miscreant to the New Hampshire State Hospital.

On October 4th, this Honorable Court of Rockingham County, New Hampshire, order that the Superintendent of New Hampshire Hospital shall receive and hold one, Harold Bowley, who was charge with committing the crime of homicide, for observation…

it is the opinion that it will be dangerous that the said, Harold Bowley, should go at large…

Unfortunately  this is only the beginning of my delving into the family history!

 

 

 

 

 

Cycle of Abuse: the Matriarch/Part One

 

Cycle of Abuse: Chapter 1

The treasures of my yute!

I had begun to wonder.  What would it be like to have been born into a different family?  Would the rules have changed?  Would I have still become an addict?  For that matter, would I have lived long enough to make to recovery?

So many questions…So little time.

It is not shame that has brought me into this need.  This longing to write out exactly what happened in my family’s little cycle/circle of abuse.  I caressed that wound years ago.  Adamant that more needed to be done.  Actions needed to be taken against my abusive father and emotionally distant mother.

I stewed over the pains and aches…like leftover beef on a hot outdoor grill in the New Hampshire summer humidity.

Yet, something began to turn inside of me.  There had been less pointing of the finger at those I felt were culprits in the boiling blood of my family legacy.  And, more of a need to understand my own paranoia, anger, compulsiveness and…unfortunately, physical ailments.

As I write this, there have been several orthopedic surgeries within the last five years.  More than ten…Less than fifteen.  I say, unfortunately about my disability…for I will never know for sure.  Never to know the exact background to illnesses that have taken the lives of relatives from the past.  For I do not know the exact reason for the ills that have befallen many on my family tree.

I do know this for certain…joe poe

My grandfather, who had been born in Worcester, Ma., was unpleasant.  As unpleasant and outwardly angry, as most any man, I have ever met.  His scowl and belittling undertone statements struck fear in any person…unlucky enough to have met him.

He had been a Massachusetts State Policeman.  He had been a chain smoking, heavy drinking, Irishman, who took no prisoners…Took no prisoners when he worked.  Or, when he came home.

Somehow through the course of the 1960’s Joseph developed a knack for photography.  One thing, led to another…And, not only did he carry a gun to the scene of a crime.  He also took pictures of all the deadly, beyond a good imagination, crash sites.  He became the go to man when it came to homicide, suicide, and accidental death, by motor vehicle.

I still remember vividly the many occasions in Waltham, on Cedar Circle.  The obligating ride down route 128 to an obligating visit…to pictures strewn about the dinning room table.  Vivid black and whites of the latest victim of death upon the Massachusetts’s turnpike.

If anything…my grandfather’s glorious response to how…beautiful and engaging the photos were.  Only truly depicts his personality.  The idea that someone could get so much satisfaction out of another’s untimely demise…stirs the depth’s of my soul.

Guns, guts and glory!

To this stoic man whose employment photo in full uniform, reminded me of one of Hitler’s henchmen:  My grandmother was a dumb Pollock and my mother a, stupid cow.

So often my grandmother found herself the butt-end of polish jokes.  And, my mother, forever, reminded of a youth speckled in bullying.  Bullying by her own flesh and blood.  Over her size and weight.

There had been the slaps, the belt, the insults, the pushing and shoving…by my grandfather towards both Grams and my mother.

I recall riding home from my great aunt’s funeral.  Passing the homeless, the burned out buildings, the graffiti and the desolation of  streets in Waltham.  I never cared for the city in which my mother grew up.  Having been born in Concord, New Hampshire.  The definition of city envisioned itself quite different.  Concord being the bright sunlight of day.  Waltham being the wet and dripping stonewalls of night.

Riding home in the backseat with my mother.  I spent my time in a blank state of mind.  Avoiding eye contact with those on the street.  Pretending to enjoy the gray of the city.  Passing a rundown watch factory, and just over a set of forlorn rail-tracks…we came up on a bridge.

My mother said something to me…Something, I will always remember.  She also spoke in a familiar tone.  A tone that I can only associate with childhood.  Very, very, hush, hush.  As though, her words had no air.

“This is the bridge where I almost jumped!”

For a moment.  I thought maybe she had misspoken.  But it took little time for me to realize who was speaking to me.  My mother had a vast history of suicidal thoughts, tendencies and suicide attempts.

Quickly and with what meek energy she could summon…

She spoke a few words more.

“Your grandfather sent me out to get him cigarettes in the middle of a snowstorm.  He had a few patrolmen over, he’d been drinking and…he didn’t feel like getting out of the Lazy Boy.

He didn’t give me enough money.  I couldn’t get the cigarettes.  When I got home, he asked me…

‘What good are you?  You’re as stupid as your Pollock mother!’

…fucking kid!

With more money in hand and crying.  I slipped on my goulashes and left.  He had such a way of making me feel so small.”

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My mother had a unique way of starting a feel good family story…and, just ending it.  Just like that.  As if the story didn’t begin in the first place.

The most of I got out of her?  Had been a simple, non-comedic,  punchline…

“Anyway, I felt so horrible.  I stopped at that bridge.  Climbed on the bricks.  Slipped and fell, back onto the sidewalk.  A patrol-car passed by.  Recognized me as, Joe’s kid.  And, gave me a ride back home.  Completely oblivious to what I had just tried to do.”

Grabbing my mother’s hand gently.  I looked ahead to my grandmother, who was still alive at the time.  And, my father, who had been complaining about my grandmother’s use of the car window.

That is all I have to say, at least for now, about dear old granddad.  A man we the children called, affectionately, Joe Poe.

Whoops!  Untrue.  I will introduce the Matriarch of the family, by giving one more nod to Joe Poe.

In my mid twenties, I had come out.  Not full blown.  I’m not a full blown…anything.  I just am not a wearing the rainbow flag like a poncho, leather wallet with chains, lesbian.  Do not get me wrong.  That image works for many.  It just has never been my style.  I have done the marches, the sit-ins, the demonstrations and the volunteering.  Yet, for many reasons, I remain private but open.

My grandfather disowned me…when I had been 24 or 25.  Nothing spectacular.  I had moved to North Carolina.  My grandfather was beginning to slowly die, grow blind and talk gibberish.  Though, to me he had been sick all his life.

I sent him audiotapes of Sherlock Holmes detective series and a sundry of other murder mysteries, on tape.  They were all sent back.  Very little communication occurred.  And, in the same hushed voice my mother always used.  I had been told…Joe Poe was not pleased with my sexual orientation.

Five years later, upon my return to New Hampshire.  My grandfather died not two months into my return.

With some coaxing by my partner and my mother, I renewed a relationship with the Matriarch.

Ruth Quinn had once been…Ruth Stukonis!  The Pollock joke is on you Joe Poe.  It turns out my grandmother is actually, Lithuanian and Russian!

Raised by bad ass nuns and foster families from hell, Ruth came of age before and during the depression…The depression in Boston being raised by an already uncaring and violent family, could not have been easy.

It could be said, that my grandmother had the mouth of a truck driver, the drinking ability of a sailor and the prowl-ness of a well handled knife.

She worked in factories, restaurants, college cafeterias, etc., only to come home to a belt wielding, gun totting hard-ass, husband.  But she was married!  And, for a woman of the 1940’s, catholic and fat (her words, not mine) that was everything.

There are times where I know I did not love her.  Yet, I respected her.  My grandmother and mother both dealt with severe weight issues.  All their lives.  Even when they were below a good weight.  In their minds, and due directly to my grandfather’s belittling, both were forever on a diet.grams 1

Ruth told you, daily: How stupid you were, how fat you were, how you could do better, what was wrong with your wardrobe and many other things she deemed your personal flaws.  Her abuse came verbally.

Emotionally distant, not one for the friendly feeling of a hug, and/or telling you she ‘loved you.’…That had been my grandmother.  Along with telling you dirty jokes, pointing out your latest cold sore and listening to Jimmy Buffet’s

Let’s Get Drunk and Screw

Indeed, she accused me of stealing, lying, drinking and drugging, on more occasions than I can count.  And, much to her now deceased… chagrin, she typically pronounced these indiscretions when I hadn’t done anything.

Do not get me wrong.  I did steal, lie, do drugs and drink.  Just now when she wished upon me the Scarlet A.

I actually tried to make an amends to her, early in sobriety: For taking a paperboy’s tip, from decades before.  She refused to believe me.

Looking back, I know in the deep part of my heart.  The part only my wife and animals are allowed to see.  I know…Ruth and Joe Poe did not care for me.  I had been the product of my father’s blood.  And, my father was a heathen, a heretic, a non-catholic.

My siblings did not share my father’s heritage.  And, though they had been prime examples of abuse, from my mother’s first marriage…They still did not belong to ‘that man.’  That man who had been my father.

 

 

To Be Continued…the Dying of a Matriarch 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the Children’s Place

You had to walk, big and tall.

In this, the children’s place.

That is,watchtower 1

if you dare walk at all.

My loose ends, from blankets of downy despair.

Shag, drab, carpeting, coveted the falls.

Baneful comforts arrived such as, gypsies in the night.

Creature comforts mere flukes.

Strings to a grounded kite.

This, my children’s place.

With no saline for the eyes.

Dares for the wicked.

For only the wicked…

Dare cry.

Crowded Houses

It is a double-sided cross that gathers in my heart.

It is neither here.

Nor…there.

Yet, it is everywhere.

I try to smooth it over with words…

But the words do not come out right.

And,

with every inaction…

A splintered reaction.

Volatility, plus, age.

Makes the rising waters more difficult to bare.

Allowing for indiscretions.

A dress I prefer not to wear.

Sometimes, it is in the coveting of a curtain.

In cluttered entrances…

With pathways, nothing but uncertain.

Not so strange.

These crowded houses.

Beholding a double-sided cross.

Temperamental residents…

Moderate on the outside.

Not a glimpse to be caught.

Inside, a succubus shrine that runs hot.