Affirmation

Posted by VERITAS
Affirming all those moments of my childhood spent in happy Nows — things as simple as jumping into a pile of autumn leaves — that took me so very far away, in those moments, from the horror of my father’s abuse.

Carefree Moments with My Mother

Posted by VERITAS
… Laughing together with my Mom at some stupid comedy I think we’d all — my mother, brother, sister, and I — gone to when I was visiting Memphis once fifteen years ago or so, when my mother was in her 70s I believe …

… On another visit to Memphis, when, as I recall, I’d connected some speakers to my mother’s computer so it could have sufficient volume for the Skype — or was it FaceTime? — video chats I was attempting to have with her when I was in Japan, for she’d complained about the volume being too low … the sound of my voice, when I tested the speakers, blasting out so loudly somehow put us both in stitches …

… My mother, in her 80s, recalling blowing raspberries on my stomach when I was a baby and me liking it so much; me remembering her doing that; remembering laughing and laughing as she did …

Florida

Posted by VERITAS
As a child and even into my teens, I had some very romantic, idealistic notions about marriage, or, actually, more about the act of getting married, in a very superficial sort of way – a nice wedding, a beautiful bride.

Our family’s home life was – due in large part to my father’s alcoholism and manic-depressive/bipolar mood swings, with depression and rage being the worst parts of these swings for other family members – full of a great deal of stress, gloom, sadness, and emotional/psychological pain, mostly emotional though there was the sexually abusive part as well, though I repressed that part until I was an adult, so I suppose my imaginative idealism about getting married may have constituted, at least in part, some sort of attempt on the part of my mind to provide itself with an antidote to or escape from all the negativity it was confronted with in day-to-day life.

Related to this, when I was maybe around seven or eight years old, I saw an ad in Time magazine for homes in Florida that had their own docks or piers in their backyards so a family could keep its own boat right on the water, which, as I recall the drawing in the ad, seemed to be some sort of well-maintained, well-ordered man-made canal or lagoon. The drawing, as I recall, showed a family having a happy time in the backyard as the father cooked steaks or hamburgers on a charcoal grill, the mother happily readied everything on a picnic table, and the kids played some sort of outdoor game – maybe tag or something.

So I started thinking that if our family could only move to Florida – or, in a way, escape into the “Florida” of the ad itself – then we could be happy. I actually suggested this idea of moving to Florida to my father at the dinner table one evening, but my father, who was in one of his depressive funk’s that night as I recall, rejected my idea with a summary glumness, albeit for the very practical reason that his work was in Nashville (Tennessee, as a professor in the Economics Department at Vanderbilt University) and so it would be impossible for us to move to Florida, and I think that even then I may have sort of realized, just by the way my father rejected my idea – without seeming to possess any understanding or empathy for why I might be attracted to such a fantasy – that even if we somehow could move to Florida it wouldn’t be likely to change things.

Acting Out Child Abuse?

Posted by VERITAS
Returning from a morning walk in the park, I pass nearby a mother standing by her bike, holding its handlebars, as she waits at the stop for a childcare center bus with her toddler, a girl in the bike’s child seat; the girl screaming bloody murder that she doesn’t want to go to the childcare center.
“I won’t go, Mother!!! I won’t go to the childcare center!!! Mother understands, doesn’t she!!!” screams the child in Japanese.
But the mother doesn’t seem to understand. Doesn’t seem, at least, to be taking her daughter’s outburst as indicating the possibility of anything other than a routine aversion a toddler may have to leaving their home — as a sign of nothing more than this.

Why can’t the mother take her daughter aside, away from the bus stop, where others are waiting; try to create some sense of privacy for herself and her child, and then try to find out what exactly is bothering her daughter about going to the childcare center? Whether it might be abuse (verbal, physical, sexual) by one or more teachers or something else.

This reminds me of a swimming instructor I had two summers for one or two weeks each. My mother had read an article about the instructor in “Reader’s Digest” praising the instructor for a course he taught — a course in “drown-proofing.” And so she put us in the course and took us to the guy’s large-sized (25 yards or meters?) pool for the lessons without staying, just like the other parents — the parents leaving us alone with this guy. Had he asked them to do so for some supposedly pedagogical reason — so, for example, our attention wouldn’t be divided between our parents and his instruction, or so we wouldn’t turn crying to our parents for a break if things became a little challenging? I never asked my mother and now she’s passed away.

Anyway, once the parents were gone the fun would begin — the guy hitting us on the head with a poll if we didn’t stay under water long enough, just as we tried to surface; yelling at us in a growling voice — those are the specific things I remember; those and the time he chased down a young girl, must have been around 5, 6, 7, maybe 8 at the most, afraid of going into the deep end — chased her down, grabbed her by her long, straight hair, lifted her by her hair from the poolside surface, and slung her into the water as she screamed in terror. Incidents such as these were not for the parents viewing.

Those are the only clearly abusive behaviors on this guy’s part that I remember specifically, and maybe those were enough to have the effect on me that the thought of going to his lessons had or maybe there were other abuses that he perpetrated upon us as well, but I remember it got so bad that at least once I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom of my grandmother’s house in Atlanta, where we stayed when, for two summers, we came down from Nashville for one or two weeks to take the lessons — locked myself in the bathroom and started eating soap, hoping like all get out it would make me sick enough so I wouldn’t have to go, though it ended up not working — somehow my mother finagled me into stopping the soap eating, opening the door, and letting me take her to the lesson, I guess because, among other things, I didn’t possess the verbal-mental capacity at that age — which, as I recall, was around four to six — to articulate the abuse the guy was perpetrating on me and the other kids.

Which brings me back to the mother and her screaming toddler at the daycare center bus stop. It may very well be that the child couldn’t have directly articulated what it was she so feared about the daycare center, but the mother could have at least tried to draw some information out of the child by asking questions — what are you afraid of? etc. — or other means.

Another factor may have been that the mother may have been looking forward to the break from her child that her child’s time at the daycare center provided and so a part of her didn’t want to jeopardize this break time by asking questions which, if her child gave certain information in response — might have resulted in the mother’s feeling a moral obligation not to send her child to the center.

Diaper Love

Posted by VERITAS
A completely positive, healing memory of my mother holding my ankles together and up with one hand as she changes my diapers, taking away the used diaper, cleaning my shit off around my anus, placing a clean diaper – they were cotton back then – underneath me, fastening it with safety pins , smiling down at me the whole time as she does so, laughing, talking baby talk – which, not surprisingly, I can’t remember – to me; talking this baby talk except when, as I recall, she places and holds the safety pins between her lips, the easier to grasp them without taking her eyes off me; me smiling back up at her, giggling, laughing … my mother so loving, doing such a fantastic job of taking care of me in this respect of diaper-changing, as I believe she did at this stage of my life in most other important respects, perhaps all other important respects with the exception of protecting me from my father’s sexual abuse, which for various reasons (her economic dependence on my father; a belief deeply inculcated during her upbringing that a wife should be subservient to her husband; her lack – at this point in her life as a young mother, and considering that the possibility of intra-family CSA in a middle class family was not at that time in American society a topic of public discussion – of CSA awareness, etc.) she was unable to do …