Friday, March 12, 2010

The worst childhood scars

(Warning: Adult content and language.)

We all carry them. Childhood is tough. Even in the best homes and with the best families, bad things happen, and they etch their marks in us forever.

Some homes and some families, though, are far from the best. Some harbor horrible abuses, and the scars on the children that emerge from those homes are deeper and more ragged than most. Perhaps the worst part is that those kids--and the adults they grow up to be--feel they constantly must hide those already invisible marks. They feel at some level that it was their fault, that they should have done something different, been better, not provoked their abusers--that somehow they could have made it all go back to normal. They feel that no one should know their secret, that people would love them less if they knew, that others might hate them for revealing those secrets.

Well, you know what, fuck that. Fuck all of that.

If you're one of those people--and quite a few people I care about are--then you have nothing to be embarrassed about. You have nothing to hide. You did nothing wrong. You could not have stopped it.

It was not your fault.

Fuck keeping your past a secret. Fuck sheltering the guilty abusers. You should tell your story whenever you feel like it. Those who care for you, who really care, will accept who you are and what happened to you. None of it was your fault.

And you are not alone.

I'm right there with you.

We moved in with another family after my father died when I was ten years old. Their father was in Viet Nam. Unknown to my mother, who never knew, the other woman was a sadist. She beat me every day, at least once a day, for four years. She hit me with pans and coat hangers, brushes and shoes, and much more. She did it until I grew big enough to stop her.

I spent three of those same years in a sadistic detachment of the Young Marines (a group that I must note generally is a fine youth organization). I saw a human ear collection on my first day. They punched me, stomped on me, ground my face in my own puke, and did a lot worse than that.

So, if you're out there and you're feeling alone, know this: You're not. You're not the only one. There are tens of thousands of us, maybe more.

What they did was not your fault.

The fact that you're still here proves that you ultimately won, because you're alive. If you have kids and don't hit them, then you won twice, because you didn't pass on the horror.

As for your abusers, fuck them. They aren't worth anything.

It's easy to say that you should make peace with your past and move on. The bitter truth is that the vast majority of us can't do that with simple things, high school snubs and being picked last, much less with abuses of this magnitude.

But we can get better every day. We can be the people we want to be.

We can do what the best people always do: strive constantly to be better.

And when the demons come to visit and the adrenaline floods your system, remember this: You can handle it. You can do it. It wasn't your fault. You've already won.

I'd be there to fix it with you if I could, but I can't. Fortunately, you can do it. All of you. Each of you.

Each of us.

4 comments:

J. Griffin Barber said...

"The bitter truth is that the vast majority of us can't do that with simple things, high school snubs and being picked last, much less with abuses of this magnitude."

This is so very true, and so very important for those people who have not suffered the like to learn: The unfortunate few pay and re-pay a karmic debt the rest of us would find debilitating at best and a game ender at worst.

The real agony for me is that the creatures that do these things to children never seem to resist arrest.

Mark said...

Many years ago, I saw Dennis Miller live in Las Vegas. He said that when you felt the urge to abuse the kid, you should lean your head into the plane's propeller and take yourself out of the game. St. Peter would then welcome you to heaven, give you noogies for not yielding to the urge, and fix you. Would that it were that simple--or that there were more plane props around when you needed them.

Todd said...

Wow.

Mark said...

I hope that's a good "wow."

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