Updated: May 21, 2020
EDIT: Check out the PODCASTED version of this post here! And stay tuned for more recorded versions of my posts, interviews, and more. Write in! Tell me how it's going and what to improve.
Onto the original post:
In my first post, I mentioned how hard it was to dig into my past and pull out a readable and relatable story for strangers... Well, here we go. No time like the present.
Might as well start at the top - the formative years with my fucked up family! Briefly, here's what I remember from growing up.
Faaathah (a history of violence on opioids)
The most obvious starting point for my story is the particular night shift when my dad had his foot crushed by a large piece of metal at his work. I was six or so. My life was already on a fairly-doomed trajectory due to the trauma/abuse histories of my parents… but for sake of ease, this is the event that officially started the avalanche.
From that day forward, there was a slew of medical and insurance terms tossed around that a child couldn’t make heads or tails of. But the gist of it was, my dad was seriously injured, he couldn’t perform manual labor anymore, and he was now on government unemployment. He’d be receiving workman’s comp and some insurance money, possibly. He had surgeries and medical care aplenty, but somehow, he injured his other knee in the whole process and walked with a cane from then forward. He was still very mobile – when he wanted to be, like when he was chasing my mom and brothers around the house - but he maintained that he was incapable of holding a job.
This financial hit was extremely significant for our family, but even more so was the cocktail of painkillers they put my father on, as well as the stress it introduced into everyone’s lives.
My dad always had… a "temper." Now, under the influence of morphine, hydrocodone, recreational substances, and god knows what else, mixed with his underlying trauma background and depression, he became a much bigger problem. A large, resentful, victim-happy, hulk of a problem.
Again, from a child’s standpoint the details are a bit muddy, but the short story is that his sense of victimhood and rage grew and grew. His anger boiled under the surface every minute of the day – during which he often had nothing else to do but pass the time getting riled up. His drug and alcohol abuse lowered his emotional regulation even further. He became a ticking timebomb, ready to explode every day over some unforeseeable event. And once he was set off, no one was safe from his vein-popping screaming. No matter how little you had to do with the source of ignition, your world was blowing up. On top of that, he lost touch with reality in a number of ways. His dysfunctional core beliefs, insecurities, and fucked up childhood really lent themselves to a dangerous delusion of victimhood... and being the next coming of Jesus.
He became verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive to everyone in the house; even the dogs hid when they heard his car coming. He was sure to beat down my brothers at every turn, however, his relationship with my mother was his biggest trigger. Rather than examining what he was doing that might possibly drive someone away romantically, he grew an obsession with the idea that my mother was cheating on him – with everyone – and voiced his whoring accusations to everyone, as well. Yeah, that includes his pre-pubescent kids. He berated her endlessly. He physically assaulted her. He followed her to work. He disconnected pieces of her car so she couldn’t go to work. He threatened my her, and all of us, endlessly, with our deserved looming deaths as he carried guns around the house.
Somewhere around the age of 11, my mom had my father removed from the house with a restraining order. Police came knocking at the door, waved some papers around, and forcibly removed my absolutely losing-his-fucking-mind father in front of me, my brothers, and a few of their friends. He left, pretty literally, kicking and screaming, but he was far from gone. First of all, we kids still had to go to some court ordered visitation bullshit. He picked us up and dragged us around to wherever the hell he was staying or could take us to for hours of crazed lecturing. He spent the entire visitation screaming his head off about what a bitch whore our mother was and how wronged he had been. He enjoyed taking us to remote locations for weird activities, where I often doubted that I would make it back from alive, just to spite my mother. Totally high on drugs, he often drove into oncoming traffic while re-organizing his jam-packed backpack with us in the car, or turning around to yell/hit at one of my brothers. It wasn’t my favorite way to spend a Saturday.
I put up a fight eventually and the courts permitted me to miss our weekly visitation. I just had to go out in the driveway by myself, wait for my father, and tell him to his face that I would not be attending visitation with him that day. No problem. He totally reacted fine to all this and didn’t freak the fuck out at me every time. Ha ha ha.
Anyways, age 11 or 12 is when I stopped talking to my father. I never went to another visitation. I never purposely saw him again. I only accidentally saw him at my grandfather's wake years later.
However, from that point on, my dad found ways he could still make life as miserable as possible for everyone. He stalked us regularly. We would see his various trucks and vans parked outside our home, school, work. He left endless voicemails on the home phone threatening us all until the tape was full. He continued his accusations against my mother for all sorts of wild whoring shit. Intermittently, he called crying and asking if they would get back together – yeah, why not? Regularly, he filled up the voicemail and called back again screaming his one-sided conversation. He called (and still does) my brothers over and over and over again to berate them and tell them what general pieces of shit they are for hours and days. If they didn’t answer, he’d show up wherever he could find them. He entered an embittered divorce with my mother that he dragged out for 7 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, putting our household well below the poverty line. He demanded that the four of us (mom and three kids, not to mention three labs, five cats, etc.) get out of “his” house during the divorce. He took our family savings, college funds, and valuables. He never paid a cent in child support or our education.
He retreated to the North Woods of Wisconsin, in a home his grandfather built on a large piece of land. Every few months he would resurface, either sitting outside our home, showing up at my brother’s work, or luring my oldest brother into some new illegal scheme. Throughout all this, he continued to lose his grip on reality and to find new, violent, abusive ways of living. Whether getting a new dog and beating it, getting a new girlfriend and shortly thereafter, the accompanying restraining order, or falling into business with biker gangs… he’s been always up to something fun. Don’t let life get him down.
So, pretty briefly, that’s my dad.
Spoilers: From my father, I learned to continually live in fear and anger. To believe my life is out of my control. To distrust humans of all shapes and sizes, especially those who should be on my side. To assume the worst is possible. To feel like I don’t matter. To know rage and unreason. To be triggered by aggression, physical intimidation, homelessness, financial ruin, and most of all, illogical humans.
Family, Continued (Eldest bro steps up)
The other big problem with my dad, besides everything about him, is what he did to my oldest brother. I guess I can’t draw a direct correlation between my dad’s drug use, shared drugs, and penchant for asking my brother to sell his spare drugs… but somehow or another, my oldest brother wound up using harder and harder drugs until he was also an opioid addict. Just, heroin instead of prescription pain meds. Pretty sure we know where he got started.
He spent the next 12 years as a hardcore heroin addict. Like, a $300 a day in heroin, addict. And, you know (or don’t know) all the fun times that brings for his immediate family. (Not to be self-centered, because being homeless/in jail/held hostage by my dad wasn’t all that fun on his end, either.)
Still, so began a new round of battery on the fam – insidious stealing, lying, manipulation, abuse, violence – all conducted from inside the home. Literally. Because, as many times as he was kicked out/locked out of the house, he still always found a way back in. Installed deadbolts, screwed the windows shut, and purchased hotel room door jams? Guess what, motherfucker is still finding a way to walk through the walls into your home to take all your shit, eat all your food, and violate any sense of privacy you had. Heroin basically makes you into an X-Man. It would be really incredible if it wasn’t used to screw over everyone.
For over a fucking decade, he took all our family money and valuables (ha!), acted maliciously, overdosed regularly, got arrested, went to rehabs, fucked around in rehabs, got kicked out of rehabs, got kicked out of my mom’s house, went to live with my dad in Wisconsin, ran away from my dad’s psychosis in Wisconsin, disappeared for months, resurfaced and promised change, came back into my mom’s house, started using immediately, started lying immediately, started stealing immediately, took all our family valuables (ha!)….
You get it. Now imagine everyone screaming the whole time and multiple it by a hundred times.
Plus, you know, more occasional things. Like dying, getting into hit and run accidents in stolen cars (my other brother’s stolen car), and knocking out Walmart security guards trying to put an end to your local stealing ring. Every minute of every day a new surprise. Leaving for work? Psyche! Your car is gone. Trying to fill up with gas? Surprise! This gift card was used up and put back in your wallet. Hoping to use your camera, play your instrument, use your computer, or eat that batch of cookies you made last night?
Nope! It’s all gone.
Every minute. Of every day. A new surprise.
Not to leave you hanging with my brother here, but that’s about all I can muster on him right now. It’s difficult to think of him in too negative of a light, because he was fucked from the get-go. He was an incredibly talented and promising young man who suffered at the hands of my father, got swept up in maladaptive coping, and plummeted. I also feel like my mother has a lot more to say about this than I do – she was fighting for him tooth and nail through all of it, no matter how much it hurt her. The chaos, instability, screaming, and violence I saw is nothing compared to the worry and self-abuse that must come with the darkest times being an addict’s mother. She’s nutty, but she’s incredible. (Don’t worry, she knows)
Spoilers: I have some major trauma and distrust issues from this period, if you can believe it. After dealing with my brother’s continual deceit, I can’t stand liars or manipulators. I also can’t stand being called one because I find it so vial. I am also wildly triggered by people not listening to me, as this was the norm in our household of sport-fighting and inter-personal torture.
Finances (or lack thereof)
Long story short, even before all the aforementioned shit, we were not doing well. Then, after the hundreds of thousands of dollars in divorce lawyers, the rampant stealing, the legal system fees, and general bad luck… my mom wasn’t sitting pretty with her single motherhood and 3 kids. We were below the poverty line and our lives were supplemented by government assistance for a few years there. We never went without food or a roof over our heads, although it was close at time. It got rough, but my mom did a great job. I just wish I had heard less about it.
During all this time, my mom had very little social support of any kind. We spent a lot of time together, both having no friends, and she shared a lot of her worries and frustrations with me. It makes sense why, but in hindsight, I could have used a little ignorance about all the fucked up shit happening left and right. Socially and financially, things were grim based on her experiences. It definitely painted life as an unfair, unpredictable, and terrifying place.
So, after all that, I just have some… hang ups about money. In particular, I’m very concerned about having some sort of stockpile of cash for emergencies. There were too many times we did not, and I knew how close we were to hitting the red at most times. I don’t feel comfortable flying too low to the ground. I get stressed about cash to the max. Without a balanced financial situation, I feel almost physically in danger.
Spoilers: I also have some unhealthy core beliefs stemming from this. Ones that you might share. Do you ever feel like you just aren’t meant to have money? Like other people have a steady flow, but it isn’t the universe’s plan for you? Like you’re meant to struggle? Like you’re living could be devastated by one financial decision? Mmmhmm.
So there we have it - three of my early experiences with trauma and their fun lasting effects. Now, guys, don't get jealous. I don't mean to gush about my excellent past life; I only aim to put relatable and transparent information out there.
I hope mine is a connecting story, not a one-woman pity party. My particular circumstances might be distinct, but the underlying tale of domestic abuse, poverty, and opioid addiction is definitely not unique to me.
If you find familiarity in my story - first of all, sorry to hear that. Secondly, please reach out! Leave a comment, send me a message, learn to make fire signals. email@example.com