We all know the neighbor’s home where the children looked unkempt and their clothing smelled of cigarette smoke. These were the children who had no coats in winter, nor umbrellas for rain. These were the children that could not wait to go to school for the free lunch. These were the children that never had sleepovers, because the rooms smelled of urine, because there was no money to wash. Their clothing had no drawers in which to place them, so they were strewn about the inside of a closet. These were the children that watched as mom was pushed down the stairs by dad after an argument. These were the children of a father that had children all over town and a mother whose secret thrill was dating the man next door. These were the kids that when dad drank too much, he would come into the home in an angry alcohol cloud, proceed to stomp them with his heavy black boot and send them to bed, hungry again. We know those children. We know that family. That family is my clan.
My biggest dream as a child was that my father would make the situation so threatening that if we just so happened to kill him, the law would rule it self defense and our mother, whom we deemed defenseless, would be free. I lived that dream for years until I found reality. She was the one that made you pat down dad’s pockets for quick cash while he slept off that last drink. You figured he deserved it. You come to realize, she lived for the drama and you were just a pawn in it all. Eventually that feeling that she was abused, turned into a feeling of disgust in your mind This mental and physical abuse you endure becomes her abuse and allows her to weave her own tales and make excuses for why she never amounts to anything. You wondered how she could pay for cigarettes and illegal prescription medication, while you scrounged for food and wore the same pair of shoes from last year until there was a hole in the toe.
Even your underwear were hand me downs. With dad only coming home on occasion, mom is the one that would go to visit like-minded friends and leave you locked out of your home, sleeping with your sisters in an old truck in the yard until morn. Little heads hiding from the neighbors, lest they see and call social services. She is a woman that will leave you in the hands of abusive wolves who want to feel on the budding breast of your nine year old body, while she dates dad’s friends for money and expects you to do the same. She is the one that leaves your body marred from repeated beatings from a thousand tree branches or the water hose if handy. It’s became normal to feel a punch in your back as a as you walk away from mom because she needs you to take a 10 pm bust to pick up those prescription meds, and you in your 10 year old wisdom, refuse. You finally take that step and decide to end it all. A little poison drank from a bottle until wooziness takes over and you realize death is scarier. You spend time in a mental hospital with privileged teens and pretend to be one of them, all the while enjoying the stay. It’s better than going home. Your hope dwindles in the face of the inevitable. He’s not there and neither is she. You are alone.
You become a person that lives to make sure that you never end up in her place. As soon as you are old enough, you run. You ignore the feelings of guilt as your siblings are left to take the brunt of what happens at home. You run until your little sister’s sexual health becomes an issue and she needs to be treated for an STD at age 11. Mom has decided it’s time to relive her youth and party, while you and sis take the bus to see about getting her an abortion. Years pass. One by one, you leave mom to her own devices. Better to struggle on your own, alone to make your way.
You grow into an adult, fearful that the abuse you’ve endured will rub off on your own offspring. You find a man that treats you like a queen and you spend every moment waiting for the other shoe to drop. He holds on and takes you through the paces that allow you to believe you deserve it. You spend your life in an eternity of denial, depression, and despair, no matter. Abuses lingers and try as you can to shake it, the stench never quite dissipates.