So many years have passed since I left home. I moved out at 17, when I went away to college. Even the memories from that time are vague. I soon learned I could drown it all out with a bottle of vodka, missing classes due first to hangovers, then the fact that I was too drunk to go to class. My fourth semester, I totally bombed out at school, which resulted in the loss of two scholarships.
It only took me about a month to decide I had to move away again. I joined the Navy. Boot Camp was difficult for me. I was going through withdrawal from the alcohol, but I didn’t want them to know that. I wanted to get through it as quickly as possible, so I could move on to a somewhat less strict environment. When I was diagnosed with mono, I was afraid that would hold me back in my training, that I wouldn’t graduate with the rest of my class. But I did, though I wasn’t actually at the ceremony, due to my illness.
This proved to be my downfall however, which eventually led to discharge from the military. Their reasoning – “Unsuitability due to alcohol abuse. Not recommended for reenlistment.” That took me all of nine months to accomplish. I was drowning in alcohol uncontrollably, with no clear way out that I could see.
Those memories though, continued to haunt me. Some were very distinct, while others were just vague memories that I couldn’t bring to the forefront, but still knew they were there. I remember fear. At night, my heart would pound from the fear, causing me to think that I was hearing his footsteps coming down the hall to my room. Sometimes they were, sometimes not. But this was tearing up the insides of a young child, eventually a young adult, with no clear path that would lead me to safety. I dreamed of running away to live in an abandoned cabin in the woods. I had read a book when I was in Second grade, titled, “The Boxcar Children.” It was a story about three young children, who ran away from their grandfather’s house. They lived in an old boxcar that was still on the tracks, in the woods.
It has taken years upon years to reach the point where I am today. I’m not sure I know exactly where that is, but I now have psychiatric diagnoses, which explain why my life is the way it is now. It explains the odd symptoms, which in the past led me to attempted suicide, more than once. Thankfully, i survived those attempts. I have been in psycho-therapy for more years than I can even count. But I have progressed greatly.
My blog clearly describes my life with childhood sexual abuse. When your abuser is your father, well . . .
Taboo Word Challenge for9/22/16
You can see today’s taboo word below. Visit Eric, author of the All In A Dad’s Work blog and creator of the challenge, for details on participating.
Click the blue frog to read others taking part in this fun challenge
I would like to tell you I had an emotional week. I wanted to get mad at everyone, due to my forgetting to schedule wheelchair transportation for an appointment Wednesday morning. I assumed they were picking me up at 10:15, for an 11:00 appointment.
At 10:00, I started questioning whether I had scheduled the transportation, and finally called to see if they had me on the schedule that day. They did not. First, I wanted to blow up at them (Really??). Then, I called my therapist to cancel the appointment, why, and asked that she called me back. I wanted to keep calling her, until she answered the phone and I could vent my anger and frustration (Why??).
When she finally called me back, I explained what happened and she asked if I would like to reschedule (Ya think??). We made another appointment, and then I wanted to vent at her again, because the appointment was not for another two weeks (??).
After hanging up the phone, I sat here and I realized that the person I was really angry at was myself. I had screwed up, forgot to schedule transportation, and I missed my appointment. Did I really expect her to rearrange her entire schedule, to get me in earlier? No.
I have MS. I have mild cognitive impairment and some memory loss. I know this, and I know that if I don’t put extra reminders in place, I may very well forget something.
I wanted to blame my aide, as every time she arrives, she usually takes out my planner, checks for any appointments that she hasn’t already written on the (very) large, dry erase calendar, that hangs on the wall above my wheelchair desk. She asks if I have transportation. I call and make arrangements. Once I’ve done that, I put a check mark next to the appointment in my planner. But not this week. I don’t think I gave a single thought to that appointment, and usually I never forget that particular appointment.
But who should I be mad at about it? No one. Not even myself. Everyone makes mistakes, and I can’t be mad because I made a mistake.
So I played Sudoku and then watched more episodes of “The Fosters.” Really like this show. Whatever did I watch before Netflix??
I’m not too fond of winter these days, for many reasons. My body can’t regulate it’s core temperature, so I can’t be out in the cold for long. I get around in a wheelchair and do not have a vehicle of my own. Therefore, I must rely on public transportation that is door to door, which can cost as much as $5 each way.
The wheelchairs that I use are not snow friendly at all. I can’t move around in snow at all with the manual chair. I can move around in my power chair, but it slides on ice and can lose traction in the snow. Therefore, I’m not too fond of winter, though I do like to take winter photos.
Many years ago, and I mean MANY, when I was a child, winter was fun, except when it snowed so much that school was closed. That meant that I had to stay home and suffer through whatever mood my mother might be in.
When it snowed, we wanted to go out and play in the snow. We lived out in the country, on two acres of land that had a bit of a slant. That made for excellent sledding. Sometimes it was so good we might not stop in time and either run into the trees on the edge of the yard, or go between them and right out onto the road.
The problem, though, was that whenever we wanted to go outside, we had to ask permission first. For me, this was a scary action. I was always afraid of my mother. Living like this caused great anxiety, GERD, and other behaviors such as theft and arson. Yes, you read that correctly – arson. There was also other behavior problems but I’m not going to go into them here. That is for another post.
If she was in a bad mood, she would not allow us to go outside to play. This doesn’t make any sense, as that meant we were trapped inside with her, and subject to her moods if we played too loudly, or ran in the house.
If she was in a good mood, she would let us go out, but only after bundling up in so much winter clothing, we could barely move. But once we got outside, it was great. We would slide down the hill if the snow was right. We would build snow forts and fire snow balls at one another. We also dug tunnels and caves in the snow that piled up high from the driveway being plowed. This was one of my most favorite activities, and one of my fondest memories. When we were cold and wet enough we went back inside.
I had an escape route that could take me away from my mother’s moods. When I started learning to read, I was hungry for more and more books to read. Once I was older, I could spend and entire day, in my room, reading books that I brought home from the school library.
Reading was an activity that grew with me, and stayed with me, until I got sick and my cognitive abilities and memory were very poor. Due to a lack of concentration, I could never stick with a book long enough to read it and enjoy it. To this day, I have several books around my apartment, with bookmarks in them, never to be picked up again.
This was a sad turn of events for me, but my appetite for the Internet turned into an obsession, and it still controls me to this day. I just switched from one kind of control (my mother) to the Internet, to which I can honestly say I am addicted to. It controls me by causing me to miss medication doses, ignore the TV entirely, and even forgo meals.
I have to admit that I’m not even trying to break this form of control. It’s my only opening to the outside world, where I can go wherever I want, whenever I want.
First of all, and most importantly, I am a survivor of incest – father. My first blog post started out in limbo, but gravitated to poetry, written to express feelings as they arose.
But I also had an ongoing fear relationship with my mother, whose moods were unpredictable, often changing at the drop of a hat. These moods were almost always negative, and I lived my life in fear of her. She was also a mean person, to us kids (3), towards my dad, grandmother, and even to her boyfriend, whom she lived with after my dad died.
I have MS and sometimes write about struggles that I sometimes experience. I also do adaptive sports from my wheelchair. I’ve played table tennis, 9-ball, archery, air rifles, bowling, softball, kayaking, basketball, Pickle ball, and more things that don’t come to mind now.
My goal is to stay active, continue to travel, and take pictures along the way, as I carry my camera everywhere I go.
I remember, even as a small child, being told constantly what she wanted me to do, and what she didn’t want me to do. It never seemed that I could do anything right, and I couldn’t seem to please them. This carried on into elementary school, junior high, and high school. I was constantly causing trouble while I was in school, since I couldn’t do anything fun at home. I got myself a reputation for being a brat, sassy, and refusing to behave. This behavior was the result of physical, mental and sexual abuse at home.
I started learning to play the clarinet, when I was ten. I kept this up. I got involved with the Music programs at school, and I finally found a direction. I thought. I stopped causing trouble and concentrated on my music, teaching myself some piano, learning how to play both the alto, and tenor saxophones, and this filled up all my free time. My plans were to major in Music at a college, and become a music teacher. Good intentions. I applied at schools and was accepted at a 2-year school two hours away from home. I was on my way. I thought.
I moved away home and found a new freedom that I’d never experienced before. I became a full-time cigarette smoker, and started drinking mixed drinks. After about a year, alcohol became more important than school, and by my fourth semester, I dropped out. I soon ran out of money and had to move back home.
After all that freedom, I was right back where I started from. To me this was intolerable. I applied to join the US Navy, and within two weeks, found myself on an airplane, headed for Boot Camp in Orlando, FL.
I do not remember much of that night before I raised my right hand and committed myself to serving my country. I was back to having someone telling me what to do, what to wear, when to wear it, when to eat, when to sleep, and pretty much everything else they wanted me to do.
Somehow, I made it through Boot Camp and was transferred to the Great Lakes Naval Station, in Great Lakes, IL. Once again, I found that freedom, just not as much of it, and I was on my way. I thought. After 9 months of Naval service, I was discharged for unsuitability due to alcohol abuse, and not recommended for re-enlistment. I had failed again.
After my discharge, I wandered aimlessly from one abusive relationship to another, seeking out those who would be abusive, because that was all I knew. I eventually stopped drinking enough to get myself through a 4-year school, and graduate with honors. I started working almost immediately, in a position that suited what I had just finished school for. This was it! I was on the right track. I thought. Trouble was, that track was going in more than one direction. I left that job that I was very good at, to start work at a new company. This was it. They sent me to another company to learn a new software program, that was to be used to keep track of inventory. I learned it well, and I came back to my job, armed with a purpose, a task, and a direction. I thought.
Unfortunately, due to stress from this job, which I was not performing in the way I should have been, and a family history of mental illness, I caved in to my own mental illness. I lost that job, and spent the next couple years, jumping from job to job, and psych unit to psych unit. I was lost and I feared I was never coming back from that abyss. I spent a lot of time in therapy sessions, both group and individually, went through several medications, therapists, and even doctors, before they seemed to find the proper mix of all the above, and I started to find myself.
I learned that if I kept my mouth shut, I would stay out of trouble, just like in Boot Camp. This time I was not going to give up. About three years later, I was diagnosed with MS, and that brought me to a halt. I had a disease, though not terminal, would eventually wear me down to become bed-ridden, and then die. This time, though, I was not going to give up. I decided I was not going to give up on me.
I had learned that I needed to find a direction to go, and to go there. I needed to diligently follow this direction, and stay active in the process. While I was still in the hospital, I learned about their adaptive sports wheelchair team. This simply amazed me.
Every year, I would prepare for the upcoming trip to a new city, honing my skills in one sport or another. I found I liked being in competition with other veterans who were in wheelchairs, in a multitude of sporting events. I was also in competition with myself, to do the best I possibly could.
Something else happened after I got out of the hospital. I needed an aide three times a week to help me with the household chores and such. My second aide was a Pastor’s wife. She liked to ask me a lot of questions about my past experiences with religion, until I told her that I didn’t want her asking me these things, as this made me uncomfortable.
But something changed, and I started asking her questions about her church, which was a biker church! I asked her if she would pick me up for church. She did, and continued to do so. I had found God, and I found my direction.
I made it my goal to become a better person all together. I started being nice to people, and was treated so in return. I learned what was expected of me due to my religious beliefs, and I started living my life this way.
Day by day, I roll on, doing the things I need to do, to please God and live the life He wants for me. Now, when I get up in the morning, I know what the day is going to be like, even if I don’t know what is actually going to happen.
Today, I don’t walk with intention, but I roll with intention, with goals and a new-found reason for living. Now, I live that life as best I can. I sometimes fall, but I just pick myself back up, and keep on going. People who know me have seen the change in me that has occurred during the past few years, and they like what they see. I like what I see in others, and want others to have the life like the one I was living.
I strive for improvement, and knowledge, and a life filled with opportunities for so much more than I never dreamed of. Now I roll with intention. I have found out who I am, and who I can be. And I never thought that was going to happen.