I often wonder where to start when I think about writing. Do you start when you were a child or do you start with the most recent trauma? For some of us, life has been full of heartache and trauma. After so many bad things happen to one person, it gets harder and harder to pinpoint the root of anxiety or depression or PTSD. You can accuse this person or this event of being the culprit but how do you really know?
I have been through so many shitty things in my life that its hard for me to tell the difference between what actually caused and what just triggers my mental illnesses. I know my PTSD and the root of that particular beast but what about the others?
To be able to figure that out, I guess I have to start at the beginning. The very beginning…the first memory I can remember. Its actually two memories that have become tangled into the same time-frame but because I was so young I don’t think I was able to attach the concept of time yet.
So, lets just say it was somewhere around 3 years old. I remember running around the yard in my daddy’s work boots. They were really big and came up really high on my legs and I had to walk funny to be able to move around. I remember my mom and dad laughing at me. That’s it. A few moments in time full of laughter and fun before the first bad memory creeps in to take over.
Let me preface this with the fact that my parents weren’t bad people. They were both young at only 20 and 18 when I was born and victims of their own shitty parents and circumstances. So, I tend to give them a little bit of wiggle room for error when I look at how they grew up and the kind of people that raised them. But this isn’t about their childhoods or them as parents, in particular, so lets move on.
Back to the first shit memory.
I was young. Young enough to still be writing on the walls with crayons. Maybe like 3 or 4 years old. My mom was home and watching t.v. on the couch while I played in my room. My doorway faced the hall which ended in the living room at the back of the couch. My dad had just gotten home from work. He was wearing a dirty white t-shirt and jeans with his work boots. He had a lunch box in his hand when he passed the hallway to go to the kitchen. He went into the kitchen and started griping at my mom for not cleaning. He asked her about some money he had left her to do laundry or something and she told him she bought beer with it. I don’t remember the exact words but I know they were arguing and yelling at each other. My mom was still laying on the couch while they argued until my dad walked to the back of the couch and flipped it over with her on it.
This whole time, I am standing in my doorway watching and listening to what’s going on and writing on the wall with my crayons. I’m not sure why I was just standing in the doorway writing on the wall but that’s what I remember and that’s what gave me the target on my back. My dad was angry and in a rage because mom hadn’t taken care of the house while he was at work all day. He looked down the hall for a second and saw me standing there. He noticed what I was doing and charged down the hallway like a bull to a red cape. I don’t remember him grabbing me, I just remember being ‘spanked’ while being held down on the bed. I remember my mom screaming for him to stop and grabbing him and him pushing her back. I don’t remember if I cried or screamed. I don’t remember anything except him spanking me and my mom freaking out and trying to stop him.
That’s my earliest memory other than the boots in the backyard.
My dad was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1996 and committed suicide in 1997. He was abused physically, mentally, and sexually throughout his childhood by his father. He attempted suicide two years prior to his death. He struggled with anger, depression, and self-loathing and esteem issues his whole life.
His uncontrollable emotions were a symptom of his mental illness, untreated, and led to many episodes that he regretted and probably contributed to the guilt and shame he felt that led to his eventual death.
I wish I had more memories like that of the boots in the yard. Most of my memories are of some fucked up event or person. Like my dreams, nothing good ever happens in my memories.