|5 years ago :: Apr 04, 2009 - 6:54PM #1|
I was three years old when I first heard the voices; I had been suffering from a high fever of 105 degrees for four or five days. The voices I heard were a mixture of angry, garbled, tones that sounded like the voices of the adult characters in the "Charlie Brown" T.V. Cartoon. I also experienced short visions of my parents and brother acting peculiar in a violent way towards me. These visions or hallucinations were very scary to me and with the sounds of the voices; I was feeling terrified and alone.
What I would realize after 37 years is that I suffered from schizophrenia and untreated I was self will run riot in my life up until my diagnoses in the year 2000. What I remember was days experiencing violent thoughts and extreme sensations that occurred when I felt any feelings; anger was the most prevalent of the emotions I lived with.
Living with my parents through my childhood up until I was kicked out of my father house when I turned eighteen was a series of emotional difficulties that forced me to live alone in my head as I grew up.
All the schools I went to (nine in all) put me through extensive mental health tests. No doctor or therapist told me why I was being tested, only after the test my parents were quietly asked to come in for a teacher and parent conference, which was kept secret from me. I only found out about it when I accidentally found a letter from the psychologist that did the test on me, asking my parents to meet with him because he had found some disturbing behaviors that need to be examined. I showed the letter to my step mom and she snatched away telling me angrily that it was not any of my business. She told me not to worry about the letter, that the psychologist was just being an asshole and making trouble. This was my first experience of how my parents dealt with my mental illness, denial.
Throughout my childhood up through my teens I suffered from my illness alone and afraid. My parents told me I would grow out of my peculiar behavior and that I was a unique person that would be famous someday. Little did they know that my illness would lead me to be on national TV when I was an adult?
My father felt the only way to deal with me was through emotional attacks and violent drunken behavior towards me, him basically blaming me for my behaviors and expecting me to change my conduct with the snap of his fingers.
The abuse was usually screaming at me in my face and threatening me by grabbing my shoulders and shaking me, demanding that I grow up and be mature. My father would constantly remind me how grateful I should be for his tolerance that he showed me for my bad behavior. I was convinced that if I could change my attitude and shape up that he would love and honor me as his son and not treat me like a broken animal on his farm.
The violence continued when I went to school, teachers and administrators expected me to shape up or ship out. My classmates stayed away from me and gossiped about me in class while I was in earshot of their voices.
I was convinced no one especially my parents, liked or cared about me because I was fat and stupid. The words fat and stupid were repeated to me over my entire childhood, especially from girls when I was a teen. Fat and stupid were my father's favorite description of me when he spoke about me to his friends and other family members.
I remember having a weight problem growing up, food was my best friend, my only friend most of the time. I compulsively overate gaining as much as a hundred and fifty pounds by the time I was a senior year in Highschool.
The abuse continued and as I turned fifteen, I was an invisible alcoholic and drug addict that kept to myself drinking and doing drugs in the park or in the forest nearby my home. My brother dealt with my father by running away from home leaving me to fend for myself.
I realize in my adult life, that my basic need at the time was to be loved. I filled that void by being abusive toward girls in school and my half sister at home. I thought acting like my father was a way to get a girlfriend and have a relationship. My actions only drove girls away from me and my sister became scared of me. I now understand that I really did become like my father, an abuser.
When I did something that flagged my father, he usually acted out by either yelling at me or ignoring me. When I got five A's and one B in my school report card he punished me for not getting all A's. When I flunked out of school, my father ignored me and refused to speak to me. Which was fine by me, at least I didn't have to listen to his bellowing.
When I won a seat on the City Council as the Youth representative of my town I lived in, my father ignored me and refused to come to my honoring dinner that was held for me. He said that he was to busy making a real living then going to a dinner that acknowledged me for doing something I wasn't getting paid for. He even refused to come to the Memorial Day Parade when I rode in the open top car with the Mayor.
When I turned eighteen, three months short of my graduation from Highschool, my father handed me $300 and the keys to a used car that he couldn't sell, and kicked me out of the house. He told me I had become a man now, go live on the streets, and find your own way. He expected me to live in my car and finish Highschool alone. I ended up living with an alcoholic aunt in an old run down house sleeping with her dog in a pile of dog shit and unwashed dishes strewn throughout the house. My aunt had a mental illness and lived alone until I came too her door.
Five years later, after living in a cardboard refrigerator box in Chicago on the streets, I found myself faced with either going to jail or sobering up in AA meetings. I am 26 years sober and I am medicated and living with my wife and son in a Chicago suburb having four children and three grandchildren.
Last week at a seminar, I had to relive my teenage life all over again. I entered the seminar to learn to become a mentor. There were several processes that I experienced that brought up the abuse my father and stepmother had shown me growing up.
One of the processes was to act as if I were my father and introduce my son (me) to the other men in the circle. I said, "Hello, I'm John Smith, I am vice president of General Motors and a very good provider of my family." I went on. "I am a Republican and head of the local Republican party in my district. I am very active in my church and live with my wife and daughter in our home in Springfield." Then I got to my introduction. "Oh, and by the way this is my son Frank, he is a big disappointment in my life, and enough said."
The other men in the room were very moved by my introduction of myself, I was in tears. I am Forty-nine years old and up until now, I still felt that my father views me as a disappointment. To this day, my father abuses me over the phone. He belittles me and he still thinks I am fat and stupid. I have been deeply wounded by my father I survive by feeling guilty for my bad behavior; still believing that it is my behavior that I must change.
I left the seminar feeling stronger than I ever have, most of the day I was in tears, yet I had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I was no good, and I felt that guilt still.
The following Thursday I worked on this feeling with my therapist, I discovered that my father was an abuser for the first time in my life. I understood the guilty feeling nagging at me was an old a tiresome emotion that trailed behind me throughout my life telling me that I had to change, rather than my father having to change.
I am now free of this guilt, I have had extensive therapy and I am cured of this addiction I have to my father and wanting to get him to tell me he loves me and wants me in his life. My basic need is to be loved; I now know I can fill that need by accepting the love of my family as a replacement for my father.
I looked at my father and discovered he has the same basic need that I have his need to be loved. Knowing he has a basic need relieves me of the need to fulfill his need to be loved. I cannot blame my father for his behaviors, he was taught to be a father by his father, and his father was taught by his before him, as far back as three hundred years.
I find it to be my duty to break that chain of shame that has followed my family throughout its history. My Grandsons will not have to experience my abuse to them, my sons lives can be repaired as long as I am honest and forthright with them starting right now. The abuse must stop here! It cannot continue any longer. I will become a boy's mentor with my experiences. I will not be a perpetrator with those experiences any longer.
Dao Lotus Bear