Back to the ‘Hood        

 

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you know we left “the Hood” to do a year’s stint in North Carolina – yanking me from one culture and dropping me in another.  And even there we were yanked around.  My dad did something which removed us from ‘civilian culture’ – a nice newish brick house on the end of a cul-de-sac – to the rough and tumble world of enlisted housing (in apartments, no less – my first experience with them as well!)

As we’ve determined, these moves (coupled with the physical, mental, emotional, and social abuse) contributed towards the fracturing of my “child’s personality”.  It seems for each ‘place’ – the longer ‘we’ stayed, the more apt I was to build a ‘person’ to handle that place, those circumstances, and a whole bunch of other things.  This is a continuation of that tale . . . Tales from the Hood, I reckon I oughta call them . . .

We left Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when I was ten years old, going back to our home in the ‘hood.  Arriving back in the ‘hood was like slipping on a well worn glove – we fitted in seamlessly, as though we’d never been away. Immediately the old patterns re-emerged, the shirts came off, the shoes slipped to the side, and everything was as it had been before — rough, unpaved, and set in the sandy hills of a backwards backwoods Southern neighborhood. During the first two weeks in the ‘hood my best friend and I fought – an agreed upon fight, just to see who could beat up who. I won, maintaining the status quo, and we both walked away – arm in arm, grinning at our injuries, friends despite our battle. Odd how that always went with my best friend and I. No matter how bad our fights were, we always made right back up immediately.

Among the changes when we came back was my father’s horror at the treehouse we’d built, so high in that mighty pine. Declaring it “too dangerous” for boys to climb (despite the fact we’d been using it for years), he went up there and tore it down while all of us kids gathered to watch in despair. We’d worked so hard to build the thing, taking such great risks getting the lumber up there – and he disassembled it in one afternoon. That was my dad – always destroying what us kids had built, whether it be a playhouse, a fort, or our own self-esteem – then walking away to leave us, sometimes for years at a time. He never helped us, not that I recall, except for me, one time,in a fight I was losing. Usually he was caught between ignoring us or beating us; one or the other, and we always at odds with ourselves when he was gone, because he would be leaving us with our sometimes cruel, psychotic and always strange mother.  At least when he was there her anger at men — and her rage at life in general — would be directed at him, not taken out on us quite so often.

Other things, too, had changed. The teenager, who hadused and betrayed me, was pretty much leaving us younger boys alone. I guess we were getting too old for him, or perhaps he’d grown to have other interests – he hung around his teenage friends more, and they’d often go off driving. Not that that stopped us kids from doing what he’d taught us; we had learned more than we should of, that I know. But for me it was something I only did with my peers, and no longer with someone older. There were exceptions, of course – I know sometimes the teenager would have my friends do the things he’d taught us to him.  I know because they would sometimes come to do them with me, afterwards.  But after the way he had shamed and betrayed me, I never joined in again. I was afraid he’d just laugh at me, or hurt me in the way he had. That shame and sense of being used was too strong in me, and is something I still have within, albeit it is confined to the ‘inner child’ of mine, a much too real part of my internal personalities. Since I wasn’t having sex with him anymore (or maybe I was, I just don’t remember: I know I would have if he asked), I can’t be certain how much he was still preying on my friends, I just know that he sometimes still did.  And I know he was targeting the younger kids of the ‘hood, ones that had been my age when he’d started in on me. To this day I think he had a preference for kids between the ages of five and nine; he was always trying to get us to initiate those younger kids into sex, and then bring them to him. And yes, I am ashamed to say that I went along with his plan, but the kid I initiated never had sex with him. He wasn’t that in to it, and I soon quit my behaviors, realizing that he didn’t much care for it – and I’ve never been one to force someone into that, no matter how badly I may of wanted it. I don’t know why I was and am still that way, but I’m glad that I am. The only thing I can think of is that somewhere down the line, early in my childhood, I was forced to do those things against my will – but I can’t remember it.  There are dark spots in my mind and memory – and I’ve learned not to explore. Life can get bad that way sometimes, making your mind hole up and bury the things you’ve learned – when those things are too horrible to admit to yourself, or so bad it decides you shouldn’t know they happened. And from talking to my brother I’ve realized: there’s a lot of things I’ve “blocked out”, and in many cases it was (and is) for good reason.  What I do remember is the times I said “yes”, or begged for my abuser to molest me — a problem for me since it is a problem for my inner selves.  Some of them just can’t internalize that as rape; they see it as consenting, and therefore asked for — a shameful thing.  Oh well.  (That’s my standard statement for when I get hopelessly stuck on an issue: “oh well.”)

While I didn’t know it, this was to be my last year in the ‘hood as I knew it, and the year would end in many major changes, most of them disastrous, and affecting the entire life of almost everyone in the ‘hood. I would come back only one more time, half a decade later, to find that yes, nightmares do sometimes come true.

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