“13”: A Transient Alter’s Birth, Death, and Power

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Note:
It’s taken some 47 years, and an apparent fugue state lasting 10 weeks to realize that these “old” alters, some leftovers from childhood, still can have an enormous impact on my, or ‘our’ lives, costing friends, money, and trust of family.

But “I” – or rather a number of my own “selves”, figured out something about “our” system of alters, and alter ‘creation’ – that this always shifting system can literally drive us mad, depending on outside forces and internal ethics and drives, some of which are incompatible, others that make no sense, not in this world, or times.  (For example: at the end of this fugue state we found ourselves in a state run mental institution where, true to form, ALL rights and privileges as a human being are denied, including safety of self, and harm from other residents.)

It’s taken a lot of time to figure out WHY some alters have no names.  Instead we’ve always regarded them as ‘numbers’ which can roughly be translated as those alter’s “birth dates”.  They were never given a name because they were to be “transient alters”, or selves to ‘help’ us all over, or through, or under, a rough patch in our lives. Some still exist in a very “alive” and aware state; “Mikie” (an alter which “shields” the young real child) is one of them; so are “13” and “21” (who we suspect later ‘died’ at “24” and then another was ‘born’, but we’re not certain, and it’s getting ahead of my selves.)

“13” had a purpose, but never a name. Neither does 21. Each was created around “that age” to deal with the issues of the time, most notably loneliness, depression, dejection, a sense of being ‘lost’; massive amounts of depressions surrounding problems we were unable to dissolve (caste into forgetfulness) or resolve (figure a ‘nice’ of human way out of things).

Even as a small child ‘I’ was left to our own to deal with my own problems.  That was the BoyInLightform and nature of our house. Difficult emotions were not to be expressed, not even to family.  If you had a problem, YOU had to deal with it, mouth shut, eyes dry and chin up. Even facial expressions had to be controlled.  After all, a hard mouth or frown was considered rebellion, anger allowed, but controlled, and sadness?  Never.  Everything counted, and expressions and body language counted as much as words, if not more.

But I digress. The physical conditioning my parents and Army environment put me through, as well as the “good ol’ boy politics” and shut-mouth clan style abuse went hand in hand with me.  There was a good reason I told my father to stop hugging me when I was 8, though it had nothing to do with my father.  (My mother never hugged, nor ever embraced her own children.)  I was getting them from someone else, not in the nicest of environments, and not in the ways I wanted.  For me sex became an expression of “I love you / I want you as a friend”.  It was always about them, it seems, (a child’s voice/mind echoes in my head, remembering for me) with me doing the performing and them getting the pleasure.

But then again, this has nothing, and yet everything to do with “Thirteen”.


The Story of Thirteen.

By the time ‘I’ was 13 years old we’d come back from overseas, I’d lost all of my best friends, including one whom I’d treasured deeply, and for whom I’d literally would’ve done anything.  We arrived “back home, Stateside”AmericaTown to the same old redneck neighborhood deep in the boondocks where I’d spent my young years between 5 and 10 (with a year off to North Carolina) living in my abuser’s house (they were gone) right next to our old ex-home.  I hated living there.

Arriving late in the fall I was put in a school I hated, for it’s civilian and racist disorder was neither military nor disciplined.  They’d put me in totally the wrong classes – advanced trigonometry for a student who was failing basic math due to all those moves we made, and bookstackremedial reading despite me having tested and proven to have a Junior college reading comprehension and vocabulary level . . . totally twisted ‘me’, the junior rising student, around . . .

I’d read “Run, Jane, run. Watch Spot chase the ball,” in one class while being tortured in band class (I played the sousaphone/tuba; had for a number of years in a concert band over in Germany) . . . the “weird” kid, the one who didn’t know anybody, while being totally lost in math class as well as many others (the students were too disruptive to learn much in any case), only to go home to a gutted neighborhood which possessed only long ago nightmares, and some which had come true . . .

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For despite my coming home to my old neighborhood, all my nightmares about had come true.  Nothing was the same.  The sandy country lane was street paved, all good friends gone, remaining friends turned into strangers, or in their own cliche’s & cache’s of good friends running wild while we, the relatively ‘new’ old neighbors, were now considered new in town and having “weird” attitudes and stories these country hicks could not beleive.

To make matters worse, early spring my parents informed me we were moving again, for the umpteenth time in just a handful of years – about 17 in 4, I think it was, and while we staying there waiting for the house to close, it was time to say goodbye again to all our new-old and somewhat rejecting good friends, or at least the few that remained.  But they’d changed so much (or none at all, in some ways) while I’d gone through some experiences “they” (all the other kids in the neighborhood) could not even begin to understand.  SkierFrom skiing in the Alps to roaming through ancient and oft times forbidden Roman ruins; touring Europe, spending time learning war crafts and training with G.I.’s out in the field, sometimes for months at a time (but only during the day, and sometimes at night); seeing my first Blackhawk fly around (upside down, too – how useless that seemed) – learning to sit in the co-pilot seat of a Cobra helicopter and shoot and target the mini-gun . . . war, war, Huey Cobra Front and more war; the East German Wall, Berlin, shot up cars, tank battles, G.I.’s smoking & joking in the field while we made friends and spied on them; the heavy smell of O.D. green canvas giving off that unique Army scent that still says “You’re home . . . sorta.”

Missing that, having no friends, we were were transferred to a new school, and “graduated” to a “real house” – high class compared to the redneck lifestyle, living in a moderated and maintained middle class suburban neighborhood.

My parents had finally caught up with the Jones’s, and we were on our way ‘somewhere’, I reckon, but I was left guessing “what was the plan?” with no knowledge nor plan for the future . . .

ThinIce

Future.  If there was one, I didn’t know anything about it.  Things remained the same mysteries.  Six weeks of in-room restriction for every school infraction in school, including any “D’s” I had earned (no help on the homework, either, and tutoring was out of the question since I’d have to make my way home on my own) – the beatings continued, but were somewhat abated in length and frequency (probably due to the fear the neighbors would hear my brother whining and howling.  I, on the other hand, was a stupidly stubborn and stoic child who would refuse to scream . . . until my father had beat some out of me.)

I installed a wind-chime “alarm” 4 inches inside my bedroom door after being infrequently awakened “alarm style” for failing to get up in a proper manner, trusting in its gentle ring to wake me into rising before someone could grab me and beat the snot out of my sleeping ass . . . (pardon any cussing; 13 is quite a sassy child, in his own strong minded way, which is, I think, part of ‘our’ problem).

It only grew worse from there.

Ripped

How my heart felt at about that time.


 

I knew the moment I walked into the kitchen; I’d suspected something “other than normal” was up smelling the bacon and watching my mom work her way around the kitchen island, complete with counters above and below, forming a rectangular opening through which she’d sometimes throw crockery, dishes, and plates at us.  (We were always left to clean up her mess after a period of long expert ducking and weaving thrown and ofttimes hard objects at us, including some knives some of the times.)

“I’m going to need you boys to give me some more help around here,” she announced, setting a few slices of bacon on her plate.  Disappointment set in as I realized there was none for me and/or my brother, who was being his typically late own self at getting there.  She looked up at me, a fat and chubby kid wearing glasses and teenage zits.

“Your father isn’t going to be telling you what to do anymore,” she said, sitting.  And I knew, RIGHT THEN.

A divorce was coming.

I could smell it as clear as the bacon and my stomach grumbled.  I went around the counter and got my cereal bowl.

“He’s going to try to get you boys on HIS side,” she ‘gently’ explained in her matter-of-fact hard ass way.  “He doesn’t want you to get upset about anything he’s doing . . .”

“Okay mom,” I said, sitting down.  I really didn’t care any more at this point.  The rest would just be a matter of how things went down – form and function.  I knew nothing but this: a divorce was in the offing (though I had no reason to suspect one) and it would be long and ugly and useless.  For, looking up at her surreptitiously, and knowing my own dad too well for his own good as well as mine, (and I don’t mean in any sort of sexual way) – I knew:

This “divorce” would not, could not last.

After all – she was helpless without him, and he was just sort of a son-of-a-bitch and a closet sadist when he wasn’t ignoring us all to the best of his means, which usually meant “studying” – reading those long college books which he was busily marking up with things for me to read and study on my own.  (Psychology mostly, with a good bit on abnormal psych, hypnosis techniques and its limitations thereof, plus a good hit on the sociology side, which I was pretty familiar with by this time, courtesy of my traveling and training all the time.)

She shut up and I ate and went on my own way.   Because if I knew anything about my two torturing parents – one loved to torture the other, or us it seemed(s), all the time – I could sense the co-dependency of their abuse and abusive relationship they were in; their complete dependency on one another to keep feeding them (and taking some) that pain that only decades ago I realized made them (and still does make them) feel somewhat alive . . .

And I KNEW:  It wouldn’t last.  They couldn’t be happy without making each other miserable.  No one in their rational or right mind would put up with it, nor how they ignored, then crippled, their own children in SO many ways, and not only physical.

And so it would be.  About a year to the day after that costly breakfast their divorce was finalize, and on the day after that they were married again.  It was a JP wedding, and I wished for rocks to throw.  I still wish I’d had some.

Enough on that.  Needless to say it took a year, cost the family a lot of money – when the subject of “where do you kids want to go? Live with your father, or at the family home with your mom?” I simply told them: “Whoever my brother goes with? I’m going with the other.”  Because I knew how this would all break down, and I wanted to be a pain in BOTH their asses . . . but my father wouldn’t accept me (he had his own girlfriend and their, now about a year later, problems to deal with) – into his own apartment, and my brother, despite being older, but having such a juvenile mind, chose, as he’d been told to do, his own mother to live with . . .

Harlows Monkeys

Harlow’s Monkeys

So I was doomed to live with my mom while going to this new school I had to contend with – now on the furthest side of town (thank you to ‘busing’ us students all around); plus a whole lot of grief on that end where there were no new-old friends to encounter, and everything (civilian at least) seemed a bit strange, off, and out of kilter a bit.

I had often found my peers childish, and had no interest in their games, sexual or otherwise.  I still liked having fun, but spit balls and meaningless pranks or innuendos were just so much juvenile bullshit to me.

I’d already learned, or knew, more about sex than any of them, or as best I could learn – and I knew a LOT, having read non-fiction books on the subject by endless book – not just ‘sexual’ but about sex, while a younger child overseas, plus having experienced a lot of the stuff even earlier, and during my tour . . .

There was no way I was going to go through those childhood games again, knowing you only get hurt, that everyone leaves in a little while, and most of all they’re gonna betray you.  Everyone always goes, and they always do.  No phone calls, no feelings, and that was not just home – that was anywhere in my life any more . . .


The Machine Is Born

ThinkerI remember the day clearer than most, for it was “when I was born”, or rather gave birth to a new something.  For “I”, 13, or Thirteen, had decided after a long year of deciding that we’d had enough of loneliness and isolation and a life without any friends.  It had taken a whole year of thinking about it to arrive at a solution to our decision, but “I”<13> had finally come to one.

We’d been conversing with another student through “table top” graffiti; that is, communicating through the thick layers of other students’ writings on the ancient desks us students sat at.  Ancient things, relics of a long lost era, bolted to the floor with their ink wells showing through.  Each sat independent of each other.  There were no moving around, for your seat belonged to the student who sat behind you.

Thus is was on this wonderful spring day morning while “I” contemplated all our own life had yielded, and what it had led to.

Love, that was the problem I at once decided, looking around at Mister B’s classroom.  It was the science lab and my first home room class, and I looked forward to seeing Mr. B.  He was after all a first rate science teacher, or he should have.  But instead over the months at this new school – no friends, none at home to speak of either.  I’d been ‘hiding’ out in my room reading, mostly, and mostly despite my own parents objections, due to their own behavior.  They were about in the 5th month of their divorce game by now, and I’d had my share of 6 week restrictions due to my failing grades in pre-algebra from day one now.

But I’d had it by now. Kinda. Sorta.  I was still hanging onto this one last hope – that perhaps a rational man, one who had to have been kind hearted, seeing as he was a preacher and all . . . never mind that he was black, that made no difference in my mind at all.  (Due to that military influence, no doubt.)  Just his position in that school – 7th grade science teacher, and a wonderful (at least to me and my mind at the young age) science lab . . .

I was looking forward to talking to him, too.

But first I wanted to make up my mind about a serious issue which had been plaguing me ever since “we’d” all got home.

What to do with myself and the way I was feeling.

And, I decided, the very best thing was . . .

That’s when the teacher walked in.  I approached him later, but it was too late, and all too disappointingly familiar. Rather than deal with my problems (and a white boy no less, I only realized much later into my teens) he referred me and “my” problem (I told him about my parent’s getting divorced and pretended some confusion as to which way I should go: to live with my father, or mom).

Instead he sent me to a gay ass councelor who couldn’t keep his ass from swinging through the corridors all the way down to his office in the hall, which he kept dimly lit and smelling of suggestion.

That “I” and me and mine did not appreciate at all, and then we ALL knew how the solution went.

If one doesn’t feel anything, then there is no problem.  Go all intellect, and no emotion at all.

In short, become not like a machine, but BE a machine: cold in heart, intellect, and keeping all the “spirits” down.  Allow nothing out by allowing nothing in, nor inwards.

And so, sitting there in Mister B’s class on that wonderful spring morning, devoid, friendless, staring down at the blank words, I thought the thought and “killed” us all.

And damned if I didn’t do it again a time or two, even though 21 (through 24) fought us off. It works sometimes, dredging that old Machine and armor up, putting it ‘on’, drenching ourselves in cold feelings, and shoving all our love, hurts, hates, and emotions aside.

However, as 21-through-24 is bound & apt to tell us: it’s no solution at all, and one that’s gotten a good bit less viable as we’ve gotten older and aquired a family.

As “13” I still feel . . . left behind, unloved, unused, and yet I’m certain I am a ‘part’ of a strong family; however, there’s still “bits” of me (littler ones) left somewhat further behind, and those pains still have some healing – if they ever can be healed of their pain – before we can move on with this.

 


 

Endnote:

Adult alter here: It looks like we’re making some progress; some of those alters we “feel” are left trapped in Germany, and around the world.  People and parts of people – children, horribly disappointed, abused, forced to do things they don’t want, living in an insecure world which they’ve been told – no, they KNOW! – can be blown up in a nuclear explosion at any time, or else the East Germans might come over in their tanks & jets blowing everything up . . . being on the constant aware, prepared, and yet exploring a new country, sometimes several of them in a day, always changing, drifting like a leaf, but I found one, one friend whom I could stand beside (I was about 12 around then) – and then I lost him through no fault of mine, but rather the military and my dad . . .

It just gets more painful from then, and for that we can go to the top of this story.

But I think perhaps you, the reader, can get a feel for how a child can be broken down many a time and made not just into “something else” (for the Army to use if nothing else) but many something else’s, through a groundless friction, keeping them on the move all the time, denying them friends, making them self-sufficient, but aware enough to develop a sense of teamwork – to LEAD a team if it came down to it, killing Russians or whatever it took for them to survive, make it to the coast perhaps, perhaps coming home to America, knowing it would be a ruined land by that time . . .

How do you prepare a child for that kind of outcome while being kind to them all the time?  Most of the G.I.’s and soldiers were – very kind and generous to a fault. But we took advantage to them, and of them, as we were taught, and misdirected their leaders into making mistakes – as we were taught again, sometimes sowing confusion into the ranks . . . all the while playing the deceptive enemy, the children of fellow soldiers sometimes . . . while daring our lives at night on a sentry’s bullet not taking our heads off for stealing ammunition from the ammo dump . . . learning how the CIA reads maps, matching photo ones to topo arrangements . . . how to sow division and chaos amongst enemies and people in general, sabotage, and more . . .

No use; all that education ‘wasted’ and a civilian life?

It just seemed impossible; I had no friends, nor after the Machine wanted more.  I was done with them, everything.  If it was human I condamned it, shutting it aside, and condemning my own feelings until, within a day or so, we had it down.

The Machine had sprung to life.

It would remain, and all of us ‘trapped’ somewhat in it (while still experiencing all the normal feelings a childhood teen might have) until we reached 21 or so.

 

And that was the Birth, Death, and Life of “13” who still lives quite heartily within us at all times.  He is not in the Machine, but apparently not quite happy “here” with the life we lead, which is why, I and my more adult alters think he and 21 “ganged up” on all of us and shut the system down – so they could have a “party” with the body and mind – one which cost me, and us, a lot of thngs.

But I can feel it: they simply, and somewhat selfishly, do not care.