Tag Archive: marriage

The Tools They Were Given
(Tokoni 05/13/2009)

“They had to work with the tools they were given,” the shrinks said, but they never really explained it to me. I wonder if they really understood it themselves. It was a phrase handed out in college, like their diplomas – something to hang on the wall for us to see. A handy cliché, something to say when they couldn’t think of anything else. They have a lot of those phrases, dispensing them like candy pills – and in many cases, just as effective – which means it sounds sweet, but doesn’t do any good. It still doesn’t cure the sickness in your heart and in your soul. It isn’t the superglue that makes the mind whole. Trust me – I know.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking here lately. Part of that goes back to the story I wrote, “The Drum Beats Slowly”. The drum is thrumming, the mind is rolling, peeling back away the years – looking for experiences and motives, times and conditions. Onion peel – hell yes. I’m peeling back those layers, one by one. I wonder if onions cry when they are being peeled? I know it must hurt them; it hurts me. Just look how hard it is to peel an onion as you dig deeper through the layers. They don’t “peel”, you have to tear the skin off, ripping it with your fingernails and fighting your own tears are you dig deeper towards the core. And I – for now – am that core. And yes, as an onion, I can tell you: it hurts sometimes. Hurts really bad.

But I’m not going to go there right now – my skin is still fresh and bruised. Instead, I’m going to consider something else.

The tools they were given.

What do I know about my parents? What do I know about their family skills?

I’ll take the easy one first.

My dad. His mother was killed when he was young by a drunken driver. That drunken driver was his father, piloting the vehicle they were in. I didn’t discover this story until I was in my early forties – dad won’t talk about it, won’t mention it, and gets madder than hell if we do and simply storms off to go sulk in his room. What I do know about it I’ve gleaned from my mom, who had long been into genealogical research. She has talked to members of his own family, discovered the ‘family secret’ that he kept hidden so well – so well in part because he changed his name as soon as he was able. That’s how much he hated his drunken dad for taking his mother from him. (soft smile. Nothing stays hidden from mom, not for very long – nothing except my own secrets, and the secrets of my own madness – though she has long suspected something is ‘wrong’ with me. But then again, she has often said I am crazy – just like her, only in a similar, if somewhat different way. At least I sought help for my own particular type of insanity – after experiencing her’s for so long.)

I’m not certain, but I think my dad was in the car when his momma died. Again, not sure, but family rumor has it that his dad pulled out into an intersection against the light, getting rammed in the process. Of course into the passenger side, where his own bride sat. My dad was eight years old.

I know this (and because I’m from a military family, over a thousand miles from my extended family – always have been – information is sketchy at best). His aunt(s?) and uncle on his mother’s side took in all the children. I didn’t really realize he had two sisters until my forties, again. I thought they just lived with someone else; were a different set of children. I never knew they belonged with him.

His mother – or shall I say aunt? – was a doting old bitch. I know this from having met her several times. She even insisted my mother press and iron his underwear when my mother married him. (It was a frowned upon marriage by his extended family.) I don’t know where he got his mean streak from – he’s quite a sadist at times, has always been that way. I know the man who raised him – a great hunter with a natural eye for shooting – was gruff, but friendly to me and my brother. Me and my daughter have inherited that eye – we seem to be able to pick up a rifle or a shotgun and always put that round just where we want it. Amazing thing to me, to see my five year old daughter shooting my .357 with an unflinching eye, putting those rounds right where she wanted. Same with the .22. Dead shot every time. I guess it’s something we inherited. (some stories in that, needless to say!)

He grew up out west, in Wyoming, the lonely state. His ‘father’ (or uncle, if you’d rather), was a business owner and a businessman, who, I gather, also had a few Mafia connections. He owned a bottling plant – I won’t say which one (trademark issues), but my father worked for him for some time before joining the Army. It wasn’t long after that that he first met my mother.

I also know that my father changed his name as soon as he was legally able. That much he has managed to admit. He wouldn’t tell us what his ‘real’ last name was – that was something for my mother to find out. I rather wish he hadn’t changed it. I like his former last name much better; my daughter, too. His ‘new’ last name is just too hard to pronounce, and even then, he didn’t get it quite right. He changed it from his uncle’s last name to one of his own making – shortening it somewhat, and throwing off the “ie”. As a result I’ve always had to give my last name by spelling it. And of course, it’s often mispronounced. I feel like I have two last names – three, now, if you include the one my dad gave up when he was eighteen – because when asked, I say my last, then spell it right after. I’ve learned most folks won’t get it right the first time around. But I’m okay with that. I just wish my wife would let me use the name “Smith” or “Johnson” or “Jackass” (my favorite) when we go to a restaurant and have to leave our name to stand in line to wait. It would make life so much easier – for both the poor restaurant girls and me.

I also know that my dad suffered PTSD from his experiences in Korea – ones that left him so violent and enraged the Army (and this is the Army, mind you!) – determined that the best thing to do was put him in a hospital for a year – and then isolated him (along with others of his kind) on a small military outpost on a smaller Japanese island for another year – leaving them without treatment (the Army itself didn’t understand PTSD) to ‘heal’ on their own. It didn’t work.

My mother’s life I know much better. She was a lonely girl, despite being born into a large family. And they had it hard (unlike my dad, whose family had a bit of money – the bottling plant and Mafia thing, you know.) Her first mom and dad split up when she was young – but not so young that she couldn’t take care of the kids – her siblings. And when her mother married the second man – things went south. Quite literally.

They moved away from her family home in Iowa, where she had all her relatives and friends. Her new dad was a WWII vet, given to bouts of alcoholism and extreme violence. He had PTSD in every way imaginable. Apparently he was a front line infantryman during the Great War – or the second of the Great Wars – and saw a lot of truly, seriously bad s**t. We’re talking the ‘guy next to you head blown off’ face gone limbs mangled blown up bits of body type of stuff. The really bad stuff that if you think of being there, sends shudders down your soul. And I guess it kinda broke him – and not in a gentle way. From what I remember of him, he was a violent man with a bad temper, though he always treated us grandchildren okay. Not so much his own wife and kids. Apparently there were beatings and starvings. Things we’d call torture today. And they were poor poor. Hard core poverty. And my poor mom – she had to raise the children, though she was a child herself. Her mother was too involved in trying to keep her marriage together (which sounds familiar, given my mom and her marriage to my dad! ← new realization!). Her sister still leans on her like my mother is her mom – which is what my mom had to be to her then. I remember my grandmother on that side. She was . . . weak. Beautiful and frail. An artist and a writer (which is perhaps where I got those skills, eh?) Her letters to us always contained the most beautiful pictures and drawings in the margins and envelopes. But she was weak. Too weak to leave him, despite what he was doing to their family.

Screwed up relationships. That is what my mother and father were given. Those were the tools they had to use. For my mother: a hatred of a violent, PTSD, half-drunken father who couldn’t give a good G-D about their feelings or needs. One who, apparently, never told them that he loved them – because he couldn’t. He was a hard man. I know. I met him.

I was walking in the woods with my mom a few weeks ago. She has always bitterly complained how much she hates her (now dead) stepdad; how badly he would beat her, how she was put in charge of everything regarding her siblings, ‘the kids’. “The only thing he didn’t do was sexually molest me,” she said, her voice so bitter that I could almost hear the leaves dropping. “That came . . .” and she trailed off. I didn’t press the issue – god knows! – I know how hard it is to address that sort of stuff within one’s own self, much less admit it to someone else – much less admit it to her own (now adult) son.

But it left me wondering, and with little doubt.

It must of happened to her, too.

I’ll add this, before I close on this one.

My mom was desperate to escape from her ‘family’, if you want to call it that. Horribly, desperately wanting to escape an emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive stepdad, and the mother who was too weak to either control him, or leave him, and the children who depended upon her for their care. And she met my father at a USO dance one night. A few days later he proposed to her. Sher refused. He asked again. Again she said no. The third time was the charm. A week or two they were married. Within a year, my brother was born; a year and a half later, overseas, I was too.

She was trapped.

Just like her mother was.

So . . . these were the tools they were given. And now, in retrospect, I’ve discovered the secret of the phrase that the shrinks were given – and they gave to me. Even if they didn’t explain it at the time.

My parents couldn’t do any better because, I guess, they didn’t know any better. Or did they?

I found out. Why couldn’t they? Or perhaps – they viewed the treatment they gave me and my brother as so much ‘better’ than that they were given . . . that they thought what they gave us was good. What a normal family should be.

I’m going to have to do some more thinking about this one. It’s got me sorta confused – but I can see a point. A dim point of light there, at the long end of a tunnel. They were treated bad; I was treated better? Is that it? Even if better was “bad”? Does that excuse what they did? I don’t know.

And yeah – feel free to enlighten me on this one. Like I said: it’s sorta confusing. Kinda like my life sometimes.

I gotta quit for awhile. This onion is feeling . . . bruised and tender skinned. Let me dry awhile. Let that shell harden a bit Then we’ll dig deeper again.

(Note: Now it is 2011 – and I do feel much better!  Specifically, I started “feeling much better” on April Fool’s day for one of two reasons; then two of two reasons (one leading me – and us – to another, better reason) – and now many more (including love, Faith, and Forgiveness (some)).  You’d better read the rest of my blog (especially around that period) to even get a clue.  Until then – have faith, have hope, and carry on as best YOU can …. with the Tools YOU’VE been given.  Good luck, good faith, and have a lotta hope . . . and may the Peace of Love fill your Souls as well.

Jeff and Friends
May 2011

(we post this simply due to it follows logical succession.  First “Marrying the Girl Next Door“, then then this.  It makes sense.  One follows another follows another.  I would recommend reading them in proper order – and DO NOT START WITH THIS ONE.  Read them in order or else you will miss this – and the point of all this.  You can skip over “Sex In the Hood” – but it will give you some background information. )

This Was Mikie's Home for Many Years

My Child Bride
(Tokoni 05/25/2009)

The fate of my child bride has been weighing a tad heavily on my mind here lately – the girl I was “married” to when I was six in an impromptu wedding held in her back yard, conducted by her teenage brother, and attended by a lot of the kids in the ‘hood. (See “Marrying The Girl Next Door”.) What happened here happened some years after my introduction into the darker side of some of the “games”, so you gotta kinda bear that in mind. (I do.) But even still, this took place when I was about eight and she maybe seven, perhaps a little earlier for her. And to this day it still bothers me. And I imagine what I’ll say here will cause some folks to condemn me; others to exonerate me, but it really makes no difference. The only thing that ever helped was what a shrink once told me. I’ll get to that later.

It was a fine summer Georgia afternoon – hot and humid, but us kids didn’t mind. Odd how kids back then (and even now) don’t seem to feel the temperature discomforts the way us grownups do. I reckon it’s because they have other things on their mind than us stuffy old adults.

Now this is in the sand hill area of Georgia, slightly south of Augusta, where the pines grow straight and thin, and the scrawny oak trees beg comparison to mere shrubs. Ferns grew in some parts of the woods; in others those pan-shaped cactus with their long spiny leaves; also weedy growth – it comes in all shades and colors when the summer grows long and dry. “Sage” I heard one old timer call it; in some other places it’s just more dried grass, all of it surrounded by this white sand – the remnants of primordial beaches that dried up millions of years ago. Dig down far enough and you hit the ancient sea bottom – red clay and white kaolin, naturally grown and harvested. Georgia is known for it’s kaolin deposits; it’s a favorite artist’s clay worldwide. It is also, I understand, used for making paper, comes in Kaopectate, and some of the women even further down south eat it to fill some strange dietary need (see “the clay eaters”).

This particular afternoon my best friend and I are somewhere beyond his back yard – out in the scrub pines (pine barrens to some folks), along with his little sister – my little bride. I don’t know if she just came rolling up on her bicycle, or walked up there with us, and for the purposes of this story it really makes no difference. She was there; that’s all I know.

Now she and I were friends, but not much more than that despite our “marriage”, which had happened a year or so before. She was a quiet girl – very quiet – and I recall her face was usually bland and devoid of emotion. So were her eyes. She was a little bit shorter than me, with shoulder length hair; a tawny brown, with sand colored highlights, and she was wearing her eternal cotton print dress, one that stopped at her knees. My friend and I were of course dressed in our normal wear – cutoff shorts and nothing else. Bare feet were the norm; everyone wore them everywhere, even most of the grownups. After all, you didn’t want to wear out your shoes for church or school; those things were precious – plus they hurt our feet, especially when you’d get sand in them, which was a constant thing. My mom still mentions the sand – how it seemed to have an affinity for house floors, especially the cheap linoleum tile that everybody had – making ‘keeping things clean’ an almost impossible task, especially when the wind would get to blowing, or us boys would come traipsing in at the end of the day, called by the clanging of the triangular dinner bell suspended on the house.

I see I am dawdling here. Time to move on, get to the meat of the matter. (If you will excuse the pun. And no, it’s not punny.) But you’ll have to forgive me if I ramble a little bit, remembering the other things. Because this one is not good.

Me and my buddy – here we are out in the woods, when my friend turns to me (his sister is tailing behind – right behind – my ‘child bride’) – and says:

“Hey! You wanna fuck my sister?”

Now I’m kinda rocked by this. I know what ‘fucking’ is – it’s been shown to me, hell, even done to me, though among us boys it’s usually called “corn-holing”. Fuck and suck — that’s all of us, and the teenager has been leading the way. “Training” us, I reckon you’d say, or ‘teaching us’, and we do it amongst ourselves all the time. It’s just a way of life, something to ‘do’, just like some kids go and play ball. But for us – no, it’s different in some ways. I know it’s ‘bad’, not something you want the grownups to find out about – but ALL us kids seem to be doing it in some way or another. And yes – there are darker sides to that, sides when the teenage boy was involved. But we’ll save those for another story. I can only handle one hard thing at a time.

But this “fucking” thing – it’s new to me, or at least with a girl. I know how to ‘do’ boys – but girls? This is something new, something different. So . . .

“Sure!,” I say, not really knowing what to expect.

“Come here,” he says, and then he talks to her – not a long talk, mostly about, “Hey, why don’t you fuck Mike? You haven’t fucked him. Why don’t you fuck him? Come on . . .”

So he wheedles away and talks to her, and soon enough – it doesn’t take but a minute – she is laying down there in the sand between the weeds. I can still see her laying there; the sun is shining down on us; the bicycle just a few feet away – and she pulls her dress up over her chest, exposing herself to me. And waits. There are no panties; are no shoes – like I said, clothes were precious, and not something for daily wear.

I look at this thing, thinking “Hey! What do I DO?” I mean I don’t know where things go, I only know she’s built a bit different than the boys I mess with – she’s “bare”, got nothing down there – except this thin slit surrounded by swelling lips. My friend, sensing my confusion I guess, turns to me and tells me (and all the while she’s watching, her eyes growing more distant by the second), “You put your dick in there. Right there. We do it all the time. So does (teenager’s name).” He smiles broadly like a used car salesman trying to sell me a ride. I look down at her – and she’s got this sorta glazed look, but still looking at me – so I drop my shorts, pull down my underwear, and step in front of her, pecker in hand.

“Do you really want to do it?” I ask her, looking down at her face. She’s . . . blank? Devoid of emotion? I don’t know, but it’s a look I know – but don’t know – and I guess I sort of knew it because I guess sometimes I must’ve had that look, or others of my kind.

“No,” she barely whispers, hiking up her dress some more. I look over at my friend. He’s scowling down at her. .

So I pull up my underwear and shorts. All I can think is he’s been doing it with her, this thing called “fuck” – and so has his older brother. The teenage one. I know because he just told me so. And . . . they do it all the time. My friend begins to berate her, asking her why she said no. It doesn’t matter to me anymore – she said no, and I’m not going to do it. No way. Not if she doesn’t want to – because if she doesn’t want to, neither do I. (Something that holds true to this day, which is why I could never be a rapist.)

She sits up; I help her; she pulls down her dress, I help her to her feet. My friend keeps on fussing at her – and now me, too, for not “doing it”. “It’s the best thing you can ever feel,” he promises – but I’m not interested. Not anymore. She doesn’t want to do it with me – and I’m fine with that. She gets on her bike and pedals away, leaving my friend and I to go play in the woods.

I really don’t remember much more than that.

For a long time, even into my adulthood — I used to wonder: should I of done it? She wouldn’t of minded; not really. She would of just lain there. She was my friend; all us friends were ‘doing it’ – and apparently she was deep into it too, courtesy of her teenage brother and my best friend. Apparently they’d been doing it for a long time. Would it of made that much of a difference in my life – or hers – if we had? I didn’t know.

Then one day I brought this up to my psychologist, who has been fighting to save me from cutting, fighting to keep me ‘happy’ – or at least ‘stable’ – without a whole lot of success. Mostly we just sit there staring at each other – she doesn’t realize she MUST ask the questions; MUST press – otherwise she won’t get any answers, any details. That’s one of the things about DID when it goes wild: other hands are holding you, restraining your voice and throat – even when you feel you must shout out the words twisting in your guts, you can’t. You just can’t get there. And it mucks with you. This is something my wife has discovered: she must ASK for me to tell; at best all I can do is say: “you should ask me about such-and-such.” But she’s gotten reluctant to ask; I am so way out of her league, and she has problems of her own in dealing with my problems – so I keep them hidden for the most part. All to myself. Just like so many of the ‘others’ want it to be.

But anyway, this shrink, she feeds me a bit of wisdom. She says:

“You were the one who said no. You were the one who didn’t. And for that little girl – it was a blessing. An empowerment. Something she probably never had.”

I suppose that is supposed to make me feel good, but it only makes me feel somewhat better. After all, I’ve carried the burden of knowing what was being done to her for all these years – her brothers screwing her, and perhaps some others, too – and there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s too late, now, and it was too late then – something which saddens me.

I just hope that shrink was right, and that by me NOT doing it – allowing her to say “no” – I helped her, if only in some small way. And that’s something I’ll never know for sure.

NOTE: WE had a piece of artwork for this: it shows the little girl, dress thrown up, pussy showing – and the empty vacous look on her face …. I’ll never forget that look.  When I saw a picture of her with all of us kids in “the Hood” – all of us standing there, frozen in black and white – staring back at US – she looked just as empty and vacant.  As if all of this – all of the above and more – had broken her mind.  Poor girl, poor child.  Oh, how I WISH I could go back in time and rescue her – though she would need more help I think than we could ever give.  A victim of incest, ya know.)

Marrying the Girl Next Door

Marrying the Girl Next Door
(Tokoni, 05/24/2009)

When I was six or so, I got married. My bride was the little girl next door; the youngest of three sisters – a rather nondescript little girl whom the older kids decided I should get married to. Her and I were friends, a bit sweet on each other, but we kept our distance – the usual distance kept by little boys who have other boys as friends and little girls with other girls to play with. But this time was different. “You and her are getting married!” the older girls and teenage boy next door proudly announced. The wedding would be held in their back yard; the honeymoon to take place in the barn.

Well, as I’ve said before, us boys pretty much just ran around in cutoffs, and the girls in plain print dresses – and looking down at myself, I thought “This will not DO!” So I scuttle off – running around the fence which separated our yard from theirs – and burst inside, yelling for my mom.

“Mom! Mom! I gotta get a shirt to wear! I’m getting married!” I yelled. My mom was surprised for a moment, then she recalls going to get me a tee-shirt – a nice clean one, I insisted – and drawing it on, I went back for my wedding.

Quite a number of kids had shown up by the old barrel-bull bronco swing that the teenager had set up next door, and all the older girls had gone and picked some flowers – not a lot, just a few flowering weeds held in their hands. They all gathered round, forming a rough-shaped “U”, with me and the little girl in the middle. The teenager came forward – a book in his hands (I assume it was a bible), and bare-chested and with great pride, solemnly intoned our wedding vows. I’ll never forget that end moment, when he looked at me and said, “And now Mike, do you take this girl to be your bride?” – and looking at the girl, I said yes; then she did the same for me.

“Now you may kiss the bride!” he finally announced, snapping the book closed, and as I leaned forward and pecked my bride (the only kind of kiss I knew), the girls threw their flowers in the air and everyone rushed forward, congratulating us. Already the littler kids were drifting away (sensing the excitement was gone, I guess) when the teenager and his brother, my best friend, came up and grabbing us by the elbows, announced in excited voices that “now you must go on your honeymoon!”

Well, I didn’t much know what a ‘honeymoon’ was, but that was no problem. “It’s where you kiss and smooch!” they explained to us as they hustled us towards the barn. So we allowed ourselves to be led out of the summer sun to the northwest corner of the barn, where there was a pile of old straw piled on the dusty dirt floor. They had us lay down on the hay, and then throwing a dusty woolen blanket over us – completely over us – they left.

We stayed in that darkness, me and her, though it was hot and stuffy. We could hear the other kids leaving; the older ones telling the younger ones to “leave them alone. They are on their honeymoon.” So I turned to her and she to me and we did what was natural for two kids our age who’d just gotten married. We cuddled in each others arms and kissed. And that is all.

But I’ll never forget that – our marriage, and all the kids celebrating – and that long hot time we spent under the blanket. We kissed; her lips soft on mine, her arms barely reaching around me; me embracing her. We held each other, feeling the humidity grow as our breath collected beneath the blanket. I recall us whispering, but I don’t think many words were said. For me it has remained one of the most tender, precious moments of my childhood, me and her cuddled beneath the warm blanket. Holding her, feeling her breath on my skin, and those soft lips kissing mine.

Later I would find out that other things had happened to her, but that – that’s another story. And sad in some ways, looking back at the refreshing innocence of my love at that time. If only I had known; what would I have done – or would I have done anything different?

I don’t know, but knowing now what I didn’t know then, I can tell you this: I think I would of held her a whole lot tighter, and loved her a whole lot more with the heart and soul of this child of mine.  And yes: in my heart she was my ‘wife’ – meaning a person I have loved forever …. now lost in the annuals of time.

I got tired of losing people I loved . . . but I’ve made some peace with myself on that.

But it is a sad peace, at best.

Harlow's Monkeys