Tag Archive: therapy

(This is from our Tokoni Posting, 7/31/2009 . . .)

Buried In The Hood

There was an incident in the ‘hood – I don’t remember exactly when, though I could easily point out its physical location. I think it was in the fall. It was months after I’d attempted to pay the teenager back for what he’d done to me; embarrassing and using me in that way, months after we’d returned from North Carolina.

It started simply enough – as a game, a dangerous activity. Across the road in the neighbor’s backyard the teenager had dug a small trench. I have dim memories of the friends he had hanging around. It seems to me they were the ‘older kids’, the teenagers he was hanging around.

He had dug a hole about five feet deep, maybe a little more. Six feet long or so, it was just wide enough for us little kids to slip in. Encouraging three or four of them to get into it, he began filling it up with the loose dirt.

When the dirt had risen up to their chins, he gave each one a short piece of garden hose. “Here,” he’d say. “Put this end in your mouth. Breath through it while I finish burying you.”

And so the kids did – the picture is in my mind – while dirt showered little heads. All in a row, green lengths of garden hose protruding from there mouths. Lips clenched tight around the rubber to keep the dirt from getting in. And then he continued burying them, showering the dirt over their heads until only their head stuck above the dirt, like a row of tow headed cabbages in a garden Occasionally he would stop to adjust a hose, making sure it stayed above ground level. Eventually all of the kids were buried; there was nothing to see except this row of short hoses, sticking up out of the rumpled ground.

“I could kill them, you know,” he casually commented, walking around his creation. It looked to me like some sort of bizarre flower garden, those hoses sticking up out of the sand. “All I have to do is put my thumb over the hose – and they’re dead.” He grabbed one of the hoses with his hand, illustrating how easy this would be, his thumb hovering over the end. I remember walking as he stood to the side, observing his bizarre creation. You could hear the air whistling out of the hoses; putting my palm near one I could feel warm moisture being exhaled out. It seemed strange and odd and wonderful to me, knowing that just below my feet were these little kids, standing as if at attention, in the coarse darkness of the sand, the coolness of the earth.

After about five or ten minutes he got his shovel and began digging them back up. It was a slow process – it probably took a half hour, maybe even more. They climbed out, some staggering. They act pleased, but in some of their faces is a look of terror. Then he motions to me, my best friend, and another kid. All of us have ‘been’ with him; we have all been ‘victims’ of his sexual appetite at one time or another – or in some cases, many times.

“Get in,” he says. I look at the trench with doubt. The walls are dark and crumbly, the bottom nearly black. “Go ahead. You chicken?”

My best friend (his little brother) nudges my elbow. “Come on!” he says, climbing in and standing in the trench. The slit in the earth is so narrow it almost embraces his front and back. “I dare ya!”

Well, I pondered. If my best friend will get in – be there right beside me – and after all, the teenager hadn’t hurt the first group of kids – how neat it would be to be buried there, how cool to breath through a hose. Enticed by the idea of a new adventure, I eased myself down into the hole.

It was tight. The scent of fresh earth filling my nose. The crumbling wall – right there, before my very eyes. The cool uneven bottom, pressing against the pads of my bare feet. I could feel my heart racing. This was a new thing, a new experience. The sense of danger – that was part of the draw. But at the same time I had a child’s undefined sense of worry, knowing I would be subject to the whims of the teenager; seeing that thumb in my mind, poised over the end of the hose, I felt a sense of apprehension.

But it was too late – the teenager was already shoveling dirt in. Before I knew it I was up to my knees; up to my chest. The dirt pressed in, immobilizing me in its soft, yet firm grip. Showers of dirt rained over us, tossing my head and blinking the crumbs away, I remember looking up at the narrow ribbon of sky beyond the towering pines. It was a bright blue sky; paler than the ocean, but not much different. White clouds hung there, suspended, until finally I had to close my eyes. The dirt was getting too deep.

“Here, take this.” The hard end of a hose butted against my lips. Opening my mouth and taking it in; clenching my lips firmly sealed around it. It was wet from the previous kid, and had a foul, plastic-rubber taste. And drawing air through that tube was harder than I thought. You really had to suck hard, pushing against the dirt pressing against your chest, pulling the air in through that narrow constriction. I began wondering if I had made a mistake.

Finally. The dirt is over my head, bowing my head under its weight. I am desperate about the hose; afraid to lose it, knowing that if I do, I shall die. I can’t feel my friend next to me; all I can feel is the weight of the dirt closing in. And it is silent – the quietest quiet I’ve ever known. I can’t open my eyes – don’t dare to, for they will get full of sand – and dark. Even beyond my eyelids I know it’s dark – a strange darkness, because even if I did open my eyes, there would be no light – no chance of light, finding its way under the dirt. And it feels very alone, separated – from the my friends, from the sky, from the world.  In some ways it is a good feeling; a feeling of total isolation from the world. The dirt is soft – but firm. It is cool, much cooler than “up there”. The air, foul tasting , draws through the hose reluctantly, as though it resists traveling beneath the earth.

I don’t know what happened, there beneath the ground, nor do I know what happened above. I “went away” after awhile, for lack of better words. There is a black spot in my memory there, as dark as the hole I was buried in. It “feels” like a hole in my memory. But around the hole there are impressions; ghostly sensations, like the marks left by a shovel.

I seem – and I’m not sure – to remember . . . what? I struggle here, searching my mind, attempting to penetrate that darkness. All I can see (feel?) is a growing sensation of struggling to breath. The teenager’s thumb?  The dirt compressing my lungs?  Who knows? Deep in my mind is the sensation that my chest hurt badly, struggling to pull air in past a plug that would not give; able to blow air out, but take none in.  You know the feeling.  Just duct tape your nose and mouth shut while holding a half breath of air – desperately (burningly!) trying to draw in another lungful of moist precious air – belly buckling; diaphragm hurting – and you can’t.

I don’t know what happened. All I can sense is a time of terror; of hard excruciating pain – then blackness. What does that mean?

The next thing I remember is the dirt is down to my chest; the hose has been take away. There is a weakness, a sense of confusion – then being were hauled from the dirt by my hands like a bag full of clay and set to the side of the hole. Standing up, I stumbled around; clearing the dirt from my eyes, I begin to go around the house, confused I begin heading home. I can hear the teenager laughing; his friends are snickering – my best friend, too, is confused, but I think he is confused at my confusion or perhaps … I don’t know.  He joins me was we head for my yard; the back yard, a place of safety. The sky is still blue, as blue as can be, and the white clouds are in motion again.

And the air – the fresh and open air! – tastes so much better than before, sweeter than it has ever been.

That much I remember.

Looking back upon that day – for it started out fun and ended in confusion – it’s hard to know what exactly what happened. That “part”, that “child” – keeps the worst of “his” memories from me. The shrinks say it was – or is – a form of self-protection – protecting me from knowing what happened. (I smile softly and laugh: imagine – a child protecting me, a “grown man”. Though I know that >I< am only a part of me. There is no “whole”. There is just a collage of me; a blending of others, their thought, opinions, and memories to lead me on. But even still I – and some of “them” – wonder what happened that day.

Did the teenager, pissed off at my petty revenge, decide to put his thumb over the hose? Was I “knocked out” – or did I just retreat in my mind? Why no memory of him starting to dig me out? Why the confusion, the weakness upon being lifted from the hole?

These are things I know I can never know, or perhaps might, but the one who knows isn’t talking and won’t show me all the ‘pictures’ of what happened. I mentally embrace him; and yet he turns away, just as a sad and shame filled child might do within your arms. You monominds – do you have to put up with this? This ‘sensation’ of having another, one you can mentally embrace? A part of you that is separate – but resides within you? A small child, usually sad, sometimes ashamed, but in some ways wondrous and brave?

I don’t know. As I grow older, and deal more with my ‘condition’, the more I learn – and the more I realize I don’t know about some of these “parts” of me, these things that the shrinks call “alters”. It’s a strange world that I live in – both inside and out, filled with glimmers of the past; brandings, open eyed wonders, and mysteries to me.

*Warning: Potential ‘triggers’ for Fellow Survivors & Friends* 😦

I can’t blame a single adult in our childhood community for any of the sexual abuse that went on.  It was all (to the best of our knowledge) committed by the children . . . and the children’s ‘father’, if you want to label the one who ‘started’ the abuse that went on.

It was a Children’s Conspiracy; and One of Silence as well.

None of us children told.  Not one of us; not to the best of my knowledge.  Sure – the signs must have been there (remembering limping in; piss running down my leg from where the teenager had “peed in there”.  Why didn’t mamma suspect something was going on?)

No; we all knew it was ‘something bad’ and something ‘dark’ to be hidden and done in secret corners; this ‘secret’ thing we had.  Fucking each other in the ass; sucking one another dink-um.

And the teenager was at the beginning of the herd.

So was he innocent or guilty (as I am thinking some of the times)?

This guy had a hard life ahead; hell, he had a hard one at the time.  Thirteen years old and here he is working with his father – a mason – busting his ass all of the time.  Doing a “man’s” job and a man’s day’s labor for his dad – helping to support his own family … fucking his brother in the ass … doing his own little sister (she was several years younger than I) . . .

and so was it HIS fault in doing this sort of thing?

We aren’t really knowing; not really – and yet knowing THIS sort of sick and twisted thing: he was a part and product of his own environment;  just as WE are.  And WE could have been HIM – quite easily – for he was leading ALL of us children down that merry path – having sex with him and having it with some others . . .

I remember the times …

warm summer’s day … up in the treehouse … forty feet up in the air … just me and ‘him’ (the teenager’s little brother – and my best friend) … looking at porno magazines (they were just simple black and white sort of things; catalogues I’m thinking; but enough – moving on) … and then I ask him (bored with my own pictures) to pull his pants on down …

Him and me staring at the house.  (this is why we didn’t get caught for so long; meaning NEVER).  He’s in the barn; so are we and we’re staring over the door at the house (his own one) further on …. and I’m fucking him in the ass …

so anyone who is looking will just see two little boys (dirty brown faces) peering at them over the shed’s half-door….

Staring at the house again (only this is a different one).  He (Someone else; another friend) …. is behind me on his knees … doing ‘things’ … I’m leaning on the rough concrete; elbows down; face staring; watching the windows of the house (his momma’s in there) … while he ‘has his fun’ …. waiting for my turn to come.

The grownups never KNEW ANYTHING . . .

The closest I ever got caught was in a doghouse during a great storm…my dad came out and caught us two (me and another friend) … engaged in some intimate action.  But we had saw him coming and ducked and pulled and getting our clothes on as those feet came on closer …. hearts panicking and pulsing and mouth numb from sucking … quitting and getting our clothes on ..

“What are you doing in there?!”  is all he said.
“Nothing,” was the cure.
He never asked again.

Why mom never caught on to those drawings we did … the ones of little kids fucking one another in the ass …. it was right THERE for her to see!  And yet what did she do with it?  She folded it up and put it in with our toys ….

Don’t you think a parent should think something is ‘wrong with it’ when her 8 year old kid tells the neighbor kid’s oldest daughter that he knows what her ‘thing’ looks like – and then ‘shows her’ with his hands?

Instead we got the ‘sex education talk’.  At 8 years old.  We were very much interested in all the mechanics of this thing.  Brother was not so much interested as he was into being disgusted.

He didn’t make very much as a sexually molested kid.  He wasn’t ‘into it’ like I was – really into this thing.

How GOOD it felt … not the “lovin’ ” so much as the other … feeling warm hands on my back; stroking my head; soft murmurs and things; ENCOURAGEMENT … not warning words; not them hateful glances my momma was giving me and things ….

It’s no wonder we kids kept things so silent.

It was the only way we hid.

Me and Little Mikie

That’s how little Mikie feels . . . picking words out of our heads.

He’s felt that way for a long long time – we know, we’ve used those words before:

“A Used Condom”.

That’s how he feels (and felt) after this thing; the “Rape of Little Mikie” combined with “A Groomed Child Rejected: Part Two“.

We’ve had that feeling since we were 17 or so; definitely by the age of 21; or 24; 26.

I guess we’ve had that feeling all along; ever since that thing happened (the rejection).

And then “The Groomed Child Betrayed” – something yet to be ‘published’.

I know a lot of women (and men, tho’ we aren’t allowed to admit this thing) know what it feels like to be used – a used condom in the making.

They call it ‘rape’ but we went along (sad fact to say but it is there – and we truly and really did not know any better.  Had we known we would have never gone along or gotten along with it.)

But it’s sad.

Imagine an 8 or 9 year old child experiencing this thing: the sensation of being a used condom.  Something to hold another man’s sperm; nothing else anymore: just a THING – something sickened for someone else’s pleasure.

And that was a man and that was a child and look what he’s done to him.  Us selves included sometimes (hurting him; hiding him inside – hiding him from ourselves sometimes (see the Ice World thing.)

Matthew is one who is especially good at that thing.  He hid the child from us for 14 years.  Or so.  Or so he thought.  Or so …. something.  He had come to hate him: this ‘feeling thing’ – and all feeling besides (besides rage and depression that is.  And loneliness, too: he felt that kind of thing.  Still does.  Waiting on some man lover to come and save him, I’m reckoning; guessing, not knowing / don’t knowing that thing.  Knowing he tried with his uncle sometimes (that didn’t work out good.)  Knowing he tried with others and failed.  Knowing he failed all the time (while keeping us alive – good work, Matthew – even if you almost died doing that sort of thing – and killing US beside you).  Yeah, there’s bitterness in those tears, even if we’re not allowed to shed them (another Matthew kinda thing there, folks.  See his views on women and emotion; published just today.)

We (he?) hates this thing; all kinds of things (yeah, it’s him.)  Confusing to us sometimes (not him; the emotions) – for he was once a “Controller” – able to take control of our emotions and things (including some of our own actions) – making them ‘his’ to control – which means he has a lotta swing and power in his grasp (even if I am 53 years old.)  A teenager self run rampant over the ramparts; lord of the castle kinda thing.

An empty castle I’m sorta expecting /suspecting; this kinda sorta thing.

And we’re hating it while trying not to hate HIM for creating it … embracing him in our own mind (while he throws OFF our embraces; not wanting any sort of thing .. to do with love and emotions; something which he had once denied when we were 13-1/2; especially and specifically to DO this sort of thing: cutting off ALL emotions and feelings deep inside of him.

And it worked well, this thing … almost for 17 years (?).

Until we met this woman and her family …

no, it started before this thing..

another woman and HER family

and then it all went wrong (not her fault, MINE (M3) for feeling this thing: that we should have a family of our own)

and so it went well until this wife and thing cut us off from the family that had bound us / bind us to this thing called “loving one another” meaning loving someone else kinda thing.

women.  You just can’t trust ’em.  We’ve learned that lesson well – that one taking us over and under things – into a living hell.

oh well.

Can’t trust ’em (Matthew speaking there.  He’s had a lot of control over the last few days.  Wife’s fault, he’s saying.  Surely she is (the one at fault) for her ‘making us there’ – meaning something, I don’t know what.  Letting him type a bit between the words . . . because we’re hurting . . . .

and little Mikie is feeling like a used condom again.

Too sad for words.  (but can’t say them: see that “not feeling” thing again”.

If you can see how this all ties together – you are doing better than we can.

Just know: we are trying, and trying to love together.

sometimes it’s just hard.

Signing off:

Mikie and Friends.


(Tokoni 06/05/2009)

When I was a kid and would get a cold my mom would apply Vick’s Vapo-Rub on my chest, plus a little dab under my nose to help ease the congestion. I’d been born (and nearly died) of bronchitis, so I guess it would get pretty bad sometimes. And I – I loved the smell of menthol; how it would clear my nose and warm my chest at night when I’d get all stuffed up and couldn’t breath worth a darn.

One night I was having an exceptionally hard time, and couldn’t hardly breath at all. The flu, a cold – I don’t know which, but as a child I knew what to do. Call mom, who’d come in bearing that little blue bottle, rub some on my chest, put that dab under my nose, tuck me in and and I’d be better – or at least for awhile.

This particular night was different, though. Instead of my mom, my dad came in, the little blue bottle in his hand. And instead of pulling the blanket down and my pajama top up, he took one hand and squeezed my face like you would a dog, forcing my jaws wide open. Then taking a big old double fingered dip from the jar, he forced a huge wad of Vick’s down my throat; smeared it all inside of my mouth – shoving another dab and another dab, forcing his fingers down my throat, choking me with the now thick stench of menthol and the foul taste of petroleum jelly. He kept saying something; not growling so much as snarling, packing that damned stuff in, holding me down and pinning me with the covers so that I could not escape. I remember thrashing my head – and the taste! Burnt like fire, greasy, thick – have you ever ate petroleum jelly? Try a sample. Its sorta tasteless, sorta not – and coats your mouth like cold bacon grease, only worse. Now try a bit of Vicks. Burns like fire, you can’t swallow it – it sticks to your tongue and teeth and gums – and . . . well, trust me. You’d have to try it to know. Just a dab. Now imagine a couple huge wads – a half jar full – crammed down your throat. Not good, huh?

After that – when I’d get congested – I’d still have my mom put some of that stuff on my chest; that little dab under my nose. But once I got to bed, I’d be quiet – real quiet – no matter how bad it got. I’d learned my lesson.

I still love the smell of menthol; it’s ‘good stuff’ for congestion. But petroleum jelly – to this day I can’t see a jar without remembering what he did, and to this day I still don’t know why. Maybe he was ignorant, didn’t know the stuff wasn’t meant to be eaten. Maybe I’d just whined one time too many. Maybe this, maybe that – I will never know. But I know I’ll never forget the sensation of him jabbing his fingers down my throat, choking me with that stuff, or how careful I was to be quiet after that night.

And yet – when he calls and invites me to lunch – and I turn him down (always, it seems) – I feel guilty.

Why is that?

Child abuse.

It really sucks.

Its the gift that just keeps giving (sigh).

But hope!  For we have healed and are healing . . . more in each and every day. 8^)

Me and Little Mikie in His New Home: An Island paradise


We are camping in our back yard; me the teenager and I.

We’ve set up the military puptent (everything around here is military, except the outside world – and I guess that includes everything outside the house as well as in – though we are living inside the house, where things are much better – and worse at the same time.  The outside world is a civilian neighborhood.  A sandlot and stuff -that’s the neighborhood we live in; surrounded by decent neighbors (most of them) and our friends.

This family is called ‘neighborhood’ – and neighborhood is one big family – tighter than that.  Our family doesn’t have what this neighborhood does: a sense of belonging and rightousness; loving hugs and things.  A woman who teaches us piano, and treats us as if we were one of her own sons.  (She has 3 of them; and a daughter on the way.)

But its come nightfall, and I and the teenager and my best friend – or perhaps it was my little brother – I’m not sure – he left in the middle of the night to go sleep in the house, leaving me and the teenager alone.

We are surrounded by the smell of dark canvas; OD green it is called.  Olive Drab (kinda like our own life: Olive Drab is covering everything, and every thing we get in.  Olive Drab is the color of our skin; when we bleed blood it is green.  I know because our momma has told us so: we are Army within and without and in all times and things.

Olive Drab kinda describes my life in these things.

And we are in the tent, and the smell is of old canvas – Olive Drab: an Army thing.  You would have to go stand close or in an old Army tent to know this smell.  Once it hits you – once you’ve ‘been in’ – you’ll never forget this thing.  (back me up on this, old soldier friends of mine – yeah YOU out there who have been in the military.  YOU know this smell.  Tell them what it brings: the friendship and the comfort of Olive Drab – and that gentle undercurrent of fear.  Smelling it you know you are back ‘home’.  Wherever that one is.  For this time of your life.)

The teenager turns next to me.  I am a small child (but a BIG one inside!) – about 8 or 9 years of age, I’m reckoning.  Not much older than that.  (I’m thinking the teenager had this thing for younger kids; ones about half my age.  We have outgrown him and his pedophilic tastes.)

“Please fuck me in the ass,” I remember begging him.

He looks at me.  I’m curled up in my soft warm blanket.  Only its not a blanket at all.  Its this thing like a giant green worm.  Its called “Sleeping Bag, Arctic”  It will keep you warm down to -30 some odd degrees or something.  It is filled with warm douse queen warm feathers. (He means “Goose down, Army, military or something.)  It is OD green.  Just like our lives are at this time.

He rolls over and looks at me.  The flashlight is dying; a yellow beam.  It is so low – and the canvas so thick – that not a single beam escapes.

“I don’t want to,” he says.

I beg him some more.  I put my hand on his arm.  I’m praying that he will love me.

“Please cornhole me in the ass,” I’m begging him again, over and over.  There are tears in my eyes.  I want this thing, knowing in some way it is a BAD thing I am doing – the parents will KILL us if they find out – but I can’t help it.

I’m wanting this thing called “love” – the thing that’s been missing my entire life, even unto now.

And so he does it.  Rolling me on my belly, he pulls my shorts down (painfully, grasping and grabbing and yanking on them.)  Then he does my underwear.  Yanking and pulling them down to my knees.

And then he spreads my ass and rolling on top of me (there is nowhere to stand; we have done this thing standing again before I think; I know I am: he fills my ass with pee sometimes and it trickles down my leg and then I go home wondering: will my mom find out?  Will she see/smell this thing?  This dried urine on my ass and thighs and things?  But she never does.)

And then he’s doing it but it HURTS this time; he isn’t using his finger and spit this time; he’s doing it bone dry.  But I’m loving him (sort of; it HURTS this time and he’s being ROUGH with me – not slapping me around this time, but hurting me somewhere deep inside – inside in a lot of places and ways I’ve never imagined before; never expected to be hurt this way by him; never even saw this one coming.  But I should have.  I am a child of 9 years old.  I should know this thing.  There’s been subtle hints before: him pushing me away in favor of my younger brother who is  slightly older than I – but looks much younger; plus he’s pale and thin and weak in the body and mind.  Not like me who is strong and fit and a husky child with blonde hair.  Crewcut you know: military mind; father running our life – even when he’s not there.  Off to war or something; he’s always off doing something.  Even when he’s there.)

But we look adorable, that I am knowing.  Adorable enough for this thing (hoping we do, because we want to be LOVED by him, one and all and everyone about and around us.)  Silly dreams us children are having: wanting to be loved.  By anyone and everyone and getting nothing in return.

That’s the way it is I suppose sometimes: you find yourself reaching out only to have your hand slipping away – or slapped or something.

Like a slap in the face this thing is; what is coming in our futures.  And we just don’t know it yet.

Our entire life has been on giant slap in the face sometimes.  I should have saw it coming.

He rolls off.  He’s not done – but he is.  A growing sense of frustration.  We look at him sad, twisting our head to look at the head against the green canvas walls.  He looks mad at us.  We were enjoying the feeling of his skin; skin against our backs and things.  Hands on our arms; holding us down somewhat as he put this thing in; hurting us and things.

And we enjoyed it – but not that last part.  The hurting and things.

And he tells us?

“You were goddamn lousy.  You aren’t no good.  You ain’t worth doing it with.  Your ass stinks like shit.  I’m gonna be leaving you alone forever; you’re never gonna come back.  I don’t want you doing this thing with me anymore, this cornholing thing.”  And then he laughs (quite cruely, hurting, taunting)  “I want you to find more small children for me.  That kid and you next door.  I want him.”

And then he laughs some more – cruelly and mocking.  We are starting to cry those little pitiful tears of childhood lost; a childhood that never truly began.

And he turns over and falls asleep, turning the light off (in so many freakin’ ways, and the light in our souls: this loving him) – leaving us to cry and wonder, rolling on our back and staring at this thing

This Olive Drab our life has become.  You can’t even see the stars outside.

It is too dark, this thing.

(Final note: author’s note: Imagine you are that small child.  You’ve just been rejected by this friend of yours; the one you have been loving and playing with for four and five small years.  Your dad is always gone; your mom a mean and small cruel bitch – as bitchy as they come, and even crueler sometimes: locking you in your room for hours; sometimes .. sometimes it seemed for years.  Yes, we did this thing: locking ourselves in our “rooms” for years – years and years and years without end.  sometimes we are doing it right now; hurting inside, comforting our small child crying – he gets hurt so easily and so readily … and we are crying for him

But never on the outside.  We can’t cry for him.  Not really.  Not for anyone – even you my friends, even when we see YOU twisted and tortured in pain.

But know this: we are crying within forever – for you, for us, for them – and everything that you ever went though

Including him, this small child of mine.

Rejection hurts us.  And this is but ONE small reason why.

Because we were rejected by him: the one who loves us and wants us.

Even if he was fucking us in the end.

(Tags chosen/reason:  Therapy: to help us.  Spreading Child Abuse: because we did.  Love: because we were wanting those things.  Memories: because it is, even if no one else remembers – it ws REAL this very thing – dark down to the core of our being, we know this one is true.  Child Molestation: duh.  Family: because we had none; and after this – not even our friend.  Children: because we are one, at least one of 5 within.  Child Abuse: I reckon it was, in some ways.  To this day we have a hard time telling (which leads to guilt and things – unsurity).  Child Exploitation: because he was exploiting us and other children in our neighborhood – and using us to ‘recruit’ through exploiting them on our own, bringing them to him and into his own ‘fold’ (and hold and loving  …. but the other children weren’t so willing, not as willing as I).  Experiences in Learning: because we learned something in this thing: love hurts one, VERY badly indeed (giving rise to the Matthew being in the end.)

And finally Marriage: in that in every sense of the way and word, we were married to him.  Loving him … even now (a bit; not as much as before) – and holding him and seeking his comfort

All the while pleasing him.

Even if he did pee in our ass sometimes (and I suppose THAT says something about how HE saw us children in the hood – something to be used by him – and then discarded and thrown away.)

It hurts, this thing; even NOW it friggin’ hurts so bad.

I know I’m supposed to cry but I can’t.  Matthew is stepping in; separating child from one another – sending them on to our Island Paradise – protecting us from him and one another – and protecting his own self through these dark emotions

Olive green.  And Olive Drab.  They are both the same thing in my eyes.  (and if you can’t see life and death in that – I suppose you are blinder than we are/I am) – signed Matthew and Mikie and friends.

Our Island Paradise: Me and Little Mikie

Flying Saucers
(Tokoni, 04/28/2011)

When I was a kid, my mom would get really mad at us sometimes. I don’t know why, but it seemed that it would often happen in the kitchen. Or maybe it was just a coincidence – maybe I just remember the things that went on in the kitchen better. Or . . . well, I can sit here guessing all day. All I know is that it was, in a way, good training at “duck and dodge” for us kids – and perhaps a way for my mom to justify getting new dishware. After all, a woman gets tired of washing the same old dishes day in, day out after a time.

But these things would always start out the same – my brother and I on one side of the table, my mom in the kitchen area (we never really lived in a place with a formal dining room, so this makes sense.) Mom would be yelling about something we’d done or left undone – working herself into a feverish rage, screaming and shouting and calling us the names she so often used – one of her most popular was “you damn brats”. That one was so popular with me that a friend left from childhood (the only friend I know – and not a best friend anymore, but rather more of an acquaintance) – recalls her introducing me to anyone and everyone as “Here’s my son. Damn brat.” Oh well, I knew by the age of ten I was ‘bad’ and given to making many mistakes. I still struggle with that sometimes.

Anyway, after working herself into a frenzy, it would happen – and we always knew when it was going to happen, because the first thing she would do would be to yank open one of the kitchen cabinets. Then the rain would begin – a ceramic rain or dishes and saucers; glasses and cups – all headed across the table our way. And my brother and I, instead of running (I don’t know WHY we never just got the heck outta there!) – would dance and dodge, ducking and rising like so many shooting gallery ducks – listening to the dishes crash and tinkle against the wall behind us, getting showered in shards of glass and brittle pieces. You didn’t watch to see where the dish or saucer – or whatever – would hit after it passed by your shoulder – because you were too busy focusing on the next one, which would be flying through the air. Duck and dodge, duck and dodge – dancing all the way. I don’t know how it looked from her end of things – but for us it was sometimes more of a game than the punishment it was supposed to be, because we got really good at that. Ducking and dodging that is. (A skill that would come in useful a lot of times in other situations – but not here at home.)

I don’t recall ever being hit by one (but I’m sure we must of – how else would we of learned to dodge so well?) but I do recall what would happen after her rage subsided – or the dishes were all gone (I don’t know which). She’d storm around the table, look at the mess she had made, and then with a firm command, tell us to get busy cleaning ‘our mess’ up. And all those broken plates and things – I remember how there would be sprays of shards as the ceramic shattered on the wall, dancing quite carefully to keep your feet from getting cut – and then her handing us the broom and the dustpan, scolding us and warning us to get up every last bit. Because you didn’t want to leave a bit of it behind – nothing to remind her of her temper, or how she’d lost control.

And then, a few days later, a new set of dishes would appear. I don’t know what she told our dad; I somehow doubt she told him the truth – but my brother and I would glance at each other over our new plates and wonder: just how long will these new ones last?

Flying cups and saucers. No wonder my childhood was such fun!

(Now here’s the thing; come 5/3/2011: Yeah, and we are still finding it grimly humorous, a sense of darkening humor; one that almost (but not quite) … embroils a part of us in rage.  Who? …. the child feels not fear; but an angry frustrated and scared rage at his mother figure just then; that and a great sense of ‘unfairness!!’ screaming and crying in his mind (all of our own minds; he shares his thoughts; what a blessing – for he knows in the end he’s gonna have to clean this up; this crap has got to come to an end … a bitterly wishing child, sometimes wishing his life would end; age 8 then 10 then 12.)

And (we don’t trust this; we have issues with something called ‘recovered memories’ – because of something we’ll mention in our next post on this blog of our (feeling very sickened … very sickened; yes, nausea instead; both in mind and soul and body – just at the thought of the thing)… but there are dim flickers of being hit; and sometimes grazed in the head . . . or it might just be my imagination.  I’m thinking: we’ll never know; and while he’s not all right with that, we are: we are filled with compassion and love for this child of ours; this lovely child we keep on a sheltered beach, in this wonderful world of ours … )

Sighing.  Yes, being DID can be sometimes wonderful.  But sometimes it can be a problem; not that ‘we’re’ the problem; none of us are.

In some ways we are like a giant and loving family; crammed way inside – and one of our own has been hurt – and we must help ‘move him on his journey to healing’.  Even if it’s by doing this thing.

The telling of our next tale in this series*; this Little Shop of Mine.

*LO soft L’ing: I, M3, and some others – all of us in the string of controllers in mine; my own family and ‘mine’have been ‘dodging the issue’ ever since ‘the others’ have ordered us to “Begin Processing”, as the system puts it (a hard firm pushing order behind them words).  So we ‘Tweet’ and we “chirp” on other people’s blogs; showing our face on Facebook; other kinds of things – all in the interest of preserving the system stability – while the ‘drive’ of the system is pushing us “TO HEAL!” – and a dangerous kinda balance in between.  So we’re gonna continue to blog on my other blog (you know the one; the Jeffery’s Song one) – and perhaps maybe mess around, while we give that little boy in us time to recuperate some – while awaiting the next ‘battle’ – our own kinda battle … the one deep down inside.)

What She Told Me (Tokoni 05/16/2009)

As I mentioned in Tales Momma Tells, my mother and I went to a museum, and during the ride she told me something I am still attempting to . . . digest? Wrap my mind around? Accept? I don’t know the words for the thing I must do to integrate it into my existence. More on that in a bit.

As we were driving as discussing her past, we came to the Vietnam war, which I wanted to discuss with her because I wanted to ensure that my memories of an upcoming story, “The Vietnam Village” were correct. Turned out my memory of the village was better than hers. Her mind, like that of her mother’s, is beginning to fail, and she is very aware of what fate must lay in store for her. Already the last MRI of her brain is showing some ‘dead spots’, so to speak. Why do I not feel sorry for her? Because I, like her, have come to accept this eventual fate and future. We go on with our lives. (sigh…)

“I HATED the Vietnamese,” she said in her usual vehement way. “I’d see those Vietnamese women in the commissary – dressed in their traditional clothing – and I just wanted to tell them: GET OUT! Go BACK to the G-D country you BELONG. GET OUT OF HERE!” But of course she held her tongue, keeping that public face. (If only she’d had that type of control with us children. But that’s another story, already partially – very partially – written.) This was during the Vietnam war of course, and his husband was gone “over there”, and I think she blamed them as much as our own government for sending him over there – away from her, and us. (Which may have been a good thing, given what I know of my own father. But then again, maybe not, since it left us living with her. Either way: not a good thing, no matter how I twist my head to look at it.)

Now my mom isn’t a racist woman. The rest of her family is, to varying degrees. She told me about how, when she was a child, her own mother would often tell her, “I don’t know WHERE you came from!” – until the day she answered back, “Well, if YOU don’t know – who DOES?” – at which point there was a family fight, with the stepfather jumping in and beating them all – her for casting doubts as to her own origins (and no doubt talking back to her mom) – and her mom for casting those doubts in his own head, for he was an extremely jealous and hateful man.

My mom raised us to never judge anyone based upon their race, creed, color, national origin (though that has changed – another story for another time), sexual preference, or any other ‘thing’. It’s what you DO, not what you ARE (even if you are, say, a Martian.) She was a bra burner long before bra-burning was popular (an endless source of friction between her and my dad, who remains a staunch male chauvinist pig to this day). But during the Vietnam war she harbored a deep hatred for those who were from Vietnam; the Vietnamese women she’d see shopping in the Army commissary.

Then she shocked me. Really knocked my socks off. Screwed me up a good bit. Sorta ‘fractured’ me a bit. (Didn’t I say in “Dark Suspicions” that something is wrong this season; that a “Perfect Storm” is brewing again?) Something WEIRD is going on, just starting. Drum beats, me feeling the need to ‘self-audit’, “stuff” kicking up, family troubles – I keep looking for a full moon, only this time I think it’s staying full all the time, only swelling – growing closer – just like that “perfect storm” I sense coming – oh so quickly, much too quickly – why won’t it stay away? – over the horizon.

Anyway – I see I must subconsciously be delaying the inevitable, for what she said next shook me to the very core – and I mean the core of my being – THIS being, this “M3” that you know, and the “personality” that I am.

She said: “I’ll never forget the day I caught those two Vietnamese officers molesting you and ‘so-and-so’.” (I’ll use “so-and-so” for his name, but he was a distant friend of mine.)

“I HATED them,” she practically screamed, staring out the windshield as she drove the car down the road. “I wanted to SHOOT them! If I’d had a GUN I would OF!” (Okay, you can alternate the emphasis to your own pleasure; it’s hard to know which words she was emphasizing, she’d started yelling so loud. No wonder I think my mom is still crazy! – which she is.)

And what shocked me more was I had no memory of this thing.

“When did THIS happen?” I ask, keeping my smile frozen and voice very – VERY – level. For I know I must remain level headed about this sort of thing, otherwise I’d go crazy. (Okay, “crazier”, if you’d prefer. That’s quite all right by me. I don’t mind being called what I am. Crazy. After all – it’s the truth of things.)

“Oh,” she said, her voice coming back down to a more reasonable level, “When you were in first or second grade. They were . . . grabbing you and stuff.” What sort of ‘stuff’ she would not say. But . . . I’ll take a moment here to explain.

You know when you hear someone talking about something, and by their tone you know – you just KNOW – it was really much worse than they let on? That they are hiding some facts from you? That they really don’t want to upset you – with the FULL truth of disclosure? When you can sense something else is going on – whether through posture or body language, or tone of voice and set of the eyes – that they are holding something back from you? That perhaps . . . it was really a lot worse than they were letting on.

She filled me in on a few details. It happened at the Ft. ____ swimming pool. That these Vietnamese officiers were caught ‘fondling’ us boys. Perhaps going a bit further than that. After all, she said, when she reported them – and they were apparently CAUGHT in the act – by the military authorities – right THEN – they were swiftly removed and booted out of country. So it must have been bad, I guess. I don’t know: like I said, I have – or HAD – no real or active memory of this thing – but then again I DID/DO – but NOT. It was (and is) another part of me that holds the keys to this thing. That inner child, that “boy” of mine, that I keep so carefully tucked away, inside his own “world”. I do know this much, because there is just the barest hint of memory: that it HURT. No, not emotionally – I didn’t care at the time, it was just so much sexual play, which had been going on for some years anyway – but they were crushing my balls.

Yup, that’s it. That’s what the ‘boy’ inside told me; not so much with words, but with what the shrinks call ‘body memory’. These soldiers – guys who had been invited over here into our country for more intensive training on how to fight in THEIR country – (okay, the child is opening a bit of HIS mind for me, to tell me, remembering not with words, but pictures and memory) – how they would grab my crotch and SQUEEZE so very tightly. Crushing what I had ‘down there”. And yeah, that hurt.

Nothing much else there, so to speak. Child shuts up, hurt, turns away in my mind. We don’t “talk” very much; I feel his pain, and when he does ‘talk’ to me, it’s not so much with words as it is with emotion and memory and pain. Which may be part of the reason I have such difficulty in addressing “that part” of me. I prefer children who can run up to me and say “THIS is what is hurting; THIS is why I’m in pain.” But he never really talks. Never. (Asking him “why” right now – and all I get is the knowledge that it’s because there’s too much pain. Loneliness? Yes, that’s there, and while I’m sitting here – okay, enough. Time to go ‘comfort’ that child of mine, as best I can.

I’m glad he seems to be opening up to me a bit more now here lately. Maybe that’s what the drum is all about (See: “The Drum Beats Softly” if you haven’t already). Maybe the time is coming when I can actually hold him, comfort him – and hear his words.

We’ll see. As for me: his sadness is really filling me, and it’s time for me to move on. Not from him or it or the pain, but from this story for now.

To find out what I can do for him, make “him” feel better – so I can feel better – because we are having guests over tonight – and I must be “right” and able to ‘smoke and joke and be happy’ around him.

It’s part of hiding this thing – and the hidden child within. And his/our/their pain. Of all of us.

(Tokoni – 05/16/2009)

The Drum Beats Slowly (Tokoni 05/10/2009)

(Note: I wrote this 5/10/2009.  Now it is almost 5/2011.  So . . . the drum beats again.)

About every four or five or eight or ten years, it happens. It’s like a drumbeat in my life. I suppose the first stroke may have been from that time in “Remember When”. It sounded again when I was fourteen, again (hard) at twenty-one. Again at twenty-eight. Then another beat when I was thirty-eight., a hard blow that took years to overcome. And now at forty-nine I feel the pulse of the drum again. I can’t say which time has been worse or better, only that it’s always been different. And each time the beat echoes through my mind, I learn more about myself and life and people in general. And each time I come through the other side. Stronger in some ways. More sensitive in others. Always better and sometimes wiser. Life is a learning process, and I’m still learning.

The drum beats slowly, and I’m hearing it again.

Why Tokoni? I found Tokoni through a banner on Fictionpress, clicked to see if it was of interest . The byline caught my eye. “Life is full of stories. Tell yours.” That was five months ago. I just joined last week.

I don’t do things lightly, not anymore. But that phrase kept whispering in the back of my head. My youngest daughter, now edging towards twenty-two, has long begged me to write my story. I wrote my story for my wife when she was my fiancé so that she would know what she was getting into, so she could have a chance to back out before she got in. But that was almost a quarter century ago. There is only one copy; it is hers, and for her alone. Other people have told me I should “write my story”, because apparently they think I’ve lived an interesting life. Note that interesting doesn’t always mean fun. I don’t know; I have no reference; it’s the only life I’ve known intimately. I’ll have to let others judge whether the quality has been ‘interesting’ or not. As for me, I don’t pretend. I know its been more interesting than some, less than others. So that’s one of my reasons: to obey Tokoni’s subtle command, do it honestly, and do it well; to fulfill my daughter’s wishes, and those of some others.

There are other reasons, of course. Once again, I find myself compelled by some deep part of me to explore my past. Not just looking for the abuses, the problems, the tragedies; but to also find the good things and the lessons there. I know they are there, but I’m all too painfully aware of the human mind’s instinctive nature to remember the bad and forget the good. After all, it’s a survival mechanism. Think about it and you’ll understand it’s true. The bad things are threats,or at least perceived as such – whether to life and limb, or soundness of mind and spirit. The mind files them away for future reference in the hope that you’ll know what to do next time it happens. The good? Not so much. After all, those things didn’t threaten you. I also wish to understand the motivations – not just of myself, but of the other people around me during those darker times.

I know better than to peer too deeply into my past’s bitter well – the well of sorrows and regret. I just might fall in. It’s happened before, and it affected me badly, until I climbed out of the deep dark pit. That’s one thing about drinking from the well. The more you drink, the deeper you can fall, until you’re full of bitterness, anger and sorrow, and when you look up – there’s no light anymore. The well is endless; you can find yourself swimming in it forever, if you’re not careful. You’ve fallen too far. That’s the Pit for me. Been there, done that, and don’t intend on doing it again. So I’m taking it easy, just a little bit at a time – a teaspoonful here, a half a cup there. Is it dangerous? Yes, drinking poison always is. But I subscribe to a theory here and now: that perhaps that’s what it’s about, this thrumming of the the drum. Inoculating myself to the sadness; drinking from the well just one drop at a time; letting it settle in – and then letting it pass. After all, I’ve been here before, in ninety-six or so, and again when I was twenty-one, two, and three. And in each time, I learned something – sometimes many things – important to me and my being and state of happiness.

I’m no stranger to the internet. I was using it back when it was just Unix, and a bunch of university and governmental sites. I dropped it for many years, up until the mid-nineties, when I heard that drum once again. I’ve done the chat rooms; was even an on-line counselor for a few years, while I was seeking help for myself. They said I was good at it, and through it I discovered that one of the best things a survivor can do is help another survivor. Helping others helps us help ourselves. It’s a way of overcoming the abuse. It’s also a way of healing one’s self, though the scars will always be there. Just don’t pick at them too much. Open wounds are hard to heal. I often refer to the abuse as being a bloody coin. Like a coin, it has value. You just have to turn it over and over again sometimes to discover the golden side. Perhaps that’s why I’m doing it again – holding that heavy coin in my hand, looking at it again, hoping to discover more of the hidden truths and goodness in it’s dark nature.

Back when I was twenty-one and the drum sounded hard and loud, I examined the nature of happiness. It wasn’t the first time. I was a different person then; that tolling of the drum changed me, and it was for a good thing. It was painful, nearly killed me – but I don’t have the temper I had then; I have much better control – and I learned a modicum of happiness – though finding my wife and her kids (another story) helped a whole lot.

I’ve been studying happiness since my mid-teens. Again – another story. I think I’ve done well; better than some I see. People say I’m a happy-go-lucky laid back type of person with a good sense of humor (even in the worst of times). It wasn’t always that way. I’m the first to admit I used to be a mean SOB. But the thumping of that drum changed me.

I guess that’s another reason I’m on the internet, here on Tokoni. Its a small site; just take a look at the number of users and stories posted. I’m not out to shout my story to the world. I just want a small fine place where I can get it in order, take a look at it, see how far I’ve come. And yeah, a lot of its been painful, and hurts me to this day, but that’s okay. I’m well equipped (I think) to deal with it now. I know the nature of happiness, have learned the art of acceptance. I don’t get furiously angry; bitterness is not my style, though sometimes it still bites. Are there bitter stories? Yes, they come from the well. But I know I can survive telling them, which is why, I guess, I’m here right now. To sort it out. And yeah – I save these stories, here on my own computer. My daughter and family don’t know I’ve begun this task. My wife probably suspects I’m hearing that drum again (I can tell by her somewhat troubled expression and actions now; I guess I’m not hiding it as well as I should. It’s too painful to her.) Not all of what gets posted here will make it into my story to them. But some of it might.

I know survivors. There are endless variations. No two stories are the same. The results can be similar – but the stories are as varied as the stars, and some – some are much, much more painful than mine. I learned that as an on-line counselor. I also learned its useless to compare stories, the ‘who’s story is worse than whose’ syndrome. For it’s not the stories that matter so much as their effects. I won’t go into all that. There’s just too much to tell. But I did learn: it can be overcome.

Why tell the stories at all? That’s another thing I learned. That sometimes, by posting a story, it can encourage others to tell theirs – in all their glory and pain. It can help someone, if only by letting them know it’s okay – and hopefully move on. Maybe some will see my reasoning, my methods, and find them useful to them. Perhaps there is some rationality in my somewhat irrational way of thinking. And I know — there is always some water left in that well. That’s why I advise survivors to drink from it lightly, and a little at a time; not to dive in, lest them find themselves immersed in that dark water, all light gone. It’s advice I need to remind myself from time to time, this being one of them. And hopefully, for those swimming in the well of pain, it’ll help to know someone managed to climb out – and is willing to reach down to them in this way. Sometimes it is only the hope of having hope someday that keeps us going. Sometimes that’s all there is.

Its time. I hear that drum, softly thumping in my soul. I know the dangers of where I go. Darkness may lay ahead – but I can not ignore its beat. I don’t fear the darkness. I have drank from the well before. But hopefully I have the tools, the knowledge, and the wisdom not to fall in – not this time. If I do, then so be it. I know I’ll emerge a better man. I have before. I’ll have to be careful; I always must when I lean over and look into the well. Its an easy thing to fall into – and a long, hard, agonizing climb back out. But at least I know this time: if I do fall in, its for a good cause – many of them, both personal, and for others. And if I do fall in – I know this:

I can climb out again, because I’ve done it before. And if somehow, somewhere, one of these stories can give a survivor hope, give them a method, a helpful realization – then I have helped myself by helping someone else like me.

And if so, then all I’ve gone through, all I’ve seen, and all I’ve done has been worth it. That’s the golden side of that bloody coin I mentioned; the bloody coin of abuse.

If it helps just one, then it has helped me – and that gives it value and meaning in my life.

Cat Scratch Fever
(Tokoni 05/09/2009)

I was wandering around the kindergarten yard looking for something to do; I didn’t play a lot with the other kids – not that I didn’t want to, but I guess most of them sensed I was a little ‘off’. A difference. And you know kids: the ones who are different get shuffled into isolation, made to play with themselves. The rejects; the ones no one wants to know. I’d already had my hand stepped on – quite intentionally, with the other kid looking down and grinning as he used his foot to grind my hand against the bar of the jungle gym to keep me from climbing up. My hand still hurt; it would hurt the rest of the day. And the swings were occupied – they were always occupied, and usually there’d be two kids at a time, one pushing, one riding, while the teachers stood by and supervised.

Anyway, I’m wandering around the yard – leaving the play area to walk around the building, when what do I spy there, laying on the air-conditioning unit, but a cat, curled into a comma, its nose tucked under its tail.

So I go over to the kitty – there’s no one else around – and begin stroking its oh-so-soft hair. Its a fine cat, a healthy cat, and, I think, the school’s cat. The cat, pleased at the affection, raises its head and purrs – I can still feel that vibration in my hand – and rubs its face against the back of my hand, its long whiskers tickling. I love this kitty already – its body is so warm, its fur is so soft, and it is being so affectionate towards me.

Kitty apparently loves me, too, for kitty does what cats often do – it give me a little ‘love bite’, right there on the top of my hand. I don’t mind – in my mind’s eye I can only see a little drop of blood, and the pain is nothing compared to what I’ve already been through. I just smile and continue to pet the cat, loving the way it loves me, returning my affection with affection of its own.

Soon the teachers begin calling the children in, but I’m left standing there, out beside the building and no one really notices me – until a teacher comes around the corner and sees me petting the cat.

I guess I may have been bleeding a little bit more than I thought, because the teacher gets quite excited, and rushing me in, has me washing my hands for what seems hours, but was probably only minutes. I’m not bothered; in my mind I can still see the cat laying there, waiting for me to come back out again. But that was not meant to be.

Later that evening my hand starts to swell up. I don’t mind. I can still see now how puffy and red the back of my hand looked, and the single puncture wound there. Apparently it got much worse, and quickly, though I don’t remember feeling any pain.

That’s when it started.

(okay, I STILL get goosebumps here.)

Let me tell you about the old Ft. Gordon military hospital.

Imagine a field. It’s almost exactly five miles long; I know, I’ve driven past that field in my adult life many times. In this field is the hospital. It’s not one building – it is many, all connected by a long, undulating hallway that runs the entire length. Going west to east, you would find the wards (or wings) on your left; the small examination rooms to your right. And this hallway – just about ten or twelve feet wide – follows the ground under it, flowing up and down.

This hallway – where there aren’t examination rooms or ward entrances – has old, white wood framed windows. The entire hospital is built like the old army barracks – white plank boards outside, white framed eight pane windows studding it like black eyes, and it sits just slightly above the ground on blocks, thwarting the Georgia termites. Here and there, periodically, are parking lots – more dirt basins, for very few of them are paved – and you always have to walk up a set of stairs to get into the hospital.

Inside the hallway – well, even to my adult mind it was a drab and dreary place, more industrial looking than anything. This was during the Vietnam era, but due to its size, it seemed we rarely met many people in the hallway. They were usually waiting in the wards – endlessly packed waiting rooms, and in my case, ones with lots of screaming and crying children. Sometimes you had to wait a long, long time, because the soldiers came first; dependents came last when it came to treatment. That’s just the way it was – and rightly so, in my opinion.

Underfoot this hall had large square tiles, dark green, scarred by age, and covered with a years of polish. No matter what, that floor maintained its dark, glistening glow, catching the reflection of the light from the windows and the utilitarian half moons of the metal lamps that hung periodically overhead. And overhead! An endless maze of steaming, hissing pipes, some covered in asbestos insulation; others naked steel. Wires aplenty ran this way and that, mostly hung high along the walls, as if this was some sort of bizarre crown molding. The walls always had black framed pictures and posters, and the occasional bulletin board. Having been there prior to them tearing it down, I know the black framed pictures weren’t pictures at all: they were the standing orders, given by the C.O., and stating hospital policies. There was nothing decorative about this place at all. The walls were an off-white, and metal strings of conduit hung down everywhere, supporting switch plates and boxes.

It was always a scary place for a little kid to go, but I was somewhat used to it. I’d been living around military doctrine all my life; these utilitarian sort of places were like home to me. Hissing steam pipes – the occasional cloud of steam – dripping pipes – you didn’t dare touch the water, it would burn you. I knew these sort of things, though I don’t know how I ever came across this knowledge, unless it was by finding out the hard way at some earlier time I don’t remember. I do remember touching the ancient steam radiators – we’d lay a finger on them, just a quick touch, just to know what they felt like – whether they were cool or warm, or in many cases, scalding hot to the touch.

Anyway, back to the story.

My mom takes me to this hallway, and we walk down it for what seems an endless ways. The steam pipes are venting above me; you can smell it in the air – sort of a flat, chemical smell, the peculiar one that steam always seemed to have. (I learned later in engineering it’s because of the rust preventative chemicals they put in the water that they use to generate steam with.) We walk and walk, my mom has my hand firmly squeezed in hers.

Then they take me to this room. Actually, its not “they”, but my mom. Its one of the examination rooms – there’s the window facing the door, a big stainless steel table in the middle, and metal counters all around. I also remember the chair they had sitting there – one of those metal framed, armless, vinyl coated cushion chairs – right by the door, next to a cabinet as you walk in. I would come to remember that chair very well. It was a sickly sort of light green, with a narrow back, and the cushions were only about an inch thick. How I’d come to hate that chair – and that room! And the doctors in it.

Now I don’t know if this was the first time, or the second time, or the third time, or more. It all gets a little jumbled up.

What I do know is this: after the first time, my mom would leave me in that chair, in the company of those doctors, to do their ‘stuff’.

She has since said it was because she couldn’t stand to hear my screams. She would walk away, out of that room, down a mile or two of hallway, and go sit out in her car.

And I know that she said that she had to start bringing me in the late afternoon, because my screams were disturbing other people in the hallway. It was disturbing the G.I.’s who’d gotten shot up in Vietnam. So the doctors had her start bringing me in later – when most of the traffic had died down, and the G.I.’s would be in their distant wards, not getting treatment in the rooms.

Maybe that’s why the hallway always looked so empty. Because we were always coming there late.

Here’s what I remember.

The doctors would come in – not one or two, but six or seven. This is because I was a strong little boy. I ran and played hard, and wasn’t afraid to tackle someone twice my age. (Later this would become an issue, but that’s for another time.)

They would have me peel off my shirt, sitting in that chair, and then . . . I remember that so clearly. Peeling the shirt off, turning, setting it carefully on the chair for when I would be back. Then they – one or two – would lift me up on that table.

The first time – I remember that, the first time, and I guess it was like that every time. But the first time – it caught me with a childlike surprise. After all, I was young – five? Kindergarten age.

The doctors spread me out on this table; firm hands press my legs and arms HARD against it, REAL hard. Hand grasp the side of my head. Hands come down on my chest. Hands holding me down everywhere.

And (goosebumps again) – I can still see THAT so clearly. The doctor, his face half covered by a surgical mask – I can barely see him through the forest of arms, bending over my mid-section. In his hands, angling down toward my chest is a needle. It’s the longest needle I’ve ever seen. It looks like it could go right through me.

Now, as a kid I was NEVER terrified of needles. I thought they were cool. The doctor would always say, “Look away now!” – but I’d just watch, fascinated. The pain wasn’t nothing – not even for all those endless inoculation shots they gave me prior to going overseas. Lots of other kids – my brother especially – would go into hysterics at even the mention of a shot. Not me. I welcomed them. Like I said – I thought they were fascinating. Watching the needle go in – slight jab there, slight pain there – the plunger depressing – sometimes the skin bulging up a bit – then zip! The needle would come out, the cotton ball pressed on, and it all was over. No big deal, right?

Not this time. This time it was different.

This time they had me in for the rabies series. And this was no joke.

I remember the first time – or the first time every time – when they’d sink that needle in my gut. Me suddenly bucking and screaming from the burning hot agony pain!! jeez …. then black. Just fade to black. I must of screamed pretty loud, because here, forty-five years later, I can still hear the echoes of those screams in my ears.  And like I said: it disturbed the war hardened vets enough that the docs had me come at night.

Apparently I screamed quite a bit, given what I learned later, and by what you’ve read before.

And I was a tough kid. I know. They all said so. They still say I’m tough, but that – that was something else altogether.

Afterwards – I don’t remember ever getting off the table, but I do remember standing in front of the chair, stiffly – very stiffly, very very … hurt – picking up my shirt and putting it back on. Being careful not to let it touch my gut. And then sitting back down to wait for my momma. The doctors would file out, leaving me there to my own devices – but all I remember doing is sitting there, staring at the walls, and that tall, long steel table. Knowing I never wanted to come here again. Knowing that I probably would.

Sooner or later mom would come get me. Never a word was said; none that I remember. No hugs or kisses or “I’m sorry they did this to you.” The doctors were as utilitarian as the hospital they worked in. My momma was much the same. And she’d take me by the hand – her grip ever so tight, as it always was, and we’d go back into that hallway and start walking. Going back to the car – and home.

I don’t know how long this went on – but later, in my mid-twenties – I found out something.

They had shipped the cat out to Atlanta for testing – and the cat died.

It turns out that I didn’t catch something from it – it caught something from me. Influenza or something – and expired.

They stopped the rabies series early (thank god) – but to this day . . . .

Jeez, there’s just not words to describe it, the emotional crap behind this memory. Pain? Yes. Obvious. The sense of abandonment? Yeah, it was there. The dread when we’d start walking up that endless hallway. The weird scent and sound of the steam pipes overhead. The dark and dreary interstices between the pipes. The yellow white light of the lamps. And all those doctors bent over me, their faces half hidden by their masks; never a word of comfort to me, but endless advice to each other – words like “hold him” and “stop kicking” and “hold him.” That one got used a lot. Odd, that one.

When I say “hold him” in regards to a child, I usually mean hug him (or her). Never this sort of thing. Not hold him down so that I can stick him.

And I know when my daughter got sick and hospitalized at five years old – I was right there beside her, the entire time. I even took off from work so that I could sleep right next to her, in the very same bed. I never left her side except to go to the bathroom. And when I held her, I held her tight, and with all my love, and her screams and cries just made me want to hold her more.

Not abandon her in the room she was in.

Not like my mother did me.

I don’t care how loud or hard a child cries – I go TO them, not away from them. (Heck, I did this just the other day, hearing a child screaming from a block away.)

And I don’t fault the doctors: they were just doing their job, what they were trained to do, what they needed to do.

But perhaps – just perhaps – they could’ve been just a little bit more human.

And yeah – I’ve always felt bad that the cat died. For in the end, it turned out there was no need for any of it. None at all.

Not that it doesn’t continue to affect me some (Re: the goosebumps). And the other effect is that I’m very sensitive to a child’s pain. Just can’t stand it. But like I said: I don’t run away. I run towards.

Any child in need.