Before Recovery: Part 1 – Trauma Legacy
This is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.
I knew I was different from an early age. I felt somehow different from the other kids. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make friends. I spent much of my younger years playing alone or wandering the neighboring woods. My childhood was an abysmal world of trauma, loneliness, and abuse. I don’t recall much of my childhood prior to 11 or so. I only remember dramatic moments.
Very early on in my life, around 5 or 6 I believe, there was the sexual abuse by a relative, on and on until I was removed from my home at around 12 years of age. There was 1966, when I was 2 my older sister (by 2 years) died a horrible death of asphyxiation. And then there was Christmas Day, 1975 when, as an 11 year old, I watched my 8 yr. old brother get hit by a car. He died the next day. After his death my world got a whole lot uglier.
I was beaten frequently by my mother, but much more so after my brother’s death in 1975. I was regularly ridiculed and scorned and ignored my entire childhood. My father was an angry alcoholic who, although much less frequently, could inflict serious damage. I often think his psychological torment inflicted the most damage on me over the years.
I started having behavioral issues. I stole things. I broke random things. I experienced periods of disassociation with frequent nightmares and terrible headaches. I would be locked away in my room for months on end. I did develop a passion for reading and marveled at the world that was beyond my captivity though. Reading and trapping the cats in my room sustained me during the worst periods of my young life.
I did very poorly in school. None of the kids would play with me on the playground. I do remember endless days standing apart and watching children play and laugh. My only sense of peace and calm came in the form of the many books I was allowed to read.
And the little time I was allowed out of the home to explore nature, a place which quickly became my solace in a violent, uncaring world. When I wasn’t locked up, or on restriction, I wandered the streets, and woods around my neighborhoods. It was particularly difficult in the winter. My parents would just toss us outside and tell us to play out there all day.
Around the time I was 12 I was put on probation for numerous acts of theft and vandalism. I used to steal my mother’s jewelry and give it to girls I liked. Or I would steal change from my dad’s dresser and buy kids ice cream to try to win their friendship.
After I broke some windows in our neighboring car wash, at age 12 I was put on probation. Age 12 was also the first time I drank alcohol. I drank way too much of it and was violently ill. My father beat me senseless then tried to get me put in jail at the Police Station by my father as a lesson. My mother and older half-brother—my other great tormentor—laughed at me as I wretched into the toilet for hours…to be continued.