I was born in 1977. It was July, it was hot; I don’t remember it. What I do remember is, wondering how I ended up in my family. I guess it was a sign of feeling out of place. I’d ask why me, why here (America), why black? It was the 1980’s and mass media broadcast images from around the world. Many of them seem to be so harsh, that I often wondered how I got so lucky. I lived in a big house in what seemed to be a nice neighborhood. I attended private school. I always had what I needed and in most cases, got what I wanted. Lucky! My family was complete with a mother, father, sisters and brothers. That was not a reality for many of my friends. I was even blessed to have my extended family there. I stuck with my grandmother. She was my mother to me and my mom was for my siblings. Did you get that?
Around this time, my abuser was also a part of my life. I can’t tell you the point at which it started, but my earliest memories are about this age. When you are a kid, you learn about monsters. They’re big, ugly and freighting. Not all monsters have that outward appearance. The monster that got me was wonderful to me; treated me as if I was the best kid in the world. What child doesn’t like that kind of attention? He brought me things, took me out and shared his bed with me. Then at night things changed. I was number one for a different reason. I would awake to intense pain and a hand over my mouth. There were words said to comfort me, as he pushed inside of me. It hurt like hell and I cried silent tears, hoping it would be over soon. I was scared, confused and ashamed. Was it my fault? What did I do to deserve this? More questions swirling in my head. All I was sure of, is I could never tell. When it was over, he would wrap his arms around me and hold me close till I’d fall asleep.
One day, I remember my grandmother asking me if I had ever been touched inappropriately. I quickly answered no. How could I say yes? I would get in trouble. I didn’t want to be in trouble. If only I knew by not telling, I’d be in trouble to this very day. I can’t recall any other time an adult asked me that question. Now you may ask yourself, “How are parents blind to the fact that there was something was going on?” well, my parents were distracted by the problems of my oldest sister. I loved my sister so much and she treated me as if I were her only brother. At some point she joined the army. Looking back, I see that as a sign of her searching for something that was missing, but what I can’t say. She would always send me the coolest stuff. I was the only kid with a real army uniform and combat boots. She made me feel safe and loved. But like me now, she was damaged.
One of the first things she did that caught my parents’ attention was to get married in the army. My mother was not happy, to say the least. Mothers dream of planning their daughter’s wedding and fathers give the away. It didn’t happen for them, she took that away. The husband seemed like a nice enough guy to me (kid standards). When he came to visit, he played with me, took me out and was the first person to let me drive (I sat on his lap and steered). All the while, that bastard was abusive both physically and emotionally. In hindsight, the person I most identified with was going through a similar problem, with neither of us being the wiser.
My sister eventually divorced him, but the damage was already done. This led her to self-doubt, self-abuse and self-destructive behaviors. Unfortunately, illegal drugs were her choice to deal with the pain. I got to watch this play out. I think this one of the reasons I have strayed away from drugs. From her troubles, I‘ve learned valuable life lessons.
Drug use was a big deal in the 80’s. Not saying it still isn’t today. The 80’s were the birth of Crack and the “Crack Head.” Crack Heads were everywhere and could be anyone. It didn’t matter if you were black or white, rich or poor; once the addiction got hold of you, you were done for. I don’t exactly know which drugs my sister used, but I’m guessing Crack was one. Here you had this beautiful young woman, well educated, from a “Good” family. Why would she involve herself in such things? What was broken inside her? What was missing? What caused her all this pain? Those are questions I’ll never get an answer to.
I never saw my parents argue or fight. If they did, it wasn’t in the presence of us kids. With my sister, arguments were a regular occurrence and all out war at times. As she got deeper and deeper into whatever this thing was, the more she became a stranger to my family. I remember things got physical between her and my dad. Now let me tell you, my dad didn’t hit us, that’s moms’ department. I don’t remember what was said, but whatever it was, he hit her so hard she fell into the bathroom. She hit her head hard. My mom thought he killed her. He didn’t thank God, but things were very different from then on. And the biggest change was about to come.Pause