Once upon a time there was a little boy. Although his family was poor, life was good and he enjoyed his life. His Mother and Father did not get along well, but he did not notice much.
One day his Daddy ran away, leaving a note that read, “I’m gone for good. Don’t try to find me”. The little boy did not understand. He was very sad and became even more confused when his Mommy told him, “You’re now the man of the house. You gonna have to take care of your little Brother”.
After getting divorced his Mother was not around much, even though the little boy and his brother lived with her. His Father never came around. Mom was either working or going out with boyfriends all the time. The parade of different men confused the boy.
A man the boy did not like became his stepfather when he was ten. Mother said, “_____ has asked me to marry him and I’ve said yes. Is that okay with you?” So badly, the boy wanted to say, “No, he is a bad man.” but instead because he loved his mother and wanted her to be happy he replied, “It’s okay”.
Life for the boy and his brother worsened. His new “Father” was mean and treated the two boys as just being in the way. He got angry about the smallest thing and dished out painful physical punishment almost daily. The boys lived in fear and were made to work long hours every day after school, on weekends and during the summer.
The boy was growing up to be a man. Just before he was sixteen the new “Dad” drew back his hand to hit the now teenaged boy. Having had enough, in great anger the boy said “Go, ahead. I’ll stomp you until you’re a grease spot”. He meant it and would have tried to hurt the stepfather as badly has he could have.. Fortunately the older man saw that, never touched him again, but threw the boy out on the street to fend for himself three weeks later.
The teenager was homeless. With money enough for only two nights in a motel, he called the birth Father he barely knew saying, “I have no place to go. Can I come stay with you?” His Daddy said “yes”. And there he lived for a year while he and his Dad made the best peace they could.
Usually adult males who are unable to make emotional connections with the women they choose to be intimate with are frozen in time, unable to allow themselves to love for fear that the loved one will abandon them. If the first woman they passionately loved, the mother, was not true to her bond of love, then how can they trust that their partner will be true to love. Often in their adult relationships these men act out again and again to test their partner’s love. While the rejected adolescent boy imagines that he can no longer receive his mother’s love because he is not worthy, as a grown man he may act out in ways that are unworthy and yet demand of the woman in his life that she offer him unconditional love. This testing does not heal the wound of the past, it merely reenacts it, for ultimately the woman will become weary of being tested and end the relationship, thus reenacting the abandonment. This drama confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They decide that it is better to put their faith in being powerful, in being dominant.” Bell Hooks
A walk though the majority of his adult life shows the boy became like the description above. How could he have known the effects of surviving childhood would have so much to do with shaping his life? If we are born without the colors of life already painted, then it is childhood where the adult we become gets colored in.
I was that boy and I am that man. My gratitude overflows that in recent times I have been able to let go of most of it. And I finally got even with my evil stepfather; I became happy in spite of him!
You know all that sympathy that you feel
for an abused child who suffers
without a good mom or dad to love and care for them?
Well, they don’t stay children forever.
No one magically becomes an adult the day they turn eighteen.
Some people grow up sooner, many grow up later.
Some never really do.
…just remember that some people in this world
are older versions of those same kids we cry for.
Image by Ruby Blossom