Distinct things I remember from my childhood

Written by Curtis M. Carlson

These are some of the distinct things I remember from my childhood. Things that keep me up at night, things that often send me into fits of anger and the depths of depression. Things that I feel guilty for remembering and reacting to, things I need to get over.

I remember being told that I was adopted and that my real mother didn't want me and that is why my adopted parents had to raise me. I remember this making me feel unwanted, I remember how resentful my adopted mother and father acted that they had to raise me.

I remember being told constantly that I should feel grateful that I got to be raised by Dale and Audrey and not some other people. I remember feeling that I may have been loved had I been raised by other people.

I remember my friends who had foster sisters and brothers and how much they seemed to be loved and appreciated by their foster parents and wondered why I wasn't in a foster home.

I remember my mother being very reluctant and seldom allowing me to play with the kids in the neighborhood. They were all bad influences and I was so young and impressionable. I remember seeing how their parents loved and trusted them and wondered what on earth they could be doing so wrong that I couldn't play with them.

I remember my mom coming home from school; she was a teacher, and passing out on the couch. Mom took lots of pills. I often remember trying to wake her up so I could get something to eat. I look back on it now and realize this was the beginning of many bad eating habits. As a child I would sneak in and eat whatever was in the cupboards that didn't need fixing, mostly junk food.

I remember my mom always fussing at me about being 'heavy' yet all I ever saw her eat was doughnuts and chocolate. I often saw her refusing to eat fruits and vegetables, because she claimed that it bothered her stomach. I often wondered if the reason why she had a bad stomach was because she only ate doughnuts and chocolate.

I remember that we used to shop at second hand stores a lot for my clothes. Mom used to call them "Dirty Stores." I remember that mom never bought her own or dad's clothes at second hand stores, just mine and my sisters. I remember that she would tell us that only filthy and poor people and niggers shopped at these stores and that we should not touch anything in the store because we would get lice. I remember my parents sending us to private schools and I remember how the kids would make fun of me in my second had clothes.

I remember from a really early age that when my dad would try to swing me around in circles my arms and I would squeal with joy, that our dog, normally a very loving dog, would growl and try to attack my dad. I remember that dog barking maniacally when my dad would beat me: I always new that my dad was afraid of that dog and that the dog was only trying to protect me.

I remember my dad, Dr Dale PhD working very long hours. I remember him often taking the Winnebago motor home to work and staying downtown for days. I remember wondering why he had to be at work so much when all the other people he worked with didn't have to stay at work so much.

I remember the first black kid I met at school. I remember what my mom referred to the black people as, and I asked him very innocently if he was a Nigger. I remember being beat up badly by this young man and having to go to the principles' office. I got beat when I got home. I wondered if I shouldn't have told the principle that my mom taught me that black people were called niggers.

I remember the jar of marbles that I found in my grandma's basement, in the back of the cabinet behind old boxes covered with dust and cobwebs, gone and forgotten. I remember taking those marbles out of the Mason jar and playing with them all afternoon in the basement. I remember showing my grandmother those marbles and asking if I could have them. I remember her telling me that those were not for me to play with, that they were antiques and that I should put them back. I remember when my cousin, her blood grandson showed up two days later, she had me go down and bring the jar of marbles up to her. She sent me outside and gave the marbles to Greg. Greg would never let me play with him and those marbles.

I remember that when I visited my grandmother she would not let me play with the kids down the street because they were communists.

I remember that they had a very small house and often did not have much to eat. I remember that they were always so kind and generous and they called my grandpa a scab.

I remember hiding in the huge walk in closet at my grandmothers under the bags and bags of clothes and seeing my grandmother naked, it repulsed me. I remember every Saturday my grandmother would go shopping for clothes and say thing like, "I don't have a thing to wear."

I remember my parent traveling a lot. I remember them going to China and Europe and Japan and many times to Hawaii, and to Africa and to South America. I remember them bringing back trinkets and I remember that my dad would say he was embarrassed that mom had so much in life and still would dicker and haggle and say horribly humiliating things to the poor people in other countries so she could save money.

I remember every one of the beatings my dad gave me. I remember mom saying she would leave my dad if he kept beating me. She never left for more that a few days and she never took us kids along. He didn't stop beating me.

I remember being deathly afraid of my father. I remember trying so hard to act like I loved him and respected him when we were in public. I remember he would often come home and beat me and say things like, 'I know you did something wrong, so this is for whatever it was."

I remember asking if I could travel with my folks when they went away. I remember mom saying that when I got my PhD I could travel too. I also remember when I was in college I lived in ghettos with gun fire and crack dealers living upstairs, with only cold running water and no electricity, and often eating out of dumpsters, and asking for help with money for books from my mom and her telling me that they weren't able to afford to help. I remember because that was just about the time she told me not to call for a couple weeks because they would be in Hawaii.

I remember my dad beating me with a belt. I remember my dad beating me with a coat hanger. I remember my dad beating me with a shovel. I remember him beating me with fists. I remember my dad beating me with a two by four. I remember all the beatings. I remember after the beating with the two by four board that he told me that I was to tell my mother and anyone who asked that I was sore from riding the horse. I remember not ever wanting to ride the horse again.

I remember I would hide in the barn for hours because my father was in a rage and I knew if he found me he would beat me.

I remember that my mom would give me white pills and blue pills and yellow and grey pills every time my dad beat me and told me they were 'aspirin' to help me sleep. I later learned the names of the pills: Codeine, Valium and Darvon. I remember my mom had Mason jars of these pills in the bottom of her closet.

I remember my mom going to see three different doctors to get pills. I remember how upset she got when one doctor decided to quit giving her pills. She cried and cried and cried. I didn't understand because you could buy aspirin at the store and she had all those pills in jars at home.

I remember that my mom wouldn't often let me wear shorts or tank tops because it was not modest. I always thought it was because people talked about the bruises.

I remember taking pills with me to school and I remember that I knew how to talk to doctors to convince them to give me pills. I remember the first time my friend called me a 'pill junkie' and how defensive I got and how angry and embarrassed I was. I soon did not take any more pills, and started smoking marijuana.

I remember at a young age being able to take handfuls of pills without even drinking water. I remember that my mom would say, "Now that's a good boy."

I remember lying in bed at night very, very still, hardly breathing, when my father got home hoping that tonight would not be a 'spanking' night. I remember how relieved I would be when I would finally here the house go quite and get to fall asleep. I also remember that I was always tired at school.

I remember that the few times my dad took me fishing I was completely convinced that he was going to drown me in the river. I remember he would take me shooting with the guns and I was utterly convinced that he was going to shoot me. I remember that when he took me rabbit hunting in Nevada near the deep open abandoned silver mines I was sure he was going to push me in. I remember standing near the edge and looking in and dropping rocks and not hearing them hit. My father snuck up on me and acted like he was going to push me in. I soiled myself. I did not sleep for the whole two days we were out there. I seriously contemplated throwing myself in just so I could get it over with. That weekend he almost shot me with a shot gun and then said, 'oops'.

I remember the first time my sister told me that grandpa (dad's dad) stuck his tongue in her mouth when he kissed her. I imagined how nasty that would be. Grandpa used to eat lots and lots of raw onions.

I remember the first time grandpa (mom's dad) touched my private parts. I remember how much trouble I got in when I told mom and grandma. I remember them making me go out and sit on his lap after I told them what he had done. I don't remember much after that. I do remember that they would make me go out behind the garage with grandpa. I remember the first time I recall being told to do this I thought I was going to get a beating. I don't remember much after that, except that I would rather get a beating. I do remember spending a lot of time hiding and trying to stay as far away from grandpa as I could.

I remember I was glad when grandfather's Alzheimer's got really bad, because he left me alone.

I remember my dad would say that the Bible said, "Spare the rod, spoil the child" and then laugh. This confused me when I was young because my parents often told me I was spoiled and yet I got plenty of beatings.

I remember wanting to get big so I could beat my dad. I also remember getting physically ill every time I had to fight someone. I remember not ever wanting to hurt anyone because I knew what it was like to hurt. I remember not ever wanting to have children because I did not want children to be treated like me. I thought all children were treated like I was treated.

I remember my best friend Rich Till would often tell me that I was the only person he knew that was treated like I was treated. I remember crying when Rich would tell me these things because, even though I knew he loved me like a brother and cared for me deeply, I thought I must be an evil monster to have to be beat into submission and sedated constantly.

I cried and cried when Rich died, I felt like I had lost my only advocate. I am crying as I write this, because Rich saw the bruises and he never treated me like a monster.

I remember hating my dad for beating me. I remember hating my mom the most for not stopping him. I remember hating everyone for letting my dad do this to me. I remember hating the church and everyone in it for laughing with my dad when he said "Spare the rod, spoil the child." I hated the school and all the teachers for not reporting my dad, I was young but I still new what child abuse was. I hate Mr. Booth the son of our Pastor who taught my Fourth grade class because he too was a monster and every Friday like a ritual, he would make me hug the big willow tree and I would get a beating in front of all the other kids. Most of the time I did not know why I was getting beat, I assumed it was just because I was a bad kid. For many, many years, I thought the term Weeping Willow came from kids being beat while having to hug a Willow tree. Willow trees still make me sad.

I remember all theses things. I remember often trying to share my feelings and memories. I remember often trying to hide these memories from myself with alcohol and chemicals. I remember often trying to hide or run away from these feeling, moving from town to town, state to state. I remember really wanting to love and respect my mom and dad. I remember instead hating and loathing them and thinking very little of them.

I remember just wanting to be wanted, and loved and held and cherished.

I remember all these things and still feel like the owe me.

I remember feeling embarrassed that I remembered.