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Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down

Chapter One (04)

Life Before West Point

he knew they were not Japanese but likely Philippine or
Pacific Islander, for seven decades he has been haunted by
memories, nightmares and flashbacks of bloody women and
children he had killed. Unlike the European theater of the
war, America maintained a secret racist war policy on the
Pacific high seas to eliminate all people with slanted eyes.
My father never recovered from his trauma. At least every
month or two growing up, I recall him sitting alone in the
living room on weekends staring morosely off into space
getting drunk, listening to his “Victory At Sea” records,
and reliving the sins of his country as his very own for the
rest of his life.     
As my father’s firstborn son, I have been told by older
siblings that I got it the worst of us nine kids in our
family. Though my father loved his four stepchildren, and
was abusive toward them as well, he was less apt to hit or
beat them than his own five biological children. Each child
responds to abuse in his or her own way. My M.O. was
learning to be passive-aggressive. So I regularly took out
all my angst and anger on those I could, my mother and
younger siblings always being the safest targets to dish it
out on. Shit flows downhill as they say, in this case from
our dear Uncle Avedes to my father to me and on down to my
younger sibs and mother.

I relished dressing up as a soldier this time at age 10
fighting in the Revolutionay War

When I was about nine or ten, I
remember using my old trombone I was taking music lessons in
to terrorize my littlest brother who was an infant at the
time. I perversely took glee watching the lips of my baby
brother predictably start quivering as I blasted my horn in
his face followed shortly by his wailing cries. I hated that
trombone, I hated my life and I hated myself, so I took it
out on my defenseless brother. Because my parents couldn’t
afford a nice brass trombone like everyone else had in
school, they bought a cheap, beat up old silver horn that
was hard to even make the slide piece move. It caused me far 
more embarrassment than pleasure. After two years I quit
my lessons, sadistically turning it into a weapon of terror.
Another of my infamous capers designed to cause shock
and grief amongst my family was when I purposely poured
ketchup on myself and laid my father’s rifle out next to me
pretending I had commit suicide. I’m afraid I was just one
more reason why America needs to get a handle on guns as the
most armed and violent nation on earth. In any event, my
mother had gone to the grocery store with my younger
siblings and I figured I’d give them the scare of their life
upon return. It was clearly a “get even” toward my mother
for reneging on her earlier permission to let me go see
“Lawrence of Arabia” with a school chum that day. I fairly
regularly put such disturbing events on my mom and younger
brothers and sisters because they were safe targets and only
recourse. Knowing that with my father at work I could easily
get away with minimal punishment, they became an easy outlet
for my passive-aggressive retaliation against what my father
was doing to me. I was just being my sad, pathetically crazy
acting out self. Later as an adolescent and young adult, I
felt guilty for inflicting such torture and harassment on a
family I loved. Over time I have been able to make amends
while also forgiving myself just as I’ve forgiven my father.
This ugly vicious cycle is a human response that is part
of an insidious multi-generational legacy afflicting such
painful harm and abuse on others by those who have largely
been victims themselves. And regretfully, it’s been ruining 
lives for centuries as part of our lowly human condition.
Of course abuse still goes on daily all over America as well
as the rest of the world, a serious global problem that is
both under-reported and conveniently swept under the rug.
From my earliest memories I had been dubbed the family
“grump.” An infamous photo showing the grump in action had
me about fours years old looking mighty glum and pissed off
when I was not allowed to hold the baby because

I had ring worm in a family shot with my six other siblings.

The family grump in action

I was a weird kind of kid who
hated change - getting haircuts and new clothes were total
torture for me. Throughout my years of growing up, I often
felt frustrated, misunderstood and locked in my family role
as the mischievous, sourpuss grump. Though I had a softer
side within me that is both affectionate and loving, I had
difficulty being vulnerable in expressing that side. I was
afraid I’d be made fun of or put down if I showed the more
tender side of my nature. In unsafe homes where instability,
volatility and abuse regularly prevail, family members
frequently fall into rigid roles and behavior that become
habituated and confining, acting as both an emotional and
behavioral straightjacket. Over time family dynamics do not
change much once they are established early on. Moreover,
family members in unstable, fear-based homes tend to be
hyper-vigilant with their homeostatic system on constant
fight-flight overdrive. Family members resort to doing what
is most familiar and available to survive in an often
threatening, hostile environment. And as a young sensitive
male, it was far safer for me to simply display frustration,
dissatisfaction and anger rather than virtues I have always
possessed but could not readily express, like being kind,
nurturing, gentle, caring and loving. So I merely stayed
with the negative status quo that was all I knew, fulfilling
everyone else’s rigid expectations of me as the family
malcontent and grump if you will. I felt trapped, unable to
shed my own skin, a common plight in dysfunctional families.   
Had I ever directly returned my father’s aggression
with my own toward him, he probably would have killed me. So
I learned to take it, in fear of getting thrown around and
beaten more if I directly challenged my insane authoritarian
dad. The following account is a telling illustration of how
I passive-aggressively “got even” with him for abusing me,
and how this time it backfired horribly.
In his spare time my father was always masterful with
completing various home improvement projects around the
house and on our property.

Family home in Massachusetts

Again, the guy could make or fix
anything. And there were never a shortage of home projects
needing improvement or repair at our house. One day he
decided to upgrade and restore the old, rundown fruit stand
that was located nearest the road and entrance to our
property. He often would force me to assist him on these
“manly” projects even though I loathed having to be around
him. He was always reacting angrily to every little obstacle
or challenge encountered, then unleashing his wrath by
blaming me. I felt coerced against my will and resented him
for depriving me of my weekend free time to just be a kid.
Overall I have very limited memory of my childhood mainly
because I repressed so much of it just to function and
survive. But this one incident in particular indelibly
stands out. My father had briefly gone to get a tool from
the garage, leaving me standing around just outside the
dilapidated fruit stand with nothing to do. Typical of abuse
victims, I took pleasure as a frustrated, angry, passive-
aggressive youth in throwing rocks, bricks or anything I
could get my hands on through broken glass windows or
anything I could hit. So I picked up a brick laying on the
ground and threw it through one of the glassless windows of
the fruit stand, hitting the inside wall on the other side,
just as my dad turned the corner of the house to notice what
I had just done. Instantly he became enraged, “You no good
little bastard! Wait’ll I get my hands on you, I’m gonna
kill you!” By this time he was running towards me, picked up
a 2X4 piece of wood about two feet long and hurled it at 
me, hitting me in the right leg as I attempted to escape. It
made such a powerful impact mid-stride that it knocked me
down. In one circular motion I rolled over in a quick
somersault, rose immediately back up on my feet and resumed
sprinting away barely eluding his outreached grasp. Luckily
as a twelve-year old, I was a faster runner than my middle
aged father. Though I momentarily dodged another bullet in
temporarily getting away, my full beating awaited me later
in the day when I returned home.

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