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Saturday, November 17, 2012

We pay our toll

I am a bit sad tonight. Sad because I had to make a decision that I didn't agree with, or like. While it was happening a large part of my mind was saying fuck that, that isn't fair…, I shouldn't have to do this. I don’t have to do it, no I don’t have to, but I chose to do it because it was the right thing to do. Everyone deserves to be treated with humanity and respect.
Last night I got to think about some things that I haven’t thought about in a long time…I got to think about the time in my life when my sister finally escaped from the abuse and fear that we called home. We lived in Idaho with my mom and step dad. Our house was on the corner of 11th and Dewey, just a block from the high school.  
Just before she moved away there was a fairly bad episode between my mom and my sis. At one point while my mom was attacking her, my sister hit back. At that point my mom fled the room and screamed at my step dad “she fucking hit me, sick her Doug, sick her.” At that point my memory gets a little fuzzy. I think I cowered in my bed wishing it would end, and fearing that it would come in my room; and hating myself for not being able to do anything to stop it. I always had that shame, I couldn't stop it…I was scared, and I couldn't stop it, and so I hid.
And I hated myself for still loving my mom. I remember praying that they both would get in an accident on their way home from work, my mom and step dad, and that I would feel safe. I cried myself to sleep that night because who wishes their parents would die instead of come home, what a horrible person I felt I was.  
My father lived in Oregon. Oregon was the promise land. The grass was green, there were trees everywhere, and it was safe. We went there for the summer and my sister begged him to let her stay. So he filed paperwork to gain custody of my sister. The attorney took a deposition from her detailing all the abuse she was suffering.
I was asked if I wanted to live with Dad, and I did…but I was afraid, was still cowering on my bed in my mind. I was a child asked to make an adult decision. I was afraid to tell the truth. My secrets kept me safe…we don’t talk about what happens at home. And to this day the one thought that has shamed me the most was that maybe mom and Doug would treat me better. Maybe they will learn from losing my sister that they couldn’t treat me that way.
So I went home, back to Idaho. For a week all I heard was how horrible my sister was. How big a fucking liar she was, and how dare she do this to them. I cowered inside; there was nothing I could do about it. They were still abusing her and she wasn’t even there. Then they started hitting me more often. But the worst thing was the yelling, and screaming, and name calling…
Growing into adulthood I had much shame. Shame for not being able to tell my dad that they were hurting me too. Shame for not stopping them from hurting my sister. Shame for loving them. Shame for hating them.  most of all I had shame for hoping that by my sister leaving I would get a mother and step father that cared for me, and loved me. I had shame for not being able to make adult decisions as a child. I had no choice, I was a child.
So, today when I was confronted with an adult decision I responded as an adult. No longer will I make decisions from that bed that I cowered in. There isn’t enough liquor in the world to make those kinds of decisions ok, there never was I just didn’t know that.

Jenny I am sorry for being mad at you for being able to escape.

This War

To end all
We pay our toll
In blood we pay
For you
And you
And you
We pay
That you may never have to
See what we see
Feel that which we have felt
Know this
For in blood do we pay
For you never to have this experience

Chris McQueeney    11/11/12    9:29 P.M.

P.S.  If you are reading this I would like you to know that I have appreciated your friendship, and also your input. I hope you continue to read my work…


Brian Miller said...

its hard man...we dont get to pick our families, and at that age we still believe its best to stay together and our family loves us no matter what....and we have hope for them...we believe it will get batter....and we are scared of what will come...its hard to process those times as a child, now as an adult too....we have to remember we were not an adult then, we were not the same as we were then...

i am sorry you had to live this man...

christopher said...

Wander, I am ever on your side of things. Your words gave me this one:

On The Run

When they checked back in
their report said I'm to blame
for all that bad shit
that happened that time.
As for me, I just weaseled
my way out of it.
I still had the room,
credibility and such.

I sit on my bed
haunted and hunted,
demons in my head, certain
it was really you
all this fucking time.

kj said...

heartbreaking, chris.

but i will tell you this and i know about this: understanding that the child you were could not do any better is the salve that frees both the child and the man.

make sure your own children do not have to cower from such untenable decisions. make sure they do not have to say what they cannot. that is salve too, changing the course of history.

you are most welcome. i am glad for our friendship


Wine and Words said...

Chris, we cowered on a similar bed. I've prayed death upon my parents and I learned to wish it upon subsequent hardships instead of dealing with them. Once, my therapist asked me why I felt so responsible for everything. I said that if I felt responsible, then it meant that I could change it, that I had some power. I told her I should have done more, I SHOULD HAVE made different decisions, that I had been a coward...weak. She said, "what child wouldn't have been. You were a CHILD. You expected too much from that girl. She survived. Would you expect these things from a 5 year old you met today?" I wish you freedom from your shame, and me from my guilt. It's a tough road. I'm not sure I'll arrive at a destination anywhere near freedom, but there's always hope :)

Ben Ditty said...

When I think of you, Chris, I think of an adult; and a brave one at that.

She Writes said...

I am quite sure it wasn't fair. You are a good man and I am sure the respect and humanity you offered did not go unnoticed. Perhaps it stood out Saturday as it does to me now.

I appreciate your thoughts and writing. Thank you for sharing this. It resonates. I for one, will read your work.

Nadja Notariani said...

I know. I know. And I know.

And in then end, I became a better person, a better friend, a better mother for the awful knowing. You are better for that knowing, too. I try to look at it this way...maybe it was only in the knowing that I would gain the resolve to seek lasting change.