The nightmares of acceptance

high water

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare.  I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters.  A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help.  None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.

With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing.  I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age. 

At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity.  I can’t recall.  My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there.  My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living. 

A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs.  Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation.  Maybe they’d never been otherwise.

Such a woman!  I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath.  I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it.  I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.

I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this.  He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk.  As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot.  An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.

As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of.  One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered.  Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar.  Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died.  I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.

The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work.  Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump.  That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere.  The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.

The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.

When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.

I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed.  I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.

But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement.  I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own.  When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted.  Still ain’t.

Old Jules

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21 responses to “The nightmares of acceptance

  1. I too had parents who never should have been parents.

    • Hi Jane. Thanks for coming by. Probably if the universe decided today the only people allowed to be parents were the ones who should be parents there’d suddenly be a lot smaller human population. Whatever life’s all about it must have something to do with the implications of that minor fact. Gracias, J

  2. Hard stories, Jack. From my experience, more often than not, scars and heartbreaks are passed on from one generation to the next. Usually, when we come into this world, we have no way of knowing the sorrow and the mistakes that our parents may have lived through, when they were children before us, yet have to deal with the ghosts and gremlins that slipped through with them… sometimes monsters. I know what you’re talking about… though of course, my story is a little different from yours. Still it was hell.

  3. Your blog post this morning has the substance of a great novel.

  4. I’m one of the lucky ones, but I have seen some disgusting parenting.

    • LCTC!: My personal sense is we’re all lucky if we’re still kicking when our parents aren’t. Good, bad or indifferent, probably it throws the universe slightly out of whack when the young die before their parents. Gracias, J

  5. This is emotionally moving. The Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle is largely a myth.

    • Thanks Swabby. Myths probably have some basis in fact sometimes. I’m not sure Ozzie and Harriet qualify by meeting the minimum standards. Gracias, J

  6. I am glad that I don’t remember when I signed the contract of being living this life. If I did – I probably run faster than anything else. I came and I saw and I concurred is my words today – The life I got from my parents taught me to be the person I am today – If I got another life? I never know what I went out to be then ;) – Thanks for sharing your nightmare and the way you told it

    • Mariane: I don’t remember signing mine, either. But it’s been a growth experience. I wouldn’t trade a minute of mine. Surely hope I don’t have to live it again though. Gracias, J

  7. I don’t know what the hell to say. Hard story for sure.

  8. Now that us a dose of reality from the Dark Side. I think we have all run into some strange experiences maybe minus the actual murders. What a burden for those young ones to carry. But I guess we all get a piece of the action.

    How many people do we find destroying themselves and their families with alcohol or drugs or both. I look into my time here and see enough to populate many nightmares. The mere are two in my family dead because of drinking and another indirectly because of drugs. I have a neighbor whose family is similarly devastated .

    Maybe nightmares would be better than the realities.

    I’ve had one dream or vision in my life as a child, I recall, that can not be forgotten.

    For sone reason unknown to me who am no one special, I was carried by an angel through time into a great blackness. The angel was above and behind me so I couldn’t see him or her. I looked behind us and saw an opening that we had apparently come out of. I was then turned to my right and around toward a huge space and saw far in the distance and a bit below me as I was being carried what appeared to be a light in the great blackness. As we approached this area I saw that a man was there on the top of an apparent hill and was hanging from a cross shaped arrangement with his back to me. The angel took me around to the left from the back of the scene after we had descended and approached the area. He carried me across the front of the man about chest height and I noticed he was nailed or stuck to the cross and that he was wearing something on his head made of twisted thorns vines. The man was struggling and trying to raise his head and bumped it against the support behind him and apparently it hurt, since his head fell forward again. I was too young to know what this was about, but I know now what it was. I think I saw his face, intense and perhaps more than that. It was over immediately then. I have never forgotten that experience. I am not sure how old I was. It sure expands the meaning of things that I hear spoken on many Sundays. I believe it was Jesus Christ. He did that for us.

  9. One Fly: Compared to so many other stories walking around the planet mine was easy, so was the story of the guy up the hill. This damned life thing can be REALLY hard and I’m tickled to death mine was what it was. Thinking of the hard ones bogglers the mind and shrivels the scrotum. Gracias, J

  10. Fortunately, I had the most wonderful parents imaginable. We were very poor, but my life was nevertheless a happy one. Over the years I have heard many tell of mistreatment or neglect and the scars remain with them. Lucky you were able to overcome… so you could write such eye-opening posts.

  11. Most people don’t imagine the lifetime of responsibility that arrives with a baby. Women didn’t have a lot of choices for effective birth control when your mother was of child-bearing age. I have no idea what sort of parent I would have been and I’ve never had the inclination to find out. Thankfully, birth control has always been available to me. I learned from my parents, mistakes.
    As always, skilled writing and an interesting story.

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