Very cool comment from the Juggalo Funeral post. Moving and well-written. Enjoy.
Howard, I appreciate your thoughts on this pathetic situation. You wrote, “Try to imagine having nothing; no education, no skills, no talent, no drive. In short, no future!”
Frankly, I don’t have to imagine it – I’ve been there. To compound the problem, I had been thrust into a society I was thoroughly unfamiliar with and did not understand at all (American culture) after having been reared in various foreign countries from the age of 8 & coming back to USA at 16. That same year, I simultaneously lost my virginity and became pregnant by a man seven years my senior. He was a cretin, obviously – and I was a lost, scared, emotionally wounded little girl who had just lost her Dad and seen her family disintegrate before her eyes…now I see all that, but back then I only felt shame and guilt.
I was ‘forced’ by my family to marry the man. It was what “good families” did back then, you see. Shame and coercion were the tools used to somehow, supposedly, magically, and remarkably preserve the family’s good name. Cool, huh? So I did as I was told. I dropped out of high school the summer before my Senior year. I was 17 in July, and my baby was born in November. When she was six weeks old, I got pregnant…the first time I’d had intercourse since the birth. When my first child was 11 months old, I had twins. I had just turned 18.
At 19, I found myself with three babies in diapers, two black eyes, and one old car to use as a “getaway.” Having been effectively abandoned by my family partially due to circumstances beyond their control and partially because the whole family had exploded to bits, I ended up living in that old car for a couple of months. Back then, disposable diapers were uncommon, inefficient, and very expensive. Basically, they were only used while traveling if you could afford them. I often had no way to do laundry after I escaped the abusive father of my babies, and many times I ended up using my T-shirts as diapers.
Fast forward…I’m a grandmother of seven, living in a little cabin my husband & I designed ourselves and put on our 100 acres of land – all paid for, free & clear – getting ready to retire early at age 54. I’ve had a successful career in medicine, although I did not attend college until my children had all left home. Neither did I remarry until my kids had all grown and left the nest. It is possible, albeit often very difficult, to rise above the storms, slights, and indignities of life. For years I lived in shame, guilt, humiliation, disgrace, degradation, and ignominy. I felt I had no right to my very existence.
I worked at menial minimum wage jobs (often two or 2 1/2 jobs at a time) and steered clear of drugs, alcohol, etc…couldn’t have afforded them if I’d wanted them anyway. As the years went by, I did begin to use alcohol. Excessively. I was a functional drunk. Not an alcoholic, just a drunk…which is less respectable than being an alcoholic. I did it by choice, not because of addiction. It was my chicken-shit escape. I’m not proud of it, but that is the way it is. The way it was anyway.
Life can be hard at the best of times. Some of us choose to rise to the challenge and eventually overcome…some of us make excuses as to why we “can’t.” I have empathy for this couple…but they make their choices just as you and I make ours. Being poor, disenfranchised, abandoned by every level of society, degraded, hurt, and relatively unintelligent didn’t define the rest of my life. Unintentionally or not, my life was effed up by my own actions and my own choices…I was an ignorant child, but I still did it to myself. By the same token, I eventually crawled out of it with no help from anyone.
The blame is all mine, but so is the eventual triumph.
I don’t really know why I felt moved to share this with you. Maybe just to say, “I wish someone like you had cared enough to give me some encouragement, to just see me, when I was going through my own personal journey out of Hell.” I feel for this family…as bad as it was for me when I was young, I never had to live in their world. I’m grateful for that. I wish them all the best in their own journey out of their own Hell…because it surely is Hell, whether of their own making or not.