24 April 2007

Child Abuse

A friend of mine on care2 sent me the poem of Sarah which got me thinking about child abuse, then remembering my own experiences.

When I was in Hastings, Michigan for my great-aunt Elva's funeral, my dad complained to me about Ferrysburg, stating that he did not like that place because someone there had reported my parents for child abuse and he said they tried to take us away, but the Coast Guard intervened on my dad's behalf. I did not know before that this was the 2nd time. Appearantly, according to my dad, "they" tried to take us away when I was a toddler living in Detroit, Michigan.

Was I abused?

I am the adult child of an alcoholic and a military brat.

The Coast Guard had a saying..."If we wanted you to have a family, we would have issued you one." The Coast Guard taught how to kill, not how to be a good spouse or a good parent.

And as for the alcohol, that just created a Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde. I loved my dad when he was Dr. Jeckyl. Mr. Hyde was a terror.

Appearantly, according to my paternal grandmother, it was something that ran in our family. Her father was an alcoholic. She also told me that when my dad's father and she was married, my dad's dad hit her. She told her mom, and her mom told her "you made your bed, now you lay in it", so she waited until he was asleep and beat him with some kind of wood. She said he never hit her again after that.

My dad's father died of heart disease when my dad was 7 years old, and my dad was responsible for financially supporting his family delivering papers in the morning and working at a store after school, so I know my dad's life as a child was not easy either.

When I was about 14, we had just come back to the states from Italy, and I was doing dishes with my paternal grandmother. I remember telling her that I never wanted to have kids because I did not want to be like my dad. She replied that just because my dad was an alcoholic would not mean I would be one. That was when she told me about her dad, and stated that she was not an alcoholic, which was true. Yet the cycle continued. Not with me. Some how, I did not get the "alcohol gene", but my grandmother was not an alcoholic either, yet it skipped a generation to my dad. That concerns me, since I really want to have children, fearing I will have a child who will inherit my father's alcoholism.

I am very fortunate that I had other adults in my life who cared about me, and I am very grateful for these people.

  • I will always remember the babysitter in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who gave me the little doll.
  • I will always remember the other babysitter in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who gave me the lifesize doll with the huge box of baby clothes, even though my mom did take the box of clothes away from me when my sister was born and dress my sister in the doll clothes.
  • I will always remember Mr. Bob Coobaugh (sp?) in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who used to weld my bike back together for me.
  • I will always remember Mrs. Ida May Thomas in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who taught Bible school from her trailer, and taught me how to crochet, played Scrabble with me, and paid attention to me.
  • I will always remember Paula's mom in Ferrysburg, Michigan, who used to give me taffy.
  • I will always remember Mr. Charles Shultz in Cape May, New Jersey, who gave me $50 for sweeping his storage so I could go to Walt Disney World with the rest of my Baptist Youth Fellowship group. He also made sure I ate every night, even though I was self concious of eating food that did not belong to me. I only had the $50 dollars I earned from Mr. Shultz to pay for admission into the park, which left only a few dollars for food or anything else I needed during the 3 days in Kissimee, Florida (this was when I was 12 years old), so I was very concious of my budget & everything else.

I realize the list can go on for quite a while. I want to thank all the people who cared about me along the path of growing up. Thank you.

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