When I was a baby, my 16 year old mother took my older sister (Becky was 2), me, and her pregnant self and moved us from Maui, Hawaii to the mainland, Texas to be exact. Her husband, my father, was in the Coast Guard stationed in the southeast part of the state. I can’t imagine how that was, when I was 16 I was concentrating on avoiding school work; getting my drivers license; and an upcoming Journey concert.
AT 17, and now with three children, my mother (now single as our biological father had abandoned not only her, but all responsibility of his children) tried to make it on her own. She spoke English poorly (ever talk to a Hawaiian in thick pidgin?) She had a 7th grade education and could hardly find work and to help with all that, we had neighbors that instead of showing up with a casserole to help out; called the police constantly on her to complain of crying children or whatever petty complaint they could think of. Neighborly, eh?
I have since learned that we were hungry. Very hungry. So hungry that our older sister would pack up the baby (my brother Jim) and myself and get us out to the sidewalk to beg for food. Now, as unpleasant as it was to read a social workers report stating this, it did explain a lot of my food issues growing up and even in adulthood. Eventually, we were taken away from our Mother and adopted out into different homes. If anyone has the courage to bring up Texas Childrens service and their good works to me, I’ll give you an earful of how they actually were quick to tear families apart instead of helping them or even getting them back to family.
Back to my childhood food issues, when I was hungry as a child, I would panic. I would do almost anything not to be hungry. I would eat raw spaghetti noodles if I had to. It drove my mom nuts. I was always hoarding food. It didn’t even have to be good food, I just needed to make sure I had stashes of food within reach so I wouldn’t be hungry. I would eat everything I could while it was in the house, I suppose, so that when it was gone at least I was full for a little bit. The only thing I didn’t overeat as a child was Brussel Sprouts. It seems deep down, I’d rather be starved than eat brussel sprouts. Weird. The only reason I wasn’t a fat kid was probably because I was very active up until college (and even then, just not as active as I am now.)
Oh sure, my eating habits eventually caught up with me and I had to decide on being strong and healthy, or give up and just slowly acquire diabetes like my Tutu who eventually had to have both legs cut off. I guess we know which road I took. But it was a struggle, emotionally and physically. In my life, I’ve also experienced abuse at the hands of an unhealthy person. It was sad, and hard, and I didn’t understand why. But that was the hand I was dealt. Why am I sharing these incredibly personal details of my childhood with you?
Because I am a firm believer in moving on from damages of the past. Move on. If you can’t, you choose to live in the jail you’ve created for yourself, I’m so sorry for you. The time comes in life where we need to put this shit away. It will be sooner for some than others, but if it doesn’t come, then you get to live with your excuses as to why facets of your lives are so unsatisfying. I’m sorry for you. But one thing I won’t stand by and accept is someone’s accusation that I don’t understand how hard/sad/abusive/whatever shitty thing life can be. That for some reason, someone out there thinks their crappy childhood is special and gives license to be a whiny adult. There are so many people I know who do this. My god, just move on.
But if you don’t, then that’s on you. You choose to be an adult victim. I’ll never understand why, but expect no sympathy from the likes of me. Ever. Compassion? Of course. Sympathy? Nope. You’re in the past, not me.
As for the biological family, we were blessed to be reunited with everyone except our older sister Becky. The one who made sure her siblings had some food in their belly before bed. As you can guess, the sister I don’t know holds a very special place in my heart. And though I don’t have a daily relationship with my brother, cousins, or Auntie…I’m thankful for the hole that’s been filled and always wish good things for them.
If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking…is freedom.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
A wonderful perspective to pull from a painful sounding past. ❤