Cane and Able – That’s Another Story

I was 28, newly sober and staying at my mother’s in The Central Area, my recovery system was still racing and I often stayed up too late at night drinking coffee and listening to Jazz and Motown. I ran out of cigarettes and got hungry one evening about midnight, the only place open that time of night was a Capitol/ Broadway KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) about 14 blocks away, so I got my cigarettes at a nearby service station and marched up to the KFC. Two orders were ahead of me. An elderly Japanese man stooped over and leaning on his cane, and a pack of rude and racist White teenage thugs, the later were hurling insults at the older gentleman who ignored them as he patiently awaited his order. I started to intervene and tell the youngster to shut the hell up, but the older gentleman wasn’t concerned, so I let the young punks rattle on showing off their stupidity and false bravado. The elderly Japanese man received his order and turned to exit as he ignored the yelping pups; he casually looked up at me and gracefully returned my bow, and continued past us in a dignified manner. By the look on his calm and unaffected face, I could tell he was not upset by these rowdy posturing boys, so I relaxed myself and let go of the anger I was feeling.

The youngsters were still going on and on about the old man, and they seem to be fantasizing about catching him and ripping him off, at that moment my ego got in the way of my discretion and I snapped. I admonished them, “You know you shouldn’t be calling the old Japanese man names and messing with him anyway, but if you would have looked closely at his cane… you’d have seen a fine line going all around the top where the sword comes out.”  Their laughter and ridicule abruptly ended and as the stared blankly at each other, as though a powerful  gust of wind had suddenly had suddenly knocked them senseless. Or in the case of these young ruffians, suddenly had sense knocked into them,  they seemed to collectively dismiss the temptation to attack what they assume was their “defenseless” prey.

I continued, “If you decide to take him on in future also -plan on losing a limb or maybe even your life, and having your crying momma identify your bloody remains”, glaring at them and I added, “I suggest from now on when you see him, or one of those other “helpless looking older people”, you quickly and quietly cross the street.”

The stunned children  checked me out very carefully, and seemed to realize I was an old guy of about age 30, but not a real old guy in my 50’s, 60’s or even ancient 70’s, but they didn’t respond to my comments or look me directly in the eyes. The young pack of teens  silently  exited the restaurant with their food order, I watched them initially start back in the direction taken by the Japanese man, and though they probably lived in that same direction,they quickly took an alternate route through the park. I felt bad because I had disclosed to these young punks a secret part of the older man’s defense, but good that I had admonished the youngsters, who were racially abusing the Japanese gentleman, because he was Asian and elderly.  Ironically within two weeks after attending a Mufune/Musashi Trilogy movie marathon, two young Goth kids gleefully shouted “Kill Him”, as they  awkwardly tried to murder me. But that’s another story.

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It May Not Be Your Last Chance At Recovery

Is This Really Your Last Chance At Recovery?

People begin recovery and start working The Steps assuming that this is their last chance, and that just because they gave up on their chances before, means that God dismiss that last cry for help of;

Oh God if you save me this time, I’ll become a good person and Never do this again”.

First, if God was listening to you and accepted your pitiful assertions, then “I’ll do anything you’d have me do” , which was part of the agreement for continuation of God’s intervention, and just because you didn’t live up to your part of the bargain, doesn’t necessarily mean that God declares that contract null and void. There were implied stipulations, late fees and penalties in the agreement with God, with forgiveness in certain areas when circumstances were unavoidable. In fact God has the authority to alter or even declare the agreement “paid in full”, for whatever mysterious reasons God elects. So at times when I’m trying to decide that my current agreement with God is over, and usually without bothering to check with God for God’s Input, I again have resorted back to trying to Exercise Control Over a Power Greater Than Myself. Black people say, “Your arms are too short to box with God”, I can’t control what God thinks or feel no matter what I do, and any decisions God makes are always totally out of my hands.

The Japanese call it Michi or The Road as do the Christians, and both imply that one must stay on the road or path continuing in the Right Direction and doing the Right Things, and not falling to the temptation to take shortcuts or veer off even one degree from the designated route. The Rule of 1 to 60 says that for every 1 degree off course you are, you are 1 mile off course at 60 miles, so to the degree that you stay on course determines when or if you will eventually reach your designated goal.

God has planted signposts along the way to give us directions and warn us of obstacles, presupposing we are going to take the time to observe the signs and honor the acceptable speed limits, we often speed right by Rest Stops and food vendors because we want to vainly brag how fast we made the trip. When we almost crash because our eyes became road weary, or we tried to take that curve a little too fast, or we end up angry at the traffic cop and ourselves after being pulled over; then we say to ourselves, ”Maybe I ought to slow down, or stop and get some rest and nourishment”.

This is being “resorted to sanity” and soundness of right thinking behavior, it’s the same for the newcomer as well as the Old Timers, we have to often be jolted into a sound consistent lifestyle, or possible injury will ensue. For myself I’m on the same contract with God that I struck when I began recovery 40 years ago, there are different sections and I’ve had to go back and renegotiate, because of  areas I didn’t understand & which I ignored. Happily God has seen fit to give me all kinds of “Benes”(benefits) and inducements, because I’ve tried to be relatively faithful and respectful of our agreement. When I see people in recovery acting as though they are the arbiters of their relationship with their Higher Power, I see them weakly proclaiming to themselves and the world that, “I am self-sufficient, and yes though God may have helped me get this far, I still have Choice and Freewill.” I believe that assertion  to be the recovery equivalent of a child walking down a busy and treacherous lonely road home, verses accepting transportation from their loving parent who only wants their safety;  both know that sooner or later the defiant child’s life or physical person could be needlessly in jeopardy. So the next time you hear somebody talking about making A New Pact with the Almighty, be tempted to tell them (But Don’t)  that they are probably just renegotiating the old pact, and a new arrangement might have them as a deceased member of the Fellowship, who didn’t make it and unfortunately becomes an tragic example of the slogan “But for The Grace of God Go I”.

Our Parent’s Worst Nightmare

I was just thinking that my detractors see me as a braggart when I mention being in martial arts since 1960 at age 12, they neglect to remember my statements that I learned to defend myself after seven years of abuse at the hands of mean and intolerant people, I was bullied because I was basically shy and passive in nature. When my father abandoned the family due to his alcoholism in the 1950’s, our family became targets for all kinds of unfortunate circumstances, my mother was so busy being a working single parent she couldn’t attend to all her four children’s needs. Paradoxically my father while “divorcing us” still tried to exercise some authority over us, by supervising us in outside chores or inspecting our progress in our massive garden, which we were expected to cultivate after school and on weekends. Our Alcoholic family was vulnerable to gossip and condescension, considered the poor divorced wife who whose husband had become a drunken nightmare, with four young kids left to the mercy of a broken home. Other child were less charitable and had bad and nasty expressions for our devastated family; usually made by a large loud energized group, and on their faces condescending snickers and disapproving looks of self-righteous arrogance.

 

When I turned aged 12 I had enough of this maltreatment, as the oldest male child it was constantly expressed that I was “The Man Of The House’, and therefore expected to watch out for my mother and siblings. We were expected to grow up to be proper Ladies and Gentlemen, be socially appropriate in any given situation, and always be respectful to elderly people regardless of their race or social circumstances. Black children were schooled to believe that young men and women were adults at age 12, yet still responsible to obeying their parents and elders. We were then accountable for our sins, and now if we died in a sinful state we could possibly go to Hell, and we had a series of Sins and Transgression to observe; Lying seemed to be the number one sin that would send us straight to Hell, Don’t Put Anything On Top Of The Bible, followed closely by tale bearing even though I heard more gossip at my church than at home or our party-line telephone, mistreatment of Black women and not guarding them from harm, a lot of our code of conduct came from the Old Testament of the Bible. We also had Colored Rules of Conduct to protect us in White Racist 1950’s Seattle, our elders didn’t believe politeness and civility would deflect racist treatment, but at least it might mitigate some of the anger paranoia and unsolicited violence against the Black victim.

Even to this day I will be polite without being solicitous, partially because that is my usual manner, but specifically because my elders would have beaten my behind today if they caught me acting ugly in public. So if you saw a truly Bad Black Kid they were almost beyond redemption, and I met one who threatened to take my life at a 12 year old girl’s birthday party. I conned my mother into believing I was sleeping over at a friend’s, we left from there to go a junior high school girl’s birthday party, my buddy and I wanted to meet up with some cute girls from school. Everything was going great but this party had more of an adult theme, with dimly lit red and blue bulbs and older adult records, some meant for bumping and grinding rather than youthful frolicking dances I knew. Then in walks the neighborhood Bad Guy and a murmur races through the party, this drunken menacingly large fellow who was about 18 or 19, sneered as he drunkenly staggered through the crowd and fixated directly on little 12 year old me. Bad Guy took out a revolver and put it up to my temple,

“I’m going to kill him!” he drunkenly barked.

 

“Please don’t kill him, he’s in my class at school!”, and a little  junior high girl pleaded,

 

”Yeah. Listen to her, Please Don’t Kill Me!”, I quickly and loudly interjected.

 

Bad Guy lowered the gun and started chatting up the little girl, I instinctively ran out into the back yard and made a beeline for home, sprinting over the medium size backyard fences to the howls and laughter of the young kids.

 

Bad Guy was in a blackout like the ones I’d seen affect my father and other drunken adults (and later experienced myself over 12 years), I swore I’d never drink like that or become a drunken monster, who unconsciously one minute was willing to destroy the world, and the next oozing happiness and maniacal sentimentality. I further resolved to listen more closely to my mother from now on (like all teenage boys do), and heed her warnings to stay away from undisciplined, unruly boys, unfortunately after I started drinking at 17 I became “one of the kids our parents warned us against”. If I had continued on my drunken rampage I would have remained The Bad Guy, an embarrassment to my family, friends and community, possibly dead but even worse the living embodiment of a child of an alcoholic who self-destructed.

Alcoholic Parents in Recovery Need To Apologize To Their Children

 

I always asked my clients in a non-confronted manner, expecting denial and a drawn out excuse about them “only hurting myself”, during and after their active drinking phase. If you want to see an alcoholic client go temporally insane and amnesic, ask them how their drinking affected their partner and immediate family, they usually respond with: “They were too young to be really affected by my drinking”, “My drinking wasn’t that bad until after I separated from my spouse”, “I did all my drinking away from the home, when I was at home I was the perfect parent”, “What’s my family life got to do with my drinking, I put a roof over their heads and gave them the best money could buy!”. Some clients genuinely couldn’t make the connection between their alcoholic misbehavior, and the subsequent affects alcoholism had on their love ones, they refused to believe their alcohol/psychotic lifestyle was ever an issue. Sure there was some domestic violence that occurred over accusations of infidelity and money management, but these happened when the client was completely sober, so the partner couldn’t blame these arguments on drinking or alcoholic behavior. Coincidentally if the abuser didn’t end up in jail that night, they usually stormed off to their favorite watering hole to spend more money on a lover and bar mates who really understands them.

An old statistic about divorce of recovering alcoholics said that 90% of recovering women sought divorce, while only 10% of recovering men sought divorce, no information on martial partnership where alcoholics were recovering simultaneously. It does seem that a lot of alcoholics get unsuccessfully married in early recovery, those who have ongoing participation in alcoholism recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon Family Group, fare much better but both programs discourage impetuous unions until their members have matured and become less needy. Detoxification from the devastating effects of long term drunkenness, can physically take a couple of years and gaining confidence and true self esteem similarly is long process. Both groups support possible counseling and returning to previous religious affiliations, to help members lift their spirits, and find useful constructive ways to fill their time. I am a big fan of the AA/Al-Anon 12 Steps approach, other therapist and treatment facilities embrace programs which adopt the AA 12 Steps but are more Religious orientated and acceptance of Chemical Dependency as part of their triage and recovery focus, and others who modify the AA’s 12 Steps plus add R.E.T.(Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy) or S.M.A.R.T. Therapy and even believe that modified controlled alcohol drinking does make one an alcoholic.

 

One of the cornerstones of any viable treatment modality for rehabilitating an alcoholic, is to help them become honest and accept responsibility for their errant behavior, drunks never want to admit that they were wrong about anything. You can catch a drunk spending the kid’s milk money on booze, and they’ll admit that they are doing it but offer up some lame excuse, or try to shift the blame on being effected by the economy or war in the Antarctic. We, declaring myself a sober alcoholic are masters of manipulation, guilt-tripping our parents, friends, and nuclear family members, in fact we use them as scapegoats to intensify our addicted drinking and progressively psychotic behavior. I’ve had clients and recovering alcoholic cronies try to peddle sympathetic excuses, that their happiness in recovery depends on others and failure could lead to relapse, I know these are excuses because in early recovery I‘ve use them on myself. We drunks usually want a family back we never actually had, the white picket fence with cookies in the oven and our angelic children playing in the yard fantasy, we grandiosely proclaim; that would have been our family ,“if only “ we hadn’t been unlucky, if God had been better to us, or our enemies hadn’t prevailed. Now that my clients are abstaining from alcohol, and have begun realizing their past was a self-imposed train wreck, I want them to look at some of the damage they’ve caused others, “That’s just what they said to us at those meetings and in treatment!”. Of course that’s also what they tell the alcoholic who returns to church, it can be very helpful to the alcoholic if they again join their nuclear family as regular church members, socialization and community service personally enrich the alcoholic’s social and spiritual life.

 

The 12 Step recovery programs patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, practice a threefold reflection and restitution; first in their 4th Step inventory and 5th Step confidential confession of misdeed, later in their 8th harms list and making apologies and amends in the 9th Step and finally in their daily/and instantaneous assessment and correction of negative actions and attitudes in the Step 10 Maintenance step. In the 70’s therapist used to use a similar approach to minimize “Gunny Sacking” the Dr. David Burn phenomenon of storing up all your anger and resentments in a mental gunny sack, and eventually dumping them on a unsuspecting target. So if a client is progressing in therapy and needs to look at their past misdeeds to family, they should feel comfortable knowing that therapist will not judge their past behaviors by personal values, and hopefully trust the therapist enough to begin honestly and openly looking at past family transgressions. This is the point again where we hear the make believe dog barking in the front yard, smell the freshly bake cookies cooling in the window sill illusion, I should have said “Ideally, hopefully trust the therapist enough admit to past misdeeds”, paradoxically what the clients hears is,”Let’s talk about all the times you were wrong and hurt your family and proved to the world how bad you really are!”. There is an instantaneous brain melt down of the client accompanied by a furtive glazed over look, signifying that this line of conversation is temporarily closed, of course your client may also be thinking of you as a 24 karat so and so…but their deeper feeling are those of shock and fear.

 

The Family Crucible by Carl Whitaker ,AA’s Big Book in Chapter’s 8 (To The Wives) and 9 (The Family Afterward) and Alberti’s /Emmons Your Perfect Right, are three of many references I found helpful in having blameless dialogue about family, most importantly your client may have legitimate fears if their disclosures conflict with your personal value system. Values Clarification (S.B. Simon-1972) is a great reference to help therapist evaluate their value, and learn how to separate their values system and that of their work environment, from the beliefs and actions of the client who often times has a similar set of values distorted by alcoholism. Legal questions and moral situations are not the focus, but rather “What kind of pain and suffering did your addictive alcoholics behavior cause your family, can you see any residual effects in the behavior of family members?”. While drinking and early in recovery people are often told that drinking is only hurting them, especially if the alcoholic continues to drink after awareness of their disease, and uses the guilt induction excuse of drinking because of they have family problems. Unfortunately family members as well as the alcoholic harbor a lot of Unreasonable Guilt, similar to grieving people who feel somehow guilt at the death of a pet or love one, even if they had no responsibility for the demise of the victim.

 

Alcoholics unfortunately commit many misdeeds in states of unconsciousness, saying and doing hurtful things, even spontaneous urinating or walking around in an immodest or partially nude fashion. Alcoholics have been removed from the family home by police or emergency services for various offenses;

Threats of injury to self or others,

failed suicide attempt,

physical fight with family or neighbors,

paranoia and grave depression episodes,

hallucinations due to dehydration and delirium tremens,

Potentiation (overdoses) adverse reaction to mixing alcohol with strong medication.

The Dreaded Secrets

The alcoholic drinking away from the home has “secret affairs”, it’s a small world after all and kids talk and ridicule the alcoholic’s children, the children learn more about the alcoholic parent’s extracurricular sex life then the offending parent.  Drunks often have assignations in a Blackout state, their range of affairs are usually close to home, other parents and neighbors gossip. The only ones keeping the Dreaded Secret ,are the alcoholic’s family in their transparent fishbowl, ” Poor Mrs. ____and the kids….etc. . “.

Run-ins with the Law become more frequent, and the family gets fewer birthday invitations and visitations from ,  the alcoholic is bailed out of jail at 2am with his frightened shivering kids blankly staring at him. All the money disappears, the family starts shopping at “hand me down stores”.  The alcoholic gets sick and the family secretly wishes they’d die, then feels also guilty , then the alcoholic recovers and rampage s again and they pray for their death…then guilt sets in.

 

A great fear of family member is their love one will die before they get the help they need, family members unwittingly help the alcoholic continue self-destructive behavior (Al-Anon calls Enabling) ,by walking on eggshells around the home and doing everything humanly possible to placate their family maddened  by liquor abuse. Family members have legitimate grievance and after rescuing the drunks over and over again they begin to hate them, PBS’s Bill Moyers candidly admits that after recuing his son William C. Moyer. repeatedly, he told his addicted manipulative son “I wish you were dead!”. William got it together and has been sober for over 12 years, has the support of his family, but has also done a thorough job of examining and dealing with past family wreckage. Personally I spent almost 12 years from age 17-28 plus as an active alcoholic, and realized after a year sober and receiving a degree in Alcoholism counseling, that I needed some sort of personal discipline and group, to remain alcohol free and totally rehabilitated. My beginning apology to my family came after I was two years sober, working in Texas as an alcoholic counselor and still in the initial phases of my personal recovery, I did attend a few AI-Anon meetings and realized how dreadful I had made my love ones existence. After I wrote my love one letter stating that I was still sober 2 years of abstinence from alcohol, and greatly appreciate everything the family did for me and how lovingly and supportive they’d been, and I would try to be a better family member from now on. I was a better family after my second year apology, but I wasn’t the Best brother or son at that time, but I did feel a closeness to my family and loved being around them. I also learned that we alcoholics who do not deal with our inappropriate behavior are doomed to relive it, and cause more fear, anger and resentments within our family, a deja vous right back where our past undisciplined non-sober lives were floundering.

 

I strongly suggest that family members attend Al-Anon for at least 10 consecutive sessions, Al-Anon is there to help the family members of alcoholics, by providing needed support so the family members can help themselves. Let Go With Love and Detach With Love are Al-Anon mottos, allowing the alcoholic to stop holding the family hostage, and instead join other supportive alcoholics to become self-sufficient . Al-Anon’s detachment statement is:

”What I Do or Don’t Do doesn’t keep the alcoholic sober,

What I Do or Don’t Do doesn’t make the alcoholic drink,

What I Do or Don’t Do makes me The Best Person I Can Be,

Then and Only Then will I have something to give to another”.

References:
The Family Crucible “78”/ Carl Whitaker

Values Clarification “72”/ Dr. Sidney B. Simon

RET “11” Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy/Albert Ellis

Alcoholics Anonymous 4t Ed. ”10”/Chap. 8 and 9

Your Perfect Right “08” Alberti-Emmons

Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy “08” David M Burns MD.

One Day At A Time In Al-Anon “78” Al-Anon Family Group

Broken: My story of addiction and Redemption “07” William Cope Moyers

Your Kid Is Not Dead Or In Jail

It was quitting time and the end of a long string of exhaustive days, nothing would get in the way of my vegging out in front of the tube and watching my favorite television programs, then disaster hit President William Jefferson Clinton was honoring us with his presence shortly.  Crap, didn’t the President know I had a particularly trying day, didn’t he know I hadn’t brought my car to work so getting home late was an inconvenience, maybe I could look really miserable and beg off due to having the bug that was going around? But before I could get my well thought out excuses out of my mouth, I was greeted with more bad news, Bill Gates, Patti Murray, and other business and political luminaries would also be present. So when I was asked what I wanted I just said, “Oh, nothing”, realizing it would be useless to feign an illness, in fact I was starting to feel a little sick at the prospect of the evening ahead. I had a sudden revelation, I said to myself why suffer alone I can call Mom, at least give her the opportunity to see and be in the company of these Big Wigs. I called Mom who was delighted at the idea of attending this special event, gave instructions where to park and had a security guard escort her to my office, we had to line up with the administrators entering first followed by less important staff.

Mom was pleasant and stoic as usual and didn’t seem to mind the slow meandering line, especially since all the important people from work stopped by to pay their respects to her, and told her what a great important asset I was and how much they all appreciated me. Okay, here’s where the title comes into play, it should read “Your Kid Isn’t Drunk, Almost Dead, or in Jail”, which twenty-five years earlier was the usual dreaded phone call Mom would have been expecting. No employers or colleagues would have been praising me because I would have again been fired or quit another promising job, and in all likelihood the money I had used to become drunk and disorderly had been begged or stolen from her. In the beginning of my recovery I had taken some Assertiveness Training, Relapse Aversion, and Alcoholic Anonymous Open Meeting courses, and they all encouraged the healthy important step of Amends and Restitution.  I saw asking for forgiveness and truly forgiving myself, as a twofold step to reestablishing a pattern of honesty and a virtuous lifestyle, which in my case never existed but could be obtained. My new lifestyle meant I had to abstain from; Alcohol, Drugs, Riotous Living, Unhealthy Eating and Exercise practices, Smoking, Lustful Relationships, and Unforgiveness. My mentors and religious teachings encouraged me to do this in moderation or “One Day At A Time” as it says in the Bible, the sad fact that I was responsible for causing my mother and others pain and suffering for eleven and a half years, was only lessened by my earnest hard working efforts to actively become the kind of person I wished I had been or pretended to be (or not to be) publicly.  

 

My aunts and cousins told me if I really wanted to give back to my mother I would attend church with her, they said “returning to the faith of your father’s”  would make her feel happy and blessed, and please her church peers who were devoutly praying for me and my  return to the church fellowship. It seemed a bit much to go back to a church that I had abandoned, besides I could do similar things in my twenty-fourth year of recovery that I believed equally showed my sincerity, it’s an old selfish alcoholic motto to, “give them what they need, not what they ask of you”. So almost twenty-five years into my recovery I’m moaning to my counselor about always upsetting my mother, that even if I’ve resolved an issue and succeeded, when I discuss it with my mother she becomes fearfully upset and critical. “Then why are you laying your problems on your mother, if you know in advance these things will upset her, why not try communicating with her about non-threatening topics?” At first I  initially judged that my counselor didn’t understand me or the situation, then I realized that he accurately saw my “sharing” with my mother as a habitual juvenile attention/ approval seeking behavior, which blocked true adult communication with someone I regarded as my superior. I stopped calling Mom to win her approval, and when temped to try and fix family problems she just happen to mention; I’d usually but with great difficulty no longer volunteered my services, instead wishing her and the family good luck on solving their problems.

 

Our telephone Mother and Son Talks became something we did every morning, noon, and bedtime, we talked about The Antiques Road Show TV Program and the British television series As Time Goes By, or PBS specials or marching parades which were on or scheduled in the future. At the end of each conversation we thanked each other and said, “I Love You”, and we began having regular Saturday evening dinners at her home, and eventually I surprised her by showing up at her church and becoming a regular Sunday member. There were times when I intervened in family matters of a dire nature, but I continued to have friendly conversations with my mother daily, and we showed our love and appreciation by voicing it and worshiping as family at our church.  The church eventually recruited me into the choir, ushering, running the sound system which I rebuilt into a modern Audio/Video system and teaching the New Member’s Class. My efforts meant Mom was showered in praise by her cronies, but sitting next to her each Sunday service became a rarity. Every so often a mother and father would appear at church with their son or daughter who was freshly into their recovery, and or had been recently released from incarceration, showing up in ill fitted clothing and embarrassed from all the loving attention we showered upon  them. I was thankful to see them because it was a reflection of my journey with my family, through hard times that I compounded with my negative behavior, and if I hadn’t accepted a new way of living and made earnest effort to turn my life around 38 years ago, then today I’d be either Drunk,  Dead or in Jail.

 

 

 

Fighting with Bullies

Dieting on Libraries

I was the personification of a 12 year old  junior high school geek, with an IQ of 150 (149.5 us geeks would say) and hosted a group of youngsters in the school at break time, we were reading the entire 1960 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica to the amusement of onlookers. At lunchtime I always said Grace and eventually was joined by a faithful group of kids, even got a teacher or two prayerfully watching us from a distance, I felt comforted I had confederates in my intellectual and spiritual pursuits. I had routines I strongly adhered to which were the affects of having been a bullied and sexually abused child from 5 – 12, I trusted no one especially myself and only believed in concrete items like books and the power of a spiritual father in heaven, unfortunately I had no father on earth to help me defend myself from being bullied in my neighborhood, at school or church. My siblings and I grew up as “Divorced Kid’s” or as commonly called “Children of Divorce”, which was a real taboo in the 1950’s and 1960’s not as common or accepted as today It was a “hook” to hang on prospective victims of peer to peer abuse; Race, Social Status, Sex, Intellect (minimal or extravagant), Religion, et al, the bullies would find some irrational reason to attack…or seemingly no reason at all. Later in adulthood when I was studying the Japanese phenomenon of bullying in Japan called Ijime (Edgy May), it turned out that the “good” and “studious” children were among the biggest offenders as a mechanism from keeping themselves from harm.

I was trying to stay off the radar of the sexual abusers and my peer attackers, and at age 12 I ensconced myself in my local library and in the summer of 1959 read 150 books, meaning took 3 books home a night to tide me over till I returned the next day with the read books. In actuality I “read the library” and in talking to many geeks later found this practice was common, we skipped the children’s, general interest, and popular fiction sections and veraciously read everything else. We would then seek out other libraries in our locality or beg our parents to accompany us to outline libraries, we needed our parents to come with us because they could check out 10 books at a time to our 3, which was a necessity so we had reading material for our weekend “Fixation”. Literature was our drug of choice which caused euphoria and heightened stimulation, we learned and practiced mnemonics  (Memorizing Techniques) and speed reading (scanning words, pages, articles with precision comprehension), which help us to become disciplined students and for me blocked the sadness and frustration which occurs in battered children.

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Okay Time Out, The big questionWhy Didn’t You Tell Somebody About The Abuse?, I just told you and what  was your response?, and in 1952 through 1960 whom were we victims going to confide in and get a positive result? Books like Beyond Betrayal by Carolyn Koons/Harper & Row where she is the victim of parental abuse and starts acting like a bad kid. We kids were terrified of being placed in some new environment like juvenile detention or foster care, because often when we blew the whistle on our abusers we were penalized and even targeted for worse abuses. I wrote a manual for a 12 year old child to help them cope with family problems, I called it “The Children’s Guild To Dealing With The Hyperactive Adult” and had the following cartoons;

Little boy entering a police station and talking to the desk sergeant;

“I want to report Child Abuse – Again!”, “He broke my arm you referred me to Children Protective Services”, “He broke my ribs you said it was Domestic Violence for Family Court”, the little kid headed toward the direction of the exit – finishing, “ I just broke his jaw, Now That’s Child Abuse!”.

So that’s an unfulfilled fantasy usually, but some of us do make a constructive effort to defend ourselves, and we regard part of our healing process as going on the search to find out why people cause us needless pain.

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Abandoning the Battered Child

I’m coming back from the store three blocks from home, and I’m greeted  by a nasty neighbor and his cousin grinning maniacally, my body tenses up I look around for and escape route and decided to run up this tiny hill on vacant property, instead of dashing for the street and trying to zigzag  the three block to my house. The two jubilant lads pursued me and cut of any escape options,and as they menacingly lurch towards me, I see the shaft of a fiberglass fishing pole before me which I retrieve and brandish at my would be assailants. They laughed mockingly at their quarry showing some futile resistance, until I began stinging them with my weapon, and as they howled and retreated I attacked with greater ferocity and chased them to their door step.  My young neighbor made some vain threat as he and his accomplice dashed into his parents home, I replied by swishing my fishing rod like a menacing rapier, what they and I didn’t know was that we had all left that frightened battered child at the sight of the altercation. If they ever had occasion to confront me again, it would be a new young man with confidence in his ability to stand up to tyranny, and that weapon or no I wouldn’t succumb to them in future without a fight.

The Bully Being Schooled

So I didn’t have any problems with my neighbor or his cousin for two whole days, the cousin was considered one of the toughest kids in junior high school, very few people would challenge this formidable  young man. The two of us had a social studies class together and he sat pretty close to me, during class the cousin began talking to people next to in a voice loud enough for me and surrounding student to hear, he was disrespecting my sister by making filthy innuendos and talking bad about my entire family. I started to report him to the teacher but I flamed up with indignation, got up and walked up to him challenged, “ I dare you to say that again!”, he smiled at me and said it again, where upon I lifted my hand above my head and in a golf swing motion slapped him with all my might. He jumped up shocked and dared me to do that again, I accommodated him by extending my outstretched behind my head, and delivered a baseball style slap to the exact same spot as before.  The teacher was shouting  and girls screaming as  the two of us began to grab each other and tussle, the teacher commanded a child to open the class door, then he pushed the two of us into the hallway and tried to referee the malay. Our lovable janitor heard the commotion and tried to break up the fight, the janitor was behind me rushing to subdue me, unfortunately when I  ducked my  opponent’s  punch it with and knocked out the janitor.

That took the wind out of my opponent’s sails and he stopped fighting, our teacher was perplexed on how to proceed, a young tough and one of the school prodigies in a battle royal in his class. We were both reprimanded but he more severely not because of his reputation, but because I was gifted smart T.K. (Teacher’s Kid) who obviously must have been provoked. Other students were looking at me with a mixture of amusement and admiration, my four friends were shocked and beaming about my triumph, one of my friends started asking questions and I snapped at him adrenalin flowing; he let me know in no uncertain terms, that my little bout was fine but never disrespect him with that kind of response again. It was the hot season before school’s end, tomorrow being Saturday we’d all be heading to the beach, his people would be there spoiling for a fight, and my were willing to go to the adjacent beach to avoid a needless confrontation. My buddies liked literature and the arts, we were into athletics and physical exercise, our parents pushed us to be better in areas that had been denied them, and my friends were there for me for the next twenty years.

No Day At The Beach

We took the shortcut that went between to houses and through a wooded area, and three city blocks from the beach my nemeses’ appeared, the cousin picking up a six foot plus tree branch and started toward us. That inner fire that I’d felt  when I fought them before overtook me, I quickly moved toward the cousin, did a certain Karate move that is a vertical double punch to his chest and stomach, after deflecting  the branch and  that I later picked up. The attacker turned around and ran as my friends rushed towards me shouting “No!, seeing  I was about to throw the limb at my nemesis’  head. “Duck!”, I reluctantly yelled realizing I was about to seriously injure another child of my same age, he dodged the missile and kept running.  We decided to keep heading to the beach but we would go to the area frequented by the families and adults, we had a great time and no problems until we were leaving the beach, then the bad boys and their entourage blocked our exit. I was going to have to fight this kid again and this time we were entertainment for this hormonal rabble, I removed my rubber Japanese sandals call “Zoris” so I wouldn’t stumble on the grass, the young spectators surrounded us and cheered my opponent on. We circled each other and tested our weaknesses, and I grabbed him and use a spinning shoulder throw (Makikomi) that landed him on his back, once on top of him ignoring the din of the crowd I simply said,” I’m done”. I got up turning my back to him and walked back up the trail with my buddies.The mob jeered and cajoled my opponent to engage me again in battle, the rabble made my opponents follow behind us try to ignite another useless confrontation. Finally after about ten blocks by opponent was badgered in halfheartedly fighting me, twenty-five screaming youngster on a side street, in the1960’s when that kind of behavior wasn’t tolerated by the community. We started fighting in the street and my feet were being torn up by the rough concrete, so I moved to the grass  but it was too late for my injured feet to help me, I couldn’t move properly and shortly he was laying on top of me with the crowd moving in for the kill.  This young kid whom I’d been fighting for three days, looked down at me and said, “I’m done”, dismounted to the jeers and cat calls of my detractors, and silently left the throng in the company of his cousins.

The police arrived and dispersed the crowd and a nice lady came out of her home and asked if she could be of help, I had torn a few  toenails on both feet, we thanked her and my friends assured her we’d make the eight blocks to home. My mother was upset and didn’t seem to buy my rough housing explanation, just packed me into  the car and rush me up to the emergency room. I didn’t know what I was feeling about the combat, but I believed my childhood was officially over.

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Subtext: From the time I was very little I was told that my sins would be forgiven by God until age 12 when I became a man, then I became responsible for all my transgression. My twelfth year I started; martial arts, began playing music, join in partnership with lifelong friends, started my healing from a poor beginning, and planted the seeds of Recovery that would nurture me when I became abstinent in 1976.

Fighting with the Nazis or is that fighting against the Nazis

Taking on the Nazis

American Nazi party leader George Lincoln Rockwell had just been assassinated, and I was sanguine about his passing not caring one way or the other, until the television announced that his local followers were congregating at the Federal courthouse in downtown Seattle. Looked like about twenty or so Nazi dressed Hitler Youth Types, parading on the steps of the courthouse; extolling the virtues of their martyred leader and liberally defaming the name and character of minorities, and the white Race Traders who supported them. Freedom of speech and their right to peaceably assemble I regarded as noble concepts, but I didn’t care about affording them the same rights these Nazis would deny me, so I decided to test out their power and right to continue attacking other American citizens. I showered and cleaned up in appropriate clothing for battle, I planned to walk back and forth in front of the courthouse on 5th avenue, in case I had too many of these racist animals to contend with, it would be easier to control the action and move around between the adjoining library and the court steps. I believed my martial arts and fighting skill could prevail over people I regarded as cowardly bigots, a 19 year old Black man who had always been raised to stick up for what was right, and never back down if I were challenged by evil people. Of course this isn’t what my mentors and elders were expecting of my, I was looking for a fight that I couldn’t win, because there are never any winners when stupidity and bravado are the reasons for actions.

I started by walking along the east – west side of the courthouse to draw the protestors attention, then moved around to the front on 5th avenue and defiantly strolled North and South, occasionally slowing down as I approached the courthouse steps. A couple brown shirts kept a close vigil on me but didn’t venture off the property, and I spotted several concerned passersby who nodded acknowledgement to me, some showed a look of concern at the obviously misguided Black youth about bring about his downfall. At some point I just stopped in front of the courthouse stairs and glared at the assembly, I was ready for this to end on way or another regardless of the outcome, and I guess they were also because some young man started to uneasily move towards me. The young man about my age as were many assembled was about my age, he asked what I wanted and almost seemed relieved when I just said I wanted him and his buddies to leave or make me leave, I imagine he couldn’t believe that I was there alone and didn’t have confederates in the ready. I young follower of the recently departed leader of the American Nazi Party, tried to apologetically related the sad event  of his assassinated leader and they were merely exercising their right to free speech, but his speech drifted off as he glanced at my cold eyes and stone featured response to his empty excuses. The young man walked away and his young comrades began to disassemble, I was amused that these pale vocal brigands didn’t charge me in mass, but they looked more intellectual and cerebral and more inclined to debate rather than brawling.

There were no victors present this night because I was dealing with the body of a decapitated monster, maniacal babies incapable of executing their deranged plans, I was dealing with adolescents who were afraid of the dark and in this instance they regarded me As The Dark. Again myth and prejudice that this hate group embraced made them fear me unreasonably, it also added to false courage on my part and mistaken belief that I would undoubtedly triumph in this situation, attitudes of the late 1960’s fueled by 100 years of racial proximity after the Civil War. I grew up in what I call Apartheid Seattle of the 1940’s through the 1960’s, the black community was part of Seattle’s Central Area, and our neighborhood was attacked or disenfranchised until its final dissolution in the 1980’s. When I was five years old all three black theaters were burned down one night, youth wilding rape gangs frequently attacked the CD until mid 1960’s, the police were a necessary evil and during the 1960’ and 1970’s FBI COINTELPRO program worked in concert with public services to spy on CD residents. My generation of Seattle Baby Boomers were the first generation to mix and mingle in Seattle, we eventually swam together – played music together – and danced together, as our pensive parents looked on with fear and concern at Seattle’s Social Experiment. So I didn’t tell mother that in her words went downtown and “acted a fool!”, It would have scared her to death to know her teenage son had put himself in harm’s way, and as I became a professional alcoholic for 11 ½  years (65-76); I constantly tested  her patience and psychic pain threshold. After 37 years of abstinence from alcohol I am more certain that booze (African Buza) fuels more aggressive acts and mental states than any anything else. Surprisingly enough the need for a drink knowingly led me into Klu Klux Klan bar, and could have been disastrous if it wasn’t 1976,and if the members were Berserkers rather than good ole boys. What saved me was that I had been one of the local garbage men, who was always nice to their children whom treated me with celebrity, and I used to throw them with inexpensive little dime store toys, to the gratitude of the kids and their parents.

Every so often a minority person like; Trayvon Martin 17 years old killed in Florida, 19 year old Yoshihiro Hattori murdered in Louisiana, or 19 year old Reshina McBride because they deemed an outsider. When I moved to my home in Port Orchard, Washington found I had a psychotic non-veteran racist neighbor, with an AK47 assault rifle who wore black Viet Nam pajamas at night, and did reconnaissance in my back yard.  I did get used to him but I didn’t ignore him, tried to stay out of his way until he overdosed a year or so later. I’ve had three death threats 8 racial confrontation over the twelve years I’ve been there,  in a surprisingly small  population of 8,200 inhabitants. Usually I just receive the “what are you doing here”glare,  even if the person is visiting my neighborhood, I was thinking erecting a large sign that read “Port Orchard – we’re not prejudice just Discriminating.