My disease

As a kid, I was slapped, shoved, kicked on occasion, and called names like “retard” and “stupid little son of a bitch.”

I had fingernails dug into the back of my neck until I bled by an aunt. I had a “good” friend of the family who lived with us for a time hold a knife to my throat and threaten to kill me.

I thought this was normal.

I’m 43 now, and it’s taken me all this time to understand that it’s not.

I understood that the knife to the throat part wasn’t normal, but when I told people, they didn’t believe me. Even after the perpetrator showed his true colors by stealing my parents’ checkbook and writing a bunch of hot checks.

I thought, surely now they’ll believe me. And people did, but didn’t think he was seriously threatening me.

I vividly remember being 8 and telling someone from church who had known this person, “Yeah, and he took out a knife and told me he was going to kill me.”

This dude laughed and patted me on the head and said “Well I’m sure he was just joking.”

I’ll never forget how angry that condescending reaction made me. It’s burned into everything that I am.

I was struck in the ear with a glass bowl that split the skin and had me bleeding all over the place.

Lot of stuff like this happened. And all my life, the story has been “Patrick just has a mental disease and needs to take medicine.” Everybody’s so innocent and I’m just a fucked up kid who, according to all of the people(and there were a lot) who assaulted me when I was a helpless child. They blamed my violent, belligerent attitude on heavy metal and violent comic books and movies. “Oh, he must be a devil worshipper.”

I took refuge in those outlets, blasting Guns N’ Roses and Megadeth in my bedroom. I understood the feeling behind that music. That’s part of the soundtrack of my existence.

Why’s he so angry?

Because I was a fucking kid and you made me like that, maybe?

Oh, look at that, he used the “F” word, that’s so awful. It’s because of his disease.

Motherfucker you are the disease! I am the symptom. But no longer. I’m a grown man.

Anyone who reads this and knows the players involved will get really upset and either think I’m lying or fail to understand why I’d “rock the boat,” especially after a lot of these people have long since died. They’ll cry and deny.

Well, I don’t really give a flying fuck. I’m through pretending none of it ever happened. Cry me a fuckin’ river. The feeling of worthlessness implanted deep within me at a young age has stuck with me all this time, and I’m cutting it loose.

I love some of those people. Others, like the aunt who dug her nails in my neck, I don’t give a shit about. Good riddance, you stupid old bitch. I take solace in visions of your worm-eaten corpse.

I don’t want to, though. I don’t want to be like that. I want to let it all go. I don’t want to be a slave to the hate that they put inside of me. I was a child and had no choice. Now I do. I choose to move on and this post is my story, and I have a right to tell it and exorcise my demons. If you’re encompassed by this and it bothers you, just be glad I don’t mention your name. I’m going to let you go on masquerading as a happy, smiley Christmas card photo and go about my business.

Call it my disease if that makes you feel better and eases your conscience and allows you to exclude yourself from culpability. Yeah, I understand that violence and abuse begets the same, and the cycle goes on and on and it’s a part of who we all are. Life is complicated, and so are people. I’m trying to forgive you all.

I recently got a taste of that same abuse by a family member. By recently I mean yesterday. And I love this particular person a lot, but damn it, if you think I’m just going to sit there and get harassed like I did at seven years old, you’re in for a surprise. I can leave. I can just go home and you can guilt me about it all you want and express bafflement to all of the people feeling sorry for you about why I would do such a thing. They’ll reinforce the innocence complex you’ve constructed around your conscience all these years and you can all lament your perceived reality of “my disease” being the cause of it all. You can try to guilt me. I don’t feel guilty. Not one damned bit.

I’m not trying to call anyone out. This isn’t some kind of “reckoning.” The past is what it is. I’m simply announcing to everyone within earshot that I’m not going to be ghostlit into feeling guilty about having a shitty attitude when I get treated like shit. That’s all. Good day.

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