I grew up poor. Really poor. At one point, my mom and I lived in a three room house with no heat and no bathroom. We seriously had to go next door to use the outhouse. The rent was one hundred dollars in real money and twenty-five dollars in food stamps.
I shared the one bedroom with my mom, unless she had “company”, which was more often than not. I remember you could see the sky through the ceiling. We’re probably lucky we didn’t freeze to death.
Anyway, back to the holidays. My mom wasn’t an alcoholic, but she drank a lot. And she rarely met a man she didn’t feel compelled to support. So when birthdays or Christmas rolled around, there was no money for presents. Shoot, there was no money for food! But there was always money for booze. And there was usually a drunken brawl. Or two.
Sometimes I would get a present, but I’d only get to keep it a couple of days. Then it would disappear back to the store it was stolen from or maybe to a pawn shop.
Of course life is different now and I’m grateful for that. I’m glad my sons will never know what it’s like to stand in line at the VFW on Christmas morning waiting for a donated cardboard checker board with plastic pieces.
They’ve never had to worry about a fistfight in the living room knocking the Christmas tree over–breaking bulbs and blowing the breaker.
These are just a few of the ghosts that live in my past. Some days it seems like a lifetime ago. Other days it was just yesterday and I’ve barely escaped. I can smell the alcohol and hear the glass breaking. It is hard, so hard, to write about this….to go back to that place and time.
I’ll leave you with these Linkin Park lyrics:
I want to heal, I want to feel,
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long (erase all the pain ’til it’s gone)
I want to heal, I want to feel
Like I’m close to something real
I want to find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong