I have a friend
I've never seen
He hides his head
inside a dream
Someone should call him
and see if he can come out.
Try to lose
the down that he's found. Neil Young from "Only Love Can Break Your Heart."
Yeah like I was saying I was a fun loving lad surrounded by love and brimming with good health and energy. But....
Imagine the terrified little boy cowering in a corner of the house desperately wishing it weren’t so pretending it wasn’t gamely trying to block it all out. It was too horrible to fathom let alone contemplate. There was no making sense of it so my very young mind had to pretend. Pretend it wasn’t there. Thus developed an acute sensitivity to unpleasant noises and a furtive oft employed imagination. I knew from blocking out the horrors that reality could provide.
You see it was mom. Dear old mom. The person who gave birth to me at whom’s breast I suckled. It was my mother. She was a raving lunatic. At times that is. Like times when we were alone in the house together (and presumably when she was by herself). When big brother or dad came home mom returned to normal. Goddamned what a cruel joke to pull on a small child. Adding this confusion to the mix of angry ravings at absent or imaginary figures emanating from mother dear.
The notion of telling a sole what I was exposed to never occurred to me and I never did it. She had to -- and eventually years later did -- “come out” as a loonie herself. I’d be damned if I’d tell dad or anyone else: “say you know when you’re not around mom cusses and yells and has imaginary conversations and it scares me really badly.” I could barely admit the truth to myself. And hell they might not even believe me. What five year old outs mother to father as a crazy person?
So there it was. Stark insanity. And there I was. Innocent youth. Time heals all wounds but can leave permanent scars. I’ve shared this story with people ever since leaving home. Mostly of course with a string of psychiatrists. Mostly strict Freudians with furrowed brows and stoic faces betraying no emotion. Offering no comments though sometimes admitting to some skepticism. Once when I was 19 years old a novice shrink brought to a room full of experienced colleagues to relate my peculiar story. There was a large oval table with half a dozen analysts staring at me as I entered. Their cold eyes considered me as I said “hi.” No one responded. I felt awkward. But I told my story. They regarded me with interest. The woman among them seemed to frown at one point but whether it was out of sympathy or disapproval of me was unclear. The consequence of this sharing was well nothing that I know of. I’m sure that my novice shrink consulted with the wise veterans but he never shared any thoughts with me. Not a thing. And I asked. I only got him to talk when I announced I was going to quit therapy as I found it unproductive. He protested vehemently but was unable to give a compelling reason for why I should continue baring my soul to a person who might as well have been sound asleep.
This was just one in a series of seeming deaf mutes I was to recount my childhood to. There were two who managed to say more than: our time is up. One was not a psychiatrist at all but a therapist. She was a young woman about my age at the time and she actually expressed thoughts and suggestions and was -- dare I say it -- thus helpful. The second was the most recent head shrinker I saw. Yeah he spoke to but mostly in an effort to talk about our mutual interests in the Giants and Cal sports. On my dime he wanted to talk about these things! When I was having financial concerns he suggested I touch my father for some of my inheritance. Even back when I was in my most drug addled states I wouldn’t have contemplated such a course.
Suffice to say I have quite mixed feelings on psychiatry. The worst damage they do is an insistence on prescribing medication for the slightest cause. The last bloke tried to get to take pills because street noises bothered me.
Well that was a helluva digression.
Point is that my childhood wasn’t all peaches and cream. But I was a Cub Scout played organized football soccer baseball and basketball went to Summer camps rode my bike played hide and seek and watched endless hours of moronic sitcoms and smiled constantly. People can be pretty fucking resilient.