Recently a former classmate of mine posted our kindergarten class photo on facebook. The only photo’s I have of my childhood are a few that my Aunt sent me. Immediately upon seeing the kindergarten class photo I tried to identify each classmate. I remembered most of their names even though the photo was taken some 47 years ago. I starred at the small black and white photo of myself along side the other boys and girls. I remember kindergarten, and especially parent/teacher day. My elementary years were some of the worst. I was very chatty in school, for 10 years my mother would be told by the teacher that I talked too much and lacked the ability to focus. My mother was also told that I was too fidgety and did not absorb my lessons. The chewing of my finger nails would also be brought up. For years I chewed my nails right down to the cuticle until they bled. After I destroyed my nail bed, I would tear the skin away.
I would walk home from school on report card day, carrying that dreaded report card that had to be signed. I would think of all kinds of ways to destroy it while walking as slow as I could to the front door of our house, where my mother would be waiting. I knew she would be sitting downstairs in the family room with a belt to beat any small bit of happiness right out of my soul.
I would think about running away even at the young age of 7 or 8, I knew what was coming because in the note section of the report card it would say I talked to much, and unable to concentrate. My mother now had a reason to beat me with that belt without having to invent a reason for the day.
Now as an adult, it’s pretty damn clear why I lacked the ability to absorb lessons, why I day dreamed during story time and couldn’t focus. I suffered from severe PTSD
Were teachers back in the 1960 – 1970 era oblivious and unable to recognize the signs of child abuse? All of the behavior I exhibited from kindergarten – my sophomore year screamed, SOMETHING IS WRONG!! Until my sophomore year not a single teacher, family member, family friend or member of the community questioned my behavior. My mother was a very sick woman and because of her obvious severe mental illness she is easier for me to forgive. I have a harder time forgiving the rest of the community.
Decades of therapy has not helped me overcome the sadness of my youth, the anger has diminished but the pain is deep. I have always wanted to see photographs from my school years, my mother destroyed all my class pictures. After seeing the class kindergarten photo a couple weeks ago on a friends facebook page, I’ve changed my mind. There are too many years of pain associated with pictures of my youth. The war is over, those empty hollow eyes of my youth are only a reminder of the brutal violence and years of torture. I guess I should be thankful my mother destroyed all the photo’s and yearbooks I once treasured, they would only serve now as a reminder of the horror I escaped.
Please pay close attention to children, you never know when there might be a child suffering abuse that needs your help.