Ron, Part 3 : Black Sheep

Ron : Part 1

Ron : Part 2

Ron : Part 3

Over the course of a year, the situation became dangerously volatile when Ron lost his mystery job, at which point he sold his house in Connecticut and moved in with us permanently. From what I could gather, Ron was the defendant in a major lawsuit, having something to do with embezzlement. My brother and I found court papers in his drawer, but even more suspiciously, bound stacks of bills in denominations of ten thousands, thousands, hundreds, fifties and twenties. We would occasionally lift a 20 here and there and no one ever even noticed.

He was also in the middle of a big, ugly and belligerent divorce. He was perpetually slandering his ex-wife to anyone who would listen, which deplorably included his own daughter. “Your mother is just a stupid fucking whore!” It was atrocious. Tracy Ann was a sweet, quiet, and sad little girl. In addition to all of the shit going on here, there was a flip-side going on as well for all of us at our other parents’ house. Both filled with another dimension of dysfunction.

My mother had been an English major, psychology minor at Gettysburg where she met my father, and was one hell of a smart and funny woman. They married right out of college, had kids at 24, and she stayed home to raise us. When they divorced, like many women in her position, she scrambled to find work. She worked at an Uncle’s print shop, she started a cleaning business, and after a few years of that, managed to put herself through 2 more years of college to earn her business degree. She got a job at a financial planning company and diligently climbed the ladder of success. This was an incredibly capable, attractive, and intelligent woman, who also happened to be an alcoholic.

Mom drank it all away, she used all of her resources for work, and the minute she got home, she checked out and poured herself a scotch on the rocks and continued until she “went to bed.” She and Ron began fighting more than laughing.

In our upper middle-class suburban neighborhood, we were most certainly the black sheep. There was a constant stream of obscenities and fighting that echoed out of our open windows. Our house was a fucking disaster, and I lived and suffered under the umbrella of overwhelming disorder and chaos. Occasionally listened to, but never, ever heard.

The cream-colored carpets were covered with stains, there were holes punched in walls, and many of the 12” x 12” linoleum squares on the kitchen floor were torn or had been peeled away altogether. The double front doors had been kicked in and broken during a fight, and instead of getting the lock repaired, there was a chair jammed beneath the doorknobs, and at night, a 2×4 was wedged across them diagonally into the drywall. We had a dog that no one took care of, and the downstairs was a graveyard of hardened dog shit.

If we wanted clean clothes we were told to do our laundry. Most of the time we just pulled sour, stale smelling clothes from dirty heaps on our floor. The door to my room had been removed and taken away. Things got broken, never fixed, and the house fell further and further into disrepair. Having friends over was out of the question.

Ron’s full time job became to drink. He was home all day, every day, sitting on the couch, drinking, chain-smoking, aggravated and ready to fly off the handle in fits of red-faced rage that used to terrify me. Mom continued to work her ass off to support us in lieu of the child support my father never seemed to pay.

Mom would just freak out at all of us, over everything, there was anger everywhere you turned. She was stressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, full of resentments, and instead of facing it all and dealing with it head-on, she tried to drown it all with scotch.

I would paint and draw all of the time to try to quiet and escape my own mind. It was one thing that made me feel good, and whole. It was also the beginning of swallowing and shoving down my pain, which became a lovely breeding ground for all of the inevitable emotional deformities I developed. My brother was very young, but he was also sad and confused and I always, always tried to protect him, even if I didn’t know how.

Throughout the ages of nine to twelve, I transformed from a self-conscious, sad and confused young girl who was often bullied and teased, into an adolescent filled with anger and pain. I was outwardly tough and threatening, but still the exact same little girl inside.

One afternoon when I was about eleven, I was down in the pine forest riding bikes around the trails with all of the neighborhood boys, like we did every day after school. I was, and always had been, a complete tomboy. After awhile, they all started chasing me on their bikes, laughing and corralling me until I had nowhere to go. I was laughing too, because I thought it was some kind of game. But it wasn’t a game.

I remember them pulling me off my bike, and pinning me down on the ground. Brett, Jason and Thomas began trying to strip my clothes off.  They ripped my shirt and got my pants half way down before I could finally kick, punch and scream my way out of there. I rode my bike home as fast as I could, tears streaming down my face. They had been my friends! My equals! I was one of the boys, and any physical differences were never even acknowledged. I was shocked, degraded and infuriated, but mostly confused.

I threw my bike down in the driveway and ran into the house. Thankfully, Ron was out, but mom was on me, pressing me to tell her what was wrong, what had happened. My shirt was torn, my white jeans were covered in dirt and my face was tear-stained.  I was so ashamed and scared to tell her what had happened in fear that I would be blamed.

After unrelenting questioning, I finally told her, and she ran to the phone and furiously called each of the boys’ mother’s. I begged her to stop. I didn’t want anyone to know! I absolutely wanted to die. Within 30 minutes, all the mothers showed up together at the front door, with their crying sons in tow, and made them each apologize to me. I didn’t even want to face them, but had to stand and listen to their forced apologies. From that day on, I was subsequently teased on the school bus every day, and called a word I didn’t even know the meaning of. Slut.

Sadly this was my first sexual encounter, which was to have a tremendous impact on my ideas and formulations about sex and intimacy. Yet another emotional deformity in the making.

When I was twelve years old, in 6th grade, I gave my virginity to sixteen-year-old Scott Warner. His parents weren’t home, and we were on his brother’s waterbed. It was horrible, awkward, and painful. Strangely, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride afterwards, losing my virginity felt like something I had power and control over. Tragically, I wanted nothing more desperately than to be grown up.

Within the next few weeks, I had my first formal introduction to drugs and alcohol, and from the very first time, it was magic. I loved the feeling, the numbness, and the escape into a great abyss as everything else melted away. Here, was my magic cure.

Mom & Ron. 1982ish

Mom & Ron. 1982ish

Where the black sheep lived.

Where the black sheep lived.

I was 12, Joey was almost 9. This photo perfectly summarizes what I felt, all of the time.

I was 12, Joey was almost 9. This photo perfectly summarizes what I felt, all of the time.

54 replies

  1. Powerful stuff Tracy. I love how descriptive you are. It really pulls me into your world. I feel we lived very similar child/teen hoods. The first time I got drunk was my 12th birthday and it was off to the races from there. I learned from watching my father that “whiskey makes it better”, until it makes it worse. Your autobiography would be a best seller. Do it.

    • 12 set me off to the races. i had a 28 year go of it, only in sobriety am i able to access any of this, let alone be ready, willing and able to write about it.

      • Well you have a talent for the written word and I consider myself a fan. I have added you to my blogroll. Legend has it that’s where J.K. Rowling got her big break. Hahaha

  2. Tracy, your ability to write, and capture the emotion of this is epic! Please, comtinue on with this story. I’m finding it a very interesting read, soulful,rntertaining at times, and unable to stop reading. Waiting impatiently for the next chapter.

  3. I know that look and feel that you had in the picture and in your life. I had that feeling also in my life. We aren’t too much different, you and I Tracy.

  4. I just came across your blog and am enjoying it more than anything else I have read recently. Of course you write extremely well, but there are many blogs that are well written. What makes yours stand out is that you are being so raw and honest, writing from the heart, as someone who has experienced pain and hardship but who has made the decision to move on and grow from her experiences, and to share them with others in such a heartfelt and humorous way. It seems that you are in a better place now, I know from experience with my own blog that writing and sharing can be therapeutic. Thank you for your posts, they are a bright spot in my day.

    • Thank you for such a wonderful compliment. I am in an amazing place, for the first time in many, many years, which is why I’m able to access all of this and write about it.

    • First time, yep. It’s amazing how many of us had to endure this sort of shit growing up. My story is not unique, I just needed to write it, and write it honestly.

  5. Beautifully written! I am so proud of you and the person you have become. You are an amazing women, Mom and friend.

  6. This story continues to make me sad, and I thank you for sharing so much. Feeling myself wishing I was an older brother to throw some elbows Juvenile…? Yeah. Your fault for evoking protective instincts…can’t wait to hear how this ends. As always, well done, and much love.

  7. I don’t know what to do with this. You’re giving it to me and I don’t know how to hold it. I know this story, and it’s myriad variations…and I don’t know how to hold them either. So I guess I’ll just sit for a while….

  8. Growing up way too soon. I can relate. I had sex for the first time at 14, and I felt cool, and powerful too. It was almost like, if I could seduce a guy, then I had the power. Funny thing is though, it would always leave me feeling degraded, and like a sorry piece of shit after the sex, because I really wanted love. Thanks for sharing Tracy, I know it’s much easier to hide behind wit and sarcasm than it is to face the demons of truth.

  9. Wow. Like you said opening wounds.

    You are opeining your wounds with your wounds, but opening mine at the same time. You know I love your work, but this Ron series….and the crowd does the wild!!!!!!!

    Thank you my friend.
    Amber.

    • I’m sort of amazed by the response really. You know, I have only been writing for less than a year, and I really feel like 42 years later, I’ve found my calling. I could fill 10 books with my life stories, and that’s what I’m working on. Thanks as always for the wonderful encouragement.
      Tracy

  10. I always thought as a kid that when I grew up I would finally be in charge of my own life and that I’d no longer be afraid, or angry or disappointed at the adults in my life who continually let me down, badly. Turns out it’s not that simple, but I’m in my forties now and empowered by the realisation that I have a voice via my blog, and a long, long memory. I’m not as brave as you are proving in these compelling posts, to work through it publicly, I simmer rather than tick as a time bomb. If only all eleven year olds could know they were not the only children having to grow up too fast and that girls all over the world were also dealing with step parents, and alcoholic, and down right incompetent natural parents in addition to puberty. I only had step -siblings (two) and was an only child, which added to the isolation. Whilst everyone looked the other way I did my best to self destruct in the hope someone would actually notice, and it’s taken me a long time to let go of any of my own guilt; it wasn’t us, it was them Tracy xx

    • “I did my best to self destruct in the hope someone would actually notice, and it’s taken me a long time to let go of any of my own guilt; it wasn’t us, it was them”

      Powerful, poignant words. I got sober a year and 4 months ago (but who’s counting) and since then, I have finally reconnected with that 12 year old girl, and we are learning how to grow up together.

      Thank you for your words.

      Tracy

      • You’re absolutely welcome, it’s strangely comforting to know I wasn’t the only one. I was 11 too, my Dad left when I was 7, both parents drank… a lot….but I got the Step-Mum and her kids to deal with so at least I didn’t have to live-in with my nightmares, just visit and stay over on weekends…..lucky, lucky me! I spend as much of my adult life being as childish and ridiculous as I can to make up for it.

  11. Fuck. I don’t want to “like” this because I don’t “like” it, if you understand what I mean. Unfortunately, I connect with so many situations you describe. I’m not the only one, so it seems. I feel like I’m right there with you, in some way. I can’t write in my blog what when on during those same years because too many people– ones who hurt me and have since apologized profusely tried to make amends– would read it and, quite frankly, I have no desire to resurrect the dead. To speak frankly, one person is now most deceased, so there is that.

    How would it have changed all of our lives to have found other girls who were living the same sort of lives at such an impressionable age? Would we have bonded or simply recognized a kindred soul and closed the blinds?

    • I know what you mean. I have had all of this festering for 30 years, and I thought I had forgotten it really, until I got sober over a year ago and it all came flooding back. I didn’t know what to do with it, and that’s when the writing started. Up until the past month, it has all been cynicism and humor, then something shifted, and everything was finally ready to be purged. Everything I write is 100% truth. My mom, and ron are both dead, but “in my book” all will be revealed, but we had righted all of the wrongs and were very, very close for years before she died. I don’t write too much about my brother, or Tracy Ann because this is just my perspective in all of it, they can feel free to write their own books. The only one here, and up to bat, is my father, who is still very much living, and we are NOW very, very close. He knows everything I have written, and am going to write is true, just like he knows that we are all capable of change, and the relationship we now have, but it’s still going to hurt him in some respect but I have to live with that, after all, I lived with it my whole life.
      Thanks for commenting.
      Tracy

    • I hear ya sista x no one has ever apologised to me, they are very selfish people so probably never give it a second thought, but I find it astonishing to think that they might believe I was too young to remember and therefore it’s never spoken about….but I do.

  12. I can’t get over how you brought me into this home of dysfunction. I feel like I was there, a fly on the wall. Incredible writing and detail and honesty. I’m sorry you had this childhood.

  13. “When I was twelve years old, in 6th grade, I gave my virginity to sixteen-year-old Scott Warner. His parents weren’t home, and we were on his brother’s waterbed. It was horrible, awkward, and painful. Strangely, I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride afterwards, losing my virginity felt like something I had power and control over.”

    I love the dichotomy of that statement: a traumatic experience was empowering to you. That actually makes sense to me.
    I love your voice, Tracy I think you have a bright future highlighting the dark moments of your past.

    I hope that makes sense.

  14. Suuuuup! I’m sorry for staying away for such a long time. And thanks for your little message on my blog. Appreciate it.

    I’m going through so much changes, lately, I’m like a transformer going through menopause. But enough about me…

    I think you’re awesome. I think sharing this story is brave and simply amazing.

    Although we’re from an entirely different generation and we live on opposite sides of the planet, I think we are on the same path.

    As I got to know you through your writing, I see a humorous, strong person, that tries her hardest to do what she thinks is right.

    I hope you don’t beat yourself up over your substance abuse. The way I see it you were introduced to certain situations way to early in life, and some situations no one should ever be introduced to in life.
    You weren’t abusing drugs or alcohol to run away from your problems, you were surviving. You were too young to deal with all that shit you went through, so why not numb the pain with a little bit of this and a little bit of that?

    Any other person going through the shit you went through would’ve just hanged themselves. But you didn’t, because you have too much character for that. You pushed through, as little as you were, and you used some tools to help you in the process. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Now, however, you are grown and are capable to deal with it without any help, however painful.

    I don’t know you personally, and most likely I never will. But I respect you a lot and reading your blog has made me feel less alone in the world.

    You’re an amazing woman, Tracy. You’re just born in the wrong time. 2000 years ago (before modern, lame ass, judgmental civilization) people would’ve respected you for your wisdom and courage and you would’ve been asked to marry the king of whatever tribe you belonged to ;).

    See you around,

    Daan

    • Daan!
      I’ve missed you, and I’m glad to know you’re alive and well. Wow, thank you for your many kind words, I know we share similar paths in many respects and I also know a big part of all of this is forgiving myself. I did what I had to do, and now, at 42, it’s time to grow up.
      I hope we meet one day.
      Tracy

  15. Damn, Tracy. I’m glad young, tortured you came through as a strong, introspective writer. This little girl’s story deserves a happy ending and it sounds like it’s on its way.

  16. I feel more connected to you through this story than maybe one of the first ones I read. This series has some real raw hurt showing through it. Healing is so hard, glad you are forgiving, learning to cope, a nice year plus of sobriety and all, wounds must come open as you are writing. I hope you are okay and you feel the love surrounding you through your really great readers! Thanks for sharing your insides with us.

    • thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. you know, ironically it is healing the wounds to write it, holding it all in for 30 years kept them open.
      be well,
      tracy

  17. When I was working on getting healthy, there were many times I just had to go into myself and, as I put it, feel the holes in my heart. Doing this made me understand that the holes will always be there (that’s just the way it is, the past is the past). But I also learned that the holes weren’t aren’t bottomless pits, and that I didn’t need to stay there. Acknowledging them, and nurturing my little girl denied, helped me to heal.

    Thank you for sharing your holes with us.

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