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.