Originally Posted by Maguru
Yes, the effects will be different in all cases as I described in the case of the guards at Woomara. My father and my father-in-law had two completely different reactions to World War 11 in which they both served abroad. In each case the effects were passed down through the family, in different ways of course.
May I ask of your experiences?
I usually avoid a laundry list of traumatic life experiences since it is no longer my habit to think of and focus on these events as tragedies in my life. In the context of this discussion it is useful and adaptive to speak of my history.
When I was five months old my mother died and her body was found in the charred remains of the barn on our family farm. The local authorities ruled the death a homicide and charged my father with her murder. My father was found guilty at trial and sentenced to die in the electric chair at Menard Correctional Facility in Illinois.
Less than twenty four hours before his execution the Illinois Supreme Court overturned his conviction and sent the case back to the lower court with the instructions that he could not be retried without new and substantial evidence. My father returned home when I was three years old. He was never retried. He did however remain under indictment for more than twenty years.
The polarity in my small farm community was intense. I remember people crossing the street in our small town when we were shopping so they would not be in our immediate proximity. I remember the fist fights and the tears in grade school when the taunts of, “Your father Killed your mother! Murderer!” flew in the playground.
I remember being promoted from second grate to fourth grade in the same school because the staff thought I was a bright boy and being shunned by all the students in my school of one hundred children save one friend. I remember being alone because I was intelligent and totally clueless about social interaction with people my own age.
I remember my grandmother being attacked by the County sheriff’s deputy who came to our farm to serve yet another series of papers on my father when I was ten. He told her she deserved it because her son was a murderer who managed to escape justice.
I remember a man verbally and physically attacking my grandmother at the local feed mill where we purchased feed for our animals. The man aggressively stated my father was a murder and that all Wilson’s were a pack of murdering illegitimate offspring of dogs, then tried to beat my grandmother and myself.
I remember the fights in high school including the time I literally had my clothes ripped from my body except for my pants and reporting to class.
I remember believing the world was a hostile, unfriendly, deadly, violent place without many redeeming qualities.
I remember retreating into myself and a world of books and fantasy. Life became less and less of what I would hope for myself or anyone else and the most horrendous part of all was that I did not know there was an alternative.
I remember driving tractors in the field when I was fourteen and stopping half way across the field to sob and cry uncontrollably. The pain I felt was so strong that I could not complete a task without breaking down. Time after time I would start across that field and stop the tractor to cry.
I remember the intense loneliness and aloneness of my life. I remember the focus on work for survival and the focus on work as a means of showing “them” that they could not destroy “us.” Inside I felt destroyed.
I remember Vietnam. I once tried to count the number of my comrades who were are on the memorial in Washington. I still do not know the number because I stopped counting at thirty three.
I remember coming home from my time in the Army wearing my uniform, decorations and my wings and being spit on in Chicago during the demonstrations in 1969 and attacked while the crowd screamed “baby killer.”
I remember my anger which was beyond description.
I remember becoming part of a criminal enterprise(s). I remember carrying weapons and spending inordinate amounts of time and energy thinking and practicing the most efficient ways of applying deadly force.
I remember these and so many more similar events, too many to list. I do not desire to compile a complete list as I believe this is sufficient to give you an idea of the path I have walked in the days of turmoil and pain.
I am grateful to have survived these times and I am grateful for the person I am today. These events and how I understood them shaped me then and the way I understand life today including my history contribute to the person I am today.
I think about people, places and things differently now than I did during the years of pain. The above is the prologue to my life story. It is not who I am today. Through a serendipitous series of events, people and work I became willing and eventually embraced a different way of thinking, feeling and living.
I know people who never transcend the pain, trauma and victimization. I am more grateful than words can express to have those be history and not my life today. I have thought about why some people move through the trauma to the other side. I conclude I was addicted to thinking about the traumatic events and while doing so I was stuck in time. When the traumatic events became the past and my thoughts were on “now” my life became better than the fourteen year old boy who stopped the tractor to cry each time across the field could ever dream it could be.
Since I have written about the before of my life, I will write about the now of my life at some future date.
I must go now to take my almost four year old son to preschool so I will post this message without editing.
Life is good!