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Old 06-16-2003, 11:23 PM   #1
Elspode
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Seriousness That Changed You

I was going over the thread about Silliness, and it kicked off some thinking in the other direction. What serious, hideous or other decidedly not-funny incident or series of events first made you realize that life could really, really suck?

I suppose the question for some could cause the dredging up of old and awful memories, and if so, please only share within your comfort zones. It just seems to me that, if we are going to discuss the light side, we should also flip the duct tape over and see what lie's on the inverse.

For me, the first really distinctive memory that things were not all sweetness and light in the world, the first that I really grasped at all, was the assassination of JFK. Although I was too young to have had much of an opinion about him myself, the effect on all the adults around me was very impactful. The images of the funereal procession on TV was also profound. The Saturday AM cartoons it wasn't.

Still, it wasn't until I reached adulthood, married and had a kid that I really learned just how fucked up things can get, but that's where I reach my limit of desire to share further, so let's boot the ball over to you all.
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Old 06-17-2003, 09:42 PM   #2
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Losing. They say when one door closes another opens. That may be so but it's usually not simultanious. That poignant pause is sometimes shattering. Losing jobs, lovers, friends, faith, etc.
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Old 06-19-2003, 12:15 AM   #3
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     I thought of a few stories of childhood disillusionment when I first read the thread but no full thoughts to type out. Then at the grocery store the other day I saw something that might qualify.

     In the line in front of my daughter and I was a boy in the shopping cart. He was probably six or seven, but it was hard to say. He was beyond skinny, more like emaciated. His poorly formed bones stuck out through tightly pulled flesh. I'm not sure what the boys illness was, but he was clearly severely underdeveloped. For all this he looked out at the world with an odd blank interest, at first I thought he was mentally deficient as well. Then he looked me in the eye with what appeared to be shining intelligent eyes. It was weird, one moment he looked dazed but curious. The next he looked like someone that had just struck upon a new idea. He looked at me with clear recognition of a stranger in front of him. He expression changed, he smiled shyly, even nervously and raised a hand in a wave that was almost as underdeveloped as his body. It hurt a little to see his great optimism in what was likely to be a very short and painful life. I gave him a warm (hopefully even playful) smile and a little wave back.
     About that time his mother, who was loading the items onto the conveyor to be rung up, seemed to realize someone was looking at her son. She turned almost to quickly for me to pretend to have been looking at something else all along. After she shot a severe look into my peripherals she wrote a check. As unobtrusively as possible, I studied the woman's face, she looked tired, beyond tired actually. Like she had been emotionally pushed to the breaking point everyday for years. The boys head had laid down on the hand grip. He clearly and sharply said the word "UP" and his mother reflexively raised his head back up straight. Apparently he could usually hold his head up but once it laid over, he needed help. This happened twice while we were there.
     I thought about how hard his mom's life must be, and how tired she looked. Maybe in the dark corners of my mind I wondered if she resented the fact that she had been given a son that couldn't live a normal life. That would never be able to take care of himself. Then I noticed her purchase. An inflatable swimming pool and a float.
     Most days I'll tell you I hate people. That people are largely and typically petty, deceitful, greedy and self-absorbed. Then I see a woman like this. Dutifully doing whatever she can to make her sons difficult and probably short life a happy one. Even if it killed her. Makes me wonder what people are really capable of deep down.
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Old 06-28-2003, 12:44 AM   #4
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When we are faced with easing the pains of our children, I don't really know that there are any boundaries...at least, not within the hearts and minds of people who aren't hopelessly fucked up.

While my own son is nowhere near as incapacitated as the child you describe, he is also far from a normal young man. He will never drive, he will always have a seizure disorder, and his comprehensional and learning abilities are virtually fixed somewhere at a fourth grade level. He is 22 years old, but still relies on me and his stepmother for pretty much all of his transportation needs to work, the bank, the store, etc. He has few friends because he can't engage in many of the activities they enjoy...he can't drink because of the meds he takes, he is on a very limited income (SS disability and a meager part time menial job), and he simply doesn't have the same grasp of nuance and context that even the most feeble normal young adults have.

He is living mostly independently, but certain needs in his life will always be met by someone else. My wife and I have spent quite a lot of time over the past few years getting him to this point. We probably rushed him along a bit more than we should have, because we wanted to be able to see how he faired while we were still around to help him. After we are gone, he will likely be totally on his own, and believe me, he needs a lot of practice before that happens.

I'm not really bemoaning my lot in life...I could just as easily have lost the boy altogether 12 years back when his problems turned him from the smartest kid in class to the most fearful kid in special ed. Furthermore, any burden I have to bear in his name pales in comparison to the challenges he faces each and every day in a world filled with people who don't want to or are unable to grasp his limitations and handicaps. I guess all I'm trying to say is that, yes, it does wear one down, but I will have to be worn almost down to nothing before I could not find the strength in myself to do whatever it takes to see my son as safe, strong and happy as he can be given his abilities and limitations.

Love for one's children really doesn't allow any less.
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Last edited by Elspode; 06-28-2003 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:48 PM   #5
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As a junior in high school, I met a young man named Steven. We started dating, and were on again, off again until I ended up "going out" with his best friend, Travis.

Got pregnant at 16, married Travis at the insistance of my mother. She kicked us out 2 weeks later, and now, homeless, we made the decision to give him up for adoption to Travis' aunt and uncle. I delivered at his aunt's house at age 17.

Divorced Travis after 2 years of emotional and physical abuse, got myself back together, started talking to Steven again while he was in the Navy. We had plans to get together when he came off west pac, but I didn't have a way to get to San Diego at the time, and wasn't home when he called. He never called back.

20 months later I had remarried and moved to England, got a phone call from a detective in Oregon. They had arrested Travis on murder charges. Steven had been reported missing Christmas of 91 by his grandma in Pennsilvania (he was from Erie), and in 1995 Travis (and his uncle, Ron) finally admitted to torturing him, killing him, dismembering him and spreading his parts across a half mile radius behind his house.

After giving me this information, they asked if I wanted Justin (my son) back, since they knew he didn't belong to Ron and his wife. I said yes, and went to Oregon to get him back. He was 7 then.

Talking to Steven's grandmother after the fact, she told me that he had called her told her he was leaving in 3 days to visit her, and was stopping by my house on the way to propose to me. He was cutting the ties to Travis' family, and wanted a fresh start with me. They killed him the day before he was to leave.

There's lots more to the story, but the point is that Steven's death is the point I realized that life sucks.
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Old 06-30-2003, 04:53 PM   #6
xoxoxoBruce
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Jebus H. Christ! I've got a million questions, but I'm not going to ask.
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Old 06-30-2003, 08:38 PM   #7
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Wow.

I'm almost wish you hadn't posted that, because I can't respond to it with one of my usual stupid remarks.

How old is your son now? How much does he know?

Good lord that is fucked up. And I'm sorry to hear it.

Don't answer if you don't want to. I guess I don't want to force you to think about it. Then again, I don't know how you could avoid it.
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Old 06-30-2003, 10:31 PM   #8
jaguar
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OnyxCougar wins i think...

I hope the second marrige worked out ok well i think you deserve it...

You also silenced dave, that's impressive.
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Old 06-30-2003, 10:34 PM   #9
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By the way, I don't mean fucked up as in "your life is fucked up"... but fucked up that human beings do that to each other. Kidnapping, torture, dismemberment... unbelievable. And awful.
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Old 06-30-2003, 11:53 PM   #10
Elspode
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Jesus, OC...I am *so* sorry. I tell myself every day that many people have borne far worse burdens than myself or my family, and you definitely qualify.

Here's to better days and better people.
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Old 07-01-2003, 07:29 AM   #11
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This whole thing is making me feel like a real asshole, because I don't know how to respond. And I can't leave it alone. So...

I'm really very, very sorry to hear about that. It's one of those things that makes you wish humans didn't exist, because we're the only type of animals that does those sort of things to each other.

I really don't know how else to respond. I'm sorry.
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:01 AM   #12
OnyxCougar
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Wow.

Over the years, I think I've become used to the fact that it happened, and I didn't expect the responses I got.

I had a big old long reply written, then I clicked on a link in my mail program and it used this window (of course) to go there and when I came back, it was all gone.

I'm happy to answer any questions, or expound, if you like. It's been a long 32 years for me, and as I like to say, "It's not the age, it's the mileage." So go ahead and ask. Didn't mean to hijack the thread, Elspode.

Justin is 15 now, and he knows the basics. I haven't given him all the details. I didn't even know the details, until one day, I was screwing around, bored at work, and did a search on Google for Steven's name. Came up with this PDF file. (WARNING: It's textually graphic.)

The second marriage didn't do so well either, and now I'm single, living in Vegas, moving to Iowa August 1.

Yes, bad things happen. But how we deal with them and go on with our lives is what shapes us. I'm subscribing to the thread, so go ahead and ask away. Really.



edit: If I could type I could get a real job.
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:12 AM   #13
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How did you tell him? Or did he know from just being around it?

I guess I've kinda assumed that there was still some feeling between you and Steven; have you told Justin this? How does he feel toward his father?

And, uh... please tell me Travis is in jail for a long, long, LONG time.
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Old 07-01-2003, 01:06 PM   #14
OnyxCougar
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{back history} In high school, Travis and Steven were best friends. Steven's sister is Shannon, and Shannon and I became best friends. Travis and Shannon were on-again, off-again dating as well. So it was the four of us hanging out all the time.

Steven's dad was a prick, so Steve spent alot of time at Trav's house. Trav lived with Ron and Bobbie, his aunt and uncle. Ron and Bobbie pretty much adopted Steve into the family. Travis was always the blacksheep, so to speak, and it was pretty obvious that they liked Steve over Travis. When they kicked Travis out and we went to California, Steve moved in.{/back history}

Well, when we picked Justin up in Oregon and spirited him off to Washington in an attempt to secure an emergency passport (that went horribly wrong), I talked to him and tried to ascertain what he knew.

Keep in mind that up until the day before, he had thought his parents were Ron and Bobbie, and that he had 7 brothers and sisters. He thought Travis was his cousin.

I asked him what he knew about what was going on, and he said that his dad (Ron) had been arrested, and the kids at school were teasing all the kids about "Your dad cuts people up and puts them in garbage bags." and other things of that nature.

I told him that Ron and Travis were arrested for killing Steven. He remembered Steven from when he would go on leave from the Navy and visit "the family". He said that he had seen Carmen (Ron and Bobbie's oldest) showing off a hand to her friends. I don't know how true that is, but he said it. I was appropriately horrified.


In high school, Steven had proposed to me, I laughed at him. I didn't think he was serious. He was. Then I went off with Travis and he told me he'd always be there, waiting. When I left Travis, he was finishing up Navy training in Florida. I told him I was in Southern California and he was to be stationed in San Diego, so he was going to see me on his way to port.

He stopped in Oregon on the way, and they convinced him not to visit me. He went to San Diego and then went on West Pac. About a year later, I used the Navy locator and found him again, and we started writing back and forth. We were going to try again, and I was to meet him in San Diego, when his ship pulled in (January 91). I had managed to borrow a friends car, but didn't have enough money for gas, so I couldn't go. I wasn't home when he called. I know now that he had stayed in San Diego instead of taking leave like he was going to, and took the leave in July 91. He went to Oregon, and when they tried to talk him out of seeing me again, he decided to pack all his stuff and leave. I don't know if they knew he was going to propose to me or not.

The BS about Ron not knowing about Steve and Carmen is a complete lie. Ron knew about them years before. Bobbie had pulled Carmen out of Steve's bed several times. Steve had told me that he had broken up with Carmen months before he came back from West Pac. I think they killed him because they were the beneficiaries of his military insurance policy, they were using his car while he was gone, he was sending home money to help the family out, etc. Once he had enough of their BS and they found out he was leaving and taking all his stuff with him...well, the obvious. Ron put a bug in Travis' ear, and Travis, still pissed that I had "gone back" to Steve, did it.


Justin wants to meet Travis when he turns 18. Travis wants NOTHING to do with Justin. I think it's morbid curiosity on Justin's part. I've told him I don't think it's a good idea.

Travis is in Oregon State Penn, he got life, no possibility of parole. Ron got 20 years, and is trying to get out early. I think he's eligible for parole here soon.
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Old 07-01-2003, 04:34 PM   #15
xoxoxoBruce
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Whew! Iowa is farther than Las Vegas from Oregon. I hope it's far enough for you to look ahead and not behind. It sounds like you're coping and I wish you all the best. Both of you.

I liked your picture.
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