I've been trying to dig up the courage to write down what happened to me over the course of some 30 years. It is interesting to me that there were so many good times I must have had as a kid but remember so few of them. However, the instances of abuse stand out starkly in my mind.

My first abuser was my mother. It seemed as if she was always looking for a chance to punish me and humiliate me, and that's how it started. I remember when I was about three I said the letter or word P and my mother washed my mouth out with soap for saying a bad word. That set the stage for our relationship and that's how it always was: her looking for an opportunity to express her dominance over me. Her abuse continued into my twenties when she was still hitting me and cursing at me in drunken rages, and she never once apologized to me; it was as if she was never wrong and I always was. But her abuse did not turn sexual until I started to hit puberty. She did try to get me to undress in front of girls in a locker room once, but I managed to stave that off.

Before that, when I was about eight, my brothers and I had a male babysitter of about 14 years of age while my parents were out. My brothers, who were younger than me, were in bed and hopefully asleep when the babysitter, named "Mont," came into my bedroom and wanted to know if I wanted to see his penis. I said no, not really. The next thing I knew he was lying on my bed with his pants around his ankles, his full erection on display. He urged me to play with it and said that even my younger brother had played with it (his younger brother and mine were friends). I touched it and remember wondering if I would ever have the same fearsome hair he had. I thought his penis was large, certainly bigger than mine.

He kept on talking and took my hand and forced me to hold and stroke his penis. I did not realize it at the time but he wanted me to masturbate him; I just knew it was not really fun and I wanted to stop. He continued to talk to me about how normal this was and how everyone does it, and then he asked me if I wanted to suck "it." I did not, but I remember he continued to ask me about it and talked about how fun it was until I acceded to his wish. As soon as his penis entered my mouth I gagged and pushed him away. I remember feeling awful and that I had done something terribly wrong. I don't remember him telling me not to tell anyone about it -- maybe he already knew I was too ashamed for words and that the shame would keep my mouth shut.

I remember frequently wishing for death, very very seriously, as a young child. That wish for death has stayed with me all my life. To me, depression was my normal state of affairs. I found I did poorly in school, allowed myself to be bullied (after all, my parents would not stand up for me and my mother's antipathy to me was obvious even when I was eight or nine years old). I remember a line from the musical "Hair" in which the main character sings, "Why don't my mother love me?" and thinking exactly the same thing.

As for my mother, when I was about 12 I decided on a lark to put food coloring into the toilet and claim that I was bleeding from behind. My mother insisted that I drop my pants -- I was mortified, but that probably was what she wanted, in addition to getting a good view of me as I began to develop -- and she forced me to bend over while she spread my buttocks apart and examined my anus. I kept telling her over and over that it was just food coloring in the toilet, but that did not stop her on her quest.

After that, every time I had a doctor's appointment she made sure she was in the exam room with me. I asked -- pleaded -- with her every time to wait outside, but she would have none of it. Whenever the doctor would examine my crotch or rear end I could see my mother craning her neck for a good look. This went on until my mid-teens. Oh, the horror; I was so humiliated every time. No teen boy wants his mother sitting in on a physical exam and checking him out.

Shortly after that, whenever she and my dad would argue and she would decide she did not want to sleep with him that night, she would come to my room and want to sleep in my bed. I never wanted that and begged her to sleep elsewhere, but she was In Charge and did whatever she felt she wanted. My T calls this surreptitious incest. I just knew I did not like it.

She continued to bully and beat me even while I was in graduate school. She mocked my career choices and constantly called me a failure. None of my girl friends were ever good enough for her. By the time I had entered a PhD program (I drank myself out of it; by that time I was drinking myself into a blackout and unconsciousness every night) I had enough. I remember a drunken argument she had where she hit me over and over again until I could not take it any longer. I shoved her violently out of my room -- and bear in mind I was about 24 -- gathered up my few belongings and drove back to college. I did not speak to her for nearly nine months after that, and I remember at some point telling her that I was not going to tell her about any of my girlfriends until I met the one I was going to marry. At that point, I told her, she damned well better be nice to her or she would never see her grandchildren, whom she wanted desperately.

All though undergraduate and graduate school, of course, I was drinking heavily. I was very active sexually and had many, many partners. This was before AIDS so it was not until about my junior year at college I began using condoms. (I'm sure there is a psychology paper on the decision to not use contraceptives somewhere: I say I was, as usual, trying to sabotage myself and my life.

In retrospect I see that throughout my life I set myself up for heartbreak and disappointment. I joined a fraternity knowing I would be hazed. I became a soccer referee (eventually becoming a professional) knowing I would be despised. I became I high school teacher for the same reason. I worked at a cemetery so I could be closer to death. And every step of the way I found some way to screw it up so I would lose my job. Meanwhile, I continued to drink even more heavily. I had to have reeked of alcohol every day I went to work.

The final set of abuse was when I was working a part-time job at a golf course and one of the customers groped me. All I did was knock his hand away from my crotch. I did not confront him about his behavior. Again, why would I stand up for myself when nobody had ever stood up for me when I was a child?

I have lived with so much self-hatred that it is no wonder I sabotaged my life whenever possible. Even now, every time I look into a mirror I say, "I hate you." I know that it is not true, but it feels like I did nothing but make bad choices all the way through life, beginning with when I was three and said "P."

I know that my story is not as horrific as many here, and those stories have broken my heart. But this is my story and my truth and I need to speak it and say, "This was done to me. I did not cause it or deserve it." If only I could believe it.
_________________________
You want courage
I'll show you courage you can't understand
The pearl and silver
Resting on my night table
It's just me lord, pray I'm able
....
I am the nothing man.

-- Bruce Springstein