1973 – Philadelphia, PA
When I started writing this blog some poser took several shots at me about how vacuous my work was, and I was new to writing a blog. I took it hard. She said how I objectified women and missed the point. She told me how I needed to get to myself. I placated her and knew at that time I was a new writer. I was just trying to find my way. She was mean and told me I sucked.
I was just trying to create again after 10 years and wanted to tell my stories. It really hurt me and gave me a lot of anxiety.
I was new to this and was super sensitive to writing again, especially in a public forum.
I took her negative comments to heart and felt the pain of maybe not going on.
I had no idea where this journey would take me. But I pressed on with the support of friends.
It was a mean attack and I knew I needed to armor up. She said I needed to show my real life on phicklephilly.
Loyal readers, I know you follow my blog and know what’s going on in my life, but I have been wanting to reveal some tales from my past that I want to tell…. so here we are.
Back in the early 70’s when I was in grade school. I wasn’t the best student. Was I smart? Sure, plenty. But maybe I was ADD and didn’t know it. Maybe not. But I had a very creative and artistic mind. School bored me. I would talk in class and get in trouble for causing a disruption. I wasn’t a bad kid, but just a bit of a clown.
My teacher, Miss Brown sent a note home to my mother about my talking in class. This pissed my mother off. I can see this now as a parent but when you’re a kid you don’t see anything but what’s right in front of you.
Miss Brown was a nice lady. Think about this. She was a twenty-something black woman teaching fifth grade in an all white school (except for the black kids they bused in) in an all white neighborhood in the early 70’s. I should have behaved myself and paid attention and been a better student just out of respect of this woman’s achievement.
My mother asked that the teacher let her know on a weekly basis if I was talking in class. She even employed my sister April to deliver the messages each week. Because she knew I wouldn’t do that. I’m not falling on my own sword for anybody.
My mother said if the note came back and it said that I was talking, she would slap me right in the mouth.
We got spanked as kids. I got it the most from both parents because I was the boy and got into the most trouble. Most of my lickings came from my father. But we’ll save that for a different post.
First week note comes home. Didn’t talk in class. All good. I’m on my way to becoming a model prisoner.
Second week, note comes home. Says I did talk.
Mom takes me upstairs. Makes me sit on the edge of her bed. I’m nine years old. I’m crying. I’m afraid. I’m just a little guy. She’s bigger and stronger than I am.
If you hit anyone in this world as an adult you can get in a lot of trouble. You could be arrested and/or sued. But it’s perfectly okay to hit a child that belongs to you. Nobody can do a thing about it and you won’t get in trouble. That child can’t defend himself because that would be a problem. If I waited for her to go to bed and then snuck in there and beat in her skull with her iron, I’d be institutionalized. And please those thoughts never entered my mind. I’m just making a comparison here. I loved my mom and I knew what I was doing wrong in class I just couldn’t help it. I was just being a dumb kid.
So I’m trying to cover my face and I’m crying my eyes out in fear, and my mother just holds down my hands and with her free one slams me across the mouth as hard as she can. She gets up and walks out of the room. I don’t know if she said anything.
I bet she wished she could have done that to my father a few times for all the shit he pulled over the years.
Later my dad comes home and sees me.
“What happened to your lip?” (I had a fat lip by then.)
“I talked out of turn in class and mom hit me in the mouth.”
He didn’t say anything else.
I stayed out of sight until dinnertime.
Nothing else was said about it and the notes immediately stopped to my teacher.
I don’t know if my behavior improved in class after that. I don’t remember much else from that period of my life.
I know other boys in my neighborhood got spanked by their parents. Boys are tough rambunctious souls. My friend Michael and his brother Jimmy both got the belt from their father. The sick cycle of violence and corporal punishment trickles down into the children. Jimmy would beat up Michael to disperse his rage. Michael in turn having no one to act out on would kick his dog Greta. He loved his dog and would cry after kicking her but told me had nothing to do with his anger and helplessness at the hands of his captors.
My other friend Wayne and his brother Dale would be chased through the house by their mother and beaten with their Hot Wheels tracks. Hot Wheels were these beautiful little metal cars by Mattel. The tracks were in three foot sections and were orange in color. He told me his mother would leave in the purple connecting piece in the end just to give her weapon of choice a little more bite.
Michael and I would laugh about this because although we were both being physically abused in fairly traditional methods, Wayne and his brother were being beaten with their own toys!
I remember seeing her chase them through the house with the track when we were over there sometimes so I knew the struggle was real. I wondered later would this sort of punishment develop into some sort of S&M fetsh during auto racing events for Wayne?
Of course I know these things because boys share things when their together. I remember Michael saying that his parents hit him because they loved him. I agreed. How sick is that? They beat us because they cared about us and if they didn’t that would mean they didn’t love us. Crazy right?
But our parents were good, decent people who came up in their own struggles during a different time. I remember my mom telling me her mother had a cat o nine tail that she would go after her four sons with. That’s like a real instrument of torture. Where the hell did she even get that thing?
She told me one day her brothers got tired of the beating/whippings and two of them took it out into the woods and buried it. Buried it! Just to make sure it was never found or somehow ever came back!
My mother once told me she was doing the dishes with her mother and her mom told her something and my mother who was around 18 at the time, smirked and did a “hrph” in response. Her mother, my Nana, simply backhanded her so hard in the face it dropped her to the kitchen floor.
Rage much, Nana?
I would bet you this week’s paycheck that every kid that became a bully and picked on me or anybody else was being physically and mentally abused by their parents. Mostly their fathers.
It’s just so sad. It definitely screws you up as a person and leaves and indelible mark.
Here you are this person trying to live your own messed up existence and you’re blessed with this beautiful little life form you call your child. You get the power to download all of your fucked up shit right into that pure little vessel and ruin it.
My father worshiped his father. His father didn’t give a shit about him. He’d rather be down at the tap room drinking with his buddies. I never worshiped my father. For the most part I was afraid of him. My mother and I were both victims of his wrath.
I suffered from depression and anxiety. I expressed it in my art and music. I would say my father suffered from OCD and high anxiety but in reality all of the people closest to him suffered. I treated my anxiety by throwing up and walking towards the things that scared me instead of running away. I never took medicine for any of my defects. I just worked through them and beat them all.
I used to be at war with my demons. Now we’re all on the same side.
My father had high anxiety so he would use rage to dissipate the fear. It actually works but you never fix the problem and evolve as a person. He was a very good man but had some fucked up wiring in his head his whole life.
Sad thing is, if you don’t evolve as you get older, your weaknesses and defects come in and take you. You’re done. You belong to them now.
My father never smoked or drugged or drank a lot, because he said he never wanted anything to own him. (Addiction) Addiction can be managed by some but not many. Little did he know that he was already the property of his OCD and anxiety and never fixed himself. Poor thing.
My mom had her own stuff from her childhood too. But she didn’t talk about it much. I think her dad was a good looking fair haired man who worked in sales. (Sounds familiar.) I also think he was a drunk. Times were tough during the Depression.
I told you I was going to get to all of me in this blog.
Thank you for sticking with me and riding out the journey. There are plenty of stories and the stuff from California will blow your mind. I promise.
I’d like to hear anybody else’s thoughts and comments on the subject of child abuse.
Let me close with this statement. If you are bullied by anyone even a parent you don’t have to become them. Embrace their good qualities, not their mistakes, because then history will simply repeat itself and we won’t evolve as a species.
“I’ve never raised my voice or my hand to my daughter, Lorelei.”
Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.
You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1
Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!