One of the oddest things about growing up in Richard’s house is how defending myself often put me at the risk of being on the receiving end of Richard’s rage.
Being a child with severe depression and severe anxiety meant that I liked to keep to myself a lot. There were two boys on Canadian Forces Base Downsview that used to take extreme pleasure in beating me up. One of the kids lived at the end of the row house that I lived in. And we both attended Pierre Laporte Junior High. This kid I’ll refer to as “G”. The other kid that “G” hung out with was “S”.
Military bases were like the proverbial “company town”. Everybody knew everybody’s business and everybody knew everybody’s issues. If you came from one of the many dysfunctional families that lived on military bases in Canada, you may as well have had a scarlett D tattooed on your forehead.
There were four kids that attended Pierre Laporte Junior High that made my life a living hell to the point that one more than one occasion I contemplated stepping in front of the CN train that ran through the middle of the base just behind the PMQs or even the TTC subway train. “G”, “S”, “R.K.”, and “R.A.”
And the thing was, these four would often gang up on me. So it was never a fair one-on-one fight.
These four and their girlfriends were always taunting me about my lack of a girlfriend and my apparent “funny walk”. Also, my father’s frequent anger outbursts and the domestic dispute which occurred in the summer of 1985 seemed to feed these kids even more.
On one occasion I was coming home from school when both “G” and “S” caught me behind Downsview Secondary School. What I didn’t anticipate was that my only friend at the time, John, saw what was happening and he intervened to keep “S” out of the fight. I don’t know if “G” didn’t put as much effort into the fight because “S” wasn’t able to help him, or if I just realized that I had a once in a life time chance to fight back. But I landed a few good punches and “G” decided he wasn’t interested in fighting me.
When I got home my shiner was starting the develop.
Let’s not kid anyone. At that point in my life I was on the scrawny side. “G” was much more developed than I was. Christ, even my younger brother was taller and more muscular than I was. I didn’t actually break 120 lbs until I quit smoking in 1996 when I was 25. At the time I lived on CFB Downsview I’d be very surprised if I broke 90 to 100 lbs. During my adolescence my chest muscles and body fat were so thin that you could easily see my ribs.
I thought that Richard would have approved of me standing up for myself instead of getting the shit beat out of me as usual. Nope. I got a nice back hand across my face and he told me that I had to stop doing things to get myself beat up. He said that he was getting tired of me picking fights and then playing the victim.
I can only look back and wonder if Richard was projecting.
Projection in the psychological sense is where you take all of your flaws and superimpose them onto someone else.
In 2011 when I received my foster care records from the Alberta Government I would discover that both the psychiatrist hired by the Canadian Forces as well as my civilian child care workers had noted that my father refused to accept responsibility for his family, blamed others for his problems, felt victimized, expected others to solve his problems for him, often told conflicting stories, and often told those he perceived to be in positions of authority what he thought they wanted to hear.
Richard had already made it known to me at various times between the summer of 1980 and the fall of ’87 when I moved out that I was at fault for allowing the babysitter to molest my younger brother. As an adult I full well realize that this is the stupidest thing that Richard could have ever said. But as a child this cut right to the bone.
So was that it? Was Richard projecting all of his shortcomings and failings on me? Richard wasn’t home like he was supposed to have been and he left my brother and I in the care of his alcoholic mother. Did Richard blame me because otherwise he’d have to step up to the plate and take responsibility for his two kids being sexually abused on a secured defence establishment?
Richard would often “rage out” and get so violent, but then turn around mere hours later and forget all about it. Did Richard view me standing up to “G” and fighting back as me “raging out” like he was prone to?
I forget what rank “G’s” father was at the time, all I know is that he outranked my father. Was my father just afraid of catching flack from “G’s” father or from a superior of “G’s” father?
Richard’s refusal to allow me to defend myself has had repercussion well into my adult life.
Not being allowed to defend myself fostered a very low self esteem.
Not being allowed to defend myself taught me to appease others and just go with what others wanted as this would avoid confrontation.
This will always be a mystery to me as Richard is long since dead.
And honestly whether or not I ever got an answer from Richard would be pointless as the damage has long since been done.