| A child of the year 2004.|
|14 Feb 2004 @ 09:46, by Anthony Marsh|
Please, don't let this be the story of your child.
By Michael Goodspeed
Hello. I was a child born in the United States of America in the year 2004, and I talk of this year in the past tense, as every event of my life, from birth to death, was as pre-ordained and scripted as any Hollywood movie.
I speak to you from some time, some place, after my death less than a decade-and-a-half after my birth. One could interpret my posthumous communication to you as a cautionary tale, a warning of troubled times that lie ahead for you and your kind, but as I said, these events of the near-future have already been set. At one time in your short and troubled history, these events may have been foreseen and perhaps avoided, but no more. Too many variables, too many immutable cirumstances, would have to be altered for your fate and mine to appreciably alter. The die has been cast; the future a moral certainty.
My date of birth was January 1, 2004. I was born to two homegrown, red-blooded, working class Americans in their mid-20's.
Here was my life, beginning at ages 1-6: my daily life was a familiar routine. Because both my parents worked, I was taken to day care in the mornings. My care taker had three kids of her own, two of whom beat me up (but not too badly) when she wasn't looking. I spent my days watching cartoons and other "kids' shows" on digital cable, and in the evening, my parents took me home, where I alternated between watching movies on my own Home Entertainment system in my bedroom, and watching Reality TV shows with my parents in the Living Room. (Their favorite was American Idol.) I had a lot of toys, mostly dolls that talked and squirted fluids when you squeezed them, but they were so numerous, I had a hard time distinguishing between them. I didn't really like those toys, but if anyone (especially my sister Caitlin, who was born two years after me)lay a finger on them, I became filled with uncontrollable rage, and hit them. I also had video games that I couldn't really figure out how to play, and two or three "activity" books, like coloring and connect the dots, but I didn't know how to read and my parents never had the time to do them with me, so they lay forgotten in the junk heap that was my closet.
I generally liked to eat foods that I saw on TV; these were mostly sweet breakfast cereals that came in bright colors and interesting shapes. I also liked candies and "play foods" that came in squeezable bottles and cartons. For dinner, my favorite foods were pizza and MacDonalds, and also burritos and hot dogs. For snacks, I liked Doritos and spicy flavored chips, no potatoe chips, though, they didn't have enough flavor. For drinks, I liked mostly Coke, but my parents wanted me to be healthy, so they also made me drink fruit-flavored punches and sodas.
In my backyard, I had a play set, swings and monkey bars, and I also had a tricycle that I liked to ride, and I had SO much fun outdoors, when I was outside and moving around and the sun was shining, I felt more awake, more THERE, but I needed a grown up to go out there with me, and I had a hard time getting my parents to do it. I'd have to beg and beg and sometimes they'd give in, but just as often they'd just get kind of mad, so I pretty much gave up on going outside unless they wanted me to. Also, I felt tired a lot of the time, so it just seemed easier to stay inside.
Around the time that I was 3 or 4, I started feeling mad even when no one was playing with my toys. Of course, if asked, I could not articulate why I felt this way, but for some reason, I felt more alive when I was yelling and screaming and hitting people. It also felt terrible, like the worst hurt in the world, but I couldn't seem to help myself. I mostly just hit Caitlin, but sometimes I'd get so mad that I would hit mom and dad, and I'd get spanked, and HARD. I also felt sad, REALLY sad, sometimes, even when I couldn't think of any particular thing that I was sad about.
At the age of 5, I entered kindergarten, and by the second day, I felt so scared and agitated and confused that I peed my pants and my care-taker came and took me back to her place. My teachers were nice and most of the kids were as frightened as me...but some of them were mean, and called me "fat" and "ugly," and I knew I was pretty chubby, even my mom said so sometimes. I felt scared and sad...but also increasingly MAD, and after a couple of weeks of being literally dragged to school kicking and screaming and crying, I started hitting the other kids, especially the ones who were too small to hit me back.
One day shortly after I'd entered the first grade, my parents drove me to school (an unusual practice for them), and we had a meeting with the principal and my teacher. I sat and listened and heard words that were vaguely familiar because I'd heard my parents say them before: hyperactive, disorder, attention deficit, treatment, and drug. I heard the last word a lot of times towards the middle and end of the meeting, and it made me a little scared, because from TV, I associated the word with something bad. I also heard the word "doctor" more than once, and I definitely know from my regular "check-ups" that this was something to be feared.
So one school day, my parents took me to a "doctor's" office, but this doctor didn't wear a stethoscope or a white robe like the other doctors I'd seen. This one wore a sweater and his doctor's office looked kind of like my living room at home. He mostly talked to my parents, and even talked to me alone for a few minutes, which scared the hell out of me, but at least he didn't give me any shots or put his hand on my thingy. When we were all done talking, he wrote something on a piece of paper for my parents, something he called a "prescription." Then we left, and as a reward, my parents took me to MacDonald's and bought me a Happy Meal.
I started taking hard to swallow pills every morning before school and every evening after school. Of course, like any other child, I did not have the introspective qualities necessary to connect my taking of the pills with my mental, emotional, and physical states. If I did, I surely would have screamed at my parents and my doctors and everyone else who would listen that the pills were actually making me WORSE. My accustomed lethargy and anger and sadness and confusion accentuated by several fold. Sitting in the classroom at school, feeling this heaviness in my head that made it hard to stay awake and impossible to pay attention, dealing with the kids who called me names and hit me even harder than I could hit them, living each day only to go home, where I wasn't really happy but at least felt safe and comfortable watching TV and playing video games and eating my favorite foods...the word "despair" was not in my vocabulary, but it could accurately have been used to describe my state of being.
Even now, speaking to you from a state of bliss and clarity where these issues matter not, I cannot recall with any vividness the years of my life between ages 6-12. The murkiness of my consciousness enveloped not only my brain, but seeped to my very soul. My life was reduced to the certain drudgery of a hellish routine from which there was no escape. I do remember around the age of 7, I began hurting myself to get out of school and gain sympathy from my parents. I would punch myself in the face to get a bloody nose or a black eye, and once even broke my hand in my bedroom with a baseball bat. I would tell my parents that I fell off my bike or fell out of a tree, and even though I was hardly ever outside, they always seemed to buy it. They would take me to a doctor's office, an experience I was actually starting to like, because the people there were nice, it would get me out of school, and my parents would buy me a treat afterwards.
Through all of this, I continued taking the pills, because when I got off them, I still seemed to be bad, maybe even a little worse, and my doctor kept telling my parents that the pills were the right thing. I took those pills right up until the age of 12, the year of my first suicide attempt, which ironically was a deliberate overdose of the very pills I'd been taking for years. After a trip to the emergency room and a good pumping of my stomach, I was hospitalized for three months on the psychiatric ward of a nice hospital. At first I hated the hospital with a fervor, but eventually, I began to like it there so much that I didn't want to leave. I felt safe and special and loved there, and most of all, I was appreciative to be away from the hell-hole that was life in school. After my parents' insurance ran out and they were forced to take me home, I thought of ways to force them to take me back, hurting myself over and over and eventually trying suicide again by gashing my wrists with a broken mirror. But this time, they didn't take me to the nice psychiatric ward I'd enjoyed so much, but to a big and dark and scary looking fortress called a "state hospital."
I languished in the state hospital from the age of 12-and-a-half to thirteen. I often thought of physical escape and escape by suicide...but ultimately, it seemed like too much work. I took my pills which made me drool and made it impossible to think, I took my pills and watched TV and tried to do puzzles, I took my pills and played ping pong with other patients. I guess one day my doctors decided I was "better," because my parents showed up and took me home.
At the age of 13, I returned to school, this time it was "middle school," and somehow I knew that not even a plate of steel armor could protect me from the other kids. I knew I would be different, I knew I didn't look right and couldn't think right, I knew life was going to be hell...but to whom could I complain? I could not have found the words even if someone would listen. I look back in real gratitude for one thing - I had no longer the strength to even think of harming others, only an unquenchable desire to harm myself. I endured for as long as I could; I really believe that. I was not as weak a soul as some might think. I made it half-way to the end of eigth grade, and one day hanged myself in my bedroom with my bedsheet. I didn't leave a note, because I didn't think anyone would be surprised.
Reviewing these events of my sad and oh-so-short life is not fun, but I feel neither bitterness nor resentment towards the people who contributed so greatly to my tragic demise. As the die was cast for me, so it was with them...and so it is for you and yours.
Even now, living in your troubled times when lives such as mine are not out of the ordinary, you are likely associating terms like "aberrant" and "freakish" with my story. You cannot conceive of this day just over the horizon when my story will be neither extreme nor abnormal, but perfectly commonplace. From my perspective, which is unclouded by emotional bias and wishful thinking, I can tell you that you are mistaken. Exactly as I lived, so will a thousand million tortured souls, until those who are called sick and crazy and criminal will outnumber those who are called well. Rest assured, as bad as things may seem to you now, they can and will get worse before they can get better.
So it has always been with this thing you call society, and so it shall be again. I promise.
14 Feb 2004 @ 11:47 by swanny : Love
They say children measure love and perhaps selflove
by the amount of time...... good or bad perhaps spent with them.
It seems the moral of this story is that no one including
the parents spent any "Real" and quality time with this child.
That is perhaps the tradgedy of it.
To be born into a world where you don't seem wanted or needed
and have no one to sit in the silence with even.....
for even shared silence would have perhaps been an improvement.
We do so need to belong in the company of others but
quality others I suppose.
14 Feb 2004 @ 14:12 by sharie : Thanks to Michael Goodspeed & you
Wow, what a powerful *autobiography*.
Unfortunately, those who need to read it most, probably never read, and wouldn't understand why the boy had problems even though his story screams of neglect and abuse - not only by his parents, but his teachers, his doctor, everyone.
In my own neighborhood there's a family of two children who are neglected. The only time they feel their parents care is when their parents are banging on the door of one of the neighbors to scream in their face about how their kid has been treated... since their kid knows this, there's a constant flood of *incidents* they create in order to generate their parents' interest. What a mess we have in this world.
Thanks for the post.
15 Feb 2004 @ 01:22 by : thankyou bushman...
i hung myself when i was five years old so completely empathize with this soul. yes, this is the insane 'society' we live in to a tee and it is only getting worse. the die has been cast so my hope is that a few will see through the 'norm' and make 'logans run' to wherever that may be.
15 Feb 2004 @ 08:32 by : Yep
For the most part, I went thru the same stuff. It was reverse sycology that stopped me from taking my life when I was around 7. My mom showed up, saw what I was up to and said, yes, please do us all a favor, and walked out of my room, lol, well, then I said ah ha!, they want me dead. Now I'm going to stay and make it really hard for them, lol. Probably the only reason why I'm still on this planet now. :}
15 Feb 2004 @ 16:23 by jmarc : just a little attention
from an adult who cares, can make a world of difference to a young life,, and it's never too late to start.
15 Feb 2004 @ 19:23 by martha : yes jmarc
a little love from an adult DOES make all the difference in not only a child's life but everyone's life. This is the greatest power each of us has...to love ourself in ways our parents didn't and then to turn the love outward.
Interesting vax...I nearly died when I was five but will wait to tell my story. It's part of my military log (I'm writing).
15 Feb 2004 @ 19:25 by martha : bushman and vax
I don't know what to say to you except I'm glad you decided to live and share with us here. Thank you.
Other entries in Stories
23 Dec 2004 @ 17:57: The Ezekiel Airship.
1 Apr 2004 @ 09:29: "The Incident"
12 Jan 2003 @ 08:10: Report by Linda Howe
17 Nov 2002 @ 15:33: Broken Saints, Update.
11 Nov 2002 @ 20:22: Mars Base or Native Ruins?
2 Sep 2002 @ 20:03: Broken Saints
22 Aug 2002 @ 09:43: Giving Blood.
6 Mar 2002 @ 17:23: From the past