Serious content warning for this post. I talk about childhood abuse, trauma, suicide, and sexual assault.
There’s a video making the rounds on social media. I haven’t watched it. I don’t want to watch it. But I’ve seen the comments and I know, basically, what it’s about: a child having a tantrum on a train.
Comments have ranged from “this kid is probably autistic” to “this kid needs to be disciplined” and it strikes me this is just yet another way for people without kids to judge parents for not doing a good enough job; or people with kids to feel superior because THEIR child never had a meltdown on the subway.
It also strikes me how very lucky I am to have been born in 1986 and become a teenager in the 90s. Because I grew up without ubiquitous cellphone video cameras and the ability to post video of strangers online. I grew up without the danger that my one bad day would have meant worldwide shaming of my mother, and custody being ripped away from her.
Before we moved to Hawai’i my summers were split between my parents. (After moving there, I spent them with my bio-sire, for what was called “access” because he required access to his child and I was supposed to have access to my tormentors.)
After the first half of the summer being spent with my bio-sire and his new girlfriend, a woman we dubbed Wife #5 (he’s on #7 now), and her band of ill-mannered, horrific monsters of children, I got to spend time with my mom. This particular summer we went to Hawai’i to visit with people, including my new friend who became my best friend and still is (she was my maid of honor at my wedding).
I’m not really sure why she stuck with me for so many years, because that was the second year we knew each other and it was the summer I went insane.
I was a monster. I screamed and cried and kicked. I lashed out at everyone, including my best friend. I threw tantrums on a regular basis. I said cruel, hurtful things. I tried to kill myself. I wielded sharp weapons and was a danger to myself and others.
No one knew what was going on. My mother was at a complete loss, trying to manage a child who had never acted out on this scale before. She was inches from putting me into an institution, and had the threat of my bio-sire taking custody not loomed, she may have done so.
And I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t tell anyone, because I didn’t have words for it and I blamed myself.