Monday, November 2nd, 1998

I woke up in a bad dream. My head felt two sizes too big for my brain with what I had awoken to. They always said I had a big head to begin with. My body would grow into it, but having a big head early would do me some good. But more bad first before the good.

The past is a puzzle. So many riddles & unexplained moments that constantly run through your mind as you start to process your surroundings. Clearly having a big head must’ve meant there was some kind of big brain inside it. I mean after all, that would make the most sense.

If I was so-believed to be smart, I should have a right to express it. To flourish it amongst all people. To not be restrained, doubted, or interrupted by any means. From nobody as they always tell you.

But time, not being a person or a thing, is the true hero & enemy that cannot be bested but must be respected. The most undisputed & undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. No no Iron Mike had a wonderful run but even he was still bested by time.

So here I am, a small child with a big head believed to have a big brain, crawling on the floor surrounded by family. Amazed at what the gift of life brought to them. A new experience for everyone, a new opportunity, a new change to the people growing up into their adolescence & adulthood.

But there’s been a long period of silence in a burning history of negligence on ALL ends that even as that small child I have witnessed ALL of the time. My only regret was being a fool by contributing to that silence.

It only felt like just within a year of silence did it all start. How could I speak in just one year though? To tell my mother & father “please don’t split up”, “please don’t fuss & fight”, “please don’t ignore any of my cries”.

Stop. Silence. Stay in a child’s place. Let the adults handle this.

Oh really? Let the “adults” that were still children on their own handle this? Adults that I am destined to take influence of. Adults I am suppose to rely on in my times of need. Adults that have a sole duty to be protectors of me.

How can I possibly just let the adults handle this when they can’t handle the pressure of responsibilities? Can’t handle the pressure of accountabilities? Or can’t handle the pressure of the harsh realities of the Black Plight?

I’m just a child though. I sit & watch them argue, fuss, fight, & then split. The day two police officers defined their separation to be permanent. Why this early? Why so fast? It had to be done, but what about me? What about what I am destined to endure now that the tone has already been set for me?

Mother… charismatic, gifted, talented, hard loving & all for her son which later was sons. But she was no saint. She was no hero. She would answer to no one, taking life & matters in her own hands for her own reasons to justify everything for a greater purpose. Perhaps a divine purpose? Who knows? With selfishness being her best cover, nobody could ever tell of what she does is done for her, or really for her sons.

My father….an imperfect man full of faults, flaws but with glooming self discipline. Like a Jedi Knight to a degree but still deluded. His one & only son forever changed his judgement in everything he thought & chose to do. I didn’t even have to speak for him to know how to prevent himself from ever being another foolish statistic. As if the rules weren’t already in place for people to learn how easy it can be avoided if you never give any reasonable suspicion of yourself to be part of that stereotype of Black Father’s. Which was either not being present in 3 ways:

Dead – The first & most expected one. Some can even be easily predicted just by consistent behavioral issues with themselves or with the world.

Prison – For all of their children’s childhood or for the rest of their own life. No chance to be free since it was given & misused or just from being accused. The unfairness of the court of law, or the fairness for his wrong actions. Ether way, somebody still suffers & they wouldn’t care who as long as the punishment is issued.

Gone – Forever disappeared. Neglecting the life he created because of insecurities being unable to provide, or still not even man enough to take role of a father. Still trying to be free, have fun, experience other people & have little to no care or interest in what he started himself. And then leaving the mother to deal with the dreadful words of a child “where is daddy?”, “when is daddy coming home?”.

But oh, I was in for quite a ride indeed. For as for a long time, I was under the impression that the roles were reversed. That Mother was the one that left first, leaving me to my father & a long drawn out war between the two ever since. I believed for so long that my mother took on the curses that typically a black father would be corrupted by. The lack of having a nurturing attitude when it was most needed to a son who was caught in between two people trying to understand each other when they weren’t suppose to after a child was born.

Reality was hard. Nobody was rich. Nobody could always afford things. Nobody could always cover bills. Everybody struggled. I was forced to feel struggle all because nobody could seem to know how to get out of it. Everything became a duty just to not struggle. Jobs you didn’t want & probably hated, would be the only resort you had unless you wanted to be homeless.

She left but didn’t take me because if she didn’t know where’d she have a permanent stay at, I would be struggling just as much with her. I was always secured with a place, my room, my belongings, thanks to the both of them. If she would ever come back to was always a dream in hoping for the better, but this is reality where all your dreams will be killed in an instant when you can’t find a bed to sleep in. That becomes your first dream before anything else.

The sad part is, their relationship had a ton of support. They came from a large family with a long heritage. I always thought I was just “Black” like coffee with nothing else to it. Come to find out, there was so much more to discover. The aunts, uncles, grandparents, & even friends played a role in making sure they were never alone when it came to me. Somebody was always eager to see me, take care of me, nurture me, even when they weren’t even of age to know what it takes to be a real parent. I paved the way for so many to get that experience as motivation for how they will be with their own.

But it was never enough. The lack of the sole parent leaves scars that would never come off. The amount of broken promises made & questionable actions that are always justified with “Everything I do is for my children“ no matter the cost. I get the theory in it. You’re not suppose to know a mother’s move involving her children unless she tells you exactly what they entail. Leaving the duty of nurturing to everyone else but herself was always a mystery. It was such an easy task that did not require a heavy sacrifice. Nobody was trying to dictate how she should live her life, nor was anyone trying to call her a bad person which was always what it felt like anytime she was addressed when she felt she did no wrong ever.

And she was right to feel attacked at any time when she didn’t even know why she would be confronted. Always making sure they remember what she had been doing all this time so they’d back off & remember why being a black mother is one of the hardest jobs you’d never even ask for until you feel it in your body. She defended herself since a lot of times in life nobody would or could defend her. But not taking the full account of “it takes two people to make one child”. And you better think twice before you call your first one a mistake. Because what if it was said that you were one yourself? Or has it already been said?

So now where am I?

Fast forward years later after having to go back & forth between both sides of the family. Having to grow up around different women my father was forced to build his life with rather than the one responsible for his only son. Having to grow up around other females in the family rather than my own mother because she was too busy to watch me herself. Not only just me, but my own brothers as well. Having to go through an emotional downpour & not having the only parent you’d need most to nurture the emotions. No no not the father. He wouldn’t know how to deal with this. This is suppose to be a mother’s job.

But I was wrong.

Father unintentionally took on that role knowing how absent she commonly is. He acknowledge a defeated demeanor I’d carry from my mistakes. The look of a failure that can’t make anyone proud or do anything right as soon as he’s crucified as if there is no room for mistakes in the family. The message of never giving up initiated hope. Once I do right again, everything will be back to normal. People will be happy again, & I will be safe from punishment.

But nobody is safe from punishment. Because nobody is perfect of course. You are bound to make mistakes as a child. You are bound to be punished for them. And you learn from them to succeed. Or you become weaker & weaker from the pressure & self destruct from it every time.

Every yell, scream, punch to the chest, punch to the stomach, belt to the ass, would normally be called child abuse. And that’s exactly what it is. You’re not suppose to discipline your child this way. There is no excuse for placing your hand on a small child just because he did something to upset an adult. But because it was once done to you & even taught to you, now you feel that you have to follow the tradition or you’ll be deemed a “weak” parent. Or the fear that they will remain undisciplined & become reckless without a foot put in their ass first to stop them or better yet make them ever fear the consequences of becoming reckless again.

It was a bad approach for good reasons. But some may find to have a bit of fun in the amount of control they truly have on a child. They get used to how easy it is to establish order. And then it becomes a “I’m doing this for your own good” excuse to punish for every single mistake. Every lie told as if you’ve never been a liar yourself. Never lied out of fear of the consequences. Or even just giving them an unjustifiable reason such as “I am the parent, you do as I say or else”.

And to think, one was only just a few years old & have all this dominance crushing their thinking space. Because every thought ends up becoming “if I do this, then they will do that”, “if I lie, they will found out & I will be punished”, “if I speak out, they will call it “back talk” & I will be punished”, “if I run away & hide they will find me & I will be punished.” There is so much i cannot do because there is so much we as a race cannot do in the world or we will be punished.

And that’s the real truth. Was it wrong for them to teach me this early? At least that way I don’t grow up naive to the bullshit. Starting the lesson as early as possible will eventually grow on me. But none could ever think they could simply be a child during the times where I was suppose to be one. He needs to learn now or he will not learn at all.

So now I am older.

A gruesome transition from “why are you so loud” to “why are you so quiet” ?

The fear of disappointment. The fear of failure. The fear of hate. The fear of betrayal. The fear of being misunderstood. The fear of punishment. Insecurities. Bullied. Unwanted. There was way too many of them to even bear. Can’t tell the fam about this one because I’d need to toughen shit out & stick up for myself. Against a crowd full of motherfuckers that were persistent on making my adolescence hell.

They weren’t ever in my shoes directly to feel the rupture every time I was getting made fun of for no reason at all. How hard it was to sit & focus when half the people didn’t give a fuck about focus. And then how to deal with the inner emotions that comes with being unwanted & feeling lonely. But I ain’t want to say shit about it. You couldn’t pry out the answers from me no matter how hard you tried. Because I would sound crazy to say how the fuck I really felt. It would just seem like some weird ass epiphany or a cry for attention.

Why mother is always gone & never fucking home when she should be like a real mother? Why the fuck did she even come back just to leave again? Why the fuck did two girls make an accusation that I sexually touched them in the 2nd grade & then get beat for shit that never even happened? Why the fuck did that accusation change how I was viewed for a long time? Why the fuck did it happen to me?

Why the fuck does everyone keep making fun of me in class? Why the fuck does nobody like me? Why the fuck am I so weird? Why the fuck is my head shaped like this? Why the fuck does it always seem like everyone around me is always bigger? Nobody can help while I’m by myself. This is some bullshit to start.

This childhood isn’t normal, isn’t fun, & isn’t fair. Why the fuck can other kids stay out & have fun while I have a curfew & can’t go passed the damn block? Why the fuck is everyone always so busy to even spend quality time with me? Why the fuck do I even have to ask for it?

But nah, everything is always for a greater good. I should be more focused on there being clothes on my back & a roof over my head. There’s kids & people that don’t even have that shit so I got no room to complain. I should be feeling grateful at all times. Anytime I don’t feel so grateful, I even get punished for that! The fuck is up with that??

I didn’t have a serious physical fight with someone until I was forced to do something to stick up for myself rather than ignore & stay silent like a little bitch. At least I didn’t snitch to make myself seem like even more of one. School was nothing more but a proving ground. Everyone waiting for me to come back home with straight A’s & honor roll. Everyone calling me out for something lower than a C, sometimes even upset anything was a C. I had no heart for trying to forge report cards, but I did hide them. Any kind of report that was bad just because I knew what was coming. Like, sure I got potential like they always said, but I get mentally abused when I can’t answer a damn homework question though. Be sittin at the table all night til I finish it. Always told “get ya grades up” if I ever asked for anything that was expensive like it even mattered when you still get told no. What was the accomplishment for doing good in school if there ain’t no rewards home?

But on the outside looking in, everything’s fine. Ain’t no problems here. No need to worry. We good. We straight. I’ll be alright. Just the cycle needing to happen for the boy to stay straight. It ain’t like anyone else is gonna be that damn nosey to figure out what’s happening inside. Unless I stamped a message on my head saying “save me”. Ive lied to people making false stories of where my pain came from. Saying shit like my aunt died when I couldn’t say what was really wrong. I grew too sensitive to the harsh truth with it constantly being in my face that my parents were permanently apart, I had to live & accept other people as step parents without a single say, I couldn’t see either of them when I wanted to or needed to, I couldn’t get over the fact that I continuously felt lonely as I got older, & I couldn’t get over the fact that I feared even speaking about my own feelings to my damn family.

I didn’t ask to be born in this dysfunctional family. I didn’t ask to witness full adults who swear they got their lives figured out not being able to hold accountability for their own mistakes & not justify everything with a selfish excuse. None of us are even saints or was ever one. Nobody knew the dark side of my mind they created. Just like they did to my brothers. We all were innocent children who got tortured by the dysfunction in this family. The parental failures in this family. Just like many other kids who grow up a menace from their own dysfunctional families.

Why should the child be forced to be an asset to the house or be deemed useless & can’t stay if he isn’t one? Fuck your dreams & passions, bills need to be paid. You don’t got time to be dreaming or else you ain’t gonna have a bed to sleep & dream on. My own brother should know. I heard his screams of a broken child. They haunted me. They tortured me. Because he knew himself he was trapped in them. And I as his brother can’t do shit to save him.

So now I am wiser.

I see the problem, I see why I’ve been facing so many impediments that seemed unmovable. I see why I always felt like I needed to have someone’s approval to know Im doing good. I see why there’s so much pressure to be an asset to the household. I see why put aside pride to sit in the same room & speak what’s on the mind. It was everyone’s fault. Everyone played a role in the family turmoil. All the bad karma transferred over to the children. And we were so defenseless to even do anything about it. And nobody thought this would be what really destroys us.

Because this deadly turmoil brought among us my 1st niece who I believe will go through the exact same history as in my life’s revelation. I feared of the thought. I cried about it. I hated that it was going to be true. But I’d hate myself for standing idle & not saving her.

I understood how I was able to remain stable throughout all of this. I remembered the important words & speeches. I remembered the lessons truly learned. I remembered self motivation. I remembered faith. And I remembered that family sticks together. But what I found out was how to finally release it all.

I refuse to hate the family that made sacrifices for me that I may not have ever known of or will know of until later. But I refuse to have a family that cannot be actual adults when they need to be. That “stay in a child’s place” is dead now. Now we just gonna run away from the topic? Nah better yet I don’t know what I’m talking about so I need to just keep quiet.

Fuck being quiet. I was quiet for 22 years. I think it’s time to say what I feel & explain what I learned from the dysfunction. And how I am trying to learn how to save you ALL from your own selves. The biggest mistake I made from all of this was not speaking enough on all of this. Because now I see why families fall inside of their own homes.

I speak for people that never confronted their family about their failures. I speak for children that were too afraid to express their pains. For those that’d rather kill themselves than fight the demons. For those that were too powerless to even gain any strength too fight. For those that couldn’t handle the feeling of crucifixion from their mistakes.

I now see why there are damaged men out in the world who damage women. I see now why people are created menaces & not born as that. I see now that the emotions that are ignored & dismissed will become the greatest enemy.

I see the meaning behind the quote “parents just don’t understand”.

Nobody taught me that.

So I pass this down to you my niece. This is our family. This is our reality.

This is our truth.

It is done.


  1. Broke my heart reading your story, Steph. My childhood was safe and loving and I thank the Lord daily for my parents. My mom taught me love and gentleness. I am writing about her life and her story breaks my heart as well. I had a difficult time getting through your story from crying and I do that as I write down what she tells me she endured. The constant daily and nightly physical and mental abuse. She met my dad and he taught her that slapping and beating your children, cussing them and spitting is not the way to discipline. If not for dad’s love, learning to hold and love her children and for finding the Lord, I believe my mom would have left this earth on her own. Thank you for sharing with us and showing us this is not the way to ever raise your children, or to treat them or anyone else in this manner. :)Jen


  2. Steph, I feel your pain and have the exact same struggles. My parents divorced after years of an affairs and drug use. While I love and respect both of my parent, their action have lifelong affects. Thank you for telling your story and pray that God uses our pain as an impetus for empathy and future vision.

    Liked by 2 people

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