The Shade Tree Choir Book Trailer

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: You'll Never Amount to a Damn

The Shade Tree Choir: You'll Never Amount to a Damn: "I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his wei...

You'll Never Amount to a Damn

"I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his weight on my upper back. The shearing force of his hand stung my wrist as he pulled my arm behind my back and sharply upwards. I thought he was going to break it off. The shag carpet ground against my face like sandpaper and I could feel my skin tearing. My nose twisted into the fibers. I could barely breathe through the burning sensation of pain. I gagged at the smell of tattered carpet, at the stench of a decade's worth of dog waste and urine. As I struggled weakly against his grip, I choked on the odor of unwashed feet, mud, grime and ground-in food. The sickly scent of bourbon and beer came back to life as my tears flowed into the carpet beneath me.

Why was my dad doing this to awful thing to me?

I was eight years old."

The Shade Tree Choir by David Nelson

Child abuse comes in many forms. It can be further complicated by alcoholism and mental illness. I am a survivor of all of these experiences. My parents were alcoholics, my mother suffered from severe depression and I was verbally ripped apart with stinging negative comments, physically abuse and emotionally torn apart as a child. The abuse began at age eight and finally ended at age seventeen. I spent my entire childhood each day focusing on survival. I too developed a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Only recently I was diagnosed with PTSD. I am a survivor. And a successful one at that.

My follow-up books PALS: Part One and PALS: Part Two describe the benefits of having an inner circle of friends (Pals) that I had growing up. They tell the funny and at times, the dark side of coping with child abuse. I used laughter as a survival mechanism. Along the way I learned skills of shutting down emotionally and physically. I learned to scream and yell while being beaten - but on the inside I was thinking of far off places or other events. I could take the pain. I learned not to trust people of authority, I understood abandonment and how life can be lonely even for an eight year old boy or a sixty-four year old man. It was my friends who gave me sanctuary and safety with their acceptance and understanding. The six of us are still friends after fifty years.

Children have an uncanny ability to cope and survive. If you have experienced abuse, you understand what I write. If you are not a member of this community and have never been abused, you may wonder how the hell any child could live through this. My books will teach you this and so much more.

I was told by my parents, from as far back as I can remember, "You are a no-good, dirty son-of-a-bitch and will never amount to a damn."

I showed them. It was all because of a promise I made to myself at age eight. My nose was pressed to the dirty screen that hot summer night after another beating. The welts continued to rise on my back, my butt and my legs. The sting of pain was still hot to my senses. It was that night I promised myself someday I would get away, I would never be beaten again, I would never be hungry and I would become successful. That promise has been my mantra my entire life.

I have been a successful physical therapist, author, public speaker and entertainer. I never looked back once I escaped. I refused to be swallowed by self-pity and darkened memories of my past. I took the negatives and turned them into a positive life experiences where i help others by example. It was my promise and my spirit that took me away. All with the help from my pals.

"One should...be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." F. Scott Fitzgerald from "The Crack-Up."

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?...

The Shade Tree Choir: Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?...: Why we can never fail Up again at 3 A.M., I wonder why I am reviewing the text of my upcoming book, "PALS: Part Two," for ano...

Why Some Child Abuse Survivors Are Perfectionists?

Why we can never fail


Up again at 3 A.M., I wonder why I am reviewing the text of my upcoming book, "PALS: Part Two," for another time. I suppose I want it to be right, to be correct and to be perfect. Like so many things in my life I have always wanted everything to be perfect. That, my friend is one of the curses and leftover baggage from years of child physical, mental and emotional abuse. And yet, it's the dicotomy of the complex issue of child abuse that has made me succeed.

My entire adult life has been spent trying to "un-ring" those words heard by a child so long ago. They are as crisp to me today at age sixty four as the church bells peeling in our neighborhood when I was a child. "You are a no good dirty son-of-a-bitch and will never amount to a damn," was shouted at me thousands of times as a young boy and as a teenager.

Coming from someone who was supposed to protect and love me, I began to believe it. He was the authority. He was the one who knew much more than a little boy age eight. After all, my father could not be wrong. His words were cemented in my psyche when my mother reinforced them. And to further emphasize his point, he screamed the same to me when I was whipped with a belt, punched with a fist or kicked with a steel-toed work boot. Beatings were a regular occurrence for me. My mother sat and watched my beatings with no expression while drinking her beer. Both my parents were alcoholics. I have spent the rest of my life attempting to prove them wrong.

In my professional career I was a success. During my forty years as a physical therapist I was recognized by my peers, praised by superiors and respected by my patients. I was a success  with  every therapy practice where I was in control and in charge. The reason for my professional success - I was a workaholic. I was the Administrator of an out-patient clinic for nineteen years. I spent no fewer than twelve to  fifteen hours a day at work. I wore the badge of what I refer to as "business martyrdom" - the workaholic - with pride. In other work settings I spent countless hours awake trying to reach perfectionism the next day. While others enjoyed REM sleep I was scratching away with pen and paper - either imagined or real.

In my books "PALS Parts One and Two" you will experience the defense mechanisms I built for survival. You will learn the value of true friends who were at their best for me when I was at my worst. You will laugh with others in my past - because when you laugh, I feel better.

I felt I needed to work those long hours so my business would be successful. I was compelled to lie awake to theorize, hypothesize and rationalize ways to be the perfect physical therapist. I could never allow the "dog of defeat" nip my Achilles. Like many of us survivors, I tied my identity to my job. If the business was not successful - then neither was I. That was my core belief. That was my mantra. That was wrong.

There is no such thing as being perfect. I understand that on an intellectual level. I also understand the neural pathways in my brain are finely honed to believe I am worthless. It's my spirit that will not allow me to accept what my brain perceives as truth. And so I keep fighting. I keep pushing myself mentally and physically. Oh, I long for the day when I can use the eraser on the great pencil of life and realize it's OK to make mistakes, to error and then wipe them away and start again.

My anxiety level spiked as a kid when I heard those awful words from my mother, "Just wait 'till your dad gets home. He'll give you the beating of your life, you piece of shit." That same anxious feeling stirs inside when I'm in the middle of a project and I fear it might not be perfect.

Follow the growth of Krame, the main character in my novel, "The Shade Tree Choir". It is a story of a boy who overcomes abuse to become a success - at least in the eyes of others. It is my story. Krame will allow you to feel the burning of a belt, the slashing of a wicked tongue and the despair of being locked away in the dark for almost a full day. Through Krame's eyes you will see how the goal of perfectionism sets in and drives him to escape the brutality. He succeeds in getting away. But, does he really?

Mark Twain once said, "Everyone is a moon and has a dark side, which he never shows to anyone."

You will see the dark side of my moon in "The Shade Tree Choir", "PALS: Part One" and "PALS: Part Two." I hope you enjoy the ride. In the meantime, I need to return to my final edit of my book. Hopefully the last.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Shade Tree Choir: Life Beyond Abuse

The Shade Tree Choir: Life Beyond Abuse: "Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining" I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs...

Life Beyond Abuse

"Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining"

I struggled for air and could only whimper for him to stop hurting me. I could feel my ribs being crushed against the floor by his weight on my upper back. The shearing force of his hand stung my wrist as he pulled my arm behind my back and sharply upwards. I thought he was going to break it off. The shag carpet ground against my face like sandpaper and I could feel the skin tearing. My nose twisted into the fibers. I could barely breathe through the burning sensation of pain. I gagged at the smell of the filthy tattered carpet, at the stench of a decade's worth of dog waste and urine. As I struggled weakly against his grip. I choked on the odor of unwashed feet, mud, grime and ground-in food. Yhe sickly scent of bourbon and beer came back to life as my tears flowed into the carpet beneath me.

Why was my dad doing this awful thing to me?

I was eight years old.

 

The Shade Tree Choir by David Nelson

 

Abuse of children takes many forms. Some of them include physical, sexual, emotional and verbal. I experienced physical, emotional and verbal abuse my entire childhood until I finally managed to discover a way out of my house. My book, The Shade Tree Choir details that story. I hear and see the word victim quite a bit when referencing abuse. I don't much care for that term as it refers to being in a passive situation. We were victims at one time. But hopefully, none of us are now. That's why I prefer the usage of "experienced abuse" rather than victim while referring to our present state.


I am not now being abused. I'm in control of my life and my destiny. So why would I want to say I'm still a victim. It was what it was and it is what it is. I look at all that stuff and say to myself, "Get over it. Move on. Accept what happened because it can't be changed. Learn from it. Ah ha, "learn from it." Therein lies the answer for me.

 

I have long forgiven those who hurt me. I try everyday to take those experiences and grow from them. I now write books about my experiences and my growth. I earn money from those experiences. Long ago I moved on. Therein lies the silver lining for me. I took a negative and turned it into a positive. What a shame it would be if I used all my energy re-living the past and trying to change it. 

 

Our experiences - both good and bad - shape who we are and what we feel. I look at those experiences like mosaic tiles. Each of us has a mosaic pattern and all those patterns are beautiful. All of "us" are beautiful, one-of-a-kind and that is what we should dwell on. I try to be thankful for what I have and not bitter about what I missed. I ask those who have experienced abuse the following question. Do you think you can find happiness and inner peace while dragging around the past like a chair hooked to your leg? I doubt it.

 

I realize the neurological consequences of years of abuse. Each negative event has laid down a neuropathway in our brains that is just waiting to rear its ugly head. That's when we react with night sweats, sleepless nights, panic attacks, suicidial ideations, and so on. I have found the more I think about and dwell on those events, the closer to the surface lies what could be an awful reaction. I'm suppressing the past. That is my survival tool. We each have to do what works.


We can theorize, analyze,and hypothesize our past all the way to our old age. Or we can get on with living. I love life and what it has to offer. I have had many of the same issues as others who experienced abuse. Some include fear of abandonment, lack of trust and low self esteem. I now focus on the present. The here and now. I embrace my past because that is what makes me special.

 

Consequently, I've worked hard over the years to prove to myself I would amount to something. I'm a caring person, a great listener and excellent communicator. I counter-act the verbal abuse by focusing on "proving my parents wrong."

 

My latest books, PALS:Part One and Two deal with the resilience of children who experience abuse. The inner strength of the child and with support from friends, the abused boy turns into a successful man - despite the past. It is my story. I still experience depression and anxiety and have to work daily to fight away the beasts. But by focusing on the positive I find myself centered.

 

I wish all who experienced abuse nothing but a calm and peaceful heart. May you find your inner peace. may you no longer be a victim, but an "experienced" adult. May you find your silver lining.


Saturday, August 17, 2013