"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."
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