Posted: March 11, 2010 in Life
Tags: , ,

In the hurling, frantic speed of society, there almost seems to be no oasis of sanity, of soberness.  Sometimes you don’t want that.  Occasionally, you need to feel the pounding heartbeat of the edge of the cliff.  In between all of that is the never-ceasing search for identity.  To whom, to what do you belong?

It’s hard to even know the question has been asked.  When you grow up in a fear-soaked household, ever vigilant, ever aware and on guard against any actions or discussion which will set off The Beast, the thought of who you really are never occurs to you.  You’re too busy surviving, hoping against hope that *this* weekend The Beast won’t be drinking again, and won’t hurt members of your family.   So you stay in your room, busy with your comics, your books, with one ear hyper-aware of every noise in your three-story house.

And you’re hungry.  So very hungry.  You had a sandwich at lunch time, but it wasn’t enough.  You’re a teenager, for Pete’s sake.  Teenagers need more than two slices of bread covered in sugar.  You wonder if Mom, who’s doing her best, will score some hotdogs or something.  Something you can *bite*.   You know it’s hard for her to feed six children on the pitiful amount The Beast deigns to give her (the rest of his money going to feed the bookie’s children, and the beer store owners’ families).

Add to that the fact that you’ve just found out that the Sheriff (yes, there really is such a thing, in this day and age) has warned your parents that he intends to kick you out of your house if the mortgage back payments aren’t paid.  And you, with the money from your pitiful part-time library job can’t hope to help out.

Food, a home, and the ever-angry three hundred and fifty pound drunken Beast – the man you just avoid to survive.  You’d fight him if you could, but at a hundred and twenty-eight pounds, you know the most you could bruise would be his fist.  With your face.

It’s too much. 

And yet, you’re resilient.  These survival things you’re learning – they will make you into the man you’ll one day become. 

For one thing:  your hyper-awareness of the Beast has translated into an ability that allows you to be aware of people.  You can tell a lot about them before they say a word to you.  At first, in your youth, you think maybe you’re just prejudging people unfairly.   Except, you slowly build up a history of accuracy after the fact.  You know, when you make an inward judgement which you keep to yourself until their actions simply enforce what you thought.  

You begin to trust that.  That trait becomes part of you, and you accept it.

One day, in your late teens, when The Beast is on one of his usual tirades (and you haven’t gained an ounce of weight since you were thirteen), you take your life in your hands.   He stands there, overly large face as red as it can get, fists clenched, wild black greasy hair standing on end, massive shirtless gut hanging over his dark pants.  And you look at him square in the eye and you tell him “you’ve never been a father to me.”

You can’t believe you said it.  You expect that to be the last thing you ever say in your life.

To your surprise, The Beast halts in his tirade and looks at you.  And he sees you.  Finally.   He says nothing, but …. he turns away, seemingly in self-disgust. 

And this too becomes a part of you.  This ability to speak clarity and truth, regardless of danger, fully appreciative of consequences.

As the years progress and The Beast gives up the bottle and tries, too late, to make amends, you can look back at all this through the fog of time, and realize he had issues that he never told anyone about.  Likely (you think) issues of sexuality.  Maybe it was better not to know.

And so you learn compassion.

One night, you have a dream, perhaps.  A dream of wolves.  You watch them in awe and wonder, as they protect their own.  You see how delightedly they explore, ever curious and in tune with all that is.  They are no man’s slave.  They own their actions, and their progress is enticing and deliberate.  

You see how they love their environment.   They take care of themselves as much as they take care of their pups, their mates.   You learn that they are monogamous.  That’s their choice.

And, despite all the Disney movies to the contrary, you realize that they have one thing you’ve striven your entire life for.  They have a certain joy.

The Wolf resonates in your heart and soul.  You love life.  Those early harsh experiences have shaped you, certainly, not to repeat your environment but to create new environments, where acceptance and laughter reign true.

Finally, one day you look in a mirror.   And looking back at you is a Wolf.

  1. contoveros says:

    I wonder how many veins the Wolf had to cut to get this treaure put onto paper? You know the old saying. Writing is easy. all you have to do is open a vein. . .

    We all got those skeletons in our closets. We get good at hiding them. But when weexpose themto the light of day, it helps others to understand, to cope better, to realize that their mother-humpin’ life ain’t so crazy after all.

    It is, but, so is everyone elses.

    michael j


    • It’s funny you put it that way. I started this about three times before finally settling into it. And before that I’d gone three years wanting to write this, and not knowing where to begin. Often people would ask me “why wolfshades?” , and I couldn’t answer them. I could say that the wolf is my totem but that’s too flat, and doesn’t portray the power of the thing.

      The Beast is long dead of course, but the effects of his existence live on, not just in me.


  2. Just Me says:

    Spectacular and moving!

    Obviously heart-felt, you have a talent for expressing what is happening inside you that I wish I could come close to. Keep it up, I love reading this stuff.


    • Once again, this one got away on me and in the end it was just a matter of going with the flow. I really prefer not looking backward at all, really. So I suppose this will serve as a kind of introduction of some sort.

      Thank you for your comment and encouragement! It means a lot.


  3. Jessica says:

    I cried when I read this. Beautiful.


    • You have no idea how much your comment means to me Jessica, and I’m at a loss for words to tell you how deeply it has affected me. Thank you doesn’t seem enough but …thank you is what I have. *smiles*


  4. mares97 says:

    I ditto many comments before mine….but really, this was well-written. A reader can’t help but be engrossed in your words and be moved by them as well. Thanks for sharing…obviously it was personal, but definitely heartfelt.


    • Thank you very much! I appreciate your thoughts on it – you never know, when writing something like this, how it will be viewed, so it’s gratifying to read what you and others hear have said about it.


  5. wordofabe says:

    Wolf. This was one of the best posts I have read. Really excellent.


  6. wordofabe says:

    …and you know it’s a good blog when you can’t stop thinking about it…I was just thinking about this same type of subject today and considering writing about it (considering for the umpteenth time) before tossing it away as too “uncomfortable” to explore. Kudos to you, man.


    • Thanks Abe – and I know what you mean. The material, the thoughts and the complicated feelings are all there – the rough part is figuring out a way to present it in a way that others will understand. Add to that the fact that you know full well that others may see it all in a way in which you never intended.

      Like the last blog, I had no intention of going here – even though it was obviously bubbling in my subconscious, waiting like steam to escape. The intent was to discuss my…totem (for lack of a better word) of the wolf and it wasn’t until I got into it that the back story made its appearance.

      It’s a little disconcerting but at the end, the story was presented in a far more satisfactory way than I’d first envisioned.


  7. yellerbelly says:

    Love the blog – very reflective and from the heart. Frightening how life deals out different cards to each of us and for a while we’re stuck with our hand. There always comes that point though when we have the choice to change events, hopefully for the better. It’s a leap, but in my experience it usually pays off.

    Sounds like you successfully made the leap…


    • I surely did, I think. One of my sisters and I talked about this last night. The odds, for children who grow up in abusive environments are not good, as so many tend to replicate their experience. To them, that dysfunctional behaviour feels “normal” to them. Often a boy will look at his violent father and (maybe this is a Stockholm Syndrome thing) seek to emulate him in order to receive approval.

      I don’t know why that didn’t happen to me. Ultimately though, it’s a choice isn’t it? Our parents can only accept limited blame or praise for how we turn out. Individually, we are responsible for our choices.

      The unaware are more at risk, probably, than those who are completely self-aware and cognizant of their behaviours and the reasons for them.

      (Man I could talk about this for hours. Perhaps I’d better stop. :))


  8. Dee says:

    However vicious, the wolf persona that emerged from such? He’s an exceptional man. Touching and distrurbing until I realize the outcome. If you were a dog, I’d bring you home.


    • Thanks Dee.

      I’m guessing by “vicious” you’re referring to The Beast and not the wolf. :)

      Funny thing: the wolf can certainly be vicious when he’s protecting himself or his pack, certainly. Unlike the Hollywood caricature of the wolf, he doesn’t tend to pray on humans; and he never hunts for sport or pleasure. I know some dog-wolf mix breeds can be domesticated by generally it’s not encouraged: he prefers wide open spaces.

      I suppose that’s why I have never been a “picket fence” guy. :)

      Thanks for coming over and for commenting!


  9. Momma Fargo says:

    Interesting and so well written! Good on you.


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