Perspective brings its unique interpretation. And our views about life and others change in time. Of course, everyone has their own opinion about what they remember, so when I talk about my brothers, you have to understand that these thoughts are mine, not theirs. I’m sure my bros would see things differently.
I did not have a good relationship with any of them. The years after I started school is where my memories begin. Whatever happened before that is either vague or lost to me.
Robby – I was scared of him. He was mean. He did as he pleased and used fear as a manipulative technique to keep us in line. He could do whatever he wanted to do to whomever he wanted to do it. To tell on him meant abuse. He was four years older than me, and every day that he was around was terrifying.
Joey – He was a bruiser in his own right. He was an angry child who modeled his older brother since he had no other role models. I remember him as a frustrated kid. He was stuck in the middle with no identity, following Robby, but never able to lead. And like the rest of us, he did not stay out of trouble. There was only one path out of childhood, which was a tragic one.
Gary – He was the angriest, terribly arrogant, and personally cruel to me. His attitude was no surprise, considering where he came from: our dysfunctional family. I was not necessarily afraid of him, but I did not like him. Being around him was painful. He left town as soon as he could (joined the Army) and proceeded to change his personality and voice. Once his accent changed and after he got a bit of travel under his belt, he would deride us for our backward, “hickish” ways.
Dwayne – He was two years younger than me. He had a relationship with Gary and Joey, but not me. I’m not sure how or why that was. I think part of it was because I took an “isolation approach” to childhood. I turned inward (TV addiction) to protect myself from the abuse. Quiet, reflective, and distant was my SOP. I didn’t know much about Dwayne, but there was one story I’ll never forget.
I was daring him one day that he would not throw a butcher knife at me. He did. It cut my shoulder blade as it bounced off my back. He was standing on the other side of the kitchen table; I ducked as I saw the knife coming toward me.
One of the more significant results of my childhood is how I view relationships. Loyalty, transparency, and honesty are critical to me. I disdain and respond poorly to gameplaying, manipulation, inauthenticity, and mean-spiritedness.
These qualities (loyalty and truth-telling) that became important to me are not bad, but how I came to embrace there was horrid.