I never knew the kindness of a children's shelter. I wound up in a womens shelter with my mother for a few days while she was busy pointing the finger at my father, who was the physical abuser in my household. But the shelter was just a stopping point since she was an addict herself. I was given the opportunity to endure far more than just the physical abuse. Alcoholism, drugs (the full range), physical and emotional abuse, neglect (supervisory, medical, heh even sustenance). That being said I know that I haven't endured as much as others.
Looking back I find it difficult to identify any one thing that pushed me down (forcing me to get up) or picked me up out of that way of life. It seems to be an amalgamation of bits and pieces, shards and scraps that has driven me further than I ever dreamed possible. Perhaps it was Mrs. Lyons that third grade teacher that took an extra minute to talk to me every day in class. Perhaps it was Mr. Smith the seven grade science teacher that let me take the final exam even though I had missed two thirds of the semester due to illness and injury (largely caused by my environment). That was a big moment. I was out most of the semester and still ruined the grading curve by missing 2 questions (and that was the semester involving mitosis and meiosis). It showed me that I had what it took to get through things. To not wallow in my environment. Perhaps it was my friend's mother, who even in the height of her divorce, still let me come over for the weekends because she knew it was safer for me. Perhaps it is the universe driving me ever up in that great spiral.
It's the longer reaching effects of an environment like that that is harder to perceive. We see the physically hurt, emotionally hurting, innocent child that has been made to suffer, but we don't see the adult who has to endure endless doctors visits to correct problems that have occurred as a direct result of malnourishment. We don't see the adult who is culture shocked on a regular basis because of the lack of social interaction that is a side effect of being raised in that kind of an environment.
The past year of Aikido training (almost to the day...) has been what has picked me up. I was kicked in the teeth when I attempted to get life insurance to provide some level of support for my wife in case the inevitable should happen sooner than later. The cardiologist recommended exercise and I was shocked when my suggestion of taking up a martial art was not balked at. So about 6 months after being told that my triglycerides were too high for them to tell me my what my cholesterol numbers were, I found myself in Hanshi John Roseberry's dojo. And after about 1 month of jujitsu, and a hyper extended elbow, I decided to try Aikido. The rest has been settled on the mat. The basics are the key to release from all the mental anguish that accompanies that kind of a childhood. I'm still very much involved in the basics at this point. But it is the basics that have allowed me to handle my current situation in what I think has been the best way possible. I allowed my emotions to run their course, blended with them as well as the results, and have used it to drive me further towards my goals. Aikido has also started to provide the community that I have, up till now, never been able to find. I have an amazing network of friends, but have never felt connected to most of them. I usually feel awkward at best in most social gatherings. I've been told that I don't show it, but the emotions are there. Aikido has allowed me to feel accepted. It has allowed me to be part of something wonderful. It's made me appreciate other people. I've never had that before. It has made me start to appreciate all of my friendships.
Those few hours you spend with them can make all the difference in the world. Even if it results in the worst, as you fear, it is still better than being stuck without a friendly smile or a bit of advice. If it hadn't been for the people I mentioned above, who knows where I'd be.
Before I add anything further, making this a book, I'll click blend and click on the Submit Reply.