Growing up was tough.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of happy memories from my childhood, but there is also a lasting scar that comes from it as well. This blog is not about the “evilness” of growing up, but about how coping with that “evil” made me who I am today, a man living in a fantasy world.
When my parents split up in the early 90’s I was caught between a rock and a hard place. My mother was always the one there for everything and my father was always at work in order to provide for the family. As the family unit dissolved it felt as if my place in this world dissolved as well. The arguing was something I came to get used to, at least to some extent, but the retaliation of unfaithfulness between them caused much more than mere arguments. It became violent, and sometimes that found its way onto me.
I don’t want to get into specifics because that was twenty years ago and the details of it won’t do anything to help. But I do want to express that I feel those hardships pushed me into a darkness where the only thing that could save me was fictional worlds. My first foray into the fantastical was seeing Batman the Animated Series and the X-Men cartoons. After a few weeks of watching those shows I noticed those characters on the magazine racks in comic books. Never being an avid reader, my dad felt that comic books were at least an avenue to get me started with reading and he actually supported what became an obsessive habit of comic collecting.
The more I read the more I imagined life and how it would be to live in those fictional worlds. I remember having to deal with a bully in sixth grade and actually praying that I would develop powers to help defend myself. Obviously, this was impossible, but those superhero worlds seemed real enough to me to become something to aspire to. I think I imagined myself with all kinds of powers to protect me from the depression I was experiencing. I imagined that invisibility would protect me from being seen by the bully or even being seen when my parents fought. I thought that super-strength or adamantium claws would help me to defend myself from the violence I experienced. I even thought the ability to fly would allow me to escape my home and find a new place to live, away from the family that was no more and away from the person who harassed me in school. I went through the list of powers and imagined all kinds of things, but none of them came to happen. But at the same time, something happened that help shape who I am today.
All of those thoughts nurtured my creativity and helped me to build worlds in my own vision. My mind conjured up all kinds of scenarios and stories that helped me to pass the time and endure growing up. That same creativity eventually led to me becoming a writer. It was a long road to get here; one paved with tears and contemplated suicide. Looking back, I recognize the pain I felt as something else, something less evil than I thought it was as a kid. All parents fight, and all kids go through hard times. It gets worse when you couple the hormones of teenage youth into the mix. The bullying eventually stopped and I was able to come out of my teens as a stronger person than I entered it. I don’t know if I would have made it without an outlet, though. I had an escape and it wasn’t because God granted my prayer for superpowers. Or, maybe those prayers were answered and those powers lived only in my mind where they took root and fostered a well of creativity that I benefit from today.
I don’t want it to sound trite, that I am making child abuse and depression seem like a good thing. Hell no, I would never say that! But I will say that the scars of that period in my life exist and I have benefited from having them. I also know what kind of father I want to be and how I want to give me children the peace I did not know, but I also want to share with them the fantasy world I lived in, and continue to live in from time to time. Life hits hard sometimes, but we don’t have to endure it alone. Sometimes those characters that give us peace aren’t tangible, but the effects are the same. So long as you don’t give into the darkness.
PS: Sometimes people stumble onto things when they are going through hard times in life. If you are going through a hardship and feel the snares of depression on your life then please open up and say something to someone. Some days will always be harder than others, but you really don’t have to walk alone. If you found this blog post while you found yourself wallowing in the darkness then I want you to know that whatever is hurting your heart right now will get better with time. Find a friend or loved one to talk to, or shoot me an email and tell me your story. Sometimes saying it out loud can dull the ache. Thanks for reading, take care.