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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Color Purple

There is a photo of my Father squatting down to me and holding me in my first year or two of life. I joke about how this was the closest I ever was with my Father. I learned early on, to hate this man.

I was once interviewed by a female psychologist for a public service job who had a "Ph.D." in the study of domestic violence. What a joke! I don't mean to boast, but if they were to hand out Ph.D.'s for DV experience, I would have a dozen. Fact of the matter is I lived it.

There is a movie called "The Color Purple" I went to see in my college years. What a mistake. My life on screen. I balled through the entire movie. I was well acquainted with the color purple on my Mother's face.

At a young age, I can recall the the many times when I was too small to do anything so I ran to my neighbors for help, the many times I jumped between my Father and Mother, the many tears my Mother shed on my shoulder, the sleepless nights I stayed awake until my Father came home from the bar. You see, my Father was out at the bars regularly enough, that I became efficient in recognizing when the the shit was going to hit the fan. In my teens, my bedroom was situated to the front of our home next to the front door. When my Father came home from the bars, I looked for a certain breathing pattern to figure out whether he was drunker than a skunk. This breathing usually involved constant sobbing. If he had this breathing, then I knew I had to be ready to jump and run to my parents bedroom in defense of my Mother.

I was the oldest of four children, and the only male. My destiny and script were already written out for me. On my Father's side, there were four generations of DV. I was destined to continue the legacy. I have a B.A. degree in Developmental Psychology. It was taught that in early adolescence, kids learn and adopt behaviors by what they see visually. I decided early on, around high school, to live my life in a proactive manner. I didn't have any friends or support system that could relate to my experience.

When I started college, I had to ask advice from my professors. I conveyed to them my fears of continuing the legacy of domestic violence and my fears of becoming like my Father. One professor introduced the "pyramid of fears" tool. I was to start with the least fear, work through it and work my way down the pyramid to the next hardest fear. I came up with a simpler tool. It involved two columns. On one column I would write all the positive characteristics of my Father, on the other column I would write all of his negative characteristics. Needless to say, the negative column far outnumbered the positive. I used this visual aid tool for the rest of my high school years.

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