Hi, Everyone… I started my blog on 9-2-16 and shared with you a little about myself. Today, I’m going to touch on Part 1. My childhood & adolescence.
I was born on June 10, 1966, to Gary & Linda. My father was a police officer in Piscataway, NJ., Mom was a stay at home mother, and we lived within the same town my father worked. I was a single child up until October 8, 1972. My mom gave birth to twins, Gary & Jennifer. By this time, my father became a detective. I honestly don’t remember too much before my brother & sister came along, except for the fact that my mom was enormous before having them, and what I also remember is that I was a happy little girl being shipped from one grandparent’s home to the next. All of which resided in Piscataway as well. I especially loved visiting my mom’s parents, Norman & Lillian. They use to take me places such a carnivals, 4H fair, garage sales and parades. But, most of all. I loved hanging out with them in their home. The home itself was not elaborate, just average. It was in the company of my grandmother that made me so happy. I would be so content just playing with my Lego’s, Lincoln Logs and matchbox cars. I also loved to play with my paper dolls. Naturally, I had Barbie. However, I loved playing with my Connie Francis. She was a talented singer back in the 60’s, who sang songs “Where The Boys Are”, “Who’s Sorry Now”‘ and “Stupid Cupid”. Her cut out dresses was gorgeous, and my grandmother and I would spend hours playing concerts by singing her songs. I just loved spending time with my Mom-mom. She was everything to me. We would laugh together, and I’d watch the “Lawrence Welk Show” with both my grandparents. I never saw anything or felt anything was out of sorts. I would not learn of anything out of sorts until I was 49 years old.
My family and I lived atop a hill facing Possumtown Park, in Piscataway. I was five when we moved there, and twelve when we moved out. I had a handful of friends in the neighborhood but was very content with just being by myself. We lived across the street from the park, and my yard was enormous. As an added bonus, I had some really great toys & a vivid imagination. Being a little kid for me was fun. I pretty much remember all the good things.. my dog & cat, my tire swing, that flew over the hill top etc….
It was when I was eight years old, I first noticed tension in my household. My father used to work shift work as a police officer, and detective. Shifts would be anywhere between 8-4, and 4-12 then 12-8. It was the 8-4 shift is when things were starting to grow tenser around the house. My parents would argue more. Doors would slam, things were thrown about. My father was very loud, and would curse around my brother & sister, and myself. Every so often, I caught my mom crying. I never really knew what the arguments were about, but I knew it was never good. However, the mood was a bit more upbeat when my father worked the 4-12 shift. No slamming of doors, no raised voices. We were just calm. Eating dinner with my mom, and helping when needed with my brother & sister. For the most part, I was happy.
It was around the age of nine, I was growing more aware of the tension mounting each time my father came home from the 8-4 shift. He would crack open a beer, have a few shots of vodka, and the mood turning dark real quick. My mom would always tell me to go to my bedroom, and pretend that things were normal. But… they were far from normal. I could hear my father’s voice escalating down the hall. My mom would be crying, and it was the furthest thing from being in a happy frame of mind. It was the following morning’s my mom would ask me “Have a good nights sleep?” I would tell her the truth. “I heard you & Daddy fighting”. Mom said she was sorry that she kept me up, and it would be better tonight. However, the 8-4 shift never proved to be a good week for sleep. Then, the 4-12 shift started to lack it too. My father would drink every day & evening. His usual beers and vodka shots were taking its toll on my mom, and my nerves. His mood dictated how each day and/or evening would pan out. One day, my mom sat me down to explain what was happening. My father had a drinking problem. “Don’t let anyone else know what is going on when your Dad drinks”. I would just shake my head in agreement, and listen to my mom joke about it, or at other times..cry about it. This was the beginning of the vicious cycle my family, and I endured for many years to come. The arguments turned into real wars. I would listen to my mom crying out “Gary, please stop!!! You’re going to wake up the kids!!!” Then the throwing of objects in their bedroom down the hall from mine shattering. The following morning, noticing certain pictures that hung, were now empty hooks dangling off the wall. Mom was not the only prey in which suffered. I too was experiencing the wrath of being called a punk, and as if I was one of those pounks he was arresting, he woild take my arm twist it behind my back, and opush me up bagainst the wall. Yelling at me only caused my insides to scramble. My Dad would get madder at me if I showed tears. Again, that good ole’ vicious cycle. Day in, day out. Every evening seemingly getting worse.
It was 1978, after a vacation in Florida, my mom’s parents announced that they were moving to Sarasota, FL. My mom & I were devastated that they were moving. No more weekends with my grandparents. I was just plain crushed. My grandparents were selling their home to our family, though. The house was a bit smaller, and now I would be sharing a bedroom with my little sister. Heck, our bedroom would be directly across the hall from my parent’s room. It was then when I now really heard the fights taking place when Dad was home. I would have to jump in and break up fights, or even go as far as calling the Piscataway Police Dept. This added more fuel to the tension because my father still worked for them.
Christmas 1985, my father admitted to himself that he could no longer keep up with his drinking. This followed after my mom, my siblings and I fled to my Uncle Roger’s house in Dunellen. The arguments & fighting became too much to bare. My Uncle Roger & Mom brought my father to Fair Oaks Rehabilitation , in Summit, NJ. Dad was diagnosed as an alcoholic. One comment I overheard was, “Your husband drank enough to kill a horse”. My father was in Fair Oaks for nearly a month. Within that month, January 1986, my beloved grandmother, Lillian passed away. In that month we all learned too, that my father’s parents were full blown alcoholics. Heck, we learned a great deal when my father was in rehab. One thing I swore to myself. I was never to become this person that destroys a family. This by far was one of the most difficult, and challenging times in my family. My Mother had to tend to details in Florida, and I would bring my brother & sister to visit my father. By the time my grandmother’s funeral took place, I was numb. We all were.
The time that followed was like walking on egg shells. Not only did my father have to learn a new way of living without alcohol, but we did as well. My Mom & I were still coming to grips over the loss of my grandmother. I can’t speak for my brother and sister, but I felt such a void with her being gone. I just kept picturing her in the casket. Her & I shared a mole on our face. A beauty mark if you will. She was going to surprise us for the next visit…She had it removed because it became a health issue. I never greived during that time because of all the happenings in my family. I just kept her face in my memory. No more funny exchanged letters, and phone calls. No more laughter shared between us.
Time usually heals, but for my family… We were all adjusting on how to live with a recovering alcoholic, and grieving. “Life goes on”. And, so it did.
In March 1986, my cousin Donna & I got an apartment in Middlesex, NJ. She was going though her divorce, and I was ready to just get away from drama at home. Although my father was sober, I felt as if I was still walking on egg shells. Plus witnessing my mothers tension was just about all I could take. So.. I packed up my car, and headed a whole town away to start my life on my own. At this time I was working as a security guard for which my father worked for as well. When I first started there, we worked in same facility (Bell Communications). When He returned to work at Bell. After being in rehab, I relocated to Merrill Lynch to be a security guard there. I simply wanted to be away from my family.
At first, things were great living and sharing responsibilites with my cousin. We threw a party within two weeks of living there. Hell, I was the first of my immediate friends to venture out and live on her own. I felt so ultimately cool. We invited mostly my friends, and my cousin was nice enough to get the provisions to really kick back & have fun. I was also introduced to weed. Great combo I thought. That party was a blast! I remember thinking to myself.. “You can handle yourself Beck. Just don’t get carried away..You don’t want to become your father”.
A couple months into living with my cousin, and giving her the money towards the bills, and really not connecting with her for several reasons such as work, friends and dating. We really never saw one another. However, whenever we did connect..I noticed a change in her behavior. She seemed out of focus with reality. Unfortunately, that actually was the case. She not only was taking my money to go towards bills and rent, but actually spending said monies on cocaine and anything else that made her feel loose & free. Until one day I learned we were going to loose the aparment because the rent wasn’t paid. My nerves were acting up again.. I was a nervous wreck thinking I was going to loose my apartment. It was at this time, one of my friends Barbara and I saved enough to get an apartment in Woodbridge, NJ. This horrible little apartment in the rear of a three family home on Fulton Street. But, we were young and didn’t quite care. As long as we had a place to crash after clubbing, and having parties. Drinking & smoking weed, dating and just having fun was what I was all about. That of course is as long as all the bills were paid, I didn’t give a damn. I was all about the fun life.
The basic beginning of a time in which, “I wish I knew then what I know now” synopsis.
Continued on Part 2.