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Does Our Childhood And Our Past Really Shape Who We Become in the Future?

by Kim Thompson
(Ohio)




When I was growing up, my parents were constantly fighting and arguing over several different issues. I remember thinking to myself: Is this ever going to stop? This is the first real memory that I have where I am certain of everything that took place. My dad was an alcoholic, and he always wanted to drink at home during the week, and go out on the weekends with his buddies. My mother, on the other hand, never drank in front of us.

She informed me as I got older that she used to have a glass of wine or two occasionally when she would go out with friends, but that was very rare. The very first time that I clearly remember them arguing was right after we had gotten home from church one Sunday. We had just had our family picture taken at church, and my sister and I were in our green and pink matching Easter dresses. I can see the moment vividly in my mind because I clearly recall that my mom slapped my dad in the face, and that was the first time I had ever seen her do that. Then she went over to the fridge and dumped all of his beer down the kitchen sink.

At the beginning of their argument, my mom told my sister and I to go into our room and close the door. So we knew another argument was about to take place, but we weren’t sure what it was going to be about at the time. We held onto each other and cried; both of us scared and not knowing what to do. The screaming match just seemed endless, and if I had to estimate the time of the argument from start to finish, I would say at least 30 minutes.

Part of me wishes now that we had stayed in the bedroom rather than sneak into the hallway so that we could see them fighting in the living room because I still find it very difficult to live with the image of my mother slapping my father. Normally, when you see physical abuse, it is the other way around (the man is hitting the woman). Not that I’m saying that either of my parents ever abused the other because they didn't, but it’s still very traumatic to think back upon what happened that day.

My dad ended up seeing us standing in the hallway, and he came over and knelt beside us. He kissed both of our foreheads and said he was sorry that he caused my mom to hit him. He admitted that it was his fault, that he needed help, and that he could not stop drinking. He promised us he would get help, and that things would get better. However, they never did; our parents divorced when I was about 11 years old due to my dad’s drinking habit.

He never went to rehab like he promised us he would, and he ended up in jail several times for getting into fights at local bars. It’s funny how one childhood memory can change how we feel about things, and shape who we are as a person. For instance, I have never picked up an alcoholic beverage in my entire life, nor will I ever do so. I am very familiar with alcoholism and the fact that it is said to be a hereditary condition (both my grandfathers were also alcoholics) so I do not want to take the chance of putting my own children through what I had to endure growing up.

If I could reverse time, I think I would have maintained my composure a little better and encouraged my older sister to stay in the bedroom with me so that we didn’t have to see mom slap dad, but in a way, I am glad I saw it because it has encouraged me to live my life in a completely different way than I probably would have. They always say that we learn from our parents’ mistakes, and in my case, I have to agree with this statement completely!!!

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