Updated: Dec 6, 2019
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THE LAST FATHER FIGURE
"Without the guidance of our fathers, what do we know?"
THE OLD MAN
After being shot in the head, then in his back, I was left fatherless at 5 years old. Killed by a bartender of all people. The dickhead told the cops that he shot'em because he thought my old man was gonna rob'em.
The faggot police new the reputation and extensive record of armed robberies of my father. I heard the prick spent all of three days in jail.
I will keep his abuse of my mother brief. Only to say I witnessed the brutality and physical scars that a man can inflict on a female. But I do not hate him. Although he was not there for her or us kids, I love my father.
At the age of 10 I had a stepfather. But I didn't like him. He was strict and abused my lil bro. Plus he took my mother's attention away from me. Him and I were constantly at odds. Things only got worse as I got older. And bigger. But my mother did not want my attention at all. So she got rid of me and my step father stayed.
12 years old. Sent away from home. Then I'd be gone. Sent away by the same mother whom I loved so much. Banished me from home. At times, far away from home. The next county, city, or state over. Sentenced by a judge to be a ‘ward of the state’. There were periods that I'd go without seeing my home or family for months, even years at a time.
Once children are sent away from his parents, the state is now responsible for the juvenile. His housing, safety, clothing, food, the whole nine. A social worker is assigned to the kid and they are responsible for finding placements anywhere within the state where there is room to accommodate them and their needs.
Whichever the circumstances call for. These places can be near, or far away from where the child is from. For some reason I feel the need to mention that either of these situations are extremely hard on an adolescent.
It was with-in these different counties and cities that I found myself unknowingly looking for someone to look up to. To guide and advise me. Like a father. At first, it was the male staff working in whatever group home i'd be in at the time. But even during this phase of my young life, nothing that I say from these guys impressed me enough to want to grow close to them. Let alone look up to them. It was obvious by the way the male staff ignored us, never listened, or cared about our feelings, or shown any interest in us. That they were simply there for the paycheck.
For a time it was the big kids who guided me. Well, me and the other younger kids like me. But of course the big kids taught us cuss words and the best way to get over on staff. None of us. Big or little were trained on how to be young men. Usually I learned more than they did on my own. By watching adults, listening, Then added the valuable characteristic to my own personality. How to conduct myself with kindness and understanding. In a word, I learned to be more mature than the other kids.
Making this change forced me to act differently around the other kids. Eventually, I'd grow tired of dealing with their antics. Then, eventually they grew tired of my change. Mostly the fact that I did not want to make fun of people anymore. After more time. They grew annoyed with my perceptiveness and intellect. Something that they didn't understand. That intimidated them. And at times, I was the one being picked on. And given a hard time. But I could handle that. During my time with them, I had garnered a reputation for fighting. So they took the talk only so far. Besides, I was able to keep a few of those close friends that did not turn against me. I was not alone wanting to better myself.
Kids raising themselves in a juvenile institution. This went on for a season. During my adolescent years. Just me and the big kids. Battling it out mentally and physically because that is the only way we knew to settle a disagreement. I did well on both ends.
During this stretch. I'd come to rely heavily on that same intellect and perspective They comforted me. Molded me. I learned to trust these qualities. Far more than any person I was around. But the qualities also revealed the terrifying reality of my circumstance. And amount of work and time that will be required to make it out of these places and go home.
But for this technique to work. I had to withdraw inside my head. And because of my lack of guidance, I resorted to remain there. For long, then longer periods of time.
But there's an awful downside to this. I soon began physically isolating myself. Which led me to be very apprehensive around my peers. Nervous, and maybe worst of all, deadly, deadly quiet.
As one can imagine. This made making friends extremely difficult. Soon. each home after the next. I quickly became known as, 'the tall quiet kid'. By my peers and staff alike.
But the few friends I did make under those enigmatic circumstances, turned out to be divine examples of character, and possessed several of the fine qualities decent human beings have to offer.
Therefore. I taught myself by watching and listening. They all inevitably became lessons, that I've never forgotten. Perhaps, learning these lessons so harshly and without warnings or guidance. Made an even larger imprint mentally for me to remember these periods of teaching. So as not to make the same mistakes. For myself, these are the seeds to knowledge and wisdom. Attributes no father figure can teach.
There were father figures who have disappointed me. Like any relationship. Things start off well. An you gradually get to know the person, the more time the two of you spend together. Overtime, some would constantly ask me for money, others would exhibit a form of hatred for ideas, or races of people that we found ourselves constantly arguing about. Outside of these conspiracies, there was nothing to learn.
A few let me down by being so self absorbed that they had no interest in my life and often looked to me for advice and guidance on some of their most sensitive issues. And when I'd try to give my perspective on their problem, anything I'd say would be met with, 'You still don't understand.' Followed by anger and frustration. GLWT.
But I would not be angry at them. I knew how to walk away. And how to distance myself. Guys like that who ended up not up to snuff, I never erased them completely out of my life. I remained resolute with them. And was appreciative of the things they did teach me.
But. These same personality traits I'd developed, caused a few potential fathers figures to let go of me as well. Extracting themselves from my life in the same subtle way I had others. Once I became aware of this, it hurt. Which made me wonder if I'd hurt the men who I had so tactically extracted from mine.
If only they told me why. Sat me down. Explained to me. Maybe I would not of been so hurt, or confused. Yes. Talk to them. Don't just gradually phase them out. But first, tell them the issues you have with them. Express yourself. Maybe that could save things. Or at least save feelings from being hurt. Yes. Another lesson learned. But without advice or guidance on how to navigate situations like this, severe damage has once again been done.
There were hopefuls. Good people in particular who had a knack for making a positive impact on ‘wounded’ adolescents. Like Miss Harris. My teacher in grade school. Heavy set white woman. She was drawn to the quiet ones. Who just happened to be me. She was not the father figure I was looking for. But she gave me hope. That in itself was a catalyst. She made me think that I can push through the obstacles. And that I am doing something right. She saw the qualities that I aspire to achieve. I used to draw. That's how are relationship started. She gave me praise. She was patient with my awkward, withdrawn demeanor. And with my deadly silence. When she introduced the ‘mess’ to her family. On several occasions she brought her kids around me. Introduced me to her husband. She spoke for me. Boasted about how bright I was. Even with my inability to communicate socially, she made things comfortable. And with that. She forever cemented a special place in my heart. These things drew me closer to her. And pushed me to open up to her in ways that I did not deem others worthy to see. Ms. Harris was not a father figure. But she made me realize that I also craved the warmth of a mother as well.