The following and other similar stories are based on personal experiences and years of conducting life skills classes, which are found throughout the cognitive restructuring courses written by Mr.Lloyd.
It was the summer of 1952; Jason was 9 years old. The hot California sun was beating down on the boy's old military two-person tent. Because of what had happened the night before, he was afraid to go into the house. Beads of sweat were starting to form on his forehead. His best friend, Queenie, part dog and part coyote, came into the tent begging to go play in the river bottom. The river bottom, filled with ponds and turtles, was his escape.
Suddenly, memories of the night before grabbed his gut and depressed him. His dad was a pipe fitter and made good money, but spent it in the local bar treating his cronies, acting big, then coming home with precious little for rent, food, and clothing. Jason's mother begged the lad, as she had before, to go to the bar and beg money from his father. As Jason left to do as she asked, he remembered being evicted from their last house, with all their belongings put outside.
Entering the bar, he surprised and embarrassed his father as he begged out loud for money. When his dad opened his wallet to give him some money, Jason grabbed all of it and hightailed it out the door. His father, half drunk, came after him, but hit the corner of a pool table and went down cussing. Jason, running with his bicycle through the gravel parking lot, tried to stuff the money in his pockets and hop on. He was hotly pursued by his father until his father stumbled and went down, barely missing a grab for Jason's bicycle. Bloodied and hurt, his father hollered out severewarnings against the boy.
Arriving home out of breath, Jason ran into the house and warned his mom. Filled with fear, she grabbed a quilt, then threw some food into a grocery bag. She then collected Jason's younger brother and sister, and ran out the door and down a darkened dirt road into a stand of Eucalyptus trees. About 100 yards away they reached their goal just in time as the car came to a dusty stop. They could hear the car door slam, followed by hollering and cussing and the sound of glass and other household items breaking.
Leaving the tent, it was with trepidation and hunger pains that Jason slowly opened the back door to the kitchen. He found his father passed out, snoring loudly, with a pool of slobber formed on the linoleum floor. The constant fear and contention eventually got to his mother. She started to drink to medicate her hurts, gave up and became an alcoholic. Things got so bad that Jason went to live with his uncle. Jason's mother died young from abuse and a broken heart.
Jason's childhood experiences resulted in some nervous habits, such as gritting his teeth, sniffing through his nose, choking on his food, sleeping with his head under his pillow, making up stories, and exhibiting other nervous habits. It is said that childhood abuse is like a bear in a forest. Every child will sooner or later get scared and meet the bear in the forest. However, when they leave the forest they leave the bear behind. Not so with traumatized children. The bear goes with them, often for a lifetime.
This is my story and the environment I grew up in. Like thousands of other children, I was raised in a highly dysfunctional, abusive, alcoholic home, with many of the known ramifications of being exposed to that type of environment. It has greatly influenced my writing and remains a common thread in all that I write.
In order to survive the years of daily emotional abuse, I had to create my own world where I could go for comfort and safety. This created some interesting and often amusing situations in my life as I sometimes lost track of reality. However, it greatly enhanced my story-telling abilities that I later put to good use in the courses.
All of that came to a screeching halt when I met Dr.Leonard Dalton, a highly innovative educator and school superintendent. Together we established the National Traffic Safety Institute and in October 1975, I taught the first behavioral traffic safety class in Walnut Creek, California. It worked so well that we went on to other programs such as shoplifting and substance abuse. I sold my tax practice; I was hooked!