When I was too small to be understood when I spoke, my father taught me to scream. He was a sadist, and from him I learned to fear.
When I was in junior high, I met a policeman at my school. He was just there visiting someone. I told him that my life at 11 years old was a nightmare. I told him I was being molested by my step father. I asked for help. He said he was out of his jurisdiction. His girlfriend, my teacher, told him that as far as she knew I had a good home life. She knew that because she saw me for less than an hour a day for one semester in gym class. This was a class where I never participated, or dressed for gym because I didn’t want to have to take my clothes off in front of people to shower. From the policeman I learned that no one would really believe me or help me.
From my stepfather I learned to hate my body for the sickness it inspired.
From the cops who arrested me at age 15, I learned to devalue myself and make excuses for people who treated me badly.
From my husband, I learned to hate alcoholism, addiction, and excuses. From ridicule, to assault, to spousal rape, he taught me to despise him.
There was another lesson I learned from my Grandfather. It was his story. From the Jewish boy who grew up in Budapest Hungary, who saved up money he earned as a bell hop to come to America, I learned to leave . From his story, I learned to never give up, and when all else failed, to take those I loved and go.
I know looking back he was not a great man, not even really a good or kind man. Still, he taught me what I needed most. Thank you, Grandpa, for your story.