an empty chair faces a ghosted silhouette of another chair. conversations that haven't happened.

A Little Conversation

Content Note: This article describes abuse. If you or a loved one are struggling, consider reading our Mental Health Resources page.

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word conversation is; an oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas; an instance of such exchange: Talk. To chat, colloquy, converse, dialogue, dialog, discourse, discuss.

A quiet man

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a quiet man. Wow! That just brought back so many memories of one of my favorite John Wayne movies with the same name “The Quiet Man”. John Wayne played an ex-boxing champ who moved to a little town in Ireland where he was born and raised as a little boy. He left there for the Americas with his mother after his father passed away, Pittsburgh to be exact.

In his last fight, he accidentally killed his opponent in the ring and vowed never to fight again. He falls in love with a beautiful redhead, Maureen O’Hara, and has to fight her brother for his right to marry her and gain her dowry. One of the scenes in the movie was when John Wayne had gone to see the little preacher to talk about what he was going through concerning his new wife and her brother and the dowry she believed was hers.

It’s in this conversation that he realizes that he’s going to have to fight the brother-in-law to not only gain the respect of his wife but battle that demon within. A fantastic movie.

To continue, I’ve always been sort of an introvert; I kept to myself, though I was and am a big guy, I tried to hide as much as I could wherever I would go or be because I didn’t want to be noticed. I was very shy, I had a lot of insecurity issues which lead to a lot of anger issues and low self-esteem, which made my family dynamic and social life very awkward. I didn’t do well in school academically which added to my withdrawal from everyone around me because I felt like the dumbest person on the planet.

My relationship with my mother

The only person that I could and would have a good conversation with and allow myself to be vulnerable to was my mother, yes I was a momma’s boy. She seemed to be the only one that really got me or tried to understand the person I was; you know what I’m saying?

She actually listened to me when I talked and waited patiently before she would respond. She was a God-fearing woman who prayed for her family like it was a mandate from heaven. There would be times I would wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of her praying in the living room.

My relationship with my father

My father and I's relationship was totally different; it wasn’t a good one at all. He and I really didn’t like each, period. We fought like two pit bulls, literally toe to toe, hand-to-hand combat since I was 15 years old. I never heard a “Hey son, I love you”, “I’m proud of you”; a hug, a pat on the back, a “What’s on your mind today?” and this one “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You know what I’m saying, those soul-searching conversations between fathers and sons.

I thought I was the only one until I talk to my brothers when we were adults and found out we all were in the same boat. Daddy had four sons that he never really knew. We got our conversations through work. He was a longshoreman and a handyman. He could do anything you could think of with his hands and if he didn’t know how by the time he was done doing it you would think he knew all along what he was doing. But, he just didn’t know how to relate to his sons, he could have a conversation.

Turning back the hands of time

I find myself pondering if things would be different now for me if I could or would have had those father-son talks I’ve heard so much about. Sometimes I still think that I’m that 15-year-old kid trapped in this 59-year-old body and wish that I could just turn back the hands of time to have a little conversation.

What would have happened if I could have told him that I was molested at age 8 or 9 by one of his friend’s teenage sons in an outhouse that they trust to take us, kids, to the bathroom while they were in the house? Or, again at age 11 by an 18-year-old daughter of a family friend that lived with us for a while until she could get up on her feet.

Maybe, he would have found out that my other 3 brothers were also molested and raped by close family members as well that no one knew about. But, he is not to be blamed because he himself was a product of abuse from his childhood as well as from his grandfather and mother that no one knew about. A little conversation, please.

Finding out I was living with HIV

When I first found out that I had contracted HIV and learned that I had transmitted it to my wife, my beautiful wife who did nothing to deserve that, I could find no one with which to have a conversation. So much shame, blame, disdain, unforgiveness, confusion, and the big one; self-preservation, I did not know how to communicate how I got here.

I did not know the healing power of a little conversation, please. I didn’t know that the bad decisions that I was making and had made were based on my effort to be accepted. The sexual encounters, bad financial management, and emotional explosions were me trying to feel good about myself, who I thought I was, but not understanding who I was if that makes sense.

Healing and wholeness

It wasn’t until recently that I was able to sit down and have a little conversation that I was and am able to look back and see clearly and understand the true battle that had been raging within me. And, then and only then was I able to get released from all of the baggage; the pain, hurt, disappointment, shame, and anger of not being accepted by my father.

It’s my faith in God that has sustained me. My faith has brought healing and wholeness to my life as well as bringing healing and wholeness to my marriage and family. If it wasn’t for my relationship with God and the unconditional love of my wife, I wouldn’t be here today.

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