Orphan Survival Stories Index |
"A MENTAL CASE"
"Roger Kiser, are you paying attention young man?" asked my Grade 5 teacher.
I just sat staring off into the distance. My mind was a million miles away from whatever was happening in the classroom.
"ROGER KISER!" screamed Mrs. Horner.
"Yes ma'am, Mrs. Horner" I replied.
"I asked you if you know the answer to the problem that I have written out on the blackboard?"
"I don't know no answers, Mrs. Horner, ma'am." I said.
"STAND UP, RIGHT THIS MINUTE!" she screamed as she flung her arms into the air.
Slowly, I got up from my desk and stood with the entire class staring at me.
"What is wrong with you, young man? Are you mentally retarded or what?" she asked.
I just stood with my head lowered, my eyes always looking directly at the floor. I did not have the slightest idea what to say to her. I reached up and scratched my head as thoughts raced through my ‘beady little mind’ - thousands upon thousands of confusing little thoughts, each racing throughout my head, all chasing after one another, each flashing on and off, each surging faster than little bolts of lighting, each and every thought striking and battling one another in a never-ending circle, each electrical impulse scrambling and fumbling over one another, each trying, in it's own way, to find some sort of an understandable answer.
"I want an answer from you and I want it now. Do you understand me? Mrs. Horner asked.
The list of thoughts inside my head was very long. My mind raced up and down the list to see which statement might best apply to me.
"You are one dumb little bastard. You are nothing more than an idiot. You are one ugly looking little creep. You have ears like Dumbo the Elephant. Did the doctor drop you on your damn head when you were born? You are one mentally retarded little shit. You are about as worthless as they come. Someone needs to cut your little throat and put you out of your misery. If that squaw mother of yours really wanted you, then she would not have put you in a damn orphanage. No one will ever love you."
The list of why I could not learn or pay attention was hopelessly endless. There I stood, finger in mouth, not having the slightest idea of what was wrong with me. Once in a while, I would force open my eyes and look upward. I saw only the faces of my classmates. Each and every one of them was now laughing and mocking me. I felt my face getting warmer and tighter. It felt as though my head would explode at any minute. All at once, I collapsed and fell to the floor. That was the last thing I remember before waking up in the orphanage infirmary.
How I ever made it to Grade 5 is beyond me. By the time I had entered the Grade 5, my entire brain was totally fried. It was nothing more than a bowl of mental mush. Every day I would walk with my head down. I had become afraid of everyone and everything. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind, whatsoever that I was a ‘stupid idiot,’ that I was incapable of learning or remembering anything, whatsoever.
Throughout the years, the orphanage had some how convinced me and many other children, that we were mentally retarded. The beatings, along with the sexual and mental abuse, took a psychological toll. Most of the kids raised in the Children's Home Society Orphanage never recouped. The onslaught, week after week, month after month and year after year, was just too great. Most of the boys spent a majority of their last days in a prison cell, while several of the girls from the orphanage ended their misery by committing suicide, including one, who was a dear friend and grandmother of eight.
As a child, I had become afraid to think for myself. I had become afraid to make any type of decisions on my own, even when we wanted to use the bathroom or get a drink of water and adults even made those decisions for us. By the age of 7, I was afraid to look anyone directly in the eye. I had become afraid to learn or to feel any type of emotion. I had become totally feeling-less by the age of 11. I had now become nothing more than a robot. Whatever emotional abilities God might have given to me at birth, they were now totally dead and mute.
Unknowing to me, these childhood experiences took a very costly emotional toll - a toll that took some 40-odd years to surface. I did not have the slightest idea that anything was wrong with me. For more than 40 years, I traveled from relationship to relationship, all the while being just as kind, considerate and responsible an individual as I could possibly be. But in the end, that itself, was not enough to hold any one of the relationships together. I would then move on down the road to another time, another place and another relationship.
I guess I should thank God for allowing the little boy in me to turn off whatever mental buttons were necessary in order for me to survive such a horrible childhood. As a child and at the time, the treatment did not seem so bad. In fact, the treatment appeared to be somewhat normal as far as I was concerned. It was not until I reached adulthood that I start to realize something was emotionally wrong with me - that there was a possibility I might be missing 'a feeling' that was totally invisible to me, that maybe there was this ‘thing’ that most other people were able to feel, something that I knew very little or nothing about.
As far as I knew, everyone else in the world felt exactly the same as I. The big awaking came when I learned that ‘loving" someone’ is a much different feeling than just ‘liking someone.’
In every one of my marriages, I always married the girl that ‘I liked the best.’ What other feeling is there? As far as I knew, ‘liking’ someone was the ultimate, most absolute and best feeling any human could possibly have for another human. I had never experienced any ‘feeling’ better than just being able to ‘like’ someone, really good.
Later in life, there were several times when some unknown feeling would creep into my mind, like the time when my first son were born. There I stood all alone staring at this miracle, all wrapped up in a baby blanket. There was this strange and unusual feeling that came over me. It was a kind of happiness I had never known, but in time the feeling faded away. Slowly, I slipped back into the person and into the old feelings that I had always known.
It took another 20 years for that feeling to ever return to me. It occurred at the birth of my granddaughter. That wonderful feeling has stayed with me from the moment I first laid eyes on her. Oh! It fades away a little now and then, but the sound of the word "Papa” coming from her lips as she runs up my front porch steps always brings the feeling of ‘love’ to life.
It has been a very long and hard battle, but I have made sure I was the last ‘mental case’ in my family.